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Fresh from our Best of 2018 round-up blog, it's now time to look ahead to the films that await us in the year to come. From an eclectic set of historical titles to much-anticipated animations, the first three months of cinema in 2019 promises to pick up right where 2018 left off.
January and February are traditionally known as 'awards season' within the film industry landscape, as this period sees a number of big releases scheduled in order to meet deadlines for the big film awards ceremonies: the Golden Globes (taking place Sunday 6 January), the BAFTAs (Sun 10 February) and the Academy Awards (Sun 24 Feb).
Among those hoping to walk away with the coveted top prizes is Green Book, a 1960s-set buddy comedy-drama in which a working class Italian-American bouncer befriends an African-American classical pianist when acting as his chauffeur in the American South. Also hoping for awards is Vice, a comedic biopic of former US Vice President Dick Cheney (as played by Christian Bale) which comes from the director of The Big Short, and also features Amy Adams as Cheney's wife Lynne, Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld, and Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush.
Elsewhere, Barry Jenkins' follow-up to his Best Picture Academy Award winner Moonlight is an adaptation of James Baldwin's book If Beale Street Could Talk, about a young black couple in Harlem who prepare for the arrival of their first child. In the acting categories, expect to see Timothée Chalamet honoured for his brilliant portrayal of a drug-addicted teenager in emotional drama Beautiful Boy, while his Lady Bird co-star Lucas Hedges may also make the shortlist for his performance in gay conversion therapy drama Boy Erased.
As well as being potential awards contenders, there are a number of films released in January and early February which explore historical characters and settings, with female-led period dramas particularly in vogue.
Mary Queen of Scots explores the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth I in 16th century Britain, with a helter-skelter script from House of Cards creator Beau Willimon. Also exploring themes of gender and sexuality, with strong women at the forefront, is The Favourite, the big winner at the British Independent Film Awards in December with ten prizes, which puts a quirky comic spin on the story of Queen Anne's last days ruling 18th century Britain. And the most modern of the three, set at the turn of the 20th century, is Colette, which sees Keira Knightley play a writer who refuses to submit to the patriarchal views of the time and demands recognition for her work.
Beyond these, Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly team up to play lovable comedy duo Laurel and Hardy in Stan & Ollie, which closed last year's London Film Festival; Sir Kenneth Branagh directs and stars as William Shakespeare alongside Judi Dench and Ian McKellen in a film about The Bard's final days in All is True; and biopic On the Basis of Sex tells the remarkable story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her rise to becoming US Supreme Court Justice.
Throughout February and March, there's an array of options for young audiences to choose from, from animated sequels to live-action fantasy.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, featuring dazzling imagery and a host of new characters, is the third and final part of the story of Toothless and Hiccup's timeless friendship; The LEGO® Movie 2 promises more frantic fun as Emmet and co. find themselves under attack from outer space; and the following week, Joe Cornish directs his spin on the tale of King Arthur in fantasy adventure The Kid Who Would Be King.
In March, Marvel's latest release sees the long-awaited appearance of Captain Marvel, played by Brie Larson, which will no doubt set up events for Avengers: Endgame, which follows in April. At the end of the month, the first of Disney's three major remakes of the year arrives, in the form of Tim Burton's live-action version of Dumbo, with revamped versions of Aladdin and The Lion King set to follow soon after.
Sprinkled throughout the next three months are a number of exciting independent films, each of which speak about contemporary issues in their own way.
Monsters and Men is a three-part story exploring the aftermath of a police killing of a black man, told from the perspectives of a bystander who films the event, an African-American police officer, and a high-school baseball prospect who is inspired to become an activist by the incident. Elsewhere, Capernaum is a critically-acclaimed Lebanese drama about a streetwise 12 year-old boy who must survive on his own after fleeing his parents and his home.
Released on the same day in March are Girl - a slow-burning Belgian-Dutch drama about a transgender teenage ballerina - and Us, Jordan Peele's follow-up to his debut hit feature Get Out, which is another socially biting horror-thriller revolving around deceptively idyllic family life. Rounding off our first preview of titles in 2019 is Minding the Gap, which hits UK cinemas the following week, and is a wonderful coming-of-age skateboarding documentary concerning friendship, masculinity, responsibility and so much more.
* = release dates are subject to change
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