Synopsis: A group of students are stalked by a stranger during their Christmas break. A remake of the 1974 horror film Black Christmas.
Release Date: December 13, 2019
Thoughts: Though Halloween has often worn the crown as the original stalk and slash holiday film, 1974’s Black Christmas beat it to theaters by a solid four years. Though it failed to make serious waves in its first release, the effective chiller (made by the same guy who gave us A Christmas Story!) has become a classic with countless imitators over the years. It’s been remade once before in 2006 when rebooting old chestnuts was all the rage and didn’t do much but make audiences long for the simplicity of the original. Now comes a 2019 version that seems to chuck everything but the title and the thin premise out the door. While I’m most certainly down for any wintery horror arriving smack dab in the middle of Oscar season, I’m disappointed to once again see a trailer that gives away so dang much of the movie – where’s the restraint? Starring Imogen Poots (Green Room) and Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride), my interest dropped a few notches after seeing the preview and only because I feel like I’ve caught the gist of the entire film.
Synopsis: A young teacher discovers her troubled student’s father and younger brother harbor a deadly supernatural secret. Taking the boy into her care, the teacher must fight for their survival against horrors beyond imagination.
Release Date: TBD 2020
Thoughts: Never judge a book by it’s cover and never judge a movie by its title. The first time I heard about a horror film coming out called Antlers, I wrote it off as another nature run amok schlock fest.
Wait though, take a look at that poster. It’s kind of creepy and a little intriguing. Ooo…it’s produced by Oscar-winner Guillermo del Toto (Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark)? It’s starring Keri Russell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and Jesse Plemons (Game Night), two interesting actors that seemingly make intelligent, thoughtful choices on their projects? Hey now, you say it’s directed by Scott Cooper, the same guy that gave us Crazy Heart and Out of the Furnace and it’s being distributed by indie offshoot Fox Searchlight? Ok, but let’s wait and see about the trailer.
(Watches trailer with its eerie imagery and scant details that give little about the plot away that hasn’t already been provided in the promotional materials.)
OK. I’m sold.
Synopsis: A few women decide to take on Fox News boss Roger Ailes and the toxic male culture he presided over at the network.
Release Date: December 20, 2019
Thoughts: In case anyone was worried the 2019 competing projects surrounding the scandal at Fox News would create a Volcano vs. Dante’s Peak situation, it’s safe to say the muted reception of Showtime’s The Loudest Voice is a good indicator Bombshell may strike gold this December. Though boasting Noami Watts as anchor Gretchen Carlson and disgraced CEO Russell Crowe as Roger Ailes, the Showtime limited series was a non-event and has barely made headlines. Counter that with the, let’s just say it, riveting teaser trailer for Bombshell in which Oscar winners Charlize Theron (Atomic Blonde) as Megyn Kelly and Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased) as Carlson share elevator space with Oscar nominee Margot Robbie (I, Tonya) as Kayla Pospisil and you can see why pundits are wondering if the Best Actress statue might have to be divided into thirds this year. Theron, in particular, looks eerily like her real-life counterpart…I’m dying to see how this movie turns out.
Synopsis: A crew of underwater researchers must scramble to safety after an earthquake devastates their subterranean laboratory.
Release Date: January 10, 2020
Thoughts: Watching the preview for Underwater, I kept wanting to shout out “This trailer knows me, it really, really knows ME!” Horror movie? Check. Underwater horror movie? Check check. Underwater horror movie with creatures from the deep picking off the crew of a felled sea lab? Check check check! As excited as I was to see this, I can’t help but feeling a little nervous at the same time. I just finished reading an exhaustive profile of star Kristen Stewart (Personal Shopper) and though it talked about several of her upcoming projects, there was not a peep about this one – strange, right? Also, its January release date is either a smart move of counter-programming to clear out the post-holiday stuffiness or a keen way for Disney to quietly burn off a 20th Century Fox film that came with the studio when they purchased it. I did a quick check online and until today there had been next to no news this movie even existed…much less that it had already received a PG-13 rating and a locked in release date. Yet, nerves aside, I’m pulling for this one…if only to help me relive some 1989 nostalgia and resurrect some interest in titles like DeepStar Six and Leviathan.
Synopsis: A young woman, who has been continuously unlucky, accepts a job as a department store elf during the holidays. When Kate meets Tom on the job, her life takes a turn.
Release Date: November 8, 2019
Thoughts: There are certainly many reasons why Last Christmas checks off a number of boxes on my list. There’s its holiday theme, its London setting, the involvement of director Paul Feig (Spy), not to mention it’s written by Oscar-winner Emma Thompson (Late Night) who also has a co-starring role. Feig’s casting of his A Simple Favor star Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) is a nice bonus and I’ll never turn my nose up at a movie that proudly touts that it is “featuring the music of George Michael”. However…I’m not totally sold on it…at least not yet. Why? I’m just not on the Emilia Clarke train yet. Though she’s gained a lot of press for her work on Game of Thrones as well as nabbed starring roles in Me Before You, Terminator: Genisys, and Solo: A Star Wars Story, I’ve yet to be convinced she’s the next big thing. Perhaps this will be the holiday romance to convince me.
