Here’s the latest HE rundown of 2019 films of a certain preferred quality. 88 as we speak. Possible critical faves, perhaps even award-season contenders. The two main categories are (a) general appeal flicks with bigger names and budgets (29), and (b) smarthouse, upmarket films for particular congregations (59). Further refinements to come. What have I missed?
GENERAL APPEAL, BIGGER NAMES, BIGGER BUDGETS. etc. (30)
1. Martin Scorsese‘s The Irishman — A mob hitman recalls his possible involvement with the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa. (Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Jesse Plemons).
2. Quentin Tarantino‘s Once Upon A Time in Hollywood — A faded TV actor and his stunt double embark on an odyssey to make a name for themselves in the film industry during the Helter Skelter reign of terror in 1969 Los Angeles. (Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie).
3. Ang Lee‘s Gemini Man — An over-the-hill hitman faces off against a younger clone of himself. (Will Smith, Clive Owen, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Benedict Wong).
4. Jon Favreau‘s The Lion King — CGI and live-action re-imagining of the 1994 Disney classic. (Voice-acting by Donald Glover, Alfre Woodard, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Seth Rogen).
5. Todd Phillips’ Joker — Joker origin story, you know the drill. (Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Shea Whigham, Zazie Beetz)
6. Marielle Heller‘s You Are My Friend — The story of Fred Rogers, the honored host and creator of the popular children’s television program, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. (Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelechi Watson, Tammy Blanchard)
7. J.C. Chandor‘s Triple Frontier — Five friends team to take down a South American drug lord. (Charlie Hunnam, Ben Affleck, Pedro Pascal, Oscar Isaac.) Netflix.
8. J.J. Abrams‘ Star Wars: Episode IX — The conclusion of the new ‘Star Wars’ trilogy. (Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, et.al.)
9. Joe Wright‘s The Woman in the Window — An agoraphobic woman living alone in New York begins spying on her new neighbors only to witness a disturbing act of violence. (Amy Adams, Wyatt Russell, Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore)
10. All You Need Is Love (aka “Untitled Danny Boyle/Richard Curtis Film”) — Set to the music of the Beatles, it’s about a musician who thinks he’s the only one who can hear the Beatles’ music. (Lily James, Ed Sheeran, Ana de Armas, Kate McKinnon, Lamorne Morris) Sheeran plays himself discovering a rising young musician. Mckinnon plays a talent agent. Hamesh Patel costars.
11. Greta Gerwig‘s Little Women — Four sisters come of age in America in the aftermath of the Civil War. (Florence Pugh, Timothée Chalamet, Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan)
12. James Mangold‘s Ford v. Ferrari — The true story of the battle between Ford and Ferrari to win Le Mans in 1966. (Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Jon Bernthal).
13. Jordan Peele‘s Us — A “social thriller” set between two couples — one white, one black. Starring Winston Duke (Black Panther) and Lupita Nyongo’o — L.A. Daily News critic Bob Strauss champing at the very bit. (Anna Diop, Elisabeth Moss, Kara Hayward)
14. Aaron Schneider‘s Greyhound — During World War II, an international convoy of 37 Allied ships, led by Commander Ernest Krause (Tom Hanks), cross the treacherous North Atlantic while being hotly pursued by wolf packs of German U-boats. (Elisabeth Shue, Karl Glusman, Stephen Graham)
15. Gavin Hood‘s Official Secrets — The true story of a British whistleblower who leaked information to the press about an illegal NSA spy operation designed to push the UN Security Council into sanctioning the 2003 invasion of Iraq. (Matthew Goode, Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes)