With 2019 behind, we can already look at the bright horizon of 2020 and its cinematic landscape.
There has been a lot of great movies over these past twelve months. From independent gems to grand finales of sagas from Marvel and Star Wars. It’s been all fun, but 2020 is already here, and thus – a new deck of cards to play with.
As it happened last year, Cultural Hater summed up the premieres that you should definitely look for. Below, you’ll find 38 films, from all over the world. They are divided into four major categories: Blockbusters in 2020, Sundance Darlings of 2020, Independent Movies in 2020 and Horrors in 2020.
Note: the list will be updated when Cannes announces its lineup.
Blockbuster Movies In 2020
Nothing’s better than millions of bucks spent on entertainment, right? In 2020, we will have plenty to cheer for – Christopher Nolan returns after Dunkirk (2017), Denis Villeneuve’s long-awaited Dune project and a rain of DC/Marvel productions.
#1 Tenet (dir. Christopher Nolan)
After Dunkirk (2017), which was a deviation from Christopher Nolan’s “the usual“, the British filmmaker’s longing for an action blockbuster is about to be satisfied. His newest film called Tenet (2020) is advertised with pompous trumpets, as his finest creation so far. The recently dropped trailer has a strong Inception (2010) vibe pinned to it, which sets the course for Nolan in 2020. He’ll be all about bending timelines, having the audiences loose their breaths in awe, and make espionage look awesome. To make you even more hyped, the cast of Tenet (2020) includes the likes of Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse, The King), John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman) and sir Michael Caine (almost every movie of Nolan). Hoyte van Hoytema, Nolan’s DP in Dunkirk (2018) is back too, and Ludwig Göransson (Mandalorian) composed the score.
#2 Dune (Dir. Denis Villeneuve)
I’d risk to say that Denis Villeneuve’s Dune (2020) will be the movie of the year. Nobody’s able to predict the future, and even this year proved it with the unexpected gem Parasite (2019), and 1917 (2019) as the dark horse who’s likely to sweep away the Oscars. However, Dune (2020) has all the quintessential marks of a masterpiece. Villeneuve’s already a top-shelf director, with much acclaim he garnered after films like Incendies (2010), Sicario (2015), Prisoners (2013), and Blade Runner 2049 (2017). But that’s just one piece of the puzzle. The tremendous cast of Dune (2020) includes Timothee Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista, Charlotte Rampling, Stellan Skarsgard and David Dastmalchian. Top it with Greig Fraser as DP (Rogue 1, The Mandalorian, and Vice), Jacqueline West as Costume Designer (3-times Oscar nominee) and one and only Hans Zimmer composing. Goooooosebumps.
#3 Wonder Woman 1984 (Dir. Patty Jenkins)
Patty Jenkins’ romance with Wonder Woman wasn’t – fortunately – a one night stand. After successfully bringing a first female superhero to DC Comics silver screen adventures – an achievement unknown to Marvel so far – Jenkins paved her way to claim the rights to a sequel. Gal Gadot returns for this second installment, where she’s set to have quite a company – Pedro Pascal, Christen Wiig and Chris Pine reprising his role. More plot details are still unknown, but I put my faith in both Jenkins and Gadot. It worked once, so why not copy & paste the success?
#4 Eternals (Dir. Chloé Zhao)
Marvel’s Eternals (2020) will mark the introduction to a whole bunch of new characters. A higher race of immortal beings will be played by a stunning ensemble – Salma Hayek, Kumail Nanjiani, Angelina Jolie and Kit Harrington. Kevin Feige, the exec producer of the film, promises a spectacle that won’t fall short of Avengers. And after the iconic Marvel motley crew has ended their saga, it’s time for a new group to claim the throne.
#5 Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (Dir. Cathy Yan)
Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robbie, was probably the only redeeming part of Suicide Squad (2016), a film which received some of the most opprobrious reviews among DC ones. Thankfully, the size of the calamity did not include Robbie and her wicked performance. Under the direction of Cathy Yan, Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) will be a full-on feminist response to emasculated superhero movies, with four unlikely female villains fighting Black Mask. Aside from Robbie, Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) will be graced by Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ewan McGregor as Black Mask.
#6 No Time To Die (Dir. Cary Fukunaga)
Who doesn’t like James Bond? Well, I honestly don’t, but it doesn’t halt my excitement when it comes to No Time To Die (2020). That’s because the project’s helmed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, who is one of the most gifted filmmakers of our time. With much critical acclaim for his previous films – Sin Nombre (2009), Jane Eyre (2011) and Beasts of No Nation (2015) – and the flawless first season of HBO’s True Detective, Fukunaga proved to have a strong voice in the modern cinema. With each of the projects he touched, the filmmaker experimented with a different tone and aesthetic, and a blockbuster such as the James Bond franchise is one hell of a bold move.
