clock menu more-arrow no yes
Joker, a man in clown makeup and a red suit with a green shirt and orange vest
Joaquin Phoenix in Joker, due out Oct. 4.
Image: Warner Bros. Pictures via Polygon

Filed under:

The 40 movies we’ll be watching before the end of the year

2019 is only getting started!

The year is already half over, and though there are a lot of movies to catch up with, there are even more to look forward to as 2019 barrels to an end. There’s Midsommar, arriving hot on the heels of the actual summer solstice, and we’ve also got a new Terminator movie, Taika Waititi playing Hitler, and this year’s Palme d’Or winner, Parasite, which might be the best two hours and 11 minutes we’ll have all year.

To help you keep your movie calendar in check, we’ve put together a list of 40 movies hitting theaters through the rest of the year that you won’t want to miss. Whether you’re looking for a blockbuster or a quiet meditation on the nature of family, we’ve got a movie for you.


Florence Pugh, Vilhelm Blomgren, and Jack Reynor in Midsommar.
Florence Pugh, Vilhelm Blomgren, and Jack Reynor in Midsommar.
A24

Midsommar

Directed by Ari Aster, opening July 3

If your relationship is on the rocks, Midsommar may be the litmus test for whether you’re going to make it out alive. The surprisingly funny (but still harrowing) folk horror film sends Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Reynor) on vacation to a rural Swedish village, where a midsummer ritual that only occurs once every ninety years is about to occur. It quickly becomes more than they bargained for as the festivities grow increasingly strange, and the strain on their already-deteriorating relationship worsens. It’s a gorgeous film, set almost entirely during the day and with abundant pastel colors, and an impressive follow-up to Aster’s first feature, Hereditary.

Tom Holland and Jake Gyllenhaal in Spider-Man: Far From Home
Tom Holland and Jake Gyllenhaal in Spider-Man: Far From Home
Jay Maidment/Sony Pictures

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Directed by Jon Watts, opening July 5

The “Tom Holland spoils things” bit is a little old now, but he is still an unimpeachably good Spider-Man (though not the best Spider-Man — shout-out to Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 2), and enough to get me back in the theater for Far From Home. It’ll also be crucial to catch to figure out exactly how the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going to deal with the repercussions of Avengers: Endgame, as the end of the film almost raises more questions than it answers about the logistics of half of the Earth’s population being snapped out of existence.

Jesse Eisenberg throws a punch.
Jesse Eisenberg throws a punch.
Bleecker Street

The Art of Self-Defense

Directed by Riley Stearns, opening July 12

After mild-mannered accountant Casey (Jesse Eisenberg) is mugged by a motorcycle gang, he takes up martial arts to try to better defend himself. He soon finds himself under the sway of the dojo’s enigmatic Sensei (Alessandro Nivola), and introduced to a mysterious set of nighttime classes. Riley Stearns’ new dark comedy received good reviews on the festival circuit this year, and with a tone that’s equal parts Wet Hot American Summer and The Lobster, looks to be one of the stranger films hitting theaters this year.

The gathered family in The Farewell.
The gathered family in The Farewell.
A24

The Farewell

Directed by Lulu Wang, opening July 12

Director Lulu Wang’s new film is an extraordinarily confident and striking look at family life. Starring Awkwafina in her dramatic debut, the film tells the story of a family struggling to keep things together when their grandmother is diagnosed with cancer. The decision not to tell her that she’s dying is one that weighs on the entire clan as they use the pretext of a wedding to gather everyone together to say goodbye.

Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani sharing a ride.
Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani sharing a ride.
20th Century Fox

Stuber

Directed by Michael Dowse, opening July 12

Though it’s one of the more low-key entries on a year stacked with studio tentpoles, Stuber looks like it might be a dark-horse entry for the most charming movie of the year. The film pairs Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista as an Uber driver and a hard-boiled detective, respectively, in what seems to be a comedic mirror of Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise’s Collateral.

