SLEUTH NEWS: TOP TEN 2019 MUST-SEE FILMS & EXPECTED FLOPS

The number of films that hit theaters nowadays is almost endless. In our best efforts, Sleuth News has put together a list of what we believe will be the top 10 must-see films of 2019 and the 10 films we’re going to want to forget the minute after we watch them. Let’s get to it then…


———TOP TEN———

10| John Wick 3: Parabellum  

It’s hard not to be excited for the third installment in the John Wick film series. Originally starting out as a small revenge film back in 2014, the sequel that came out in 2017 only improved on the original in every way, offering a kung fu-inspired masterpiece. The only reason this film hasn’t been put higher is that this is the threequel of the series…and one must always be cautious when it comes to the third installment in a series.

Only a handful of films have pulled it off, but the stakes set-up and what’s being teased leads us to believe this film will deliver everything it’s promising as the titular character finds himself on the run with a massive $14 million contract on his head after killing a member of the High Table of assassins. With all that, the film looks to bring the scope, action, and another “most excellent” performance by Keanu Reeves and the stellar ensemble cast that includes returning players Ian McShane and Laurence Fishburne along with awesome additions like Angelica Huston. John Wick 3: Parabellum is set to hit theaters May 17, 2019.

9| Ford v. Ferrari  

When it comes to his films, director James Mangold has been pretty consistent, offering a slew of films ranging from the cop drama Cop Land to the impressive remake of the western 3:10 to Yuma to his recent critically-acclaimed superhero film Logan. Keep in mind that last film became the first superhero flick to be nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the Academy Awards. But even if you weren’t a fan of that, Mangold assembles an impressive lead duo in the form of his 3:10 to Yuma star Christian Bale and Matt Damon.

Dealing with the rivalry between car designers Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari in the background, the film focuses on Ford’s automotive visionary Carroll Shelby (Played by Matt Damon) and his British driver Ken Miles (Played by Christian Bale) working to build from scratch an entirely new automobile with the potential to finally defeat the perennially dominant Ferrari at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France. With Mangold’s appreciation for strong character work, this feels like a film not to miss. Ford v. Ferrari is set to hit theaters June 28, 2019.

8| Alita: Battle Angel  

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Have mercy on me, but for some reason I still think this is going to be an epic film. Combining the sci-fi swagger of James Cameron who co-wrote the film and the grindhouse, action galore of director Robert Rodriguez, I’m curious to see how this film plays out. Especially with the mix of the high quality visuals that Cameron first gave to us with Avatar. Focusing on an amnesiac cyborg named Alita (Played by Rosa Salazar) who awakens in a post-apocalyptic world, the film looks to offer in trailers as being visually stunning with mind-blowing action and some possibly strong emotional arcs. Given Cameron has wanted to adapt the manga this is based on for decades, I believe his passion for the material, combined with the creative forces involved, will lead to a surprise upset when the film hits theaters February 14, 2019.

7| Knives Out  

Rian Johnson can get all the flak he wants for daring to do something different with The Last Jedi (And in my opinion succeeeding), but the director offered some unique films even before that. His breakout film was the noir-inspired detective story Brick along with the critically-acclaimed time-travel film Looper. Now his next film Knives Out, a modern take on the whodunit murder mystery, assembles an impressive ensemble cast ranging from Daniel Craig to Chris Evans to Christopher Plummer. Not to mention the film started production months ahead of schedule, indicating a lot of faith in the film’s concept. And with an award-worthy release date of November 27, 2019, this film has the potential to take notice as a unique, standout genre film among the expected biopics and usual award-season fare.

6| It: Chapter Two  

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The first chapter of the planned It duology was a smash hit beyond anyone’s imagination, making $700.4 million on a mere $35 million budget and receiving critical acclaim for the film’s all-around quality. With the same child actors returning, alongside a stellar adult cast to play their characters 27 years later (Including Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy), the fight with the otherworldly creature Pennywise will no doubt come to a brilliant conclusion. This is a film that is sure to satisfy fans of the first film. Set to hit theaters September 6, 2019 (Similar to the the September 8, 2017 release date of the first film), anyone expecting any less than a hit is sure to be surprised in my opinion.

