By John H. Foote
Disney Studios must be having wet dreams at night over its release schedule for 2019. Three live action remakes, one sequel to one of their greatest hits, the end of their Avengers franchise, and the conclusion to their Star Wars trilogy. Billions. Untold billions are waiting for the studio. And Disney will reward their audiences with greed, pure, vile greed.
This time next year we will be discussing an entirely new Oscar race, with a group of different films and new performances from the films of 2019. There might be some familiar faces, but it will be a whole new race. Make no mistake, the campaigns for these films are being plotted out right now, just as my friend Cynthia Schwartz started the Black Panther campaign about this time last year.
Disney is associated with five films on this list and several others not named. Their greed knows no bounds.
Here are films I suspect we will be talking about this very time in one year.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD … This is Quentin Tarantino’s take on the Manson family killings, which might be along the lines of Inglorious Basterds (2009) and reinvent history. The cast looks terrific. With Brad Pitt and Leonardo Di Caprio, along with Margot Robbie as doomed actress Sharon Tate, slaughtered by Manson’s minions, Al Pacino, Bruce Dern, and a host of others. Crazy enough that it might be the film of the year.
THE IRISHMAN …Martin Scorsese joins forces with Netflix which pretty much legitimized the streaming company, even before Roma (2018). Bringing together Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa no less and Ray Romano, the film explores what happened to Hoffa according to a mob assassin. The effects allow the actors to lose decades in age, which will either work, or be a joke. Not since Hugo (2011) has Scorsese been so dependent on technology.
DUMBO …Tim Burton directs this live action re-imagining of the classic tale of the little elephant with enormous ears who could fly. The trailer looks impressive, the actors in suitable stages of awe as the pachyderm takes flight, but these cartoon to live action make me nervous. There are three this year, all listed here, which could be overkill and if one flops it impacts the other two. My hopes are high for this one.
THE LION KING … Jon Favreau directs this live action retelling of The Lion King, though live action might be…not so. Most of the animals will be computer generated with voice actors at work bringing them to life. It worked for the director on The Jungle Book (2017), but this one is iconic, a brilliant film and extraordinary stage musical. They better get it right.
ALADDIN … Because we never had a friend like him, the shadow of the late Robin Williams will loom large over this film and actor Will Smith, cast as the Genie. The story remains the same, the songs and music identical, but new actors perform the roles. If Smith can pull it off, half the battle is done, but if not the film sinks into the desert sand.
WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOUR? … Tom Hanks will make a run for that elusive third Academy Award as Mr. Rogers, the gentle host of a popular children’s program that became legend. After the superb documentary in 2018, Mr. Rogers is in the heads of everyone who ever watched him. I am betting this to be huge and Hanks a sure fire Oscar nominee.
STAR WARS IX … Mercifully the finale of the new trio comes to an end. We will finally discover the fate of Luke, who evaporated, Leia, who can fly in airless space, and all the other new characters we have come to, um, not love. Though better than the prequels, these films have not come close to the originals, though J.J. Abrams is directing which is good news.
GEMINI MAN … Ang Lee is back with a thriller about a hitman facing down a clone of his younger self. Will Smith stars along with Clive Owen in what could place all of them in the Oscar race next year. As a two-time winner for Best Director, Lee is always a threat. And it might offer Will Smith the kind of role that takes him back to the race.
JUDY … If they finish editing and sound editing this film, Renee Zellweger could make a triumphant return to the Oscars for her performance as Judy Garland. Can she, though, erase the memory of the astounding performance Judy Davis gave on television as Garland? The actress is the lone major name attached to the project but has the talents to make it work. It is the bio I am most excited about seeing this year.
1917 … Academy Award winner Sam Mendes takes on World War One in this epic film set during the final year of that terrible war. After Bond, he might be due back in the race, having been out of it since his first film, American Beauty (1999). With Peter Jackson’s splendid documentary They Shall Never Grow Old making the First World War interesting again, it could be the perfect time for this.