Mufasa and Simba in The Lion King.
Mufasa and Simba in The Lion King.
Walt Disney Studios

The Lion King

Directed by Jon Favreau, opening July 19

Simba is back, baby! Despite appearances (and having James Earl Jones reprise his role as Mufasa), the new Lion King is apparently not a beat-for-beat re-creation of the 1994 original, which I am fine with so long as reports that “Be Prepared” won’t make it into the movie turn out to be a lie. Even Donald Glover and Beyoncé being part of the voice cast can’t forgive that big of a crime.

Cliff drives as Rick sits in the passenger seat of the car in Once Upon a Time in Hollywoood
Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Andrew Cooper/Sony Pictures

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Directed by Quentin Tarantino, opening July 26

You will have to pry problematic fave Quentin Tarantino from my cold, dead hands. The filmmaker always seems to be at the eye of a storm of controversy, but his movies are undeniably great, and his ninth looks to be a similar mix of provocation and prestige drama. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as a struggling actor and his longtime stunt double, respectively, who just so happen to be next-door neighbors to Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and Roman Polanski (Rafał Zawierucha) at the time of the Manson “family” murders.

Alice Englert in Them That Follow.
Alice Englert in Them That Follow.
1091 Media

Them That Follow

Directed by Brittany Poulton and Dan Madison Savage, opening Aug. 2

Them That Follows centers on a snake-handling church in Appalachia, which means that, naturally, Justified’s Walton Goggins features in the cast as the pastor at the head of the community. As his daughter Mara’s (Alice Englert) wedding day grows closer, things begin to fracture, calling the tradition around which the community is moored into question. Olivia Colman also stars as the intriguingly-named Hope Slaughter.

Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham as the titular Hobbs and Shaw.
Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham as the titular Hobbs and Shaw.
Universal Pictures

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw

Directed by David Leitch, opening Aug. 2

Yes, Han (Sung Kang) deserves justice, but I also cannot get enough of Jason Statham, so here we are for Hobbs and Shaw. Former bad guy Shaw (Statham) was inducted into the Fast and Furious fold in the last movie, Fate of the Furious, and since The Rock (who plays Hobbs, a cop) has been beefing with at least one (if not two) of the Fast and Furious crew — and has proved he can lead a movie — the first Fast spinoff was born.

Aisling Francioso in The Nightingale.
Aisling Francioso in The Nightingale.
IFC Films

The Nightingale

Directed by Jennifer Kent, opening Aug. 2

From the writer-director of The Babadook, one of the best horror movies in recent memory, comes The Nightingale, a tale of revenge set in the Tasmanian wilderness. When Irish convict Clare (Aisling Franciosi) witnesses an awful crime, she sets out for justice, which turns out to be more difficult than imagined given the perpetrator is a British officer (Sam Clafin). The only help she can find comes in the form of Aboriginal tracker Billy (Baykali Ganambarr).

Zachary Gottsagen and Shia LaBeouf by the water.
Zachary Gottsagen and Shia LaBeouf by the water.
Roadside Attractions

The Peanut Butter Falcon

Directed by Mike Schwartz and Tyler Nilson, opening Aug. 9

Hitting theaters towards the end of the summer is the indie adventure/road movie The Peanut Butter Falcon. The title refers to the wrestling alter ego dreamt up by Zak (Zachary Gottsagen), a young man with Down syndrome who escapes from the nursing home in which he lives, intending to attend a wrestling school. He soon meets Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), a smalltime outlaw who becomes his partner in the journey.

One of the scary creatures in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
One of the scary creatures in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
Lionsgate

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Directed by André Øvredal, opening Aug. 9

Great news: The books series that gave you nightmares as a kid is finally coming to the big screen! Co-written and -produced by Guillermo del Toro, the film centers on a group of teenagers who band together to solve a series of murders in their hometown. Which scary stories are you excited to see? I’m personally banking on “Harold,” the fun one where a scarecrow skins a person.

