Films lookahead: 20 movies not to miss in 2020

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L to R: Gal Gadot, Robert Pattinson, Yifei Liu and Daniel Craig

Hindsight is 20/20, the old saying goes. But we’re in the foresight business here at BBC News, and now the other 2020 is fast upon us it’s time we predicted what films will be rocking your world over the next 12 months.

From anarchic satire to blockbuster sequels to the return of some of the biggest names (and numbers) in cinema, there is plenty to look forward to. Here are 20 titles that should definitely be on your New Year check list.

Jojo Rabbit (1 January)

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Taika Waititi (as Hitler) and Roman Griffin Davis in Jojo Rabbit

Up until now, the Hitler Youth hasn’t exactly been fertile ground for knockabout comedy. But all that’s about to change.

For that we have Kiwi film-maker Taika Waititi to thank. Not only does he write and direct Jojo Rabbit, but he also appears in this boldly playful satire.

Set in Germany during World War Two, the film tells of a devoted young Nazi (Roman Griffin Davis) who comes to question his beliefs after befriending the Jewish girl his mother is hiding in their attic.

Waititi plays his imaginary friend Adolf, a caricature of the Fuhrer as outlandish as everything else in this subversive critique of mass indoctrination.

1917 (10 January)

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A very different depiction of war comes in this World War One epic from Sam Mendes, the Oscar-winning director of American Beauty and the last two Bonds.

Based on a story told to Mendes by his grandfather, 1917 sees two young British soldiers on a race against time to avert a devastating assault on their comrades in arms.

Mendes’ bold conceit is to tell the story of their mission in what looks like (but isn’t) a seamless single shot – one that takes the viewer into trenches, across battlefields and even under water.

George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman play the callow leads in a film whose starry ensemble also includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth and Andrew Scott.

Earlier this year Mendes called the film, which he also co-wrote, “a big, experiential, immersive picture” that was “incredibly close to his heart”.

Bombshell (17 January)

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The sexual harassment scandal that led to the departure of Fox News’ Roger Ailes from the network he founded is recreated in Jay Roach’s highly topical latest.

Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie co-star as three of Ailes’ accusers, while John Lithgow plays Ailes.

Malcolm McDowell, meanwhile, delivers a deliciously deadpan cameo as media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

The make-up used to transform Lithgow into Ailes and Theron into TV presenter Megyn Kelly has to be seen to be believed.

The Lighthouse (31 January)

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Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe are sent to mind a remote New England lighthouse in this bizarre psychological thriller.

Tormented by the elements, their isolation and a particularly irksome seagull, it’s not long before they find themselves at odds.

Director Robert Eggers won a host of fans with his 2015 horror film The Witch and will likely earn a lot more with this atmospheric, black-and-white follow-up.

Pattinson’s deranged performance, meanwhile, suggests he’ll bring more than matinee idol good looks to his upcoming role as The Batman.

Birds of Prey (7 February)

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The Caped Crusader won’t be returning until 2021. In his absence, one of DC Comics’ villains is making a comeback.

That would be Harley Quinn, last seen in 2016’s Suicide Squad alongside Jared Leto, aka the Joker before last.

Harley – Margot Robbie again – has moved on since that film and is now enjoying a “fantabulous emancipation” with the help of some other fantasy women.

Ewan McGregor plays the villain in Cathy Yan’s comedy thriller, the first American superhero film to be directed by an Asian woman.

Greed (21 February)

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Steve Coogan at the London Film Festival premiere of Greed

Steve Coogan’s fruitful partnership with director Michael Winterbottom has seen him play impresario Tony Wilson in 24 Hour Party People, porn baron Paul Raymond in The Look of Love and a version of himself in the TV series The Trip.

In their latest collaboration Coogan plays Sir Richard McCreadie, the super-rich owner of a high street fashion store chain about to celebrate his 60th birthday on Mykonos.

Comparisons to a real-life knighted retail giant are there to be made in a cutting satire on ostentatious wealth, conspicuous consumption and the globalisation of labour.