5| Joker  

There is something about this rather obvious DC origin story that appeals to me. Not only does Joker star the stellar Joaquin Phoenix as it’s lead, but Phoenix himself has been pining a low-budget character study-type film about a comic book villain since 2014. This is a passion project for the talented actor and with Hangover director Todd Phillips at the helm, this feels like something so crazy it could work. Set for release in October 4, 2019, the film will also feature the talented and diverse supporting players of Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, and Frances Conroy.

4| The Curse of La Llorona  

There is just something about this little horror film that is really making me wonder. While it is the directorial debut of Michael Chaves, apparently he’s done such a good job he’s already been given the directing job for The Conjuring 3 (James Wan is a producer on The Curse of La Llorona). While that in no way indicates the film will be good, it does make one think of the film’s potential. The film is set for a strong release date of April 19, 2019.

3| Glass  

M. Night Shyamalan returned to form with his 2017 film Split and, in the process, gave fans one more treat…revealing that the film was a sequel to his 2000 film Unbreakable, thus allowing him to finally create the superhero trilogy he had wanted to make since the original film. With the 2000 film covering the origin of a hero (Bruce Willis as David Dunn) and the 2017 film covering the origin of a villain (James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb), the upcoming 2019 film will see these two collide under the manipulation of Elijah Price/Mr. Glass (Played by Samuel L. Jackson). Price first convinced David he was a superhero by crashing the train he was on to prove he was invulnerable.

Without a doubt, this film has the potential to cap off one of the most unique trilogies in cinematic history and the trailers indicate an intriguing conflict as people of fictional foundation do battle in our world. Not to mention the impressive lead cast and the fact M. Night seems more invigorated as a director then he has in years. Glass could very well be the first big film of the year too with a release date planned for January 18, 2019.

2| Captain Marvel/Avengers: Endgame/Spider-Man: Far From Home 

Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to drop a hammer on fans of the franchise. First, we’re going to get Captain Marvel on March 8, 2019 which will see the introduction of the titular character in the MCU. And while the year will be concluded with Spider-Man: Far From Home on July 5, 2019, the real centerpiece is Avengers: Endgame which will conclude the game-changing events of Avengers: Infinity War, a film that not only exceeded expectations of audiences, but genuinely left people guessing what will happen next? We’ll find out April 26, 2019.

1| Once Upon a Time in Hollywood  

Even writer/director Quentin Tarantino’s lesser efforts are entertaining as they come, but Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is either going to be a masterpiece or an offensive disaster. I don’t see a middle ground, but I feel that Tarantino is smart enough to utilize the horrific Charles Manson murders effectively in his narrative about a Western TV star and his stunt double who try to reinvent themselves in a changing Hollywood landscape.

Not to mention he has assembled one of the most incredible ensembles of all time, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt playing the lead duo along with Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate. The ensemble is so large we’d be here all day but a few notable names among them include Al Pacino, Bruce Dern, Dakota Fanning, Kurt Russell, and Timothy Olyphant. Essentially, Tarantino is calling in all his chips for this spectacle. Set to be released July 26, 2019, this is going to be the film people are going to have their eyes on one way or another.


———WORST TEN———

10| Where’d You Go, Bernadette  

As much as I love writer/director Richard Linklater, I found the first trailer for Where’d You Go, Bernadette to be incredibly plain. While I’m hoping the film about a 15-year-old girl trying to find her disappearing mother might surprise, the movie has had three release dates shifts, originally planned for May 11th earlier this year, then for October 19th, and now it’s set for a March 22, 2019 release date.

