Hollywood 2020 – Part 1 (January-June)

20 movies for the first-half of 2020.

Is 2020 the end of a decade, or the start of a new one? It’s a debate for the ages, and while the internet argues it out, let’s concern ourselves with something more relevant to our interests. What movies come out in the new year, and specifically its first half? After the mega-loaded 2019 (Avengers! Star Wars! Joker! The Hole In The Ground!) 2020 seems to be relatively quieter. This list covers the January to June period for 20 movies to keep an eye out for. Not all of them are essential viewing, but the relatively sparse offering limits the available choices. Additionally, several movies now head direct-to-streaming, and the release date for these titles are typically announced rather late. Even so, between the 2 Marvel + 2 DC + 2 Pixar + other franchise offerings (OO7!), there are ample releases to keep the flame of commercial cinema burning bright.

Read on for a preview of 20 popular movies scheduled between January and June of 2020.

Note: Release dates mentioned are for the US of A, for the sake of some order. They are also, under influence of Baby Yoda’s force power, subject to change.

17 January
Adventure | Fantasy | Family
2 Dolittle b
Director: Stephen Gaghan
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, Ralph Fiennes, Selena Gomez, Marion Cotillard

Premise: A physician discovers that he can talk to animals.

Thoughts: The trailer gives little reason for grown-ups (besides RDJ fans) to watch this movie. Especially considering that RDJ’s record outside the MCU has been dismal — it has been 11 years since he has done a well-received movie that was not for the MCU or a sequel. However, this also happens to be the first movie written-directed by Stephen Gaghan since Syriana, and the stellar voice cast hopefully points towards a fun film. What more can one expect in January?

Bad Boys for Life
17 January
Action | Comedy
3 Bad Boys For Life
Director: Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah
Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Joe Pantoliano

Premise: Marcus Burnett is now a police inspector and Mike Lowery is in a midlife crisis. They unite again when an Albanian mercenary, whose brother they killed, promises them an important bonus.

Thoughts: No matter how you view them, Bad Boys 1 and 2 were the spectacular bombastic movies of early Michael Bay that were truly entertaining. It’s a pity the threequel has taken this long, but be pleased that present-day Michael Bay isn’t directing. The Belgian director-duo of El Arbi & Fallah can surely give us something better than 6 Underground right? Right?! Or… did I just jinx it?

The Gentlemen
24 January
Action | Crime | Comedy
4 The Gentleman
Director: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Colin Farrell, Hugh Grant

Premise: A British drug lord tries to sell off his highly profitable empire to a dynasty of Oklahoma billionaires.

Thoughts: The premise and cast are quintessential (early) Guy Ritchie, and though the early word is mixed, it points towards a nostalgic Lock-Stock style. I’m all for it, and especially another ludicrous Colin Farrell character.

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
07 February
Superhero | Action | Comedy | Thriller
5 Birds of Prey
Director: Cathy Yan
Starring: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Ali Wong, Ewan McGregor

Premise: After splitting with the Joker, Harley Quinn joins superheroes Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya to save a young girl from an evil crime lord.

Thoughts: Harley Quinn was the stand-out in Suicide Squad. And after a 4 year wait, we get her twice in 2 years! (James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad is scheduled for August 2021). Considering the movie is R-rated, and female-centric ensembles haven’t worked off late, the studios will be watching this one closely. Meanwhile, who else is excited for an all-out baddie Ewan McGregor?!

Sonic the Hedgehog
14 February
Action | Comedy | Adventure | Family

Director: Jeff Fowler
Starring: Jim Carrey, James Marsden, Ben Schwartz, Tika Sumpter

Premise: A cop in the rural town of Green Hills will help Sonic escape from the government who is looking to capture him.

Thoughts: Jim Carrey! Even in his brief appearance within the two trailers, Jim Carrey seems to be channeling his best self from the 90s, and it is… hypnotic! If there is justice in the world, this movie should be the catalyst for his return as Stanley Ipkiss in a proper sequel to The Mask.

21 February
Superhero | Action | Sci-Fi | Thriller
7 Bloodshot
Director: Dave Wilson
Starring: Vin Diesel, Eiza González,Toby Kebbell, Guy Pearce

Premise: Ray Garrison, a slain soldier, is re-animated with superpowers. But when his lost memories flood back and he remembers the man that killed both him and his wife, he breaks out of the facility hellbent on revenge.

Thoughts: In a big departure from what he has built his career around, Vin Diesel will portray a super-human killing machine. It will be fascinating to see him play a character type he hasn’t done before, and if his performance is up to the mark, it will finally silence all those critics who claim he can only play variations of the same guy. (Who am I kidding. Most of us will watch this movie anyway.)

06 March
Animation | Fantasy | Comedy | Family
8 Onward
Director: Dan Scanlon
Starring: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer

Premise: Set in a suburban fantasy world, two teenage elf brothers embark on a quest to discover if there is still magic out there.