#7 Black Widow (Dir. Cate Shortland)
After Captain Marvel (2019) failed to deliver a heroine that Marvel fans deserve, Cate Shortland seizes the opportunity to do so. Avengers: Endgame (2019) summed up years of world building, but Marvel’s in no rush to halt the speeding train. And out of the rich array of characters, it’s exciting that Black Widow got her standalone film in the beginning of 2020. Cate Shortland has yet to shine (although Berlin Syndrome from 2017 was quite sensational) and Black Widow (2020) might just be the moment. Johansson, with her solid game in 2019 as she starred in Marriage Story (2019) and Jojo Rabbit (2019), has the chance to develop her heroine character and compete with Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman.
#8 Death on the Nile (Dir. Kenneth Branagh)
Acclaimed actor-director Kenneth Branagh doubles his chances to stun in 2020, with Death on the Nile and Artemis Fowl. Death on the Nile (2020) will mark the on-screen revival of Hercule Poirot, a Belgian detective character created by Agatha Christie. The film’s main stars are Gal Gadot and Armie Hammer, who’ll accompany Branagh as Poirot. The film’s photography is helmed by Haris Zambarloukos, and that name’s attached to Locke (2013), an astounding achievement in cinematography. Death on the Nile (2020) will hopefully be a relative to Knives Out (2019) tonally, with some great visuals too.
#9 Morbius (Dir. Daniel Espinosa)
Jared Leto’s fatal romance with Joker didn’t discourage the actor from taking on another wicked comic book character. This time, it’s Morbius – a vampire which turns into a superhero. Some already sense a flop such as Venom (2018), but it would be a shame considering the cast: J.K. Simmons, Matt Smith and Jared Harris to name a few. Daniel Espinosa directs, and that isn’t a household name yet either, with a disappointing sci-fi horror Life (2015) as his most popular work so far. But let’s not cross that one off the list just yet, shall we?
#10 Mank (Dir. David Fincher)
David Fincher. This name’s enough to get my hype train break every limit in existence. Fincher’s been silently working on Mindhunter for the last few years, and it’s been a while since Gone Girl premiered back in 2014. Fincher’s newest Mank (2020) will look at a turbulent career of Herman J. Mankiewicz, a screenwriter who worked with Orson Welles on the beloved classic Citizen Kane (1941). Fincher’s a true craftsman of biopics turned upside down – he managed to direct the most thrilling story about Zodiac with no cars crashing and cop movie tropes. And don’t forget The Social Network (2010), where he turned the rise of Facebook into a total thrill-ride. It’s also interesting that the script was written by Jack Fincher, a deceased screenwriter, whose work has never been adapted to screen. And those craving some hot names, here you are: Mank (2020) will star Lily Collins, Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried.
#11 Hillbilly Elegy (Dir. Ron Howard)
Not many details were revealed in relation to this new Ron Howard project, but hey – Hillbilly Elegy (2020) isn’t a title you can forget easily. The film will most likely be a drama, where tradition’s on the frontline, as it focuses on a Yale student who returns to his home in the Appalachian region. The story will be based on J.D. Vance’s memoirs of the same title. The script’s in safe hands of Vanessa Taylor (co-writer of The Shape of Water and Game of Thrones), and with Amy Adams and Glenn Close on board, Hillbilly Elegy (2020) might be a dark horse in the awards season next year.
#12 Harry Haft (Dir. Barry Levinson)
A biopic about a boxer, who fought other prisoners in a concentration camp during the World War II. Years after the war is over, Haft looks for his lost love, but in a rather unprecedented way. Barry Levinson, who helms Harry Haft (2020) as the director, has a rich dossier, but his successes date back to the last millennium – Rain Man (1988), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) and Avalon (1989). However, Levinson got a solid leverage from his cast. Harry Haft (2020) stars Ben Foster as Haft himself. In supporting roles, we’ll see Danny DeVito, Billy Magnussen, John Leguizamo and Peter Sarsgaard.
Sundance Movies in 2020 To Look Forward To
Sundance Film Festival has already shared the lineup for the 2020 edition. After studying it, a few titles attracted my attention. Here they are.
#13 Zola (Dir. Janicza Bravo)
Set to premiere during Sundance Film Festival 2020, Zola (2020) will portray the bonding of two amateur pole dancers, who decide to throw their current lives away and go on a road trip together. The film’s notable place in the U.S. Dramatic Competition is already a big deal, but Bravo – a well-known name on the independent stage – has likely delivered a film of equal power as American Honey (2016). Zola (2020) will star Riley Keough.
