With summer movie season coming to a close, fall film festivals are kicking off all over the world, premiering a slew of highly anticipated films. This awards season promises to be especially interesting, with a remarkably wide range of films in scope, story and even platform. Since there are so many movies on the horizon, it can be difficult to know which ones may break out of the pack and garner award-worthy attention. Here are the top 10 most anticipated films for the remainder of 2019.
10. “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”
Directed by J.J. Abrams
Starring Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver and John Boyega
“The Rise of Skywalker”marks the end of the decades-long Skywalker saga as Resistance fighters battle the First Order. J.J. Abrams returns to direct the film, looking to continue — or perhaps, erase — the events of “The Last Jedi.” At this point, “Star Wars”films need no introduction, and the apparent revival of Emperor Palpatine has Star Wars fans excited for the trilogy’s final film.
9. “Just Mercy”
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton
Starring Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson and Jamie Foxx
Based on a true story, this legal drama follows Bryan Stevenson, a civil rights attorney fighting for the freedom of a wrongfully convicted murder suspect on death row. With powerful source material and veteran actors, Cretton looks to use his talents of telling emotional, human stories in a moving portrait of the legal system. The film will likely make a push for Best Picture, and with two Oscar winning actors (Larson and Foxx) in the cast, it’s expected to be a major success.
8. “Marriage Story”
Directed by Noah Baumbach
Starring Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson and Laura Dern
“Marriage Story”follows the decaying relationship between married couple Charlie and Nicole as they cope with an impending divorce. The film seems reminiscent of Baumbach’s earlier work, particularly the Oscar nominated “The Squid and The Whale.” Premiering on Netflix this December, Driver and Johansson will likely both receive Oscar attention for their performances. Driver deserves special consideration given that, over the span of four weeks, he’ll star in both “Marriage Story” and “Rise of Skywalker,” two remarkably different movies requiring a wide-ranging skill set.
7. “Uncut Gems”
Directed by Benny and Josh Safdie
Starring Adam Sandler, Idina Menzel and Lakeith Stanfield
In this crime thriller from the Safdie brothers, Adam Sandler plays Howard Ratner, a jewelry store owner who must find a way to pay his debts when his merchandise is stolen. Sandler may appear to be an unlikely choice for a serious crime film, but he’s delivered impressive dramatic performances in the past, with films like “Punch Drunk Love,” “Reign Over Me” and “Meyerowitz Stories,” so one shouldn’t be surprised if his role receives sizable acclaim. Also, Kevin Garnett and Mike Francessa apparently have large roles in this film, so if anyone is a sports fan, they should be excited.
6. “Ad Astra”
Directed by James Gray
Starring Brad Pitt, Donald Sutherland and Tommy Lee Jones
Brad Pitt looks to continue his hot streak from “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood” with his new space epic, “Ad Astra.” The film follows Roy, an astronaut searching for his lost father on a mission across the solar system. If “Ad Astra’s” trailer is any indication, the film will be visually stunning, and veteran director James Gray may finally break through for his first Oscar nomination.
5. “Little Women”
Directed by Greta Gerwig
Starring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson and Timothee Chalamet
Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel, “Little Women,” tells the story of four sisters coming of age after the Civil War. After years as an actress, Gerwig made her directorial debut with the Oscar-nominated “Lady Bird,” and is now teaming with collaborators Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson and Florence Pugh. This isn’t the first film adaptation of “Little Women,” but Gerwig has proven herself as a director to watch and will likely lend her own unique voice to the source material.
Directed by Todd Phillips
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro and Zazie Beets
“Joker” portrays antihero Arthur Fleck, a struggling comedian whose isolation and personal history transform him into the iconic “Batman” villain, the Joker. Todd Phillips, best known for his comedic work with movies like “The Hangover” and “Old School,” is an unlikely choice to helm a dark character study on one of the most iconic film villains of all time. But the promotional materials seem to suggest the film has more in common with “Taxi Driver”than with a traditional “Batman” film, and Phoenix’s performance is already drawing critical acclaim.
3. “Ford v Ferrari”
Directed by James Mangold
Starring Christian Bale, Matt Damon and Caitronia Bafe
A docudrama based on Carrol Shelby’s attempt to design a revolutionary race car for Ford Motor Company, this film seems to be a classic Oscar contender. Bale and Damon are two of the most famous film actors of their generation, and after years of directing quality movies like “Logan,” “3:10 to Yuma” and “Walk the Line,” Mangold is one of the most respected studio directors in Hollywood.
2. “Knives Out”
Directed by Rian Johnson
Starring Daniel Craig, LaKeith Stanfeld and Chris Evans
Rian Johnson’s Agatha Christie-esque murder mystery features an investigation into the death of the patriarch at a family function. This film sports arguably the most star-studded cast of any movie this year, and Johnson has proven both in small scale films like “Brick”and blockbusters like “Looper” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”to be adept at subverting expectations and playing with genre conventions. Regardless of quality, “Knives Out”promises to at least be intriguing.
1. “The Irishman”
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci
Although this film seems more like a 1979 release than a 2019 one, Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited gangster epic will premiere Nov. 1. The film follows the relationship between a hitman, played by De Niro, and organized crime figure Jimmy Hoffa, played by Al Pacino. At 3 hours and 30 minutes and, featuring digital de-aging technology for the two stars, this appears to be Netflix’s biggest film gamble ever, but with Scorsese, De Niro and Pacino involved, one can’t help but be excited.
Contact Chris Carr at (firstname.lastname@example.org). For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.