You like movies, we like movies, right? Yes, we know you’re trying to wind down the year, think about the best of 2019, the best of the decade and whatnot, but we also like to look ahead. Every year, we put together our 100 Most Anticipated Films of the Year list and we’ve done the same once again for 2020.
It will be another big year, and yes, lots of tentpoles and superhero films, blockbusters, and whatnot, but for us, there’s much more to look forward to than just the next Marvel thing (though, hell, we usually enjoy those too).
2020 sees the return of James Bond, Christopher Nolan, Godzilla and King Kong, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Scarlett Johannson as Black Widow (the year of the superheroine), a new Spider-Man spin-off, Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” and so much more. But also, perhaps most excitedly, new films from filmmakers like David Fincher, Spike Lee, Dee Rees, Eliza Hittman, Sofia Coppola, Wes Anderson, Andrew Dominik, and if we’re really lucky, new films by Jonathan Glazer and Paul Thomas Anderson (fingers crossed).
2020 will bring many riches, here’s what we’re anticipating the most.
More best of year and decade content is here too, the 100 Most Anticipated Films Of 2020, The 100 Best Films Of The Decade, the 25 Best Films Of 2019, the Best Performances Of The Decade, Best Cinematography of the Decade, Best Soundtracks of the Decade, Best TV of the Decade, Best Documentaries Of The Decade, Best Animated Films Of The Decade, Best TV of 2019, Best Posters, and Trailers of 2019 and more to come.
100. “The Last Duel”
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Adam Driver, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jodie Comer
Synopsis: A 14th Century revenge story set in Medieval France.
What You Need To Know: While there are a powerhouse cast and director involved, “The Last Duel” is easily one of the most contentious projects of 2020 and queasily anticipated at best. Its announcement drew fire immediately for using rape as a plot device. Centering on two best friends and knights (Driver and Damon, though Affleck was originally one of the leads), one goes to war and returns to accuse his friend of raping his wife (Comer). The courts rule on the dispute and two men must duel to the death. However, the one left alive would be seen as the victor in eyes of God—thus the wife would be burned at the stake for punishment for her false accusation should her husband lose. Affleck and Damon are writing the script along with writer/director Nicole Holofcener (“Enough Said”), added presumably to save the screenplay from certain death. Exploring “the brutal and oppressive culture of the era” in order for women to survive, while “Last Duel” likely wants to comment on #MeToo and our current cultural reckoning, it has all the makings of a trainwreck if its one-degree off course. It’s honestly semi-fascinating that this team would even attempt it.
Release Date: Limited, Christmas 2020, worldwide on January 8, 2021. – Rodrigo Perez
— The Playlist 🎬 (@ThePlaylist) October 23, 2019
— The Playlist 🎬 (@ThePlaylist) September 26, 2019
99. “Army of the Dead”
Director: Zack Snyder (“Dawn of the Dead,” “Batman V. Superman”)
Cast: Dave Bautista, Ana de la Reguera, Garret Dillahunt, Raul Castillo, Omari Hardwick, Chris D’Elia
Synopsis: Following a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, a group of mercenaries takes the ultimate gamble, venturing into the quarantine zone to pull off the greatest heist ever attempted.
What You Need To Know: Most of the news surrounding Zack Snyder these days relates to the ongoing #ReleaseTheSnyderCut controversy, and while Snyder’s DC films have made him a contentious figure in both fanboy circles as well as the Playlist offices, there’s no doubting that the guy knows how to shoot action with a visceral kick. Snyder’s best film remains his turbo-charged remake of George Romero’s seminal “Dawn of the Dead,” so it makes sense that the director is returning to the world of zombies for “Army of the Dead.” Snyder has assembled a decent cast for what sounds like a kind of undead/heist flick hybrid, and hopefully dumb, gory zombie fun is the order of the day here – after all, we’re not expecting “Casablanca.”
Release Date: No release date yet, but summer seems like a safe bet. – Nicholas Laskin
— The Playlist 🎬 (@ThePlaylist) July 20, 2019
99. “The Witches”
Director: Robert Zemeckis (“Back to the Future,” “Forrest Gump”)
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, Chris Rock
Synopsis: A young boy encounters a conference of witches while staying at a hotel with his grandmother.
What You Need To Know: If you were an especially demented child, “The Witches” probably ranks high in your mental Roald Dahl Rolodex. And while Nicholas Roeg’s 1990 adaptation, with all its Henson creature whimsy and commanding Anjelica Huston energy, was well-received by critics, it fared poorly at the box office. Thirty years later, Warner Bros. is hoping to land a hit with this creepy kids’ tale. Anne Hathaway is donning Ms. Huston’s cape as the Grand High Witch, and her supporting cast includes Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, and Chris Rock, so we’re fascinated to see where this will go. Guillermo del Toro was originally set to direct, but he’s taken a backseat to produce due to a scheduling conflict, thus handing the reigns to veteran Robert Zemeckis. Zemeckis might not sport comparable creature feature renown, but as a perfectly capable genre filmmaker, he should have the mettle to pull this off. And did we mention Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch?
