Happy New Year. Another year is upon us, another one behind us. A lot has happened in 2019 and a lot is expected to occur in 2020 as well. The US Presidential Elections, the launch of new iPhones and Galaxies, and a whole lot more is slated to occur. 2019 also marks the end of a decade, making 2020 all the more special as the start of a new one.
As the world ushers in 2020 in style, the movie-going audiences care about one thing the most: what do they get to watch. 2019 was a phenomenal year in terms of big-budget blockbuster movies; we got to witness the 11-year conclusion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Avengers: Endgame and a brief epilogue of sorts in Spider-Man: Far From Home, the Skywalker Saga concluded with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Disney ruled the roost with live-action remakes of Dumbo, Aladdin and The Lion King while also becoming the first studio to surpass $10 billion in box-office receipts.
Lesser known gems and art-house films also got their moment in the sun. We were witness to Japanese adaptations in Alita: Battle Angel and the Pokemon film Detective Pikachu. Martin Scorcese’s The Irishman premiered on Netflix to rave reviews. And Todd Phillips’ Joker provided a rare blend of art and commercial cinema, becoming the first R-rated film to gross $1 billion and also netting Joaquin Phoenix a Best Actor Golden Globe.
As we look back at 2019 in film, it’s also time to check out what 2020 has in store. With some big properties resting easy, it may seem like 2020 is a low year for the blockbuster event films. However, there does exist a slew of films to look forward to and get excited about. Below is my list of the top 2020 films that are anticipated heavily and that should hopefully do their hype justice:
Dolittle could be the year’s first mega-hit, or the year’s first big mega-flop depending on how well the new-age remake resonates with audiences. So far, it’s got all the ingredients of doing so: Robert Downey Jr. is riding high on the success of Avengers: Endgame and is supported by a voice-cast that includes the likes of such names as Antonio Banderas, Martin Sheen, Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, Ralph Fiennes, Selena Gomez, Marion Cottilard and Tom Holland. I mean, sure most of them are not going to be seen on screen but that’s a pretty terrific cast to market the movie with if you’d ask me.
Anyway, the thing with Dolittle is by the time this article reaches you, the movie may have already been released. Dolittle is a $175 million production that’s set for release as early as January 17, 2020; that’s about 10 days from this piece being published.
A Quiet Place: Part II
2018’s A Quiet Place proved to be a surprise hit with audiences taking to its intriguing style of blending sci-fi with horror and using minimal dialog, conveying its story more through environment and visuals. To say anything more about the plot would be a tricky area for me since I’ve yet to see the original and don’t want to spoil myself by inadvertently studying plot details I’d be best experiencing.
Suffice to say, directed by John Krasinski riding high after Jack Ryan Season 2, with Emily Blunt set to return alongside the core cast, A Quiet Place: Part II is on the verge of launching a small-scale franchise in its own right. It is set for release in theaters on March 20, 2020.
Disney’s Mulan has stirred up quite a bit of buzz since its first trailer premiered to great viewership ratings. Most of it is positive, with praise being showered on the studio for attempting a different, more serious adaptation of what is otherwise a song-and-dance tale, although there are some who criticize those very elements. Still, Mulan looks poised for a big screen reimagining and, directed by Niki Caro, looks to be another big-budget film directed by a female.
In fact, as the other films will prove, girl power looks set to shine in 2020. Regardless, Mulan‘s visuals and the gravitas of its story hold strong promise. The second trailer also received great reception and it looks like Mulan could resonate with all audiences for its appropriate, epic handling of a strong premise. Let’s hope this one proves to be another success for the mouse house.
Birds of Prey
And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of Harley Quinn. Or so goes the overtly lengthy and bizarre title which, if reports are to be believed, is set to be accompanied by an equally bizarre plot. DC retain Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and have assembled quite a cast including the likes of Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollet-Bell, Rosie Perez and Ewan McGregor who appears set to play a … weird bad guy.
Birds of Prey is set for release in just another month, Feb 7, 2020. Considering the winning streak DC is on, it could just as well prove to be the year’s first comic book hit.
No Time To Die
Somehow, Bond has managed to endure and even thrive as a franchise all these years. Daniel Craig started his run as James Bond in Casino Royale in 2006 and 20 years later, he looks poised to bring it to a spectacular close. All releases have cleared their pathway to let Bond have his moment in the sun; after all, no one dare to cross paths with what is essentially the end of the 14-year Bond saga.
