Synopsis: An astronaut travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his father and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet. He uncovers secrets which challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the cosmos.
Release Date: September 20, 2019
Thoughts: There’s nothing I love seeing on the big screen more than a giant space spectacular and the long delayed Ad Astra (meaning ‘to the stars’ in Latin) looks like a grand achievement. Feeling on par with the likes of large scale epics such as Gravity, The Martian, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, director James Gray (The Lost City of Z) teams with Brad Pitt (World War Z) on this project which was originally set to be released in May 2019 but was moved back after 20th Century Fox was bought by Disney. A fall release positions the movie more in the awards competition (and conveniently far away from Disney’s summer blockbuster Avengers: Endgame) so I’m not too nervous about Ad Astra losing its original release date. Gray’s films tend to be quite contemplative and I’m curious to see how he can marry that dramatic tension with the space chase elements shown in the preview. Considering the caliber of the people involved and how good this first trailer is, I’m totally onboard for this one.
Synopsis: Plot unknown
Release Date: November 1, 2019
Thoughts: I know it’s difficult to do, but even after watching the trailer for Terminator: Dark Fate I’m trying not to jump for joy quite yet. The last time we all got excited for a new Terminator movie we wound up with 2015’s stinkeroo Terminator Genisys. In 2019, the studio is counting on fans turning out not only for the familiar face of Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Expendables 3) but for original creator James Cameron (Titanic) returning as producer and, most very importantly, Linda Hamilton appearance as Sarah Connor. This first teaser doesn’t give us much indication how much Schwarzenegger and Hamilton will be involved in Tim Miller’s (Deadpool) new “day after Judgment Day” Terminator film but with Mackenzie Davis (Blade Runner 2049) already impressing as a tough new breed of Terminator and action set-pieces that indicate some jaw-dropping fun…I’m hoping for the best.
Synopsis: What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.
Release Date: July 3, 2019
Thoughts: Horror movies are always a bit divisive between elitist critics and populist cinephiles but 2018’s Hereditary managed to unite them almost universally. It took me a second watch to truly appreciate what writer/director Ari Aster was going for and even then I still had issues with the finale. That aside, I’m looking forward to Aster’s next summer screen scare, Midsommar and from the looks of this second trailer audiences are in for another squirmy ride through some very freaky goings-on. I like that the film is set completely in the daylight, giving Aster and his actors little room to hide – I just hope this time the ending can live up to everything that has come before.
Synopsis: Explores the complex relationship between the horned fairy and the soon to be Queen as they form alliances and face new adversaries in their struggle to protect the moors and the magical creatures that reside within.
Release Date: October 18, 2019
Thoughts: Though it was inspired by an undying classic and received a prestige release from Disney in 2014, Maleficent still managed to defy some lofty expectations to become a sizable hit. Retelling the Sleeping Beauty story from the perspective of the supposedly evil protagonist (how very Wicked of them), the film had great visuals and a nice style but suffered from often being a word-for-word remake of the animated film. It’s taken five years but the studio has enticed Oscar-winner Angelina Jolie (Unbroken) back to play the titular character and expanded her tale in an original story. This first teaser hints at some interesting new alliances and feels less like a plain cash-grab. Will new director Joachim Rønning (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) and the addition of Michelle Pfeiffer (mother!) help to elevate Maleficent: Mistress of Evil from being a sulky sequel?
Synopsis: Legendary performer Judy Garland arrives in London in the winter of 1968 to perform a series of sold-out concerts.
Release Date: September 27, 2019
Thoughts: Our tiny toes have just dipped into the summer blockbuster waters and already studios are teasing us with Oscar hopefuls arriving in the fall. That’s ok because this long overdue biopic of doomed star Judy Garland looks like a nice turn for Renée Zellweger who has been laying low for the last several years. Could Judy be the comeback vehicle that gets her a fourth Oscar nomination and maybe a second win? It’s too early to tell for sure but more than fine to speculate this far out. The first look at the September release features Zellweger (Bridget Jones’s Baby) singing as Garland and while she doesn’t sound quite like Judy she definitely looks like her in the brief clips shown. True, fleeting glimpses don’t equal a convincing performance and I actually found it concerning how little extended glances we get – but let’s just chalk it up to the teaser quality of this teaser trailer.
Synopsis: Twenty-seven years later, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.
