It seemed in 2019 I was anxious each month for a new film. From Glass (a super-villain team-up!) to Avengers: Endgame (how can they follow up infinity war?) to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Tarantino back with DiCaprio and Pitt in a Charles Manson story!) to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (can they end on a high note?) there were so many films that had me hyped.
As we start 2020 my list is much shorter than 2019’s, but there are still some films that have me shivering with antici…….pation. Here’s the top 10:
10. The New Mutants (April 10)
Anticipation doesn’t always mean I expect it to be good. The X-Men films have been on a steady decline since First Class, and the years of delays, rumors of reshoots, then rumors that the reshoots didn’t happen, mean this film is likely to be a incomprehensible mess. Still…after wondering if it would ever come out, that they released a new trailer and it looks to actually be happening has me ready.
9. Fantasy Island (Feb 14)
How I picture a few dozen Valentine’s Day conversations (or maybe just mine):
Him: “Hey honey, for Valentine’s Day let’s go to Fantasy Island!”
Him: “This Fantasy Island has Hostel like torture and Wishmaster level ironies”
Her: “Ummm… How about dinner out instead?”
I can’t imagine why Blumhouse took a license like Fantasy Island only to make something so vastly different from the Aaron Spelling cheese-fest that ruled early ’80s television.
It could be laughably bad, or it could actually be Happy Death Day level fun. I’m hoping for the latter.
8. Black Widow (May 1)
Post Endgame I find little excitement in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Its stars have left. They’re in what a sports team would call a “rebuilding year.” So they’re banking on their biggest marquee star, Scarlett Johansson, to launch us into Phase 4 with the second female-led Marvel film.
But…why? Didn’t she die in Endgame? If this is, as Marvel claims, a movie set in the past, between Civil War and Infinity War, what does it have to offer the Universe?
It looks exciting, the jokes in the trailer are funny, but there’s lots of funny action films. That alone wouldn’t put this movie on the list.
Two things make me ready for the Widow‘s sting–first, Johansson has taken Black Widow from a horrible inconvenience (Iron Man 2) to a rich main player (I still think The Winter Soldier featured her best). She deserved a solo film, and it will likely be very good.
But…is it possible Marvel is lying? Could there be bigger surprises in store? The glimpse of a very de-aged General Ross (William Hurt) in the trailer makes me hope there will be some Universe-impacting surprises yet to come…
7. Wonder Woman 1984 (June 5)
The DC connected movie universe has more hits than misses, but the original Wonder Woman was one of the brightest spots. I was skeptical about this sequel when I heard Kristen Wiig (Ghostbusters 2016, SNL) was hired to play Cheetah…but when that first trailer arrived I was hooked.
The ’80s aesthetic, the idea that the bad guy is what defined the ’80s–ambition–and the humor in the return of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) makes this look like a DC movie that would actually be fun! So let’s go to the mall…today!
(But, I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for New Order and so putting “Blue Monday” under any trailer is likely to get my hype level up.)
6. Underwater (January 10)
This movie seems to have no buzz about it. The premiere showings are tonight as I write this, but no one is talking about Underwater…and I don’t know why.
Kristen Stewart has proven herself a capable actress, and was practically the only good part of last year’s Charlie’s Angels. To see her take on a Ripley role in this film that looks completely like Alien underwater has made this a must-see.
5. Bill & Ted Face the Music (August 21)
When we last saw the Wild Stallyns they seemed ready to become a global phenomenon of hair metal music. Unfortunately their music never lead to nirvana as Nirvana brought a new sound that changed public tastes.
I’ll admit on paper the idea of bringing these two righteous dudes back together 31 years after their Excellent Adventure seems like a bad idea. And I imagine Alex Winter wasn’t one to turn down a gig. But Keanu Reeves has had his (2nd? 3rd?) career renaissance. He doesn’t need Bill & Ted. Something in Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon’s screenplay (the writers of the two original Journeys) must have captured his imagination. He even shaved his beard for the role!
I’ll be there opening weekend, ready to air guitar with this blast from the past.
4. No Time to Die (April 10)
At 51 Daniel Craig may feel a little old to play Bond…James Bond, but he’s still six years younger than Roger Moore in A View to a Kill so let’s have some optimism!
Craig has produced two of the best Bond movies in Casino Royale an Skyfall (still my favorite all-time Bond film). Then there were the forgettable Quantum of Solace and ill-advised Spectre.
If the pattern holds, then Craig’s odd-numbered films are the great ones…and Rami Malek impressed the hell out of me with his performances in both Mr. Robot and Bohemian Rhapsody. No Time to Die has me ready to be shaken, not stirred, by another spy flick.
3. Ghostbusters: Afterlife
I hate saying bad things about the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot because the issue has become so politicized by ugly people (one of whom was so butt-hurt by the idea of women Ghostbusters he leaked naked photos of Leslie Jones). Still, if I’m being honest, that movie didn’t match the quality of Ghostbusters 2, let alone the classic original.
The trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife seems to reach for an ’80s Spielberg vibe–or at least a variation on Stranger Things. Having Egon Spengler’s grandson rediscover a spectral world both honors the original (including the late Harold Ramis) and feels fresh for a new generation.
That the original Ghostbusters are also returning (for a cameo? bit part?) for a proper reunion has me very anxious for this new film.
But…please…can they not hire any more modern bands to play Ray Parker Jr’s song? Please?
2. Tenet (July 17)
Christopher Nolan has a large contingent of fans anxious for whatever his next project may be. I’m not one of them. Several of his movies, especially period pieces, failed to excite me. (You can hear me, Stuart, and Jakob review every Nolan film at NowPlayingPodcast.com).
But when Nolan does sci-fi tinged action films like The Dark Knight and Inception I feel he has no equal. While the teaser trailer for Tenet doesn’t give me much to go on, I get a big Inception feel from the trailer.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up being my favorite film of 2020.
1. Top Gun: Maverick (June 26)
It’s been 34 years(!) since Tom Cruise lost that lovin’ feeling at the Top Gun academy in a film that tends to polarize modern audiences. It’s a movie I’ve come to adore (along with that near-impossible to beat NES game)…but Cruise donning his Maverick helmet again wasn’t something I need.
Besides, do we still need fighter pilots? It seems the future is here and fighter jets have been replaced with drones, our servicemen safely in a building, not at risk of dying in a dogfight.
Still, when Cruise partners with Christopher McQuarrie the results are usually good (I’ll forgive them The Mummy). I do wish McQuarrie was directing Maverick, not just co-writing, but he knows a tight script.
But what really got me excited is when Paramount announced only one shot in this movie is CGI. Nearly all aerial stunts took place with real FA-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornets. The dogfights, the navigating through a canyon, it’s all real. The actors are even in the planes pulling the G-forces (though, no, they didn’t fly the planes) and I can feel it in the trailer.
Plus Cruise seems surrounded by a great cast, with Jon Hamm, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, and Miles Teller (forgive him his Fant4stic mistake, he was amazing in Whiplash and Bleed for This).
So enlist me now for an opening weekend seat back at Top Gun!
Will these movies live up to my expectations? You can follow me on Letterboxd where I log and rate every movie I watch.
Do you agree with my list? Disagree? Let me know in the comments!