By Tom Moore
Last year was probably one of the best years for film in quite some time. Throughout the entire fall, week after week, it felt like the phrase “oh, this is going to be in my top ten for sure” became incredibly common. From Bong-Ho Joon’s enthralling and mind-blowing depiction of class with “Parasite” to the box-office smashing end of the Infinity Saga with the Russo Brothers’ “Avengers: Endgame”, there were so many new kinds of stories and visions that constantly pushed genre boundaries. 2019 was especially a great year for female filmmakers as there was an onslaught of incredible films from both new and already established women in film.
Films like Greta Gerwig’s delightful adaptation of “Little Women”, Jennifer Kent’s “The Nightingale”, Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell”, and Celine Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” were among some of the best of the year. Not to mention, the feature directorial debuts of Olivia Wilde (“Booksmart”), Melina Matsoukas (“Queen & Slim”), Alma Har’el (“Honey Boy”), and Mitzi Peirone (“Braid”) gave us new names to remember with the excellent films they created.
While I could honestly go on forever about the greatness that was 2019, unlike most of the big-name, nostalgic franchises of today, I won’t try to hold onto the past. Instead, it’s time to look forward into 2020 and see what a new decade of filmmaking is bringing. Now, while big-name movies like “Wonder Woman 1984”, “Birds of Prey” and the really long title that comes with it, “A Quiet Place: Part II”, “The Eternals”, and “Black Widow” are surely most people’s most anticipated, and they’re among mine as well, I actually want to focus on some of my most anticipated movies of 2020 that might be flying under people’s radar.
While 2019 was widely considered to be the year of Florence Pugh for the trio of phenomenal performances she’s produced, I’ve got a gut-feeling that 2020 could be the year of Anya Taylor-Joy. While Joy has plenty of big roles in films like “The Witch”, “Split”, and “Thoroughbreds”, she’s slated to have a big year – starting with her role in Autumn de Wilde’s adaptation of the classic Jane Austen comedy “Emma”. Playing the titular role of Emma, Joy looks to be a perfectly handsome and clever lead just from the trailer and Wilde’s vision for adapting the novel looks like a beautiful springtime painting come to life. There is a fierce confidence and off-beat comedic wit that just totally resonates from Joy as the titular matchmaker and that feels reminiscent to “The Favourite.” With it hitting theatres right in time for Valentine’s Day, I’m definitely excited to see de Wilde’s take on the perils of misconstrued romance and have it kick of Joy’s stellar year.
I’ve got a gut-feeling that 2020 could be the year of Anya Taylor-Joy…she’s slated to have a big year – starting with her role in Autumn de Wilde’s adaptation of the classic Jane Austen comedy “Emma”
“Emma” isn’t the only film that Joy’s appearing in this year as she’s also starring in, arguably, two of the biggest horror-esque films of the year – “Last Night in Soho” and “The New Mutants”. Look, I get that “New Mutants” has gone through plenty of rounds of development hell, since it was originally supposed to be released back in 2018, but I’m still excited to see what it’s all about. The first trailer was incredible and showed the possibility of a new kind of X-Men movie. With the recent news of a new trailer AND that director Josh Boone’s original cut will be released after rumours of heavy re-shoots and recuts, which he seemed very happy about, it’s reignited my hope that horror and X-Men can be a winning combination. Not to mention, I’m hyped to see Joy as Magik, a Russian mutant who can time-travel and is the sister to Colossus.
As for “Last Night in Soho”, the next highly anticipated film from Edgar Wright, I’m incredibly excited to see what Wright can do in the world of psychological horror. Details on the film are slim, other than that Wright is teaming up with “1917” co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns, but things always seem to go right for Wright so expectations are high. It’s a great opportunity for Joy for be involved and likely a great project to show her skills since she’s no stranger psychological horror and cap off a, hopefully, great year for her.
Speaking of horror, it looks like 2020 is going to another excellent year for the genre with so many new films that it’s hard to touch on them all – but, I’ll do my best. Personally, Blumhouse Productions has slowly become one of my favourite companies in the horror genre and are back with a house filled with plenty of new horrors. With films like Jeff Wadlow’s horrifying adaptation of the 1977 series “Fantasy Island”, Leigh Whannell’s take on “The Invisible Man”, a fifth and possible finale to “The Purge” franchise, and the long-awaited next chapter of “Halloween”, “Halloween Kills”, already in their arsenal, Blumhouse has a killer line-up that makes the horror fan in me giddy with excitement.
This year also marks the return of writer/director Nia DaCosta to take on a modern-day sequel of “Candyman” with Tony Todd returning as the iconic horror villains.
I’m also excited to see what A24 still has hidden up their sleeve as the only the horror film they have slated currently is the demonic feature debut of Rose Glass with “Saint Maud” – but damn does it look good. There’s just something so eerie and odd about the film that I think it has me under its spell and all I can say is that March 27th can’t come soon enough.
This year also marks the return of writer/director Nia DaCosta to take on a modern-day sequel of “Candyman” with Tony Todd returning as the iconic horror villains. Last year, DaCosta made a strong name for herself with her feature debut, “Little Woods, but with “Candyman” I think she’ll create both mind-bending horror and strong social commentary in a way that the original did – especially with Jordan Peele both producing and co-writing the film.
The “Saw” franchise is also making a return this year with some familiar faces behind the camera, but more importantly, some new faces. When news broke that comedian Chris Rock has such love for the franchise that he took the time to write his own story within the series, I didn’t think it was real. However, now that his vision is becoming a reality and he gets to star in the film alongside Samuel L. Jackson, hyped doesn’t even describe how excited I am. Currently under the working title “The Organ Donor”, which I kind of hope stays because I kind of love that title, the film is set to send the franchise in a fresh new direction and I’m all for it.
I believe that “Promising Young Woman” is THE film we’ll be talking about next awards season – especially Mulligan.
My most anticipated film for 2020, though, has to be the directional debut for “Killing Eve” writer Emerald Fennell – “Promising Young Woman”. The film focuses on woman, played by the always excellent Carey Mulligan, who seeks vengeance against all the men that cross her path after her life is derailed by a traumatic event. There’s a clear rape-revenge narrative that has a modern realism to it that delves into both toxic masculinity and rape culture in a purely thrilling fashion. Mulligan never disappoints and, just from the trailer, she booms with a genuine sense of confidence and hurt that’ll surely add another layer of realism to this relevant and important story. Not to mention, you throw in Bo Burnham and an incredible instrumental version of Britney Spears’ Toxic and I’m there day one – no questions asked.
Well, I guess the only real question I have is “why does April have to be so far away,” because I’m all ready to see what Fennell is ready to show and, even though I know its way too early to say, I believe that “Promising Young Woman” is THE film we’ll be talking about next awards season – especially Mulligan.
Maybe I’m still riding the highs of 2019 but looking at what 2020 has in store thus far, there’s a lot to be excited about. There’re plenty of new stories to be discovered, some surprises still waiting to be revealed, and, hopefully, some great films to kick off a new decade of filmmaking.