Viveik Kalra in Blinded by the Light.
Viveik Kalra in Blinded by the Light.
Warner Bros. Pictures

Blinded by the Light

Directed by Gurinder Chadha, opening Aug. 14

All you really need to know about Blinded by the Light is that it’s directed by Gurinder Chadha, director of the masterpiece Bend It Like Beckham. In case you need a little extra incentive, know that it’s about a British, Muslim teenager who becomes obsessed with Bruce Springsteen. Inspired by the life of journalist Sarfraz Manzoor, the film stars Viveik Kalra, as well as Rob Brydon and Hayley Atwell.

It - Pennywise inside a pipe
Pennywise, seen here in 2017’s It, returns.
Warner Bros. Pictures

It: Chapter Two

Directed by Andy Muschietti, opening Sept. 6

The boys (and one girl) are back in town! The hotly anticipated follow-up to It is hitting theaters almost exactly two years later, and will be delving into the aftermath of The Losers Club’s run-in with Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgård). Having promised to return home to destroy the clown should it ever return, the gang — now all adults — make their way back to face their demons once again.

ad astra
Brad Pitt, out in space.
20th Century Fox

Ad Astra

Directed by James Gray, opening Sept. 20

Over and over, James Gray has proven himself to be perhaps the most sensitive filmmaker of our time (see: Little Odessa, The Immigrant). His last film, the tremendous The Lost City of Z, was his first to take place outside of New York, and his latest, Ad Astra, travels even further afield, taking Brad Pitt up into outer space. James Gray hive, where you at?!

The Kitchen - Claire, Kathy, and Ruby
The ladies of The Kitchen.
Alison Cohen Rosa/Warner Bros. Pictures

The Kitchen

Directed by Andrea Berloff, opening Sept. 20

“Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elisabeth Moss star in a crime comedy-drama” is a real “shut up and take my money” sentence, but for a little further context, they’re playing the wives of Irish mobsters in the 1970s who take control when their husbands are arrested by the FBI. Common plays the FBI agent on their tail, along with Domhnall Gleeson, Bill Camp, Brian d’Arcy James, and character actress Margo Martindale, falling on the more rascally side of the character spectrum.

Sylvester Stallone, back at it again.
Sylvester Stallone, back at it again.
Lionsgate

Rambo: Last Blood

Directed by Adrian Grunberg, opening Sept. 20

Given how many reboots and remakes we’ve gotten lately, perhaps it was inevitable that Rambo (who first appeared in First Blood in 1982) would return, too. Sylvester Stallone’s last go-round with the role sees Rambo going to Mexico in order to save the daughter of a friend from a drug cartel, though all you really need to know about the movie is that the trailer set the action to Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road.”

Renee Zellweger as Judy Garland.
Renee Zellweger as Judy Garland.
Roadside Attractions

Judy

Directed by Rupert Goold, opening Sept. 27

Set three decades after The Wizard of Oz, Renee Zellweger’s Judy Garland biopic focuses on the final years of the legendary performer’s life. As she reminisces with friends — as well as beginning a romance with musician Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock) — the film takes on Garland’s ups and downs, with Zellweger cutting an uncannily close figure in all of the footage that’s been seen so far.

Uncut Gems

Directed by Josh and Benny Safdie, due in September

If any film will truly cement the Adam Sandler-ssance, it is Uncut Gems, which pairs Sandler with Good Time directors Josh and Benny Safdie. Sandler plays a jewelry store owner struggling with a gambling addiction and the attendant problems, who finds himself in hot water when his merchandise is stolen. The set photos have shown Sandler in various states of rage, bloodiness, and public-fountain-jumping-ness, all of which seem to herald a — pardon the pun — very good time.