Directed by Cary Joji-Fukunaga who helmed the oddly brilliantly yet strangely weird Maniac in 2018 as well as several episodes of True Detective, the movie could have an unpredictability about it which might just be what EON Productions need to get audiences into theaters one more time. No Time To Die is technically set to be the first major pre-summer release and will bow out in theaters on April 10, 2020.
Ever since Scarlett Johansson appeared as Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow in Iron Man 2 and soon after, in The Avengers, fans have been clamoring for a standalone Black Widow movie. The wishing intensified around the release of Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron which also provided some of the first looks at Black Widow’s origins. Marvel heard the pleas and soon after, talks began of bringing Romanoff’s solo outing to the big screen.
Set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War when Widow is a wanted fugitive, Black Widow is also a prequel, part of which takes place much before her introduction in Iron Man 2. The film is directed by Cate Shortland from a script by Jac Schaeffer and Ned Benson and stars Johansson along with Florence Pugh, David Harbour, O-T Fagbenle and Rachel Weisz, with William Hurt and Robert Downey Jr. reprising their previous MCU roles.
Black Widow may be late to the party given the slate of female centered comic book films that have come out but in a world that has so less of them, the more the better. Besides, given that Romanoff isn’t a superhero, there does exist potential for a different kind of movie. The first trailer is giving strong vibes of a political thriller mixed with bond-level espionage and action that should help it stand out from the rest of the crowd.
Wonder Woman was the movie that kickstarted the frenzy of female superhero based movies. It’s baffling that it took as late as 2017 for a female to headline her standalone film but such is the way the world works. While there have been some attempts before such as the Daredevil spin-off Elektra, Wonder Woman was the first mainstream successful movie that pulled this off in a way that gave studios confidence in attempting more such films.
Set in 1984, Wonder Woman 1984 sees Diana Prince battle the new threat of an Orwellian era lead by Maxwell Lord and the dynamic Cheetah. Gal Gadot stars and is accompanied by Chris Pine who returns as Steve Trevor along with Connie Nelson and Robin Wright alongside franchise newcomers Pedro Pascal and Kristen Wiig. Patty Jenkins will serve as director, taking home a nice paycheck, and will direct from a script co-written by her, Geoff Johns and David Callaham.
The movie was set for release much earlier but had to be pushed back to avoid clashes, before eventually settling on a familiar summer slot. The first trailer has generated an enthusiastic response thanks to its 80s vibe and test screenings have been conducted as well to a favorable reception. Here’s keeping our fingers crossed for the film to knock us off this summer.
Christopher Nolan’s name alone is enough to sell a movie. His style of filmmaking has become synonymous with a brand in itself. It’s no wonder then that audiences are looking forward to his next original, event film with eagle eyes, looking to thoroughly dissect any marketing material released to understand the storyline of his movie that evolves from the world of international espionage.
And while set photos have leaked aplenty from his shooting schedules in Estonia to Mumbai, all marketing thus far has been carefully guarded. We’ve been treated to a teaser trailer and IMAX prologue that aired exclusively in theaters and more recently, a full-length trailer that officially released online. And yet, with so many minutes of footage available, we’re still lost on understanding what sorcery Nolan could be pulling off with time this time.
Nolan has assembled a competent cast that includes the likes of John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Clemense Poesy, Aaron-Taylor Johnson, Dimple Kapadia with Kenneth Branagh and Michael Caine. And to top it all, rumors of it secretly being set in the same universe as Inception are adding fire to its promotions. It’s set for release on July 17, 2020. I’m quite surprised it didn’t make it way to Fandango’s most anticipated movie list. Then again, that poll was geared toward millennials.
Top Gun: Maverick
Tom Cruise has made a name for himself as an action star who likes doing most of his stunts for real and by himself. And he continues to carry that brand of movie-making into Top Gun: Maverick that also serves as a sequel to his 1986 film over 20 years ago. It also follows in the trend of resurrecting old franchises of the yesteryear using modern filmmaking technology.
How excited are people for this? While the hype isn’t comparable to say Star Wars: The Force Awakens, people are experiencing similar levels of nostalgia. The first trailer received some praise for its aerial cinematography and the movie looks set to draw in a crowd based on a combination nostalgia, raw action and Cruise appeal. It’s set for release in June 26, 2020.
