20. “After Yang”
Director: Kogonada (“Columbus”)
Cast: Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Justin Min, Haley Lu Richardson
Synopsis: Based on Alexander Weinstein’s short story “Saying Goodbye to Yang,” a father and daughter team band together to come to the aid of an ailing family member who just so happens to be a robot.
What You Need To Know: After his introspective, calming 2017 debut, Kogonada hops the good ship A24 to take on a much more adventurous project. The director is not only one of our most promising new filmmakers, but one of our great visual essayists. Kogonada taking on the science fiction genre and infusing his deep understanding of cinema, how it’s framed, how it works and how it appeals to our emotions, just sounds downright exciting. His work with Richardson in particular on “Columbus” anchored that piece, and it’s great to see the two working together again. Also, after Turner-Smith exploded onto screens this year in the acclaimed “Queen and Slim,” it’ll be dually interesting to see her already back in a leading role. High-concept sci-fi is hard to find these days, so consider this one pretty high on our lists for upcoming genre titles.
Release Date: Unknown, but a fall festival bow and late 2020 release sounds likely, given A24’s history and the potential of the project. – CW
— The Playlist ? (@ThePlaylist) February 28, 2019
19. “The Last Thing He Wanted”
Director: Dee Rees (“Pariah,” “Mudbound”)
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck, Willem Dafoe, Toby Jones, Rosie Perez
Synopsis: A journalist quits her newspaper job and becomes an arms dealer for a covert government agency.
What You Need To Know: Dee Rees is unquestionably one of the most exciting female directors currently making movies. Knowing that, the prospect of Rees tackling a work by one of the 20th century’s great female authors, the inestimable Joan Didion (“The White Album”) should be enough reason for any movie-lover to be excited about “The Last Thing He Wanted.” Didion’s prose is simultaneously sparse and remarkably evocative, and we’re confident that Rees will do justice (and then some) to the material. It makes sense that Rees would want to partner with Netflix once again after they managed to garner a considerable degree of awards buzz for “Mudbound,” and like that film, “The Last Thing He Wanted” is blessed with an unfairly talented ensemble cast. Principal photography allegedly began in June of this year, so we’re hoping this one gets an auspicious release date in 2020 – perhaps something in the fall or early months of awards season.
Release Date: TBD. – NL
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Director: Joel Coen
Cast: Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand
Synopsis: An adaptation of Shakespeare’s revered ‘Scottish Play.’
What You Need To Know: Cinephiles around the world were found scratching their heads when it was announced that Joel Coen – one half of the Coen Brothers, arguably the most formidable fraternal directing duo of all time – would be striking out on his own to adapt one of William Shakespeare’s most renowned stage works for the big screen. All that said, we’re intrigued to see Joel going solo (Ethan’s been working in the world of theater as of late), especially considering the cast he’s got at his disposal for this particular project. Denzel Washington has never appeared in a Coen Brothers film, but the prospect of his surely bombastic take on the film’s namesake Scottish lord is, to put it mildly, intriguing. Joel’s wife Frances McDormand (no stranger to the Coens universe) will be handling duties as Lady Macbeth, and with all-star indie distributor A24 handling the domestic release, this one has “potential Oscar player” written all over it.
Release Date: TBD at this time, but an awards season bow seems likely. – NL
— The Playlist ? (@ThePlaylist) March 28, 2019
17. “I’m Thinking Of Ending Things”
Director: Charlie Kaufman (“Synecdoche, New York,” “Anomalisa”)
Cast: Jesse Plemmons, Jessie Buckley, Toni Collette, David Thewlis
Synopsis: An unexpected detour causes a woman who is trying to figure out how to break up with her boyfriend to rethink her life.
What You Need To Know: Charlie Kaufman’s upcoming adaptation of Ian Reid’s disquieting novel will no doubt see the brilliant writer/director hurtling over a series pre-set expectations determined by those who predict that Kaufman will churn out another brainy Meta musing on the agonies of the creative process. Reid’s book is a tightrope walk: it’s the study of a relationship in its death throes that begins as an acrid black comedy and only becomes more terrifying as it winds towards its inexorable conclusion (Jesse Plemmons recently called the shoot “delirious”). We’re beyond thrilled to see Kaufman tackle this dauntingly subjective material, and we’re similarly excited that he’s working with Netflix – who, with “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story,” have proven themselves willing to give free reign to auteurs who might otherwise have a tough time getting these types of projects financed.
Release Date: TBD, but a fall release in time for festival season seems right. – NL
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16. “Bergman Island”
Director: Mia Hansen-Løve (“Eden,” “Things To Come”)
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Vicky Krieps, Tim Roth, Anders Danielsen Lie
Synopsis: An American filmmaking couple retreats to the same Faro islands Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman took refuge in for the summer to each write screenplays for their upcoming films. Reality and fiction start to blur.
What You Need To Know: Hansen-Løve has become one of cinema’s most premier auteurs, often disinterested in plot or story, but her rich characters often create deeply compelling worlds that make for engrossing humanist dramas usually taken from a melancholic moment of her memory and expanded into something new. Said to be semi-autobiographical, Hansen-Løve wrote the script in 2016 on a visit to Bergman’s hideaway with her partner, fellow filmmaker Oliver Assayas. Wasikowska and Norwegian actor Anders Danielsen Lie (“22 July”) star as the filmmaking couple and the film is tricky because it’s a film within a film and because of that element, she stopped production and resumed nine months later. “Bergman Island” did hit some bumps along the way—Greta Gerwig and John Turturro having to drop out due to scheduling— but let’s presume that’s not affecting the final product.
