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Top 30 Best Movies Of 2019 – Preview Guide

18th  Alita: Battle Angel
Starring: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Released: February 14, 2019

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Cyberpunk action. While searching for parts the mysterious Dr. Igo (Waltz, ‘Django Unchained’) finds Alita (Salazar, ‘Maze Runner’), a discarded cyborg. Alita can’t recall her identity. But to Dr. Ido the truth is clear: She is the one to end the misery coming from the parasitical aerial city above. To accomplish her designed purpose she must fight and kill. She’s a heaven-sent angel, an angel of death… Jennifer Connelly (‘Noah’) plays Ido’s ex who escaped with him from the false utopia above but became disenchanted with real freedom below. Mahershala Ali (‘Green Book’) plays dual roles, one of which rigs Motorball combat matches. Ed Skrein (‘Deadpool’) is a cyborg tasked with tracking down and killing Alita. Director Robert Rodriguez (‘Sin City’) is working off a James Cameron screenplay (something he hasn’t allowed since ‘Strange Days’), and Cameron’s been heavily involved as producer. Since 1995 Cameron has talked about directing the manga adaptation himself, but after waiting for the technology to catch up, he’s now decided to make ‘Avatar’ sequels for the rest of his career. The Manga-style enlarged eyes for Alita have been offputting for many, their size seemingly reduced between first and second trailer to step back from the uncanny valley. ‘Battle Angel’ is likely to be an expensive box office flop, but could still be a great piece of sci-fi.

17th  Jojo Rabbit
Starring: Roman G. Davis, Scarlett Johansson, Taika Waititi, Rebel Wilson
Director: Taika Waititi
Released: TBC 2019

Jojo, is a young boy living during World War II who longs to be part of the Hitler Youth and whose imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler. When he discovers a Jewish girl living in his attic he initially tries to find ways to get rid of her, but gradually begins to see her as a human, one who challenges his naive patriotic beliefs… Scarlett Johansson plays Jojo’s mother, who is secretly working for the resistance. Sam Rockwell plays a Nazi captain who runs a Hitler Youth camp (brave choice), Stephen Merchant plays another Captain, Rebel Wilson is Fraulein Rahm and director Taika Waititi portrays Adolf Hitler (braver choice). Waititi has quickly established himself as probably the best comic director around after the brilliant ‘What We Do in the Shadows’, the wonderful ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’, and making Thor hilarious in ‘Ragnarok’. He wrote ‘Jojo’ seven years ago, adapting Christine Leunens’ powerful novel ‘Caging Skies’. Expect intelligence, daring, heart and darkly comic laughs.

16th  Midsommar
Starring: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Will Poulter
Director: Ari Aster
Released: TBC 2019

A young woman (Pugh, ‘Lady Macbeth’) reluctantly joins her boyfriend (Reynor, ‘Detroit’) on a trip to a fabled mid-summer festival at a friend’s village in Sweden (Poulter, ‘Detroit’). There they discover the residents’ peculiar traditions and rituals, and since one of them is carrying the pain of a recent death, these rituals begin to take on an unexpected menace. As things go awry the couple is pushed to an “apocalyptic breakup”… This comes from Ari Aster, writer-director of ‘Hereditary’, easily the most intelligent and chilling horror of last year (despite getting a D+ audience CinemaScore). ‘Midsommar’ is another straight up chillfest, this time described as “Scandinavian folk horror”. Again it features the recent death of a family member and a pagan cult, which sounds like a retread, but Aster says “it has no ties to the supernatural,” and focuses more on “a generous amount of psychedelia.” The meticulously designed house in ‘Hereditary’ showed the importance Aster puts on aesthetics and production design, and here he’s designed and constructed an intricate 15-building village. He says it’s his last project in the genre for a long while, as he wants to move onto other things.