Sony’s Venom with Tom Hardy in the lead proved to be an unexpected hit when it debuted in theaters in October 2017. Grossing to the tune of $800 million, it helped Sony kickstart its own “Spider-Verse” series of films separate from its shared Spider-Man with Marvel Studios. And with talks of Tom Holland set to reprise his role in Sony’s Venom-verse, Venom 2 has shot up in anticipation as one of the more eagerly awaited sequels of the year.
Venom 2 also has a competent director behind it in Andy Serkis. Sony is hoping to repeat the success by choosing a similar release frame as the first one; Venom 2 bows out in theaters on October 2, 2020. When can we expect a trailer? Hopefully some time alongside the release of Marvel’s Black Widow, or at least DC’s Wonder Woman. And knowing Sony, they’ll be dying to reveal Holland in the trailers itself.
With Avengers behind them, Marvel Studios are looking ahead to creating a new, big franchise and reportedly have their eyes set on The Eternals. The movie is certainly making all the right moves: they have a big-name cast featuring the likes of Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek and Kit Harrington among others. Filming is making extensive use of practical sets. And they have a competent director in Chloe Zhao driving production, fresh off the critical success of 2017’s The Rider.
But what’s more fascinating is the promise that The Eternals could span thousands of years of MCU history, offering an experience and story unlike anything before. That’s typically said of every Marvel film but this one has the potential to become a cosmic event hitherto unseen. Aside from the cast, character names revealed at SDCC and a few set photos, we know nothing much about the plot. It could feature the Celestials, including Thanos’ parents and a young Thanos himself but that’s about all we’re aware of.
The Eternals hits theaters towards the end of the year so hopefully, a lot more info should surface about the film in the intervening months.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters may not have received the critical and box-office love that fans would’ve hoped for but it sure as hell received a lot of acclaim from Toho fans around. The second installment in Legendary’s MonsterVerse made $382 million on a $170 million production budget which might qualify it as a box-office flop. It sparked concerns over Godzilla vs Kong, prompting Warner Bros. to push the release date in the interest of delivering a better movie.
Still, there’s no denying Godzilla vs Kong remains a highly anticipated beast battle in its own right. It brings together two of the biggest monster icons in cinematic history in a fight after nearly 60 years (58 to be precise; King Kong vs Godzilla came out in 1962). And despite the stumble of its predecessor, it would be premature to write this off as a franchise without any steam. We’ve barely had any promotional material to dissect save for a licensing expo banner but I can’t wait to see what director Adam Wingard has in store for us.
A big-screen adaptation of Dune has been cursed and stuck in development hell for nearly 10 years now. First Peter Berg, then Pierre Morel signed on to direct, both departing the franchise for varying reasons. Things finally picked up when Legendary secured the rights and Denis Villeneuve signed on to direct, riding high on the critical success of Sicario, Arrival and Blade Runner 2049.
David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation may be the first thing that comes to mind and turns people off of seeing Dune but there’s all indication that we’re in for a very different movie. Villeneuve’s hot streak and talent for helming complicated storylines with finesse makes him the perfect candidate to adapt Frank Herbert’s incredibly dense, yet massively popular science fiction novel (the best-selling sci-fi novel of all time in fact). And with a stellar cast that includes the likes Rebecca Fergusson, Javier Bardem, Jason Momoa, Oscar Isaac, Dave Bautista, Stellan Skarsgard, Josh Brolin, Zendaya and more, this star-studded ensemble had everyone talking when it was being assembled, and will no doubt turn heads once the trailers start hitting online.
Admittedly, my coverage of Dune has been non-existent until this point. But I have no qualms in stating that this, along with Tenet are personally, my most anticipated movies of 2020. And I’m betting strong on the success of this film and Villeneuve hopefully getting the chance to film the sequel and finish off the story for the first novel at the very least.
That’s it for my most anticipated 2020 movies. There are many others that may or may not be anticipated by others that didn’t make this cut. Ghostbusters? Sonic: The Hedgehog? Fast & Furious 9? Jungle Cruise? Artemis Fowl? Soul? Let me know the movies I missed that are personally on your list in the comments below.