Release Date: September 6, 2019
Thoughts: Back in 2017, Warner Brothers took a risky move by remaking Stephen King’s IT as a big screen endeavor. Though the television mini-series had unquestionably not aged well it still held a soft spot in the hearts of many a fan. Thankfully, the gamble paid off and director Andy Muschietti (Mama) delivered not only a scary as hell horror film but one that also captured King’s nostalgic tones as well. The performances were far above average considering that most of the kids were unknowns and that helped keep the tension up throughout. Two years later comes the concluding chapter featuring the members of the Losers Club that have grown up and are revisited by a vengeful evil that has been waiting for them for many years. The first teaser trailer is a doozy too, crafted mostly as a scene between Jessica Chastain (The Martian) and a creepy lady that lives in her childhood home. I found myself slowly inching away from my desk as it went along not sure where it was taking me. Here’s hoping this sequel seamlessly branches off the first film and ends with the kind of bang it deserves.
Synopsis: A young woman, while attempting to save her father during a Category 5 hurricane, finds herself trapped in a flooding house and must fight for her life against alligators.
Release Date: July 12, 2019
Thoughts: It’s not hard for me to figure out where my love of creature features began. Ever since I saw Jaws as a kid I’ve been enthralled by monsters on land, under the sea, and in space. From nature run amok atrocities to alien lifeforms, I’m pretty lenient on films that pit men and women against some beast with really sharp teeth. We’ve been pretty starved for these mid-budgeted movies (at least in theaters) with tastes shifting to blockbuster entertainment for the masses but this July sees the release of Crawl and it looks schlocky and fun. While, as usual, the trailer gives away more than I’d like, there’s more than enough here to get me interested in what other scares director Alexandre Aja (Horns) has in store. Also…while I’m not freaked out by spiders, snakes, or sharks, I am legit frightened by alligators and crocodiles so this is going to be sweaty palm experience for me.
Synopsis: It’s 1968 in America. Change is blowing in the wind…but seemingly far removed from the unrest in the cities is the small town of Mill Valley where for generations, the shadow of the Bellows family has loomed large. It is in their mansion on the edge of town that Sarah, a young girl with horrible secrets, turned her tortured life into a series of scary stories, written in a book that has transcended time—stories that have a way of becoming all too real for a group of teenagers who discover Sarah’s terrifying tome.
Release Date: August 9, 2019
Thoughts: I can still vividly picture the covers of the three books that comprise the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark canon. I can also close my eyes and remember how my mind would play tricks on me long after I had finished a story, concocting various ways for the fictional tales of terror to become reality. Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water) produces this big screen adaptation directed by André Øvredal (The Autopsy of Jane Doe) and the presence of these two guys with an eye for scares tell me to brace myself for more tingles up my spine. This first look at the period set film isn’t at all what I was expecting and it feels like the movie will have some creepy images but may struggle in…other areas. Still, the youngster in me is more than a little excited to see these stories come to life after all these years.
Synopsis: A faded TV actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood’s Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles.
Release Date: July 26, 2019
Thoughts: To be honest, this first look at the 9th film from Quentin Tarantino is not what I expected. Though this movie apparently has some connection to the infamous Manson murders that occurred a half century ago, you’d never know it by watching this teaser trailer which mostly focuses on A-listers Leonardo DiCaprio (The Great Gatsby) and Brad Pitt (World War Z) as a has-been star and his wise-cracking stunt double making one last go in La La Land. You barely see Margot Robbie (I, Tonya) as Sharon Tate and the Manson family members pass by quickly if you aren’t paying attention. What is there smacks of a lot of “acting” going on, especially from DiCaprio (yikes, that last shot!) and a little of that can go an awfully long way. It’s clearly a teaser trailer for something more to come but usually Tarantino (The Hateful Eight, Django Unchained) offers up something a tad more enticing as an appetizer. Still, from the looks of it he’s recreated 1969 California as only a truly fanatic film nerd could so I’m absolutely interested in the main course.
Synopsis: A late-night talk show host is at risk of losing her long-running show right when she hires her first female who revitalizes her show and her life.
Release Date: June 7, 2019
Thoughts: Movie nerds like myself who keep their ear to the ground (or, more to the point, keep up to date with their podcasts) heard the buzziest film to come out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival was Late Night, the comedy written by Mindy Kaling and starring Emma Thompson. Snapped up by Amazon for a June release, Late Night features Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks) as an icy late night talk show host on the decline and Kaling (A Wrinkle in Time) as her new (and first) female writer. There’s a little The Devil Wears Prada feel to this first look and I’m not hating it, but I can also tell the movie will have something more to say than just acerbic quips delivered with panache by Thompson. I’m mostly hoping the movie can follow through with an awards-worthy performance from Thompson and make good on its festival buzz when larger crowds get a look in early summer.