Release Date: October 9, via Warner Brothers. –Lena Wilson
— The Playlist 🎬 (@ThePlaylist) January 17, 2019
97. “In the Heights”
Director: Jon M. Chu (“Crazy Rich Asians,” “Step Up 2: The Streets”)
Cast: Anthony Ramos, Leslie Grace, Jimmy Smits, Stephanie Beatriz, Dascha Polanco
Synopsis: In this musical, a romantically challenged bodega owner named Usnavi narrates the complex lives of his neighbors in Washington Heights, Manhattan.
What You Need To Know: “Hamilton” is a perfectly fine musical, but speak to any uptight drama nerd and she’ll tell you: Lin-Manuel Miranda already won the Best Musical Tony before he ever became a household name. That musical? “In the Heights.” Featuring what we now know as Miranda’s signatures – expositional rapping, a diverse cast, and lyrical complexity – “In the Heights” is an ensemble musical about modern life in the predominantly Hispanic New York neighborhood Washington Heights. It’s difficult to recreate the magic of the stage on-screen, but it’s difficult not to have 181st-street-high hopes for this one. It’s equally sprinkled with newcomers and recognizable names (Hello, Stephanie Beatriz!), and Miranda is making a cameo as the show’s most essential character: the piragua guy. Given the vibrant stage production, “Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. Chu should have a ball here. Wepa!
Release Date: June 26, via Warner Bros. –LW
247 days until In The Heights the movie is released in theaters near you! pic.twitter.com/JZ5tBzHfNl
— In The Heights Movie Countdown 245 (@ithcountdown) October 23, 2019
— The Playlist 🎬 (@ThePlaylist) June 1, 2016
96. “Coming 2 America”
Director: Craig Brewer (“Dolemite is my Name,” “Hustle & Flow”)
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, Wesley Snipes, James Earl Jones
Synopsis: Prince Akeem learns he has a long-lost son in the United States and must return to America to meet the unlikely heir to the throne of Zamunda.
What You Need To Know: The original “Coming to America” is one of Eddie Murphy’s most iconic works, even if the movie hasn’t aged particularly well. We guess since “Top Gun” and the O.G. “Bill and Ted” are getting sequels next summer, “Coming to America” is too? It makes sense that Craig Brewer has been tapped to direct “Coming 2 America,” since the director guided Murphy to give his best performance in a decade in this year’s spirited biopic “Dolemite is my Name.” That Brewer has reunited some of the heavy hitters from the original film is promising (it’s not like Arsenio Hall needs the paycheck), although we admit that the movie’s synopsis reads a bit like a feature-length sitcom. That said, if Brewer can manage to restore Murphy to the heights of his vintage glory, we’ll be satisfied.
Release Date: December 18, via Paramount Pictures. – NL
‘Coming To America’ Sequel In The Works Starring Eddie Murphy https://t.co/rFhrcTGjR3
— The Playlist 🎬 (@ThePlaylist) April 13, 2017
Icons: Bad Boys 3 crew meets Coming to America 2 gang. pic.twitter.com/iVCqYUZzz3
— The Playlist 🎬 (@ThePlaylist) November 2, 2019
95. “The Hunt”
Director: Craig Zobel (“Compliance”)
Cast: Betty Gilpin, Ike Barinholtz, Emma Roberts, Hilary Swank
Synopsis: An adaptation of “The Most Dangerous Game,” twelve strangers find themselves at the center of a game where rich Americans hunt down people for fun.
What You Need To Know: A film that was set to be released last year before Universal canceled the release, “The Hunt” is a satirical thriller about liberal wealthy Americans hunting down conservatives. The film was written by Nick Cuse and “Watchmen” showrunner, Damon Lindelof, and produced by Blumhouse. Sadly, the film’s release was canceled just a month before its opening date, in lieu of a string of tragic mass shootings and controversy stirred up by, of course, Fox News and Donald Trump. Honestly, it is hard to see why this movie wasn’t released, as “eat the rich” films generally do well with audiences (if we go by the success of “Ready Or Not” or “The Hunger Games”), but the cancellation has only served to build the hype around it. Plus, watching Betty Gilpin be a badass will never not be fun.
Release Date: Obviously Universal scrapped the release, but one has to imagine Blumhouse wants to get it out there and some plucky indie will want the press. – Rafael Aguiton
— The Playlist 🎬 (@ThePlaylist) August 10, 2019
— The Playlist 🎬 (@ThePlaylist) July 30, 2019
94. “King Richard”
Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green (“Monsters and Men”)
Cast: Will Smith
Synopsis: We’ll hear the story of tennis phenoms Serena and Venus Williams’ father Richard, who coached his daughters as they rose to the stratosphere of the sport.