March seems to be a pretty bad month for movies when they are moved there, with the recent critical and commercial flop Red Sparrow having been moved there after originally being set for an October release date the previous year. Maybe one release date shift, but this movie was filmed back in July 2017…unless Linklater is getting slower in post-production, it seems like the studio doesn’t really know where the film will find an audience. Even with the always reliable Cate Blanchett in the lead role, it’s not looking good.

9| Artemis Fowl  

I had been hoping for an adaptation of Artemis Fowl for years. I grew up on the books written by Eoin Colfer. And you’d think director Kenneth Branagh’s track record with fantasy films like Thor and Cinderella would indicate he could deliver, but the first trailer for this film was as generic as they come in design and approach. And if the image we’ve chosen for this entry is an indication, it’s looking like a B-movie that will have an A-movie budget. Artemis Fowl is set to be released in theaters August 9, 2019. And that isn’t the only movie in August I’m worried about.

8| Angel Has Fallen  

Look, the first 2013 film Olympus Has Fallen was good, silly fun. The 2016 sequel London Has Fallen was, however, already overkill, weighed down by cliche villains and over-the-top action. The fact the planned third film Angel Has Fallen, planned for an August 23rd release date, is essentially sharing the plot of the Harrison Ford film Air Force One shows they are just grasping at straws at this point to keep this franchise going. Oh Gerard Butler…you were once awesome…what happened buddy?

7| Gemini Man  

Ang Lee is that director that goes across many genres, able to shift between martial art films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and romantic films like Brokeback Mountain or even his bizarre take on Hulk. But Gemini Man sounds about as generic as they come, focusing on  an aging assassin seeking to exit his career but then finds himself going against a younger clone of himself, who can predict his every move. Now maybe Lee will find a way to approach this differently but in the last few years we’ve seen this concept done to death whether it was Rian Johnson’s Looper or part of the plot of James Mangold’s Logan. And given lead star Will Smith’s track record lately, this could reflect the film’s quality as well. Gemini Man is set to hit theaters October 4, 2019. And speaking of Will Smith…

6| Aladdin  

Just…just don’t okay? The material being shown so far for the Guy Ritchie-directed live-action remake of the 1992 animated classic is not only looking poor in quality but also hinging on parody territory. Combine that with the almost laughable choice of lead actors (Including Power Rangers star Naomi Scott), it’s hard to believe this film will be good. It just doesn’t feel like an inspiring remake. Yet, Disney seems confident enough to put it one month after Avengers: Endgame on May 24, 2019. I don’t share that confidence unfortunately.

5| Chaos Walking  

Another film that was shot all the way back in 2017 and got several weeks of reshoots in 2018, Chaos Walking is based on author Patrick Ness’s intriguing 2008 novel The Knife of Never Letting Go. And while the film adaptation has Doug Liman at the helm, whose been on a pretty good track record with Edge of Tomorrow (Or whatever the heck they are calling it these days) and American Made, there is just something about the delay of this film that worries me. And I’m not exactly impressed with Daisy Ridley’s tint of blonde hair either.

4| Dark Phoenix  

At this point, I’m amazed this film is even getting released still. Originally set for November 2, 2018, then pushed back to February 14, 2019 and now settled on a June 7, 2019 release date, the film can’t seem to find a season it feels comfortable being released in. Does anyone expect this film to be good? Not only is this Simon Kinberg’s directorial debut but as the first trailer indicates, you have a cast of actors who all seem just bored to tears to return. And that same trailer immediately makes the film look like a rehash of the critically mediocre The Last Stand, which Kinberg specifically said he was trying to not repeat. It’s a repeated sentiment but I will state it here…you can’t adapt The Dark Phoenix Saga comic book arc in one film. And you can’t do it with an actress who has played the character ONCE before in X-Men: Apocalypse. You have to build her story before completely destroying her (Which is essentially her fate in this).

