May 27 2020
The most awaited films of 2019
07 January 2019

Cinema aficionados are perennially greedy. In world cinema at least, we had one of the great years in 2018, but, barring a few awards, it is done and dusted. ‘Bring on 2019’ is already the rallying cry. As always, my eyes first go towards Asian cinema, in particular, the international debuts of two auteurs. We all know and love the prolific oeuvre of Japanese director Sion Sono (Love Exposure, Why Don’t You Play In Hell?). 2019 will see his English language debut, Prisoners of the Ghostland, starring none other than Nicolas Cage, who after a series of interesting career choices, came roaring back in 2018 with Mandy.

The cinema of Thailand’s Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Cemetery of Splendour) goes international, to Colombia to be precise, with Memoria. And, of course, it stars Tilda Swinton, the suzerain of global arthouse. The other near-constant presence in internationally-acclaimed independent cinema is Charlotte Rampling and we’ll see her again in Benedetta from Paul Verhoeven (Elle, Basic Instinct), that deals with lesbian nuns in 17th century Italy.

Also making her English language debut is Mia Hansen-Love (Maya, Things To Come) with Bergman Island where an American filmmaker couple head to Faro, the island where Ingmar Bergman frequently found his muse. There are bound to be groans when teasers for yet another Charlie’s Angels film begin doing the rounds, but given that it is directed by actress/filmmaker Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect 2) and has a terrific cast that includes her, Kristen Stewart and Naomi Scott, it might be well worth a look.

Cinema vs Netflix is a topic that is rapidly becoming stale, but it will be dusted off all over again when it is time for Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman to release. Netflix did not baulk at the $140 million budget (some say $175 million) as some traditional studios did apparently. Frankly, the aficionado does not care either way. We can't wait to see the old guard of Robert de Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel back on screen (any screen) together.

Speaking of masters, it’s been a while since we heard from Pedro Almodovar. Julieta was in 2016 and it’s been too long. He’s back, in 8 ½ mode no less, with Pain and Glory, where a film director looks back on the choices he’s made in life. The cast includes Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas and that’s enough said really.

While I normally don’t highlight the Marvel/DC/Star Wars films, I must make an exception for Captain Marvel, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, where Brie Larson promises to be a star for the ages.

And yes, I am aware that a Tarantino is due (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, with a massive star cast), but I’m unable to muster the same excitement with which I used to wait for his latest film. Instead, nudged by my colleagues at Variety, I’m keenly looking forward to new works from Pippa Bianco (Share), Alejandra Marquez Abella (The Good Girls) and Tayarisha Poe (Selah And The Spades).



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