We just concluded a truly massive year for genre films that included everything from mega-budget superhero blockbusters to small-scale horror films that are destined to become new classics. We saw landmark endings for the Infinity Saga and The Skywalker Saga, had our minds melted by the black-and-white strangeness of The Lighthouse, watched the launch of a potential new era for comic book films with Joker, and sat through ... well, whatever Cats was.
Even after all that (and so much more), though, 2020 seems poised to be a huge year for genre films too, in terms of both the diversity of content and the sheer scope of some of the movies we're going to see. The year is set to be another major showcase for horror filmmaking, with remakes of Candyman and The Invisible Man; the superhero genre will see some big swings thanks to Eternals, Black Widow, Birds of Prey, and more; and some beloved franchises are returning thanks to things like Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Bill & Ted Face the Music. Plus, we get to close out the year with an epic return to Dune.
Color Out of Space (January 24)
Every Nicolas Cage performance leaps out and demands our attention, but Color Out of Space looks like an especially compelling one even for him. This film has everything we want: Cage on a trippy horror adventure, a legendary horror pedigree, and plenty of buzz from 2019's festival circuit. Plus, it's Richard Stanley's first narrative feature as a director in more than 20 years. This looks like a hell of a way to kick off the year in genre.
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (February 7)
Margot Robbie was the breakout star of Suicide Squad, which means she could have easily kept following the path set by that film into a sequel. Instead, she teamed up with director Cathy Yan, writer Christina Hodson, and a badass cast of co-stars that includes Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosie Perez, Ewan McGregor, and more to deliver something that looks primed to smash everything we thought we knew about Harley's big-screen world to pieces, in a good way.
Sonic the Hedgehog (February 14)
The Sonic the Hedgehog movie spent 2019 haunted by doubts about its CGI design, which led to a much-publicized makeover for the title character. Now, the film is nearing release, and we're left to wonder: Will it be 2020's Cats? Maybe. Will it be an adorable internet meme factory like Pokémon Detective Pikachu? Also maybe. Will we be there right in the middle of the theater on opening day to find out? Definitely.
The Invisible Man (February 28)
After the missteps of the "Dark Universe," it would be understandable if we had reservations about The Invisible Man. After seeing the trailer for writer/director Leigh Whannell's updated take on the character, though, those reservations are gone. This movie looks like a relentlessly terrifying ride carried by another mesmerizing Elisabeth Moss performance, and we can't wait to see (or not see, as the case may be) where it takes us.
Onward (March 6)
For a lot of people the words "Pixar movie" are enough to get on board with something like Onward, but there's more to be excited about here than just the studio. It's Pixar's first original adventure since Coco in 2017, it boasts an outstanding voice cast led by Chris Pratt and Tom Holland, and the story feels like an especially strange gambit even by Pixar standards.
A Quiet Place: Part II (March 20)
A Quiet Place feels on some level like the kind of high-concept horror film that would fall apart if you expanded it into sequel territory, but the first film was such a hit that a sequel was inevitable. Now that Part II is almost here, though, our doubts are fading.
The original cast and director John Krasinski are back for this round, the first trailer looks thrilling, and the film feels like it's expanding the concept without breaking it. We can't wait to try to quietly crunch popcorn during this one.
Mulan (March 27)
Disney's most recent major remake project was The Lion King, a film so slavishly devoted to the original that it copied whole sequences almost shot-for-shot. Mulan, a live-action version of the 1998 animated classic, will not be that.
This new vision of the tale, with Liu Yifei in the title role, looks like equal parts Disney Princess fantasy and martial arts epic, and it aims to take the goodwill garnered from the original and weave it into something new. We're eager to see if it works.
The New Mutants (April 3?)
At this point, it's been more than two years since the first New Mutants trailer, and almost two years since the film's first release date. Now, after a studio move and so many reshoot reports that even the cast seems confused, the film appears primed for some kind of release in 2020.
We're hoping we get the New Mutants film of our dreams, but in 2020 we're also just crossing our fingers that we get to see it at all.
No Time to Die (April 8)
It's been five years since Spectre, and we've spent much of that time wondering what Daniel Craig's presumed curtain call as Bond would be like. Now, No Time to Die is months away, and it looks epic even compared to other Bond films.
With Cary Joji Fukunaga in the director's chair and a supporting cast that includes Rami Malek, Lashana Lynch, and Ana de Armas, Craig stands a chance of going out on top, and we're ready for it.
