Herewith is Hollywood Elsewhere’s first flaky stab at a list of adult-friendly, quality-aspiring 2019 films— possible critical faves and perhaps even award-season contenders.
I realize that the market for “adult-friendly films that aren’t aimed at idiots” is getting smaller and smaller as the culture devolves and that the governing motto behind 90% of theatrical fare (or at least films released between January and Labor Day) is “you don’t have to be a drooling moron to enjoy this crap but it’ll probably help.” But we all have to hang in there and hope for the best.
We all understand that limited and longform series on cable and streaming are delivering much of the dramatic satisfaction these days, but nothing will replace top–tier theatrical features — i.e., those films which require a special vision and artistic discipline and have to deliver the whole package between 100 and 140 minutes, for the most part.
Things are always hazy at this stage but here are some 2019 stand-outs listed on the IMDB — listed partly in order of interest, and partly randomly. Please understand that I know nothing — I have double-checked only a few titles, and this is purely a paste job at this stage. Research, commentary, corraboration — it’s a process that will take several days to get right:
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 Seth Rogen, Donald Glover, Alfre Woodard, Chiwetel Ejiofor).
5. Darren Aronofsky‘s Untitled Artificial Intelligence Courtroom Project — Allegedly about an artificial intelligence court case.
6. Woody Allen‘s A Rainy Day in New York [in limbo at Amazon, allegedly streaming sometime in ’19)
7. Untitled Harriet Tubman Project — The life of Civil War-era activist Harriet Tubman, who worked to liberate slaves in the American South by developing an a secretive system that allowed them to escape to freedom. (Viola Davis, Mike Gassaway)
8. 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.)
9. Mia Hansen-Løve‘s Bergman Island — An American filmmaking couple who retreat to Faro for the summer to each write screenplays for their upcoming films in an act of pilgrimage to the place. (Mia Wasikowska, Vicky Krieps, Anders Danielsen Lie, Joel Spira.)
10. John Crowley‘s The Goldfinch — A boy in New York is taken in by a wealthy Upper East Side family after his mother is killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Nicole Kidman, Sarah Paulson, Finn Wolfhard, Ansel Elgort)
11. David Michod‘s The King — (Timothée Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, Ben Mendelsohn, Robert Pattinson)
12. Garth Davis‘s A House in the Sky — A young journalist is captured in Somalia and held in captivity for more than a year. (Rooney Mara)
13. Untitled Danny Boyle/Richard Curtis Project — Believed to be musically themed and be set around the 1960s or 1970s. (Lily James, Ana de Armas, Kate McKinnon, Lamorne Morris)
14. J.J. Abrams‘ Star Wars: Episode IX — The conclusion of the new ‘Star Wars’ trilogy. (Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, et.al.)
15. 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)
16. Robert Eggers‘ The Lighthouse — The story of an aging lighthouse keeper named Old who lives in early 20th-century Maine. (Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe)
17. Pedro Almodóvar‘s Dolor y gloria — A film director reflects on the choices he’s made in life as past and present come crashing down around him. (Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Cecilia Roth, Asier Etxeandia)
18. Jonathan Jakubowicz‘ Resistance — The story of a group of Jewish Boy Scouts who worked with the French Resistance to save the lives of ten thousand orphans during World War II. (Clémence Poésy, Ed Harris, Jesse Eisenberg, Edgar Ramírez)
19. Richard Linklater‘s Where’d You Go, Bernadette? — After her anxiety-ridden mother disappears, 15-year-old Bee does everything she can to track her down, discovering her troubled past in the process. (Cate Blanchett, Judy Greer, Kristen Wiig, Laurence Fishburne)
20. Benedict Andrews‘ Against All Enemies — An ambitious young F.B.I. Agent is assigned to investigate iconic actress Jean Seberg when she becomes embroiled in the tumultuous civil rights movement in late 1960s Los Angeles, California. (Kristen Stewart, Zazie Beetz, Vince Vaughn, Jack O’Connell)
21. Armando Iannucci‘s The Personal History of David Copperfield (Tilda Swinton, Ben Whishaw, Gwendoline Christie, Hugh Laurie)
22. 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)
23. Pablo Larraín‘s The True American — A Bangladeshi Air Force officer looking to make his way in the United States is shot by an American terrorist out to kill Muslims in the aftermath of September 11th.
24. Scott Z. Burns‘ The Torture Report — In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, CIA agents begin using extreme interrogation tactics on those they think were behind it. (Adam Driver, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Morrison, Maura Tierney).
25. Dee Rees‘ The Last Thing he Wanted — A journalist quits her newspaper job and becomes an arms dealer for a covert government agency. (Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck, Willem Dafoe, Toby Jones)
26. Craig Brewer‘s Dolemite Is My Name — The story of performer Rudy Ray Moore, who assumed the role of an iconic pimp named Dolemite during the 1970s. (Eddie Murphy, Wesley Snipes, Keegan-Michael Key, Craig Robinson)
27. 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)
28. Benh Zeitlin‘s Wendy — Set on a mysterious island where aging and time have come unglued, Zeitlin’s mythological story tells the tale of two children from different worlds fighting to maintain their grip on freedom and joy. (Tommie Lynn Milazzo, Shay Walker)
29. Bart Freundlich‘s After the Wedding — A manager of an orphanage in Kolkata travels to New York to meet a benefactor. (Michelle Williams, Julianne Moore, Billy Crudup, Will Chase)
30. James DeMonaco‘s Once Upon a Time in Staten Island — Allegedly a coming of age family drama set in the summer of 1982 on Staten Island. (Bobby Cannavale, Naomi Watts, Frank Grillo, Isabella Pisacane)
31. 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).
Another 60something to go…looking for a plug-in.