Now I grant you…this is Fox. They care as much about accuracy to source material as much as a Louisiana chef cares about how many spices go on good fried chicken. You know what…that’s an insult to chefs. Fox has failed time and time again to really understand these characters with perhaps Bryan Singer’s original two films coming the closest in mood and First Class coming the closest in story. In their time, which thankfully is coming to an end, Fox has ruined the Dark Phoenix storyline twice (I’m guaranteeing you this), they turned Mystique into the leader of the X-Men (You’d think after two flops under their banner, they’d stop giving Jennifer Lawrence so much power), they turned Quicksilver into a walking plot device with bad quips, and somehow made Apocalypse look like Ivan Ooze (Even Oscar Isaac hated the job!).

Not to say they haven’t had some close understanding but usually it was with creative forces who had to scrap and beg with lower budgets like the spin-offs Deadpool or Logan. Those directors and stars had to compromise to get their films made. Whereas the main series continues to get more bombastic budgets with lesser quality. It’s just time for this iteration of the franchise to end. Plain and simple. It’s had it’s day.

Seems to me this is a film that just does not have the confidence of Fox and seemingly lacks the enthusiasm of audiences with only 8 million viewing the trailer in the first 24 hours. It did receive 44 million views in China…but does that really say much since they single-handedly made Venom a box office success? Speaking of superhero films though…

3| Hellboy  

The first trailer was like a punch to the gut. While promised to be a gory, R-rated horror film, this reboot seems to make people only want more the original Guillermo Del Toro-directed films. While the audience wasn’t big, people would have turned out for Del Toro’s Hellboy III…I’m not sure who will turn out for this reboot. Especially after a trailer that seems to indicate it will be a one-lining spewing, bland, comedic action film. But on April 12, 2019, we’ll find out.

2| Charlie’s Angels  

I like Elizabeth Banks. I do. She was the only actress really playing a character with a personality in The Hunger Games films, she does great comedic work when she’s in movies, and her more fringe projects with James Gunn like Slither and the upcoming horror/superhero film Brightburn are always very intriguing. But as a director, I’m not so sure she’s the right person to handle the reboot of the Charlie’s Angels franchise and her choice of actresses is bizarre. As far as Kristen Stewart has come as an actress, the early set photos of her with short, bleached blonde hair makes me think Banks will try to give a comedic tone to the film. Granted she’s following up McG’s over-the-top wire-fu installments from the early 2000’s, but is this much better? Charlie’s Angels is set to hit theaters November 1, 2019.

1| Men in Black: International  

Did Sony learn nothing with the Ghostbusters reboot? Well…at least with the new Men in Black: International, they had the common sense to set it in the same universe as the original films. But still, is anyone really excited for this? Does anyone even want it? Does anyone find it funny they cast an American actress and an Australian to play British agents? Even with director F. Gary Gray at the helm, who recently saw massive success with The Fate of the Furious, this spin-off feels like a generic follow-up that lacks the chemistry of the two actors that made it happen to begin with. Men in Black: International is set to hit theaters June 14, 2019.


———HONORABLE MENTIONS———

10| Ad Astra  

For the most part, Brad Pitt is probably one of the most consistent actors alive. Not only will he co-lead Once Upon a Time in Hollywood with Leonardo DiCaprio, he’s going to be taking a trip to Neptune with this still mysterious film. Playing an Army Corps engineer who  travels through the solar system to find out what happened to his father twenty years ago and understand why his mission failed, Pitt has the potential here to match wits with Contact and Interstellar.

What’s great about this film is it’s being directed by James Gray who is known more for character-driven tales like We Own the Night, The Immigrant, and The Lost City of Z. Given Gray also co-wrote the script with Ethan Gross, that tells me this will be a character story first and could equal to an odyssey like journey. Plus…how often do we get a good space film? It’s like once every couple years! Now there is always a chance the film could be generic, hence the honorable mention instead of being in our top 10, but it’s still a movie to consider. Ad Astra is set to hit theaters May 24, 2019.