Antlers (April 17)
When it comes to horror stories and horror storytellers, Guillermo del Toro has impeccable taste, so when he puts his name on something we pay attention. Del Toro chose to produce this horror tale from director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart), and based on a short story from Nick Antosca, and the first trailer looks like he knew what he was doing. Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, and a creepy rural backdrop? We can't wait.
Black Widow (May 1)
This year marks a decade since Black Widow's Marvel Cinematic Universe introduction, and she's finally getting her own movie. Black Widow's first trailer looks great, and it's already ahead of the hype curve due to its introduction of several of the internet's favorite actors — Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, and David Harbour doing a delicious Russian accent — into the MCU. Throw in the live-action debut of Taskmaster and you've got another Marvel must-see.
Wonder Woman 1984 (June 5)
Wonder Woman was one of DC's biggest hits — both critically and commercially — which means star Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins could have played it safe with the sequel. Instead, they just went for it.
Everything about Wonder Woman 1984, from its setting to its cast, feels like the work of people who know they've got our attention and want to have as much fun with it as possible, and we can't wait to be part of it.
Candyman (June 12)
We still know very little about Candyman, an updated take on the horror icon who first hit the screen in 1992, but the pedigree of this film is just too good to ignore.
Nia DaCosta (Little Woods) is in the director's chair and modern horror luminary Jordan Peele (Us) is producing and co-writing. Plus, the cast includes Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, and original Candyman Tony Todd. The trailer for this one can't arrive soon enough.
Free Guy (July 3)
Thanks to both Deadpool and Detective Pikachu, Ryan Reynolds has become the reigning king of metafictional blockbusters, and this year he's adding another one to his resume. Shawn Levy directs Reynolds in this story of a video game NPC who decides he's done just playing the same bystander role day by day. The cast is fantastic (Jodie Comer! Taika Waititi!), and the trailer makes Free Guy look like a summer movie blast.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife (July 10)
The last time a Ghostbusters movie hit theaters things... didn't go so smoothly, though it wasn't the fault of the movie itself. Now, writer/director Jason Reitman (son of original director Ivan Reitman) is asking us to return to the original timeline of the first two films for a new adventure involving Egon Spengler's family, and he's drafted an incredible cast — led by Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, McKenna Grace, and Paul Rudd — to take the ride. Are we nervous? Perhaps, but it's hard to deny the allure of the film's first trailer.
Tenet (July 17)
Every Christopher Nolan film is an event. That's something we've known at least since the days of The Dark Knight, but the automatic nature of it doesn't dampen our excitement for Tenet.
Nolan's latest high-concept thriller boasts a stellar cast led by John David Washington and Robert Pattinson, and promises to turn the director's always-precise lens onto a high-stakes time travel narrative. Will it match Inception in terms of genre thrills? We'll find out this summer.
Bill & Ted Face the Music (August 21)
There were times over the past few years when a third Bill & Ted film felt like a mythic thing that would be forever talked about yet never released, but that time is over. The Wyld Stallyns are back together this summer, breaking out of the rut of middle age with a quest to save all of humankind through the power of their songwriting. Alex Winter and The Internet's Boyfriend Keanu Reeves return to their excellent roles this summer.
Halloween Kills (October 16)
The 2018 sequel/reboot Halloween went better than it had any right to after years of fumbling with the franchise, thanks in no small part to Jamie Lee Curtis' powerhouse return as Laurie Strode. This year, Curtis and director David Gordon Green are returning for the first of two sequels to the reboot, and we're dying to see if they can stick the landing a second time.
Eternals (November 6)
Marvel Studios has been taking big swings for years, throwing out characters that even some comics fans don't know a lot about and spinning them into box office gold.
Eternals, starring the millennia-old Jack Kirby creations of the same name, might be the biggest test yet of the studio's ability to sell a movie, but even without a trailer there are plenty of reasons to be excited. From director Chloe Zhao to stars Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, and more, Eternals looks primed to be the next superhero frontier for the MCU.
Dune (December 18)
It's been 20 years since the last adaptation of Dune (on the Sci Fi Channel!), and given how things turned out the first time Frank Herbert's legendary novel hit the big screen in 1984, fans are understandably nervous about this new effort to bring the classic book to theaters.
If anyone can pull it off, though, it's Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049), who's proven he has an eye for genre epics more than once. With the support of a truly impressive ensemble cast led by Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, and Oscar Isaac, Villeneuve is poised to make Dune into the movie epic we've always dreamed of.