Mulan (27 March)

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Dumbo, Lady and the Tramp, Aladdin and The Lion King all got the live-action remake treatment in 2018. This year will see Disney’s 1998 animation Mulan follow in their hoof/foot/paw-prints.

The film tells of a young woman who disguises herself as a man to fight in place of her ailing father in China’s imperial army.

Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei plays the legendary warrior in Niki Caro’s film, which also stars Jason Scott Lee, Jet Li and Donnie Yen.

But don’t go in expecting to hear Eddie Murphy, as his wise-cracking dragon Mushu won’t be making a reappearance.

No Time To Die (3 April)

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Daniel Craig poses for pictures in Matera, Italy with co-star Lea Seydoux

With Sam Mendes otherwise engaged on 1917 and Danny Boyle bowing out, it’s been left to Cary Joji Fukunaga to bring the latest Bond to the screen.

It has certainly been an eventful shoot, what with leading man Daniel Craig hurting his ankle and a crew member getting injured in an on-set explosion.

Yet none of that will stop the 25th official James Bond movie – rumoured to be Craig’s last – reaching screens in April.

The film will see a retired Bond called back into action to confront a dangerous new adversary, played by Bohemian Rhapsody Oscar-winner Rami Malek.

Black Widow (1 May)

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Scarlett Johansson as she appeared in Avengers: Endgame

Natasha Romanoff came to a sticky end in Avengers: Endgame, but that won’t stop Scarlett Johansson returning next year as her Black Widow character.

Set before the events of the recent Avengers films, the stand-alone adventure will delve into Natasha’s mysterious past.

Florence Pugh and Rachel Weisz co-star in Cate Shortland’s movie, which Johansson has said will show Black Widow “as a fully realised woman”.

The year 2020 is shaping up to be a good one for ScarJo, who’s being tipped for two Oscar nominations for her work in JoJo Rabbit and Marriage Story.

Fast Furious 9 (22 May)

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Filming took place in Edinburgh, Scotland earlier this year

After the spin-off shenanigans of ampersand-heavy Fast Furious: Hobbs Shaw, the Fast Furious franchise reverts to formula for its next iteration.

That means a return for cast regulars Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and Tyrese Gibson, not to mention Charlize Theron reprising her villainous role from Fast Furious 8.

Director Justin Lin has said the film – which was shot in the UK, the US, Georgia and Thailand – is “by far the most ambitious of the series”.

The sequel made headlines earlier this year when a stuntman was injured during filming at Warner Bros Studios in Hertfordshire.

Wonder Woman 1984 (5 June)

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Gal Gadot as she appears in the Wonder Woman sequel

In a year positively bursting with formidable women, it’s fitting that Gal Gadot should be among their number in the follow-up to 2017’s Wonder Woman.

Set, er, in 1984, the sequel will see her Amazonian warrior come up against Cheetah, a feline villainess played by Kristen Wiig.

Pedro Pascal – star of Disney+ Star Wars series The Mandalorian – also appears, while Chris Pine will reprise his role as World War One pilot Steve Trevor.

Steve, you may remember, died heroically at the end of the first movie. But hey, if they can bring back Black Widow, why not him?

Soul (19 June)

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Pete Docter – the man who gave emotions personalities in Inside Out – brings us another metaphysical animation this year in the form of the Pixar release Soul.

It tells of Joe, a wannabe musician – voiced by Jamie Foxx – who becomes separated from his soul after suffering an unfortunate accident.

Transported to a halfway house for souls in training, he and another soul (Tina Fey) must work together if Joe is ever to make it back to the human realm.

It’s a busy year for Pixar, who are also releasing Onward – a fantasy about two elf brothers taking a road trip – in March.

Ghostbusters 2020 (10 July)

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The female-led reboot of Ghostbusters starring Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig didn’t exactly set the world alight in 2016.

Which probably explains why the latest entry in the ghost-capturing franchise is a direct follow-on from the 1984 original and its 1989 sequel.

Directed by Jason Reitman, son of film-maker Ivan, the new movie will star Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon and Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard.