9| Zombieland Too  

What can I say? I am hoping to be surprised. It’s going to be ten years since the original Zombieland left a special place in our hearts…or maybe that was that bullet hole that Columbus left in Bill Murray (Who admits here on tape his greatest regret was doing the Garfield movies). But in any case, everyone is back for the sequel. The original director Ruben Fleischer, the original screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Who went on to make the chimichangas with the Deadpool movies), and the original four lead stars. This film could be a complete disaster, but unlike say Dumb and Dumber To, the writers for Zombieland Too have actively been working on the sequel since the original with the only reason it didn’t get immediately pushed through being it was a sleeper hit. What I’m saying is, on October 11, 2019…maybe for once zombies can be fun again? We’ll see!

8| Greyhound  

Tom Hanks in a new war film? And one he wrote? Yes please! It’s always welcome to see Hanks so invested in a classic hero piece, especially bringing his distinguishable everyman appeal to it. Based on the 1955 novel The Good Shepherd by C.S. Forester, the story is set during the early days of World War II, focusing on Commander Ernest Krause (Played by Hanks) a career officer who is finally given command of a Navy destroyer Greyhound. The story will follow his ship, among an international convoy of 37 Allied ships, as they are pursued by a pack of German U-boats.

While the story sounds intriguing and carries a strong cast, the director Aaron Schneider is mostly a rookie director, having only handled a 2003 short film titled Two Soldiers and his 2009 directorial debut Get Low. While both have been critically acclaimed, a naval war epic is a big leap for a director and while Hanks wrote the film, let us not forget that the last time he helped behind-the-camera we got the lukewarm Larry Crowne. That being said, this feels like something that Hanks is ready to handle creatively, being involved in not only Saving Private Ryan but working with Steven Spielberg on the two hit HBO miniseries Band of Brothers and The Pacific. It’s best to be cautious, but it doesn’t make the film any less intriguing! Greyhound is set to hit theaters March 22, 2019.

7| Us  

Last year Jordan Peele made Get Out…hopefully this is the last time I have to say how well it was received and how he won an Oscar for his screenplay. But that’s the big point here. That was just his freshman effort. And while Us looks to be a different beast of horror, featuring a strong cast and haunting visuals by the look of the first trailer, it’s definitely sharing the same DNA as Get Out with it’s themes. The question will be can Peele make a distinguishable sophomore effort or will the term “sophomore slump” get put on this film because of how high the standards were set for Get Out? The film will open March 15, 2019 and it will be interesting to see if Peele can meet the expectations put upon him. 

6| Shazam!  

This year, Aquaman surprised the heck out of me. It was fun, engaging, and even was sometimes down right emotional. This is part of the reason why Joker is intriguing me so much because it’s a standalone film that is just doing it’s own thing, not trying to be part of the larger DCEU. But when it comes to Shazam!, it’s trailers haven’t really impressed me. But, then again, the trailers for Aquaman didn’t either. And with Warner Bros. copying Marvel Studios for the first time with the right idea to hire unlikely nobody directors (In this case, David F. Sandberg), we might just get something unique here. April 5, 2019…either the day Warner Bros. manages it’s first back-to-back superhero successes in the DCEU…or not.

5| Terminator 6  

Every instinct makes me worry that James Cameron wrote this direct sequel to T2 because of his own pride after three mediocre-to-panned installments followed up his legendary two films. But, at the same time, I think to myself that Arnold is back, Linda Hamilton is back, strong supporting players like Mackenzie Davis have joined the cast, and Tim Miller, who helped surprise everyone with Deadpool back in 2016, is at the helm. This sequel is shrouded in mystery, still just being called Terminator 6 even though it’s retconning any piece of media that followed T2. And it’s set to for an award-season release date of November 1, 2019. Could it be we Terminator fans are finally in for the T3 was deserved years ago? Or are we about to roll our eyes for the fourth time? Definitely a coin toss.