Release Date: TBD. One assumes a Cannes debut unless it isn’t ready. –RP
15. “Da 5 Bloods”
Director: Spike Lee (“Do the Right Thing,” “BlackKklansman”)
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Clarke Peters, Giancarlo Esposito, Delroy Lindo, Paul Walter Hauser
Synopsis: A group of veterans from the Vietnam War return to the jungle to find their lost innocence.
What You Need To Know: Spike Lee scored one of the biggest hits of his career with 2018’s “BlacKkKlansman”: a true-life tale that found a new, meaningful outlet for the director’s trademark politicized rage. For his next big-screen outing, Lee is partnering with Netflix for “Da 5 Bloods”: a distinctly African-American and presumably unorthodox take on the Vietnam conflict. The last time Lee tried his hand at a war film was with the somewhat unwieldy “Miracle at St. Anna,” but it feels safe to say that after “BlacKkKlansman,” the controversial director has officially gotten his groove back. We are beyond excited to see how Lee will dig his satirical screws into the American military-industrial complex, and hopefully fashion a human story out of one of the most egregious large-scale atrocities that our country has ever been complicit in.
Release Date: No release date has been set yet, but surely Netflix wants to replicate that “BlacKkKlansman” awards-season success. – NL
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14. “Last Night in Soho”
Director: Edgar Wright (“Baby Driver,” the Cornetto Trilogy)|
Cast: Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Diana Rigg, Terrence Stamp
Synopsis: A young girl, passionate in fashion design, is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters her idol, a dazzling wannabe singer. But 1960s London is not what it seems, and time seems to fall apart with shady consequences.
What You Need To Know: If Edgar Wright’s kinetic, bullet-riddled live-action jukebox masterpiece “Baby Driver” saw the director riffing on the cinema of Walter Hill and Michael Mann in his own inimitable key (and somehow managing to turn Ansel Elgort into an action-movie star), then “Last Night in Soho” will see the British director tipping his proverbial caps to milestones like Nicolas Roeg’s “Don’t Look Now” and Roman Polanski’s “Repulsion.” Not much is known about the plot particulars at this time, except that the film will reportedly involve an element of time travel that sees at least one of the characters being transported back to the freewheeling London of the ’60s, but we are certainly tickled by the prospect of this ingenious director working in a more potentially wicked register.
Release Date: September 25, via Focus Features. – NL
— The Playlist ? (@ThePlaylist) August 31, 2019
13. “Nightmare Alley”
Director: Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth,” “The Shape of Water”)
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Rooney Mara, Willem Dafoe, David Strathairn
Synopsis: A remake of the 1947 noir where a corrupt con-man teams up with a female psychiatrist to trick people into giving them money.
What You Need To Know: After the runaway success of “The Shape of Water,” Guillermo Del Toro could have done anything he wanted. It would appear that with the proverbial blank check that the lauded filmmaker has been granted, he has decided to try his hand at a classic, hard-boiled noir – albeit one that will no doubt showcase del Toro’s noted proclivity toward the moody and the macabre. This director has always been able to attract top-shelf talent on the basis of his considerable imagination and industry goodwill. Word is that the film will be less supernaturally-inclined than the director’s previous work, as Del Toro has described as being very R-rated and also an “underbelly of society” type of movie. Whatever this director is cooking up, it will doubtlessly be something special.
Release Date: Unknown, but we would be very surprised if this doesn’t get an auspicious holiday release. – NL
— The Playlist ? (@ThePlaylist) August 9, 2019
12. “Untitled Mike Mills/Joaquin Phoenix/A24”
Director: Mike Mills (“Beginners,” “20th Century Women”)
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix
There’s little known about the project, but it’s safe to say that any film confirmed to be Joaquin Phoenix’s follow-up to Todd Philips’ “Joker” has to be pretty special. For Mills, a new A24 project marks a reunion, after the tremendously underrated “20th Century Women” 1970s California-set family drama. Mills also recently directed a visual accompaniment for The National’s new record, “I Am Easy to Find” starring Alicia Vikander. Does this mean something more introspective, something soft, with shades of Spike Jonze’s “Her” could be instore for Phoenix? A love story, a sad story, one with no villains or heroes of the super nature? Hopefully, the director-actor pair will figure it out before the wheels start spinning on Warner Bros’ sequel ideas for the Clown Prince of Crime.
Release date: Unknown, but a fall festival slot wouldn’t be unwelcome. – EK
— The Playlist ? (@ThePlaylist) September 19, 2019
11. “Untitled Jonathan Glazer Holocaust Film”
Director: Jonathan Glazer (“Under The Skin,” “Birth”)
Synopsis: A WWII concentration camp story, reportedly about a Nazi officer who has become enamored with the camp commandant’s wife.
What You Need To Know: Glazer is notoriously secretive and it’s unknown who stars— and or if any name actors will actually appear at all— but the drama is rumored to be loosely inspired by acclaimed British author Martin Amis’ novel The Zone Of Interest, set in Auschwitz. The 2014 novel grapples with the discomfiting idea of love blooming in a barbaric place and explores the contradictions of the human soul. “Can love survive the mirror? Can we even meet each other’s eye, after we have seen who we really are?” the book’s description asks. If this is indeed what Glazer is adapting, audiences are going to be in store for something undoubtedly challenging and uncomfortable.
Release Date: Unknown, and since it’s shooting in 2020, it’s possible it may not arrive this year, but dare to dream (otherwise, it would be fighting for the top spot). – RP
— The Playlist ? (@ThePlaylist) July 11, 2018