Fans, however, will be more excited to learn it will see Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver reprise their original Ghostbusters roles.

Top Gun: Maverick (17 July)

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Tom Cruise takes a break from Mission: Impossible sequels to resurrect another of his famous roles – hotshot pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.

Directed by Joseph Kosinski, the long-gestating sequel to 1986’s Top Gun sees him become instructor to the son of his late flying partner Goose.

Miles Teller, Jennifer Connolly and Ed Harris also appear in the film, which its star has described as “a love letter to aviation”.

But there’s no room for actress Kelly McGillis, who revealed last year she had not been invited to return as Maverick’s former love interest.

Bill and Ted Face the Music (21 August)

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Winter is coming – and so is Reeves (right)

It’s been 29 years since Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves last appeared as Bill S. Preston Esquire and Ted “Theodore” Logan.

Small wonder the music-loving party dudes’ long-anticipated return will see them grapple with middle-age and the realisation that life hasn’t quite turned out how they hoped.

Will they still be excellent to each other? Those who remember Bill Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) and Bill Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991) will certainly be hoping so.

And they will no doubt be heartened to know that William Sadler will be reprising his Grim Reaper role from the latter film.

Death on the Nile (9 October)

Sir Kenneth Branagh has assembled another glittering cast for his second outing as Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot.

Annette Bening, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders are just a few of those appearing in this follow-up to 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express.

The latest adaptation of Christie’s novel – previously filmed in 1978 – will see Branagh’s moustachioed Belgian investigate a murder on a luxury Egyptian steamer.

Earlier this year Wonder Woman’s Gal Gadot expressed delight at being one of those onboard.

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Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (21 October)

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Harwood plays a teenager from Sheffield who wants to be a drag queen

When 15-year-old Jamie Campbell decided to wear a dress to his school prom, he could hardly have imagined his story would inspire a West End musical.

Nor could he ever have dreamt that that musical would be turned into a film starring Richard E Grant, Sarah Lancashire and Sharon Horgan.

Max Harwood plays the eponymous Jamie in a film that also finds room for John McCrea and Layton Williams, who have both played Jamie on stage.

When we spoke to Campbell last year, he told us that he too was angling for “a little cameo”.

Eternals (6 November)

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Director Chloe Zhao (fourth from left) with the cast of Eternals

Angelina Jolie leads a group of immortal super-beings in 2020’s second offering from the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe).

Salma Hayek, Richard Madden and Kumail Nanjiani also appear in Chloe Zhao’s film, one of the more ambitious components of Marvel’s so-called “Phase 4”.

“We are making it because we believe in Chloe’s vision and what those characters can do,” said Marvel boss Kevin Feige in November.

The same month saw Jolie, Madden and others evacuated from the film’s set after an unexploded bomb was found on the Canary island of Fuerteventura.

Dune (20 November)

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Chalamet plays Paul Atreides, previously played by Kyle MacLachlan (right)

Frank Herbert’s legendary sci-fi novel about the fight to control a perilous desert planet was filmed by David Lynch in 1984 and spawned a TV miniseries in 2000.

Now it’s Canadian director Denis Villeneuve’s turn to bring Dune to the screen in what’s envisioned as a two-part adaptation of Herbert’s 1965 best-seller.

Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac and Javier Bardem are just a few of the names he’s recruited for the task.

“The ambition is to do the Star Wars movie I never saw,” said the film-maker last year. “In a way, it’s Star Wars for adults.”

West Side Story (18 December)

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Ansel Elgort with Rachel Zegler (centre) and other cast members

Steven Spielberg’s long-held ambition to direct a musical will finally be realised with a new film version of the 1950s Broadway classic.

Relocating Romeo and Juliet to the streets of New York, it tells of two gangs – the Jets and the Sharks – and a secret romance that defies their tribal codes.

Rita Moreno, who won one of the 10 Oscars that went to the 1961 version, will appear in the remake in a role especially created for her.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I see myself revisiting this seminal work,” the veteran actress admitted last year.

All release dates are subject to change.

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