4| Pokémon: Detective Pikachu  

I will be curious to see how this film will work, but what shocked me the most was how well the first trailer showed it was possible to take the animated pocket monsters and bring them to live-action with convincing CGI. I’m perhaps giving a little too much credit to a single trailer for just giving me good visuals, but I’m also curious about how this is not just directly based on the main storyline we usually expect. There is no Ash Ketchum, no Misty or Brock, no Team Rocket (As far as we know). Instead it’s based off the 2016 video game of the same name. And while video game adaptations have never done well, the fact the story is based on a fringe concept of the franchise means something. Could that unique angle separate the film from other adaptations? We’ll find out May 10, 2019.

3| How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World/Toy Story 4  

Okay, these two animated films are technically from different studios and serve different purposes, but both have some big shoes to fill. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is from DreamWorks and will serve as the final installment of that franchise. It’s a threequel and after the first two massively successful installments, it’s going to be interesting to see if this film can end the series on a high note. We’ll find out soon enough on February 22, 2019.

As for Toy Story 4, that film has a lot going against it. For one, the behind-the-scenes turmoil reminds us that the film went through massive rewrites. The story was originally about Woody trying to find his love interest Bo Peep who was absent from the third film. Now, while that story will be part of it, the main focus is Woody helping a new toy called “Forky” find his place in the world. And not to mention how beautifully Toy Story 3 seemed to end the series back in 2010, this could be a film that might be when the series feels like it’s overstaying it’s welcome. June 21, 2019, we’ll find out won’t we?

2| Captive State  

This movie got pushed back from August 17th of this year to March 29th of 2019. Part of the reason I haven’t flat out rejected this film is I love the director Rupert Wyatt, the guy who got the Planet of the Apes prequels going with the surprise that was Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Not to mention it features John Goodman in a main role and he’s always a welcome addition.

I also find the story very interesting where humans have allied themselves with aliens and use that to end world turmoil by enforcing martial law. It sounds like a nightmarish concept and the trailers have done a good job of showing the brutality of such a world. Now of course it could be generic and the release date push is always bothersome, but given the film is not afraid to go up against Disney’s live-action remake of Dumbo in it’s opening weekend, I’d say there might be some faith in the project. 

1| Serenity  

You remember when mother! was pushing itself as a standard “Strangers invade a couple’s home” but then people actually saw it and it was revealed to be a giant allegory for climate change (Among other things)? Well Serenity was looking to run into the same problem where it’s first trailer made it out to be a standard revenge thriller but then the second trailer revealed it might be…something much more. Honestly, for me, that helped as it didn’t feel like the movie was going to try and trick me as an audience member. In my opinion, a surefire way to prove you lack faith in your project.

Honestly, with Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight writing and directing the film…I’m curious what he has in store here. Being the writer of such films as Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises already won me over but he also directed one of Jason Statham’s better films Hummingbird as well as the Tom Hardy-starring film Locke. The newest trailer really makes this out to be a bizarre concept in the vein of BBC show The Prisoner and so I’ll give the film a shot. The only issue is of course this film suffered a release date shift from September 28th of this year to October 19th to January 25th of 2019. But it wasn’t a drastic shift and also the trailer indicates this is not going to be a standard thriller. This film can either be one of the first great films of 2019 or a complete disaster. But hey…at least if the movie fails Knight won’t blame audiences for being stupid…unlike some directors did. 


———THE BIG ONE———

1| Star Wars: Episode IX  

This is the enigma. The wonder. After Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi received such divided opinion, I don’t know what’s going to happen as J.J. Abrams takes over again for Episode IX. But I liked The Last Jedi…so for that reason I have removed myself from opinion on this and simply put it in it’s own category. Episode IX is set to hit theaters December 20, 2019.


 We’re happy to get this list out to you before the New Year begins and will soon accumulate what we got right/wrong from our list that we made for 2018. As New Years begins, a stream of unique films will come out alongside the big franchise films. It’s going to be one interesting year of films! Stay tuned!