The new year always brings with it two important things — a time for reflection, and an opportunity to look forward. What did you love? What did you hate? What choices would you have made differently? And what do you want to do, think, see and explore in the months and years to come as a result?
It's a fun time that both encourages prognostication (will that movie flop?) and demands a bit of metal preparation (who cares if that movie flops, if I love it?).
For fans of science fiction and fantasy, 2018 was a nonstop buffet of entertainment options on both the big and small screens, with wildly varying levels of quality (not to mention success). But even by the previous year’s virtually unprecedented standards, 2019 promises to be positively overwhelming, a deluge of adaptations, sequels, spinoffs, updates and in a few rare cases, originals that hope to enchant and inspire, thrill and provoke thought.
In anticipation of all of the choices you'll be making in the months to come, we’ve assembled a shortlist of movies we’re most excited for — including titles both obvious and obscure — to help you say goodbye to last year's disappointments and start looking forward to this one's triumphs.
Whether you've been waiting for a sequel to Unbreakable since 2000 or were only introduced to M. Night Shyamalan's pre-MCU comic book-inspired universe via his 2016 backdoor tie-in Split, this team-up/ showdown feels like it's decades in the making thanks to three leading men (Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis and James McAvoy) equally capable of commanding the spotlight. (January 18)
The Kid Who Would Be King
Alita: Battle Angel
It's never a good idea to bet against James Cameron, much less director Robert Rodriguez, when he's serving as a humble executor of someone else's vision. But even amidst delays and other studio shake-ups, this adaptation of Yukito Kishiro's manga promises envelope-pushing technology and ruthlessly efficient storytelling working in perfect concert with one another to showcase the creativity and imagination of all three. (February 14)
One year after Marvel releases its first superhero film led by a primarily black cast, the studio continues to diversify its universe with this otherworldly adventure starring Brie Larson in the title role. Set in 1995 and featuring Samuel L. Jackson as a two-eyed Nick Fury, the film delves into the MCU’s past even as it sets up events that promise to affect its immediate future (look to April 26). (March 8)
Suffice it to say that Tim Burton has been hit or miss over the last decade, but it’s possible that you lack the ability to feel if your heartstrings weren’t tugged at least a little bit by the first trailer for this live-action adaptation of the Disney animated classic, featuring Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito and of course, an adorable flying elephant. (Mar. 29)
It remains yet to be seen how strongly this connects with the rest of the DCEU, but if nothing else, David F. Sandberg's upcoming superhero film delivers a much-needed dose of levity in the midst of so much seriousness, thanks in no small part to Zachary Levi as its buff, bumbling leading man. (April 5)
Is there anybody on the planet who isn’t pulling out their hair in anticipation for the resolution of the events of Infinity War? Well, maybe Thanos — but then again, he probably already thinks they’re resolved. (April 26)
Pokemon: Detective Pikachu
What initially sounded like a really wild, weird joke has somehow shot to the top of our wanna-see list after Ryan Reynolds signed on to play the iconic Pokémon character, now catapulted into a real world where the only person who understands him is a young man (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom's Justice Smith) who needs help finding his father. (May 10)
Brad Pitt stars in this original project from director James Gray (The Lost City of Z) about an Army corps engineer who follows his father (Tommy Lee Jones) on a trip through our solar system to determine why his one-way mission to find extraterrestrial life failed. (May 24)
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Michael Dougherty takes over for Gareth Edwards on this epic sequel which finds the once and future king facing off against a who's who of iconic monsters (Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah ) while a murderer's row of gifted actors (Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, and more) places bets on the victor. (May 31)
Longtime X-Men universe architect Simon Kinberg finally takes the reins as director for this most famous of stories: Jean Grey's transformation into the complex, tragic figure that has intrigued audiences for decades. That said, there’s no word on how the film, set in 1992, will explain how Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, and Michael Fassbender have looked the same age since the Cuban Missile Crisis. (June 7)
Men in Black International
This film would be on our must-see list based on Tessa Thompson's starring role alone, but the first trailer suggests that she, Chris Hemsworth, and F. Gary Gray have concocted a spinoff of the Men in Black franchise that oozes with the same shaggy charm — and features equally big spectacle — as its predecessors. (June 14)
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Don't let the fact that Spider-Man didn’t make it through Infinity War frighten you off from this sequel, which continues the adventures of a teenage web-slinger; surely Endgame will explain how and why he's vacationing in Europe with his pals — and this time facing one of the character's most iconic foes, Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). (July 5)
It: Chapter 2
Andy Muschietti's adaptation of the first part of It broke box office records and became a cultural phenomenon; now he's hoping lightning will strike twice with a second half that replaces its predecessor's pre-teen cast with a cavalcade of grown-up movie stars (James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader and more) who will once again face off against the mysterious, deadly Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard). (September 6)
Ang Lee's facility with visual-effects-laden storytelling will get a workout in this long-gestating sci-fi thriller about an aging assassin who finds himself pitted against a clone of his younger self — and both are played by Will Smith. (October 4)
Todd Phillips (The Hangover) is best known for misanthropic comedies, so we're not sure whether he's perfect or perfectly wrong for this spinoff film about Batman’s greatest nemesis, this time allegedly a failed comedian who turns to a life of crime in 1981 Gotham City. Either way, Joaquin Phoenix's turn in the title role makes it a must-see.(October 4)
James Cameron has given his blessing to Terminator sequels in the past, but this one, directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool), marks the first time since T2 that he's actually contributed to the franchise’s increasingly complicated timeline. Disregarding the other films, this one reunites Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-800 with Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor and promises something special (we hope). (November 1)
Walt Disney Studio Animation's biggest hit in decades finally gets the sequel its fans have been waiting for, a follow-up six years in the making that goes back to Arendelle for more adventures with Anna, Elsa, and Olaf. (November 22)
Star Wars: Episode IX
J.J. Abrams is set to complete the third trilogy in the Star Wars franchise with this adventure that picks up after the events of Rian Johnson's throat-clearing opus The Last Jedi, and forces the Force Awakens filmmaker to reckon with the ideas he introduced two films ago, resolve more than four decades of storytelling, and somehow set up this indefatigable franchise’s hopefully limitless future — you know, no pressure. (December 20)