Thoughts: Discounting The Good Dinosaur, Pixar’s original concepts have worked very well. Hence there should be little to doubt. My concerns come from the strong Dreamworks vibe: will the movie be as predictable, and the humour as disposable as the trailer suggests?

The Way Back
06 March
Drama | Sports
9 The Way Back
Director: Gavin O’Connor
Starring: Ben Affleck, Michaela Watkins, Janina Gavankar

Premise: A former HS basketball phenom, struggling with alcoholism, is offered a coaching job at his alma mater. As the team starts to win, he may have a reason to confront his old demons. But will it be enough to set him on the road to redemption?

Thoughts: The posters and trailer show us Ben Affleck like he is in the dumps, and the premise hints at a generic sports-based redemption movie. But Gavin O’Connor & Ben Affleck is a combination I like. The last time this actor-director worked together, we got the underrated (and under-watched) The Accountant. Wait for the early reviews on this one.

A Quiet Place: Part II
20 March
Horror | Thriller
10 A Quiet Place Part 2
Director: John Krasinski
Starring: Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, Djimon Hounsou, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe

Premise: Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path.

Thoughts: The movie sequel we didn’t need but are getting anyway. The director and most of the cast & crew return, and this bodes well. However, the premise mentions threats apart from the monsters of the first movie. Are these threats in the form of different creatures, or just vile humans ala 28 Days Later? (and is that why Cillian Murphy joined the cast?)

27 March
Adventure | Action | War | Drama
11 Mulan
Director: Niki Caro
Starring: Liu Yifei, Donnie Yen, Gong Li, Jet Li, Jason Scott Lee

Premise: A live-action feature film based on Disney’s ‘Mulan’, where a young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her father.

Thoughts: This Disney live-action remake is less a copy-paste and more an adaptation. They’ve done away with Eddie Murphy’s Mushu the dragon, and seem to focus on the representation for feminism and racial minority. Appropriately, this is the largest Disney production ever to be directed by a woman, and the cast is entirely (ethnically) Asian. Social relevance aside, the trailer promises an epic but looks similar to the numerous historical epics out of China. Disney must do better with subsequent marketing to differentiate Mulan, especially to avoid pre-judgement on its quality.

New Mutants
03 April
Superhero | Action | Horror | Sci-Fi
12 New Mutants
Director: Josh Boone
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams, Antonio Banderas, Alice Braga

Premise: Five young mutants, just discovering their abilities while held in a secret facility against their will, fight to escape their past sins and save themselves.

Thoughts: Having been delayed over two years and reshot almost entirely, the film now has another release date (but we’ve heard that before). During that period, Disney bought 20th Century Fox, bringing New Mutants into the MCU. Meanwhile, some of the cast has grown popular, and an exciting rumour has surfaced: Kevin Feige has apparently overseen the reshoots himself to re-position this as the movie that finally introduces mutants… into the MCU!

No Time to Die
08 April
Action | Adventure | Thriller
13 No Time To Die
Director: Cary Fukunaga
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rami Malek, Ralph Fiennes, Léa Seydoux, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Ana de Armas, Jeffrey Wright, Christoph Waltz

Premise: James Bond’s old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.

Thoughts: OO7. Bond, James Bond. Shaken, not Stirred. Daniel Craig. For the last time. Again.

Black Widow
01 May
Superhero | Action | Adventure | Thriller
14 Black Widow
Director: Cate Shortland
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, David Harbour, Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, Ray Winstone, William Hurt

Premise: A film about Natasha Romanoff in her quests between the films Civil War and Infinity War.

Thoughts: All it took was a successful DC female superhero movie, followed by a billion-dollar MCU female superhero movie, and Black Widow’s cinematic death to finally give Scarlett Johansson her own MCU movie, 10 years after first being introduced. How is her character back though, you ask? This movie is set in the past, between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. And while it does look more promising than the over-rated Captain Marvel, and the supporting cast is fantastic, consider this: the time-frame makes it possible for the return of another fan-favourite MCU character. Hint: his name rhymes with Stony Tark.

The Personal History of David Copperfield
08 May
Comedy | Drama
15 The Personal History of David Copperfield
Director: Armando Iannucci
Starring: Dev Patel, Hugh Laurie, Tilda Swinton, Peter Capaldi, Ben Whishaw

Premise: The life of David Copperfield is chronicled from his youth into adulthood.

Thoughts: The Death of Stalin was among the best movies of 2017, a satirical black-comedy that put on full display the prowess of Scottish director Armando Iannucci. His next is a comedy-drama about Charles Dickens’ popular protagonist David Copperfield. Since the movie has already had a festival run, the reviews are out and are as spectacular as they were for The Death of Stalin. Put this one firmly in the must-watch list.