Synopsis: Four sisters come of age in America in the aftermath of the Civil War.
Release Date: December 25, 2019
Thoughts: It’s a curious thing, watching this first trailer for the much-anticipated holiday release of Little Women. I mean, it’s not exactly like we’ve been starved for adaptations of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel. There was a modern remake last year, a well-regarded BBC mini-series in 2017, and the 1994 version starring Winona Ryder still ranks high on my list. Let’s not forget the Katherine Hepburn entry from 1933 or the one in 1949 with Elizabeth Taylor among the dozens of other takes on the source novel. All this to say I was surprised director Greta Gerwig chose this project as her follow-up to her breakout hit Lady Bird. To me, the way the preview is cut feels too indie twee for me, but Gerwig has assembled a heck of a wonderful cast with Saoirse Ronan (How I Live Now), Timothée Chalamet (Beautiful Boy), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins), Florence Pugh (Midsommar), Laura Dern (Smooth Talk), and Emma Watson (The Bling Ring) getting into the period costumes to once again bring Alcott’s characters to the screen.
Synopsis: A bride’s wedding night takes a sinister turn when her eccentric new in-laws force her to take part in a terrifying game.
Release Date: August 21, 2019
Thoughts: It’s not often I start a review of a trailer actively advising my readers not to watch the preview I’m showcasing but I feel strongly in the case of Ready or Not like you should avoid seeing this one. For those that don’t care about spoilers or for the horror fraidy cats that want a good idea of what’s in store for them, by all means, have at it, but if you’re like me and don’t want to see numerous key plot points revealed outright then you should just read the synopsis above, pencil August 21 in on your calendar, and plan to be surprised. It’s a growing frustration of mine that studios are so willing to let the entire cat out of the bag in a two and a half minute trailer and then ask audiences to pay good money to fill in the gaps. Every once in a while you get lucky and the best twists are saved for the big show but it doesn’t seem like much of Ready or Not is held back. Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (V/H/S) and starring Samara Weaving (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Andie MacDowell (Only the Brave), and Adam Brody (Shazam!) this looks like a lot of fun based on the poster alone. I’m going to try to forget what I saw, though, in the hopes I can go in as fresh as possible.
Synopsis: A couple’s first date takes an unexpected turn when a police officer pulls them over.
Release Date: November 27, 2019
Thoughts: There are so many interesting cooks in the Queen & Slim kitchen, I didn’t even need to see a preview to know it was something to take notice of. This extremely timely tale was written by Emmy award winner Lena Waithe (Ready Player One) from an idea by infamous author James Frey (you know, the one that embarrassed Oprah) and directed by Melina Matsoukas who was a creative force behind many of Beyoncé’s most prolific music video experiences. Matsoukas has put together a dynamite cast led by Daniel Kaluuya (Widows) and relative newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith (The Neon Demon) as a star-crossed Bonnie & Clyde for the modern age. I’m quite looking forward to this one…and to the inevitable important discussions it will provoke.
Synopsis: A mob hitman recalls his possible involvement with the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa.
Release Date: September 27, 2019
Thoughts: The pending release of any Martin Scorsese film will always create buzz but there’s a special kind of hum that’s been generated from his next film, The Irishman. It’s not just that it marks another high profile director turning to a streaming service (Netflix) to finance and release their film but it also re-teams Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street) with two of his greatest collaborators. Seeing Robert DeNiro (Cape Fear) playing another hard-boiled gangster is all well and good but boy, it’s already a huge thrill to see Joe Pesci coaxed out of a semi-retirement in this first teaser trailer. Add in Al Pacino (Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood) and you have a triple-crown of heavy hitters in mafia films helmed by the godfather of the genre. Though it’s too early to call this one a slam dunk, Netflix is likely gathering all their four-leaf clovers and betting on The Irishman to get them back into the Best Picture race they so narrowly lost last year.
Synopsis: A follow-up to the 1986 hit brings back Naval Aviator Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and will deal with the rise of unmanned drones and pilots becoming a thing of the past.
Release Date: June 26, 2020
Thoughts: Has it really been 33 years since Tom Cruise cemented his rising superstar status with the blockbuster release of Top Gun? Inspiring countless imitators (including Cruise himself) and launching a million slow dances to the Oscar-winning theme song, the movie is firmly in our cultural lexicon and holds up quite nicely. So you could hear some groans across the U.S. of A. when it was announced Cruise would be returning in the long rumored sequel. For someone with as good as track record as Cruise has with starring in successful non-franchise fare, why occupy his time between Mission: Impossible sequels with another sequel to a previous role? Teaming with his Oblivion director Joseph Kosinski and looping in an excellent roster of supporting players, from the looks of this first trailer for Top Gun: Maverick Cruise clearly knew what he was doing and I’m sorry I doubted him in the first place. This sneak peak at the high-flying action film releasing almost 12 months from now stirs the kind of nostalgic summer excitement within me that doesn’t get a jolt that often. Fingers crossed it’s more than just a retread of the original.