IT – PART II … The nightmarish tale comes to a terrifying end in this sequel and finale to Stephen King’s massive horror story and the 2016 hit film. The kids are grown, now adults, and the clown Pennywise has risen for another killing spree. But this time they know him and his tricks and come to end him. Jessica Chastain leads the cast, along with James McAvoy and Bill Hadar, the trio are enough for me to watch.
EXTREMELY WICKED! SHOCKING EVIL AND VILE. .. If Zac Efron is the real deal as an actor this will be his test. Cast as handsome serial killer Ted Bundy, Efron will sink or soar with his performance in the film. Said to be very good, my hopes are high for him. Purchased at Sundance for nine million dollars by Netflix, expect some festival visits, and a push for Efron as Best Actor. This might be the dark horse contender of the year. People are going to be stunned by Efron, he is astonishing.
CATS … Oscar winner Tom Hooper directs the famous Andrew Lloyd Weber musical with great actors playing cats. Jennifer Hudson, Judi Dench, Ian McKellan, Taylor Swift, and Idris Elba could make this a huge hit. I am glad they are using actors as opposed to animation, which was in the works for quite some time. It will be playful and interesting.
RADIOACTIVE … Rosamund Pike portrays Marie Curie, the scientist who discovered, and died from exposure to radiation. Pike should have been in the Oscar race this year in A Private War as Marie Colvin, hopefully she makes the cut next year as this iconic woman. Either way, this exciting actress is going to be doing great work for years to come.
DESI AND LUCY … If they plan on having this out this year they better get shooting and soon. Cate Blanchett is Lucille Ball, though I would have gone with Jessica Chastain. No word on Desi yet in this film written by Aaron Sorkin. It might generate greater interest in the First Lady Of Television.
FROZEN 2 … Once again we will be asked to let it go. Same cast is back for a continuation. Typical Disney … never enough, milk it for all you got. Or can get. Millions of six-year old girls will be thrilled, as their parents gouge out their eyes. Maybe they should let it go too? How long before this greedy company makes a live action film out of this. Dear God, let it go, let it go…
THE LAUNDROMAT … Steven Soderbergh directs a thriller about money laundering featuring a knockout cast which includes no less than Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Melissa Rauch, James Cromwell, Jeffrey Wright and Antonio Banderas. Soderbergh directs, writes and handles both cinematography and film editing duties.
WEST SIDE STORY … Spielberg shot The Post in early 2017, cut the film through late summer and early fall, and it was in cinemas by Christmas. He could do the same with this one. Though I question whether we need a remake (we do not) Spielberg could adapt the phone book if he so desired. I wish he would make something else, but this is what he is obsessed with. Will the Jets and Sharks have the same impact today that they had in 1961? He better hope so. Never bet against him, because that is when he shines brightest.
RADEGUND … The latest from pretentious yet still considered genius, by some, Terence Malick. Really, Malick stopped directing narrative film after The New World (2005), his films suffering from artistic masturbation. What are his last couple of films about? Who knows? This new one is a historical film about a conscientious objector during the Second World War. I stopped being interested in his work a few years ago.
AD ASTRA … James Grey directed this science fiction epic about a man who goes into deep space searching for his father. Brad Pitt stars with a strong supporting cast including Tommy Lee Jones and the great Donald Sutherland. Grey is an under appreciated genius who will be recognized at some point. This often delayed film could be the one.
ROCKETMAN … Taron Egerton dons the many pairs of glasses to portray a young Elton John, breaking out in the seventies with a string of hits that made him a superstar. The film is said to focus on his work with Bernie Taupin, as well as his discovery of his sexuality. Hopefully it is more honest than Bohemian Rhapsody. No word on whether it is good or bad.
LITTLE WOMEN … Best Director nominee Greta Gerwig adapted and directed the famous literary masterwork to the screen, with an incredible cast. Lady Bird (2017) star Soairse Ronan stars along with Gerwig, Laura Dern, Chris Cooper, Timothee Chalamet, and Meryl Streep. Likely a major awards contender next year.
AVENGERS : ENDGAME … The finale of The Avengers series. My reaction is, yawn? Who cares? Not this guy. Sorry Nick.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.