Zombieland Too

Directed by Ruben Fleischer, due in October

What if Zombieland became Ruben Fleischer’s Boyhood? The franchise, which began in 2009 and is returning a decade later, seems to raise that particular thought experiment given that the exact same cast is reuniting for the sequel. It’s the same principle that Richard Linklater was operating on, isn’t it? Check in every so often on the same cast, except instead of telling a story about a boy growing up in Texas, this is about a group of people getting by in the apocalyptic wasteland.

joaquin smiling in joker
Joaquin Phoenix pulling a smile.
Warner Bros. Pictures

Joker

Directed by Todd Phillips, opening Oct. 4

Against my better judgment, I am all-in on the Todd Phillips/Joaquin Phoenix Joker movie. Though each new report on what the film is actually about (Thomas Wayne is supposedly “in the mold of a 1980s Donald Trump”) seems to indicate that this movie will be trying to tap into the zeitgeist in a way that seems less productive than promising, the King of Comedy vibe that emanates from every other detail — plus that delightful “Laughing” teaser — gives me hope.

Antonio Banderas as Salvador Mallo in Pain and Glory.
Antonio Banderas (right) as Salvador Mallo in Pain and Glory.
Sony Pictures

Pain and Glory

Directed by Pedro Almodóvar, opening Oct. 4

Pedro Almodóvar’s film about an aging filmmaker, which draws on his own experiences, earned its lead, Antonio Banderas, the award for Best Actor at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and seems set to propel Banderas to the Oscars, too. Banderas plays director Salvador Mallo, who, throughout the film, recounts events from his entire life, as well as musing about the creation of art, and how (if at all) to separate it from one’s own life.

Gemini Man - de-aged Will Smith
Will Smith going through an existential crisis.
Paramount Pictures

Gemini Man

Directed by Ang Lee, opening Oct. 11

You had me at “Ang Lee,” and you really had me at “Ang Lee and Will Smith.” I don’t even know what to say about the actual pitch: “Ang Lee and two Will Smiths.” In Gemini Man, Smith plays an assassin whose attempts at getting out of the game are stymied by a young clone of himself, who, in turn, will be played by a CGI clone of Smith. (Obviously, the effects masters at Weta Digital are on the case.) While you wait for the movie to come out, here is a picture of Ang Lee destroying a hamburger.

Song Kang-ho holding a scholar’s rock in Parasite.
Song Kang-ho holding a scholar’s rock in Parasite.
Neon

Parasite

Directed by Bong Joon-ho, opening Oct. 11

There’s no question that Bong Joon-ho’s thrilling Parasite is one of the best movies of the year. Like a vertically-oriented Snowpiercer, Parasite is concerned with class. Two families, one rich (and living in a beautiful house on a hill) and one poor (and relegated to a sub-basement apartment in a flood-prone zone), become entwined in each others’ lives through matters of work and money. Gradually, however, their entanglement becomes more complicated, and the caper-esque qualities of the early part of the film twist into tragedy. Parasite builds like a symphony, and the great pleasure of it is not only that you’ll never see what’s coming, but that it’s so deftly made that you’ll want to revisit it again and again.

Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, sitting on the steps of his trailer wearing khakis and a red cardigan.
Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers.
Lacey Terrell/Sony Pictures

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Directed by Marielle Heller, opening Oct. 18

Even the title of this film makes me cry. The fact that America’s sweetheart Tom Hanks is playing Fred Rogers is enough to crank up the dial to “wrenching sobs.” Matthew Rhys co-stars as Lloyd Vogel, a journalist sent to profile Rogers who, naturally, finds his own view of the world changing as he spends time in Rogers’ neighborhood.

Jojo Rabbit - Jojo, Adolf Hitler, and Jojo’s mother at the dinner table
Roman Griffin Davis, Taika Waititi, and Scarlett Johansson in Jojo Rabbit.
Kimberley French/20th Century Fox

Jojo Rabbit

Directed by Taika Waititi, opening Oct. 18

Putting Hitler in a movie in any form is a gamble. If there’s anyone that I’d trust to do it well (?), it’s Thor: Ragnarok and What We Do in the Shadows director Taika Waititi. Jojo Rabbit, set during World War II, centers on a young boy whose imaginary friend is a version of Hitler who isn’t based on the dictator so much as he is an amalgam of the boy’s wishes for his father’s love. Waititi himself plays the made-up version of the Führer, because of course he does.