What You Need to Know: We all know about the Williams’ sisters dominance over tennis, but every real-life success usually has a little-known story for how it came to be. Smith hasn’t made the best career decisions as of late, so it’s nice to see him getting back into more serious acting. This is his first legitimate drama since 2015’s “Concussion” (“Collateral Beauty” doesn’t count), so perhaps he’ll tap into that potential to really deliver a strong on-screen performance like we all know he’s capable of for the first time in a while. Green wowed people last year with his indie police brutality drama “Monsters and Men,” so it’s good to see him back already behind the lens. The only thing we hope about this project, though, is to still learn a good deal about Venus and Serena. They very much deserve a handful of movies just for their accomplishments. Richard will likely be a good character study, but we still need to be quite mindful of why this movie is being made, to begin with.
Release Date: November 25 – Cory Woodroof
— The Playlist 🎬 (@ThePlaylist) June 14, 2019
Director: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash (“The Way Way Back”)
Cast: Will Ferrell, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Zoe Chao, Zach Woods, Kristofer Hivju
Synopsis: A remake of the 2014 Swedish film “Force Majeure,” in which a family on a winter vacation is rattled in the aftermath of a diverted avalanche during which the father behaved like a coward.
What You Need To Know: Nat Faxon and Jim Rash were given a big publicity boost when they were credited as co-writers for Alexander Payne’s George Clooney-starring tragicomedy “The Descendants.” While not all of us are fans of their sappy joint debut “The Way Way Back,” we’re curious about the prospect of them tackling an English-language remake of Ruben Östlund’s supremely uncomfortable cringe comedy “Force Majeure.” We’re also hoping that these broad-strokes storytellers don’t sand the edges off of what is ultimately a subtle, insightful comic interrogation of male spinelessness, although casting Will Ferrell to play the shitty, fearful, self-absorbed father at the center of the story is undeniably a stroke of genius. We’re skeptical about this one, but hey, it’s got the backing of Fox Searchlight plus an incredible cast, so it’s intriguing at least.
Release Date: February 14, via Fox Searchlight, but maybe they’ll show it at Sundance first? – NL
— The Playlist 🎬 (@ThePlaylist) December 4, 2019
.@OfficialJLD & #WillFerrell are currently shooting @foxsearchlight's adaption of 🇸🇪 's"Force Majeure" in Austria.@Downhill_Movie is directed by @NatFaxon & @RashisTVUgly.One of our Most Anticipated Films🎬 of 2019 https://t.co/XAthND4Vlf
📸 @officialjld (insta) [email protected] pic.twitter.com/cUVKUTXvax
— The Playlist 🎬 (@ThePlaylist) January 17, 2019
92. “Louis Wain”
Director: Will Sharpe (“Flowers”)
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy, Andrea Riseborough, Toby Jones
Synopsis: A biopic about the life of painter Louis Wain, famous for distinctive paintings of cats
What You Need To Know: Following in the footsteps of “Big Eyes” and other biographical films about painters, Benedict Cumberbatch trades his detective hat for a brush, as he’s now playing the eponymous English artist famous for his distinctive paintings for cats. Will Sharpe, who even acted in an episode of “Sherlock” and directed the BAFTA-nominated comedy “Flowers,” is directing the film about Wain, focusing on the painter’s inspirations, his love of the world and the love of his life, Emily. Sharpe has experience doing comedy-dramas that touch on weird or outlandish characters while capturing the emotional side of the story, so a film about a guy who painted cats but probably suffered from schizophrenia is poised to be both weird and very emotional. Plus, cat lovers will be happy that Wain is finally getting his due, as he’s often credited with elevating the profile and popularity of cats to unprecedented heights in 19th-century England.
Release Date: The film recently started shooting, so possibly a fall festival bow. – RA
— The Playlist 🎬 (@ThePlaylist) August 27, 2019
Director: Aaron Schneider (“Get Low”)
Cast: Tom Hanks, Elisabeth Shue, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Stephen Graham, Rob Morgan
Synopsis: Based on the C.S. Forester novel “The Good Shepherd,” a destroyer captain (Hanks) gets his chance to prove he can lead during World War II but must battle personal turmoil on top of his duties.
What You Need To Know: In what’s sure to be your dad’s favorite movie of 2020, Hanks returns to WWII for the first time since “Saving Private Ryan” to star in the adaptation of this 50s-penned story. After visceral, time-led war films like “1917” and “Dunkirk,” it might be nice to see a good-old-fashioned war epic with a major Hollywood star at its center. Hanks is still one of the most reliable actors working and never turns in a bad performance. He continues to pick interesting roles that challenge him, and we’re quite curious to see what he’ll do with this role that seems to carry some heft. Even more interesting, Schneider returns for his sophomore feature after more than a decade of lag between this and “Get Low,” a wily character study from 2009. Count this one as a definite curiosity to start out the summer movie season.
Release Date: May 8 – CW
— The Playlist 🎬 (@ThePlaylist) September 9, 2016