#14 Possessor (Dir. Brandon Cronenberg)
Partly horror, partly sci-fi and partly drama, Possessor (2020) will probably shock the Sundance audiences (and everyone else to come later on). The film’s axis oscillates around Tasya Vos, who specializes in brain transplants that allow her to use other people’s bodies in order to do all kinds of things – even commit crimes. Yet every operation influences her mental state too, and soon she finds herself on the verge of sanity. Starring Andrea Riseborough, Christopher Abbott, Sean Bean and Jennifer Jason Leigh, this Canadian thriller will surely deliver some wild fun.
#15 Summer White (Dir. Rodrigo Ruiz Patterson)
A teenager living with his mother needs to learn how to share the parental love, when she becomes entangled in a new, blossoming relationship. A part of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition, Summer White (2020) promises an insightful coming-of-age drama, with allegedly towering performance of its central star, Adrián Rossi.
#16 The Last Thing He Wanted (Dir. Dee Rees)
Dee Rees’ previous feature film Mudbound (2018) was a rare gem among Netflix acquisitions. While its fuel didn’t hold out long enough to bring an Oscar, it still was a fantastic exercise of image and storytelling, crafted into a fine period drama. Therefore I’m excited to see Dee Rees come back in 2020 with The Last Thing He Wanted. The movie will be another collaboration of Rees with Netflix. In The Last Thing He Wanted (2020) a journalist’s mixed up in an intrigue with a political and military background, and she now has to parse her own story to survive. The Last Thing He Wanted (2020) stars Anne Hathaway, Willem Defoe and Ben Affleck.
#17 Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness (Dir. Massoud Bakhshi)
This Iranian drama is likely to generate lots of heated debates. A woman accused of killing her husband can survive under the Iranian law that says only the family of the deceased man can spare her life. However, director Massoud Bakhshi spices things up by burning this family drama to a reality tv show, where millions of viewers will observe how the crime resolves. If handled with care, Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness (2020) has the potential to clash tradition with the contemporary paradox, and convey a message about authority and patriarchy of the country’s society. The film will be screened in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival 2020.
#18 Falling (Dir. Viggo Mortensen)
Viggo Mortensen has transitioned his career; from Aragorn and blockbusters to some deep indie scene. The actor has expressed an interest in sitting behind the camera too. In 2020, his directorial debut Falling (2020) will be premiered at Sundance Film Festival. Mortensen’s film will vivisect a modern family monument, with tension between generations that defines the story’s conflict.
#19 Shirley (Dir. Josephine Decker)
Josephine Decker’s Shirley (2020) is set to premiere at Sundance Film Festival 2020 too. The film’s based on a short novel of Susan Scarf Merrell of the same title. The plot follows a husband and his wife, who take in a young couple. Things go awry when it’s revealed that the wife’s a writer who specializes in horrors. Merrell’s piece was categorized as a heavy, psychological thriller, and Decker has every right to excavating its darkness. In the main roles, we’ll see Elisabeth Moss and Michael Stuhlbarg.
#20 This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection (dir. Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese)
A self-taught filmmaker from Lesotho, Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, brings a story about tradition that clashes with the changing world in his country of origin. The story in This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection (2020) follows an elderly woman who learns about her son’s death, the last member of her family. Left grieving, she decides to prepare for her passing too, but when she hears about the plans of resettlement of her village, the woman decides to take a stand. It’s rare to hear a voice from such a remote country (in the cinematic terms), and the story of Mosese’s film promises an in-depth look into the changes that currently take place in Africa.
#21 Cuties (Dir. Maïmouna Doucouré)
Maïmouna Doucouré, whose shorts travelled around the world and got the filmmaker plenty of awards, goes into the full feature league with Cuties (2020). The film’s plot follows a young girl Amy, who lives in France, but awaits her family from Senegal to rejoin soon. It’s a coming-of-age drama with the Billy Elliot vibe, since Amy’s all about the sensual dance of twerking. The mix of immigrant tale and dance routine promises an energetic drama with a new voice rising in the French cinema.
Independent Films in 2020 To Look Forward To
#22 Last Night in Soho (Dir. Edgar Wright)
I wasn’t the most ardent fan of Baby Driver (2017), but I nonetheless have mad respect for the creative mind of Edgar Wright. The British filmmaker is all about pushing the envelope, and that’s what can be expected from Last Night in Soho (2020) too – a bonkers horror movie. The plot will find a young fashionista to kickstart her career up until she meets another dreamer, a wannabe singer, in the late 60s in London. Wright assembled a stellar cast that includes Anya Taylor-Joy and Matt Smith in leading roles, with Thomasin McKenzie, Diana Rigg and Terrence Stamp in supporting roles. The director teased that Polanski Repulsion (1965) and some of Nicolas Winding Refn’s works influenced his Last Night in Soho (2020).
