Another year and more panic over the state of cinema. The past few years have seen the advent of Netflix and other streaming platforms as a source of good cinema, leaving traditional movie-lovers worried that the movie theater will soon be rendered obsolete. Others have also begun to worry about the oversaturation of superhero movies and big-budget blockbusters that exist only as spectacle. Concerns about diversity have also become more evident in the industry in recent years, with critics pointing out the lack of people of color in the industry and awards ceremonies.
And yet, the cinema is doing just fine, if not thriving. In 2019, we saw “Parasite,” a South Korean film, gross over $100 million at the worldwide box office. Original studio efforts such as “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” “Knives Out” and “Uncut Gems” also proved to be financial successes as well as auteur-driven efforts. Netflix eased concerns over non-franchise films receiving funding without artistic compromise by giving films such as “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story” tens of millions of dollars and complete creative control. If the success of 2019 is a harbinger of the future, then 2020 should be filled with exquisite cinematic offerings.
Two of the most anticipated blockbuster movies are Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” and Denis Villaneuve’s “Dune.” Both are high-budget, well-cast films that should prove to be two of the most entertaining and interesting films of the year. “Dune” will be a new adaptation of the 1965 Frank Herbert novel of the same name, which is often cited as one of the best science-fiction novels ever written. And “Tenet” will follow spies on a mission to stop World War III using time travel. Both will be strong sci-fi spectacles that hopefully prove to be exciting cinema as well.
On the arthouse front, one of the most interesting titles to look out for is Apichatpong “Joe” Weerasethakul’s newest film “Memoria,” starring Tilda Swinton. This is his first feature film produced outside of his native Thailand. The film revolves around a woman suffering from exploding head syndrome, a condition when one experiences loud bursts of noise in waking hours, in the area of a century-long construction project to tunnel through the Andes. This year could also see the long-awaited premiere of Zhang Yimou’s “One Second,” a film that was set to debut at the Berlin International Film Festival last year before China censored it for its depiction of the Cultural Revolution. The film is about a man who has escaped from a farm prison camp and a young woman who are both in pursuit of a film roll of propaganda footage, which may contain a singular, one-second-long clip of the man’s deceased daughter.
In 2019, director Joanna Hogg released her breakthrough feature, “The Souvenir.” In 2020, she will release a sequel, “The Souvenir Part II,” which will follow the continued artistic development of protagonist Julie as a film director following the events of the first film. Spike Lee will follow up 2018’s “BlacKkKlansman” with a new film, “Da 5 Bloods,” which will follow a group of black soldiers returning to Vietnam to find the remains of their fallen squad leader and buried treasure. David Fincher will return to feature filmmaking for the first time since 2014’s “Gone Girl” to direct “Mank.” The film will be a biopic about screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz and the process of writing “Citizen Kane.” Overseas, Edgar Wright will turn to horror and direct “Last Night in Soho,” a film that, through the use of a time-travel plot device, will take place both in modern day and in the Swinging Sixties of London.
Elsewhere, film buffs should expect new films from Wes Anderson, whose film “The French Dispatch” will be an ode to journalism set in the 20th century. Joel Coen will direct a new adaptation of “Macbeth,” starring Frances McDormand and Denzel Washington. Sofia Coppola will team back up with Bill Murray for her new film “On the Rocks,” a thematic companion to “Lost in Translation.” Promising that it will be one of the best films ever made, Andrew Dominik will deliver a fictional version of the life of Marilyn Monroe in his new film “Blonde,” starring Ana de Armas. This will be an adaptation of the Joyce Carol Oates novel from 2000. Ever controversial, Paul Verhoeven will deliver a new controversy in his film “Benedetta,” following a nun in the 17th century who begins an affair with another woman. It will be his first feature since his award-winning film “Elle.”
Unknown Release Dates
There are some notable projects that could possibly debut in 2020, including “Killers of the Flower Moon,” the next film from esteemed director Martin Scorsese and actors Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio. The film will focus around the Osage serial murders of the 1920s and its investigation. Filming is expected to begin in the spring, so it is unclear whether the film will be ready for release late into the year. The next Paul Thomas Anderson film, which is as of now untitled but will chronicle the life of a child actor in high school during the 1970s, will begin production this year as well.
The latest from Terrence Malick, a genre take of the life of Jesus entitled “The Last Planet,” has finished shooting. But it often takes Malick over a year to edit his films, so whether “The Last Planet” will be a 2020 or a 2021 release is still up in the air. Acclaimed Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien only released one film in the 2010s, “The Assassin.” But Hou’s latest feature, “Shulan River,” will follow a waterway enthusiast who happens upon a river goddess while exploring a city’s waterway system in modern day Taipei, and the film could come out this year. There has been no news on the project’s development, but if a 2020 release date were to be confirmed, “Shulan River” would instantly become one of the most anticipated foreign titles of the year. Another film whose release date is uncertain is Jonathan Glazer’s follow-up to 2013’s “Under the Skin,” an adaptation of the novel “The Zone of Interest.” The novel is an examination of the Holocaust through the eyes of the bystanders to the atrocities. Shooting will start in early 2020, suggesting a late 2020 or 2021 release date.
In 2020, we are sure to be blessed with an abundance of cinematic offerings, and we can hope for the decade to kick off with a great year for film.