The new Angels: Ella Balinska, Kristen Stewart, and Naomi Scott.
The new Angels: Ella Balinska, Kristen Stewart, and Naomi Scott.
Sony Pictures

Charlie’s Angels

Directed by Elizabeth Banks, opening Nov. 1

The Charlie’s Angels franchise is revving back to life with Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska as the Angels, and Elizabeth Banks (who is also directing the movie) as Charlie. The crime-fighting trio will no doubt have their hands full, as the names they have to contend with range from Patrick Stewart to the internet’s boyfriend, Noah Centineo.

Schwarzenegger’s back, baby!
Schwarzenegger’s back, baby!
Paramount Pictures

Terminator: Dark Fate

Directed by Tim Miller, opening Nov. 1

Though the new Terminator movie will apparently disregard the last three Terminator films (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator Salvation, and Terminator Genisys, which, hell, I liked), Arnold Schwarzenegger is once again set to return, as is the OG Sarah Connor, Linda Hamilton. The film will serve as a direct sequel to The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and will also feature a truly ripped Mackenzie Davis.

noah jupe in honey boy, the shia labeouf sundance movie
Noah Jupe in Honey Boy.
Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Natasha Braier

Honey Boy

Directed by Alma Har’el, opening Nov. 8

Honey Boy, written by Shia LaBeouf, is a thinly-veiled telling of LaBeouf’s own story, as it follows a child actor (played by Noah Jupe as a child and Lucas Hedges as a teenager) and his relationship with his alcoholic father (played by none other than LaBeouf himself). It’s a fascinating work in the wake of LaBeouf’s very public struggles with fame, and boasts a career performance from the actor.

Jodie Turner-Smith as “Queen.”
Jodie Turner-Smith as “Queen.”
Universal Pictures

Queen & Slim

Directed by Melina Matsoukas, opening Nov. 17

Written by Lena Waithe (Master of None), Queen & Slim is billed as the story of the “black Bonnie and Clyde,” as it follows two young lovers who must go on the run. Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya play the star-crossed pair, who, after an incident with a police officer that ends in the officer’s death, flee in fear of their lives. The footage of the scene, however, goes viral, making them infamous. Bokeem Woodbine, Indya Moore, and Chloë Sevigny also star.

frozen 2 trailer teaser
The animated cast of Frozen II.
Walt Disney Animation Studios

Frozen II

Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, opening Nov. 27

Disney has been relatively tight-lipped about details on the new film, though we know this much: Elsa (Idina Menzel) finally figures out how to control her magic, and finally lets loose. (Letting it go?) Trailers for the sequel tease a movie that’s bigger on the action and lifting a little from Disney’s Marvel success story.

Knives Out

Directed by Rian Johnson, opening Nov. 27

After directing The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson is back to his caper roots with the whodunit Knives Out. If you’ve seen his 2009 film The Brothers Bloom, then you know that this is cause for celebration, especially as the cast is stacked with names like Daniel Craig (building off of his Logan Lucky appearance), Chris Evans, Lakeith Stanfield, Michael Shannon, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Christopher Plummer, and Don Johnson. Oh, and, of course, Noah Segan.

Adèle Haenel in Portrait of a Lady on Fire.
Adèle Haenel in Portrait of a Lady on Fire.
Neon

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Directed by Céline Sciamma, opening Dec. 6

Céline Sciamma’s new film isn’t particularly revolutionary when it comes to the story it’s telling, but it’s stunning in the details and execution. Marianne (Noémie Merlant) is commissioned to paint a portrait of Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), with the one stipulation: Héloïse must not know the portrait is being painted. It’s a condition that Marianne is happy to agree to at first, but finds harder to accept as the two get to know each other. What follows is a love story that unfolds so warmly and delicately that it’s impossible to resist, with a final shot that should single-handedly turn any remaining doubts about the quality of the film and its performances. Portrait of a Lady on Fire also deals with the way female artists have often been erased from their own stories, and robbed of agency, which makes it all the more refreshing that almost the entire cast is made up of women.