#23 The Devil All The Time (Dir. Antonio Campos)
Antonio Campos hasn’t been the A-list name just yet, but fans of festival circuits are probably acquainted with his work as a producer. His affection for psychological thrillers spawned films such as the highly undervalued Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011), and more recent Piercing (2018). Yet Campos is quite a versatile beast. He also worked on a black-and-white horror fable The Eyes of My Mother (2016) and a dazzling Sundance drama James White (2015) about a son who takes care of his dying mother. In The Devil All The Time (2020), Campos steer the direction. It’s a tale set in Ohio, a few years after the war. Rumored to be a film that intersects stories of several mentally ill and disturbed people, The Devil All The Time (2020) offers a handsome cast that includes Riley Keough, Robert Pattinson, Bill Skarsgard and Tom Holland.
#24 Minamata (Dir. Andrew Levitas)
Johnny Depp had his fair share of terrible career choices. However, it might have been all down to his agent or a truly grand misfortune. Either way, Andrew Levitas’ Minamata (2020) sounds like a passage back to the top for Depp. He’ll play the role of an American photographer who travels to Japan only to witness and document the terrifying effects of mercury on the locals. The story’s been developed by first-time writer David Kessler, and that’s also a roll of a dice. However, the black and white photography of Benoît Delhomme might prove worthwhile, and with Depp and Bill Nighy to star, Minamata (2020) has its place in the radius of my radar.
#25 Benedetta (Dir. Paul Verhoeven)
A 17th-century nun in Italy skews away from her vocation, as she’s haunted by disturbing, erotic visions. That’s Benedetta (2020), Paul Verhoeven’s period drama with an LGBT lining, and likely the most polarizing and provocative feature of 2020. The Dutch director’s crew is almost entirely French, with the exception of Charlotte Rampling in one of the leading roles. Verhoeven’s Benedetta (2020) is likely to premiere at Cannes – it’s the right festival for this kind of provocation.
#26 Memoria (Dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the Asian king of mindfucks – such as Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010) – will return in 2020 with Memoria (2020). The film stars Tilda Swinton, who plays a traveling woman whose mind is soon fuddled by strand sounds she begins to hear. Weerasethakul loves to explore metaphysics and contemplate in his movies, and he does so impeccably. He’s the most acclaimed Thai director, a beloved figure for the Cannes festival and Memoria (2020) needs to live up to the expectations.
#27 Annette (Dir. Leos Carax)
Leos Carax is the guy responsible for Holy Motors (2012), one of the most wicked and original films since 2000. After eight years, the director will come back to stun us once more. His newest flick called Annette (2020) follows a couple of artists – a stand-up comedian and an opera singer. Their life is turned upside down when the two have a kid, that’s born with a unique ability. Not more is known – at least so far – about Annette (2020). However, judging from Carax’s previous exploits, this film will too be a bonkers acid trip, where Marrion Cotillard along with Adam Driver will lead the pack.
Horror Movies in 2020 To Look Forward To
#28 The Grudge (Dir. Nicolas Pesce)
The original story about the malevolent spirit living in a Japanese house dates back to 2002 and director Takashi Shimizu. Yet it was only when an American remake came round two years later that the story really took off, spawning two B-list sequels. Nicolas Pesce, a writing collaborator of Antonio Campos (whose The Devil All The Time appears on this list as well), decided to reinvent the morbid story. Jackie Weaver and Andrea Riseborough are set to star in this remake of a remake, and while I’m usually shitting on the very idea of a remake, this trailer below got me the shivers.
Read the review here.
#29 I’m Thinking of Ending Things (Dir. Charlie Kaufman)
It seems that horror as a genre has finally reached the big kids playroom too. If Charlie Kaufman reaches for it, then it must be a thing. He’s the mastermind behind an array of mind-boggling stories – The Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind (2004), Synecdoche, New York (2008), Anomalisa (2015) and Being John Malkovich (1999) to name a few. Kaufman has always balanced on the verge of some really nauseating, even disturbing themes, and I honestly can’t wait to see what he’ll do with I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020). Judging from the scraps of the plot revealed so far, it will likely be a story of a mental crisis. The rest’s in safe hands – Toni Colette takes on the main role, with David Thewlis and Jesse Plemons to support. I’m also excited for Lukasz Zal’s cinematography, the close collaborator of Pawel Pawlikowski (Ida and The Cold War).
