To answer the question you didn’t ask: yes, we’ll be first in line for movies like Captain Marvel, Dumbo, Star Wars: Episode IX, Avengers: Endgame, Aladdin, Spider-Man: Far from Home, Lion King, Toy Story 4, and definitely not Frozen 2 (uh, Disney has a big year ahead of it). But you know about those kinds of movies already.
So, here are a few 2019 movies with budgets under a trillion dollars that might not be on your radar yet!
Ad Astra / May 24:
Speaking of radars, this one is about a man (Brad Pitt) searching for his father (Tommy Lee Jones) who disappeared mysteriously at the edge of the solar system. The logline references secrets that “challenge the nature of human existence” and the initial pitch was “Apocalypse Now in space.” This could be our generation’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (kidding, nobody compares to Kubrick) or it could squander an amazing premise. It’s got a prime Memorial Day launch but zero buzz. So who knows? But we’ll be there to find out.
Jojo Rabbit / Date TBD:
Taika Waititi has one of the most distinctive voices in Hollywood. We’re going to write about him a lot. His last three movies – a horror mockumentary, a heart-warming family dramedy, and a massive Marvel sequel – were brilliant genre-benders. His new movie is a WWII satire where he plays a boy’s imaginary friend…Adolf Hitler. That’s a massive landmine of a premise and we think Waititi will be able to pull it off swimmingly. Where did that strange term even come from? No time to Google it.
Midsommar / August 9:
Last year, Ari Aster’s debut film Hereditary made huge waves. Swimmingly. Whether you loved it or hated it – those were literally the only two reactions and I loved it – there is no questioning that Aster is already a master craftsman with an amazing sense of atmosphere. His follow-up is a horror-mystery that might involve strange Pagan rituals in Sweden. My Hereditary nightmares should be over by August, so sign me up.
1917 / December:
Sam Mendes hasn’t made a movie since Spectre (which actually improves significantly upon repeat viewings). Aside from its WWI setting, the details of 1917 are under wraps. But my guess is that the awards season release date signals a smaller scale drama. Mendes is a great storyteller and is one of the best period piece directors.
The French Dispatch / TBD:
As of right now, Wes Anderson’s latest is being rumored for a fall release. Not much is known, but it’s supposedly about an American newspaper in Paris in the 1950s. Wes Anderson gets better and better with age – just like three incredible actors who are working with him for the first time here: Benicio del Toro, Henry Winkler, and Jeffrey Wright.
Captive State / March 15:
The marketing for this one has been minor and honestly pretty underwhelming, but whatever. The director, Rupert Wyatt, revitalized the Planet of the Apes franchise (which was barely on life support) in a totally unexpected way. He also directed the first episode of The Exorcist TV series, which was one of the best pilots I’ve seen. Captive State takes a neat approach to the invasion genre by exploring the political and social implications of alien supremacy. It sounds like smart sci-fi and the great Kevin Dunn has a role, so this could be a big surprise.
Yesterday / June 28:
After Danny Boyle dropped out of Bond 25, he sprinted right into this project. The way insiders have talked about the movie is kind of like the clouds parting and the hand of God reaching down, so that’s a good sign. If you listen to our podcast, we edited it before the trailer dropped – before which nothing was known. The trailer features a global blackout that leads to some bloke bonking his noggin. When he wakes up, he’s the only one who remembers The Beatles, so he starts performing their music with the same acclaim as the Fab Four. I love Danny Boyle, but I’m even more excited for a musical rom-com from writer Richard Curtis, the genius behind Love Actually.
17 Bridges / July 19:
The short description – a cop tries to redeem himself and uncovers a massive conspiracy – sounds like a VOD clunker starring John Cusack, Bruce Willis, Tom Sizemore, and Eric Roberts. But fear not! The hook here is that it stars Chadwick Boseman and J.K. Simmons (who should star in everything, please) and is produced by the Russo Brothers. How they found time outside of the Avengers to even sneeze is beyond me, but between Arrested Development, Community, and directing Marvel’s best and biggest movies, I’ll watch anything they do. Also, I just discovered that they are rebooting The Warriors as a TV show. Caaaaaaan you dig it?!
This movie isn’t on anybody’s radar because I’m not sure it actually exists, but perhaps JJ Abrams will pull another huge surprise on us! I enjoyed The Cloverfield Paradox (oh leave me alone) and want to see more movies in that universe. If I write about it, maybe I can will it into existence.
The Report / TBD:
Described as a spiritual companion to Zero Dark Thirty, this political procedural focuses on the investigation of the CIA’s torture program post-9/11. It sparked a massive bidding war at Sundance (nobody was tortured) and will probably make it onto a lot of Top 10 lists this year. The two leads starred in politically-charged movies last year – Jon Hamm in Beirut (which stunk) and Adam Driver in BlackKklansman (which was excellent).
Fighting with My Family / February 14:
Before The Rock kicks ass with Jason Statham or returns to Jumanji this year, he plays himself in a true story about a British family that aspires to be WWE stars. Feel good sports movies are one of the emotionally manipulative joys of the world (I can’t get through Eddie the Eagle without choking up), but this has the added intrigue of comedy legends Stephen Merchant behind the camera and Nick Frost as the patriarch. Also, it’s been a while since The Rock was in a supporting role, so that will be an interesting change of pace.
Blinded by the Light / TBD:
This was another Sundance darling – a coming-of-age story about a British teenager who begins to understand the world through the music of Bruce Springsteen. This caught my attention because I’m a huge Springsteen fan. In 2012, The Boss’ album Wrecking Ball spoke to me on an emotional level in way that no other album besides Paul SImon’s Graceland has. I’d imagine Springsteen’s decades of powerful music have had the same effect on others, like the movie’s director, Gurinder Chadha.
6 Underground / TBD :
Look, Michael Bay is a great director. I won’t tolerate the opinion of people who think he’s a hack. He’s excessive, sure, and his storytelling is sometimes non-existent, but the man has defined Hollywood spectacle on the same scale as Lucas and Spielberg. 6 Underground is about six billionaires who fake their deaths to form a vigilante squad. So basically, it’s like six Bruce Waynes causing global mayhem. There is simply no other director who could create a movie to realize that concept. The script – yes, there is a script – comes from Deadpool and Zombieland scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. And anything with Ryan Reynolds is worth seeing. He’s just so charming.
A few others that might be worth your time:
- Rambo: Last Blood – Did you see the 2008 Rambo? It was awesome.
- Little Monsters – Lupita N’yongo is a teacher who protects her students during a surprise zombie apocalypse. It’s a comedy!
- Boss Level – Joe Carnahan directs Mel Gibson as a special forces operative who has to keep reliving his death. Sounds like The Edge of Tomorrow, but it won’t be.
- Triple Frontier – I can’t tell if this one is getting any real buzz, but the Netflix blockbuster is about former soldiers who run a heist against a cartel. The cast is awesome.
- Long Shot – Seth Rogen stars as a failure who decides to pursue Charlize Theron (playing “one of the most powerful and unattainable women on earth”).
- Noah Baumbauch – The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) was one of the best and most underappreciated movies of 2017. I’m psyched for Baumbauch’s newest.
- Knives Out – Rian Johnson’s first post-The Last Jedi movie has a stellar cast. And the dude might have made a Star Wars movie I didn’t like, but he’s a damn great filmmaker.