15 May
Animation | Comedy | Adventure | Family
16 Scoob
Director: Tony Cervone
Starring: Gina Rodriguez, Amanda Seyfried, Zac Efron, Jason Isaacs, Kiersey Clemons, Tracy Morgan, Ken Jeong, Mark Wahlberg

Premise: Scooby and the gang face their most challenging mystery ever: a plot to unleash the ghost dog Cerberus upon the world. As they race to stop this dogpocalypse, the gang discovers that Scooby has an epic destiny greater than anyone imagined.

Thoughts: Scooby dooby dooo! And just as he should be: in cutesy animated form, and unrestricted by live-action budgetary and visual constraints. About time the new generation learns to love this ghost-fearing always-hungry great dane. And Shaggy and Velma and Fred and Daphne. The voice-cast also suggests the movie will go all-out on the Hanna-Barbera gallery, considering we’re also getting… Dick Dastardly, Dynomutt and Captain Cavemaaaaaan! (Kids, you need to YouTube these).

The Woman in the Window
15 May
Crime | Thriller | Mystery | Drama
17 The Woman in the Window
Director: Joe Wright
Starring: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Wyatt Russell, Anthony Mackie

Premise: An agoraphobic woman living alone in New York begins spying on her new neighbors only to witness a disturbing act of violence.

Thoughts: After Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour, any movie with his name on it should be approached with caution. Perhaps knowingly, he has cast a few actors in his next that leap-frog concerns and position this movie in the anticipation zone. It would take tremendous will to not watch Amy Adams playing an agoraphobe, being misled by Julianne Moore and being confronted by Gary Oldman and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Watch the trailer, and hear your inner voice speak in Daniel Craig’s Kentucky accent: “I suspect Foul Play!”

Fast & Furious 9
22 May
Action | Adventure
18 FF9
Director: Justin Lin
Starring: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Jordana Brewster, Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren, John Cena, Nathalie Emmanuel, Michael Rooker

Premise: The ninth installment of the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise.

Thoughts: They still be fast. They still be furious. They even replace The Rock with John Cena. But let me draw your attention to the thing that matters most: Justin Lin is back. He who resurrected the franchise and directed its best movies that made the series a phenomenon (F&F 3, 4, 5 and 6). This was way before the cars were jumping across skyscrapers and off airplanes. If you can’t tell which is which, here’s a (ahem) crash course on the Justin Lin movies:
#3 = Tokyo Drift
#4 = Return of Original Cast
#5 = Intro The Rock and a vault is dragged through Rio de Janeiro
#6 = longest runway in the world.

Wonder Woman 1984
05 June
Superhero | Action | Adventure | Fantasy
19 Wonder Woman 1984
Director: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen

Premise: A sequel to the 2017 superhero film ‘Wonder Woman.’

Thoughts: She’s back, and into the 80s! 2017’s Wonder Woman was the first critically-acclaimed movie in the DCEU, and the trend has continued since. The sequel, freed of the burden of introductions, gives Patty Jenkins the space to explore more of the heroine’s powers and mythology. Also, kudos to Gal Gadot (& the person who first cast her in this role) — look at how her image has changed with one character. *Hans Zimmer WW theme intensifies*

19 June
Animation | Fantasy | Adventure | Family
20 Soul
Director: Pete Docter, Kemp Powers
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Questlove, Phylicia Rashad, Daveed Diggs

Premise: A musician who has lost his passion for music is transported out of his body and must find his way back with the help of an infant soul learning about herself.

Thoughts: Now this reads like a real Pixar movie. And look who is directing: Pete Docter of Inside Out, Up and Monsters, Inc.!
Note: the title is a homonym. It refers to both, the kind of music and the spirit that lives inside a person.

Top Gun: Maverick
26 June
Action | Drama
21 Top Gun Maverick
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Starring: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Ed Harris

Premise: After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete Mitchell is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him.

Thoughts: Why did it take 34 years to make a sequel to Top Gun? Because the madness of Tom Cruise meant he’d only make this movie if all the jets were real, and he got to fly some of the fighter jets. This man’s death wish has made for some fantastic cinema of late! Director Joseph Kosinski (he of Oblivion and Tron: Legacy) has shot select scenes for the IMAX format, so expect visual delight too.

Other movies of interest releasing in the first half of 2020: the delayed international release of last year’s 1917, genre-film Underwater (about walking underwater across the floor of the sea to safety, seriously!), Downhill (Hollywood remake of Force Majeure starring Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and The Invisible Man (starring Elisabeth Moss and from the director of the awesome Upgrade). Look for Filmphoria’s weekly post “Out This Week” every Thursday to keep up-to-date.

Wish you a Happy 2020, and a wonderful time at the movies!


About Shariq Madani

Shariq is a social, talkative, fun-loving guy who enjoys books, food and a long drive. But his real joy is in the comfortable darkness of a cinema, watching a good movie, and later spending hours discussing it.