#30 Antlers (Dir. Scott Cooper)
Scott Cooper’s best known for depressing thrillers (Crazy Heart (2009), The Black Mass (2015)), which usually had a troubled man in their centre. In Antlers (2020), the director has finally made a step towards horror. The film, based on a novel by Nick Antosca – The Quiet Boy – will follow two siblings who are about to unravel a terrifying mystery of a student from a small Oregon town. The creepy kids subgenre has been strong with the numbers in 2019, but not so much with the force. Hopefully, Scott Cooper’s capability to ooze the harrowing, bone-deep unease, will be felt in Antlers (2020). In order to do that, Cooper brought Jesse Plemons and Keri Russell as two main characters, and Javier Navarette’s skills to build the dramatic score for the film (Pan’s Labyrinth).
#31 Gretel & Hansel (Dir. Oz Perkins)
The latest version of the tale about Hansel and Gretel, advertised with a “new twist”, happened to be quite a disaster. Therefore, we should assume that this dark fable of monster-hunting siblings will either be a calamity of Dracula: Untold (2014) size or a fresh gothic tale resembling Guillermo Del Toro’s Crimson Peak (2015). I hope the director Oz Perkins will deliver the latter. Perkins helmed two directorial projects so far, both horrors by all means. A simple math implies that Perkins will bring the much-needed fright to Hansel & Gretel, without the prim and proper attitude that sunk the 2013 movie.
#32 The Night House (Dir. David Bruckner)
Davis Bruckner’s previous feature film The Ritual (2017) has been one of the most pleasant surprises among horror movies in the recent history. It was a brooding drama, but its core was dark from all the forlorn atmosphere that Bruckner oozed. Therefore, I’m hyped as hell to hear that his newest The Night House (2020) has been submitted to Sundance Film Festival 2020. Similarly to The Ritual (2017), Bruckner revisits a traumatized protagonist. This time, it’s a widow, who is haunted by ghastly figures and visions that cast a very dark light on her deceased husband. Rumor has it that Rebecca Hall’s role is magnificent and she’s the key to The Night House (2020). This sounds like an A24 acquisition to me.
#33 Impetigore (Dir. Joko Anwar)
Another piece from the Midnight Madness section of Sundance 2020, Impetigore (2020) is an Indonesian horror movie. Joko Anwar revisit the themes his country’s folklore, and beliefs in ghosts in particular. In Impetigore (2020), a young woman goes back to her hometown, only to get entangled in a local drama related to kids missing in the area. Indonesian horror rises, and Impetigore (2020) might be a sweet treat for the genre fans.
#34 The Turning (Dir. Floria Sigismondi)
The Turning (2020) has already generated quite a buzz, mostly thanks to this thumbnail you see above. But apart from spiders coming out of mouths, Floria Sigismondi’s feature has much more to offer. Based on a novel by Henry James called The Turn of the Screw, the story follows a governess who is supposed to take care of two kids. It’s a ghost story with a sinister twist, and it has already been adapted numerous times. However, Sigismondi’s creation opts for the most vivid palette of scares, and hopefully, it will do justice to James’ story.
#35 Candyman (Dir. Nia DaCosta)
A sequel to the 1992’s Candyman, the film directed by Nic DaCosta has been under the radar of many horror fans. The newest installment in the series will once again see the devilish character, and even bring Tony Todd again as Styx. The cast is led by Aquaman’s Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Manta from Aquaman (2018)), and star of an indie drama Mope (2019) – Nathan Stewart-Jarrett. While this is certainly a big event for the genre fans, Candyman (2020) can surely blossom in the not-so-crowded space of blockbuster horrors in 2020.
#36 A Quiet Place Part II (Dir. John Krasinski)
John Krasinski’s horror about super-sensitive aliens got him an instant cult following. It was a matter of time until a sequel was announced. In 2020, A Quiet Place Part II will follow up to the events from part I. The Abbott family, now without Krasinski’s character, must face the predators out in the wild. However, there are even more deadly predators, waiting for prey. The cast from the 2018 horror returns, plus a nice addition in the figure of Cillian Murphy.
#37 Prisoners of the Ghostland (Sion Sono)
It’s a Nicolas Cage movie. Hell yeah!
#38 Terrifier 2 (Dir. Damien Leone)
Terrifier (2016) has been a skillfully executed gorefest, but its engine was nobody else than Art The Clown – a grisly creation of David Howard Thornton. And in 2020, the laughing game is on once more, with Damien Leone back as the director, and Thornton reprising his lovingly morbid role. Art The Clown’s back to wreak havoc and fans of horror will rejoice.
Which movies are you waiting for? Let us know in the comments!