Films to look forward to in 2020: Part One

08 Jan 2020 BY Steven Ryder in Film Features

5 mins
Dolittle
Dolittle

With 2019 now a mere speck in the rear-view mirror, we want to look forward to the wealth of riches that await us in cinemas as we start a fresh new decade. With Marvel wrapping up its ten-year project with Avengers: Endgame and new technology offering a multitude of ways to experience the latest hits, the playing field seems to have been blown wide open. Let's take a look at the first few months of 2020, which we hope will be just as full of diversity and quality as 2019 was.

For Younger Audiences

The first quarter of the year has some exciting new films for younger audiences wanting to take a trip to the cinema, with tales of magic and animals (and sometimes even magical animals) making their way to the big screen.

Firstly, an original take on one of the most famous doctors in screen history in Dolittle, a fictional adventurer and veterinarian who has the special power of being able to speak to animals. Starring Robert Downey Jr., this version looks to have more action-packed thrills than previous attempts to adapt the story. 

Next up, everyone's favourite blue blur Sonic the Hedgehog races onto screens, causing chaos and excitement, pursued by the evil Dr. Robotnik (played by Jim Carrey) who is intent on capturing Sonic and using him for world domination. 

Elsewhere, Pixar releases its first original animated film since 2017's Coco with the fairy tale-inspired Onward, which follows two elf brothers living in a world with fading magic, who embark on an incredible quest to spend one single day with the father they never knew. 

Finally, Trolls World Tour is the candy-coloured sequel to 2016's hugely successfully Trolls. This time, best friends Poppy and Branch must travel to each of the Troll Kingdoms and unite them before their diversity is lost. With each kingdom representing and celebrating a different musical genre - rock, country, pop, classical, techno and funk - expect lots of buoyant song-and-dance numbers. 

Release Dates*:

  • Dolittle - 7 February
  • Sonic the Hedgehog - 14 February
  • Onward - 6 March
  • Trolls World Tour - 20 March

Literature 

As always, there are several wonderful films arriving this year that have close ties to famous literary works, perfect for utilising in the classroom.

Arriving first is the hugely anticipated adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic, The Personal History of David Copperfield. Written and directed by Armando Iannucci, and starring the charismatic Dev Patel in the lead role, with support from a huge ensemble cast of prolific British comic talent, this story of a young man's ascent and subsequent fall from high society shrugs off any period piece cobwebs with a fast pace and glorious wit. 

Another British classroom classic is also getting the contemporary treatment as Jane Austen's trailblazing novel Emma is adapted, starring Anya Taylor-Joy as the "handsome, clever and rich" young woman who meddles in the romantic lives of her friends and family.

Toni Morrison, the much-celebrated US writer and first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature, sadly passed away in August of last year. In touching documentary The Pieces I Am, we get to hear directly from Morrison herself, who discusses her wonderful life and the extraordinary works that she produced as she became a pioneer for black female novelists in America. 

Lastly, the treasured Beatrix Potter character Peter Rabbit returns to the big screen after his huge box office success in 2018. This time, Peter escapes his garden home and journeys into the real world, where he finds more mischief and naughtiness awaits.

Release Dates*:

  • The Personal History of David Copperfield - 24 January
  • Emma - 14 February
  • Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am - 6 March
  • Peter Rabbit 2 - 27 March

Awards Contenders

With awards season now in full swing, the coming weeks will also see a deluge of films all vying for audience and critical attention in order to scoop the biggest prizes.

Epic British war drama 1917 is already getting a lot of buzz, not least because director Sam Mendes has opted to give the film the illusion of being shot in one single take. The story involves two soldiers during World War I who must brave the battlefield to deliver a letter which could save hundreds of lives. 

Next up is Waves, a simultaneously intimate and epic tale of an affluent, suburban African-American family who suffer a tragic loss. Shot with energy and verve and with great performances at its centre, Waves seems to press all the right emotional buttons to put it in awards contention.

Elsewhere, based on a 1998 Esquire article, A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood stars Tom Hanks as children's TV host Mister Rogers, one of American television's national treasures. When a journalist and new father is sent to write a profile on Mister Rogers, he doesn't expect his life to be forever changed by the encounter and the kind, eccentric man that he meets. 

Finally, Dark Waters is the tense and almost unbelievable true story of the DuPont water scandal, in which a large chemicals company knowingly polluted a small town's water supply. Mark Ruffalo stars as the battling lawyer who risks everything to get justice for a group of people he barely knows. 

Release Dates*:

  • 1917 - 10 January
  • Waves - 17 January
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood - 31 January
  • Dark Waters - 28 February

Beyond Hollywood

It is always important to highlight the amazing films around the world that are not in the English language. Here there are stories and ideas that break the mould and offer a different perspective.

Hot off the worldwide phenomenon of Your Name, Japanese anime director Makoto Shinkai follows up with an equally stunning tale of young love in epic proportions. In Weathering With You, a young boy runs away from home and travels to Tokyo, where he meets a strange girl who seems to be able to manipulate the weather. 

Parasite, meanwhile, is the explosive new drama from Korean auteur Bong Joon-Ho, tipped to be a hit in the Western world due to its humour, thrills and accessibility. The plot concerns a poor family who slowly infiltrate themselves into the world of the ultra-rich and privileged. But how far is too far?

LGBT romantic drama And Then We Danced…, all the way from Georgia, follows two lifelong dance partners whose relationship is tested when a charismatic and handsome new dancer arrives on the scene, and has already received rave reviews on the festival circuit. 

Rounding off our list, System Crasher is a moving German drama centred around a 9-year old girl named Benni, whose boundless energy and troubling behaviour leaves her feeling isolated as she embarks on a personal quest to track down her mother.

Release Dates*:

  • Weathering With You - 17 Jan
  • Parasite - 7 February
  • And then we danced... - 13 March
  • System Crasher - 27 March

* Release dates are subject to change

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Steven Ryder, Curation Officer (Learning)

Steven has an MA in Film Studies, Programming and Curation from the National Film and Television School. He has previously worked for various exhibitors around England and currently freelances as a film critic/podcaster.

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