15th  Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
Starring: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins
Director: Michael Dougherty
Released: May 31, 2019

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Members of the cryptozoological agency Monarch face off against a battery of giant monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient superspecies, thought to be mere myths, rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance… From the capable director of ‘Krampus’ and ‘Trick r Treat’, who wrote blockbusters like ‘X-Men 2’ and ‘Superman Returns’ back in the day. Vera Farmiga and Kyle Chandler head the ensemble cast as an ex-husband and wife. She’s a paleobiologist developing sonar communication with the titans for Monarch, until she’s kidnapped with her daughter by a mysterious organisation, who have their own plans for the creatures. Her ex-husband becomes part of the rescue team. Sally Hawkins and Ken Watanabe are the only cast-members of ‘Godzilla’ (2014) to return for the sequel, playing Monarch scientists. While O’Shea Jackson Jr. (‘Straight Outta Compton’ and Ice Cube’s son) plays a member of Monarch’s special military force, leading soldiers into battles involving Titans. This film is set in a universe where King Kong exists, and is expected to set up their 2020 confrontation in ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’. The emotionally-powerful, if slightly bleak, first trailer carried some beautiful imagery, such as Mothra majestically spreading its wings. As long as they focus more on the great rostrum of monsters (these three iconic enemies have never been in a non-Japanese film) and don’t cut away from the fights, it should be epic. P.S. King Ghidorah’s three heads are being performance-captured by three different actors.

14th  Captain Marvel
Starring: Brie Larson, Sam Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Jude Law
Directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Released: March 8, 2019

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1995. Carol Danvers (Larson, ‘Room’), a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, has her DNA fused with alien Kree after an accident, imbuing her with superhuman strength, energy projection, and flight. She joins Starforce, an elite Kree military team, evolving toward becoming the most powerful hero in the Marvel universe. Returning to Earth with questions about her past and identity, she finds the planet caught in the middle of a galactic conflict between two alien worlds… Ben Mendelsohn play Talos, the shape-shifting leader of the Skrull invasion of Earth. Jude Law is Mar-Vell, commander of Starforce and Danvers’ mentor. Set in the 1990s, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s 21st movie also serves as a prequel tale for Nick Fury, Phil Coulson, Korath the Pursuer, and Ronan the Accuser. Fury and Coulson will be de-aged for the entire story, the first time Marvel has employed the fx in more than a couple of scenes (‘Guardians Vol. 2’ showed how well they can pull it off, although it’s always distracting). Stan Lee filmed a cameo before he departed. Structure-wise, this won’t be a traditional origin story since Danvers has her powers at the start of the film. Much emphasis is being given to it being the first solo female-led movie in the MCU, and the release is on International Women’s Day. However, despite winning an Oscar for ‘Room’, Brie Larson looks worryingly uncharismatic in the trailers. It’s hard to see why directors of indie comedy-drama ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story’ were picked to helm such a big action tentpole. It could all go the way of past Marvel meh-fests ‘Thor: The Dark World’ or ‘Iron Man 3’, but who would bet against Marvel Studios today?

13th  Toy Story 4
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack
Director: Josh Cooley
Released: June 21, 2019

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Woody (Hanks) has always been confident of his place in the world, and that his priority is taking care of his kid, whether that is Andy or, now, Bonnie. But when Bonnie adds a reluctant new toy called “Forky” to her room, a road trip adventure alongside old and new friends will show Woody how big the world can be for a toy… Forky, a homemade toy/spork suffering an existential crisis, is voiced by Tony Hale, who has has done similarly panicked characters like Buster Bluth on ‘Arrested Development’. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele play carnival prize plush toys, Ducky and Bunny. Keanu Reeves has an unknown role. It’s rumoured Woody will get a love interest via a remodelled Bo Peep. John Lasseter was supposed to co-direct but left over allegations of misconduct. Josh Cooley makes his feature debut, but he’s been involved in numerous Pixar movies and wrote/helmed the popular ‘Inside Out’ short ‘Riley’s First Date’. Randy Newman, whose songs have scored Oscar nominations for all three previous films, returns. Tom Hanks has said he had to turn his back when recording the final scenes, “When I realised what they were going for, I realised, ‘Oh, this is a moment in history.'” Big words from the two-time Oscar winner. Hanks continues, “The emotional range of the movies has become more and more deep and profound and affecting.” That’s true of the first three and if this does continue that trajectory it’ll really be something.


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