Black Christmas

Directed by Sophia Takal, opening Dec. 13

Arriving on Friday the 13th is Blumhouse’s remake of the 1974 slasher Black Christmas, which sees a group of sorority girls in the sights of a serial killer. The remake, however, has been updated so that the young women aren’t just waiting to be picked off; instead, they’re fighting back against their would-be murderer, with Imogen Poots (Green Room) heading up the cast.

Farmageddon: A Shaun the Sheep Movie - sheep being abducted by a UFO
Signs, but with sheep. (I’m joking.)
StudioCanal

Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

Directed by Richard Starzak, opening Dec. 13

Stop-motion studio Aardman can do no wrong, and though the Wallace and Gromit shorts remain the studio’s best work, the Shaun the Sheep movies may just give them a run for their money. The first film, released in 2015, was a delight, and the sequel looks to be shaking up the formula by cranking things up to the next level. Forget a jaunt into the big city — Farmageddon throws an alien and the attendant government agents into the mix.

Cats

Directed by Tom Hooper, opening Dec. 20

Cats. What is there to say about Cats? Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, and Judi Dench will be there. They’ll be playing cats. They’ll be sending another cat to the Heaviside Layer. If you need any further explanation, I highly recommend reading this.

Star Wars Episode IX trailer Death Star
The desiccated Death Star.
Lucasfilm via Polygon

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Directed by J.J. Abrams, opening Dec. 20

The final installment of the new Star Wars trilogy caps off the year, which is about as good a Christmas present as you could ask for. Though there’s not too much known about it besides the fact that it’s set to take place a year after the events of The Last Jedi, Episode IX still has the goods: Richard E. Grant is joining the Star Wars universe, as is Keri Russell, with Billy Dee Williams returning as Lando Calrissian.

Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet in Little Women.
Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet in Little Women.
Sony Pictures

Little Women

Directed by Greta Gerwig, opening Dec. 25

The eighth feature film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel comes courtesy of Lady Bird director Greta Gerwig, and stars a murderers’ row of actresses including Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Emma Watson, Laura Dern, and Meryl Streep. As with all adaptations of the beloved book, this film promises to inspire impassioned opinions, though Gerwig is arguably the perfect choice to handle the material.

The Irishman

Directed by Martin Scorsese, release date TBD

Even though Scorsese’s Silence didn’t get nearly the kind of attention it deserved, the acclaimed director is still blessing us with another film, this time via Netflix. The Irishman is a passion project for Scorsese, and has the billing to match: Robert De Niro and Al Pacino reunite for the fourth time (after The Godfather Part II, Heat, and Righteous Kill) in a take on alleged hitman Frank Sheeran, Jimmy Hoffa, and the Bufalino crime family. It’s gonna rule! Joe Pesci came out of unofficial retirement for this!!!

Thomas (Willem Dafoe) and Ephraim (Robert Pattinson) in front of the lighthouse.
Thomas (Willem Dafoe) and Ephraim (Robert Pattinson) in front of the lighthouse.
A24

The Lighthouse

Directed by Robert Eggers, release date TBD

The Witch is a tough act to follow, but director Robert Eggers has pulled it off — and how — with The Lighthouse. A fascinating mix of styles and mythologies, the film is a wild ride from top to bottom, defying expectations and weaving a tapestry so grand and so grim that it overflows from its near-square aspect ratio.

Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe star as lighthouse keepers working through a four-week shift. As the days pass, events on their little island grow stranger and stranger, and their methods of coping come down to drinking, which doesn’t exactly help. For the audience, at least, there is the panacea of bravado performances from Pattinson and Dafoe, who leave all vanity on the cutting room floor as they go all out in a descent into madness.

News

Respawn CEO apologizes for devs who insulted Apex Legends fans

Gamescom 2019

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare multiplayer alpha announced at Gamescom 2019

News

Disturbing game sold cheaper on Steam due to axed sex scenes

View all stories in News