The IMDb lists nearly five thousand titles slated for release this year, and any overview of the eighty or so that we’re most looking forward to has to begin with Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. Not just because any new work from one of the greatest living filmmakers is an event, or because The Irishman will be the first collaboration on a feature between Scorsese and Robert De Niro since 1995’s Casino, or because Scorsese will be directing Al Pacino for the first time, or because the project has lured Joe Pesci out of retirement, or because the cast also features Anna Paquin, Harvey Keitel, Bobby Cannavale, and Ray Romano. It’s the sheer ambition of the thing. Based on the 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses, in which hitman Frank Sheeran confessed to author Charles Brandt that he’d carried out more than twenty-five murders for labor union boss Jimmy Hoffa before killing Hoffa himself, the story will span three decades, and in its early chapters, show us the three leads, now in their seventies, as much younger men. This feat has entailed state-of-the-art CGI and a whole lot of money. As Scorsese told an audience in Marrakech last month, he’d been shopping the project for several years before “Netflix took the risk.”
Anticipation for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood may be laced with a little more anxiety. Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film (and he’s still claiming that he’ll retire after his tenth) follows 2015’s The Hateful Eight, which drew both accolades and condemnation, often within the same review. Last week at RogerEbert.com, critic Matt Zoller Seitz took a look back on the movies that have made a mark on his life and recalled walking out of The Hateful Eight “thinking that something truly foul was afoot in the United States, boiling just beneath the surface and getting ready to erupt.” Hollywood revisits a moment in American history as troubled as our own, the summer of 1969, and more specifically, early August, when four members of the Manson Family murdered actress Sharon Tate, three of her friends, and a young visitor at Roman Polanski’s home in Los Angeles. The cast is led by Leonardo DiCaprio as a washed up TV star and Brad Pitt as his friend and stunt double and includes Margot Robbie at Tate, Rafal Zawierucha as Polanski, Al Pacino, Dakota Fanning, Lena Dunham, Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, and Kurt Russell.
Brad Pitt also stars in James Gray’s first foray into science fiction, Ad Astra. Pitt plays an astronaut searching the solar system for his father (Tommy Lee Jones), and Gray, who’s drawn comparisons between the story and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, tells the Globe and Mail’s Barry Hertz that the project has “pushed me in ways I’ve never been pushed before . . . Visually, narratively. In the way it’s separating myself from what you might call the classical tradition. It’s still a story, but from the beginning it falls apart.” The occasion of the interview, by the way, is The Ties That Bind: The Films of James Gray, a retrospective at TIFF Cinematheque opening tomorrow and running through January 13.
Terrence Malick, too, is shifting gears. Noting in 2017 that he’d been “working without a script” throughout the 2010s and that he’s “lately repented the idea,” he said that with Radegund, in which August Diehl plays Franz Jägerstätter, a conscientious objector who refused to fight for the Third Reich, he “went back to a script that was very well ordered.” Radegund was shot in Europe in 2016, so it’d be surprising if it doesn’t turn up this year.
January 25 sees the premiere of one of the most legendarily ambitious projects ever undertaken. Ilya Khrzhanovsky (4) began working on Dau, a biopic of Nobel Prize winning Soviet scientist Lev Landau, in 2006 and started shooting on the largest set ever constructed in Europe, “The Institute,” in 2008. Hundreds of extras remained in costume and in character around the clock, some of them throughout the three years it took to capture three decades of the Soviet experience. Now the 700 hours of material, all shot on 35 mm, have been shaped into a series of narrative features, documentaries, and a “trans-media project,” all set to finally see the light of day in Paris.
As we turn to more of this year’s most promising highlights, note that we’ll be skipping titles set to premiere in Sundance and Berlin since we’ll be hearing about them soon enough, and we’ll be skimming over most of the big studio movies as well—which isn’t to say they aren’t anticipated. Who doesn’t hope that Toy Story 4 will live up to the standards set by the groundbreaking trilogy? But these movies will be making enough noise on their own.
Kelly Reichardt (Certain Women) is basing First Cow on at least part of Jonathan Raymond’s novel The Half Life. One of the two stories Raymond tells begins when a cook for a party of fur trappers in the Oregon Territory of the 1820s meets a refugee and the two set out on a journey that will take them to China and back.
Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel Little Women is well underway, and the cast is pretty amazing: Meryl Streep as Aunt March, Saoirse Ronan as Jo, Timothée Chalamet as Theodore “Laurie” Laurence, Florence Pugh as Amy, Eliza Scanlen as Beth, James Norton as John Brooke, Laura Dern as Marmee, Emma Watson as Meg, and Louis Garrel as Friedrich Bhaer. In smaller roles, we’ll also see Bob Odenkirk and Chris Cooper.
Here’s another outstanding cast: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny, Tilda Swinton, Steve Buscemi, Tom Waits, Selena Gomez, Caleb Landry Jones, and Danny Glover will appear in Jim Jarmusch’s zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die. All we know at present is that Murray promises that it’ll be “hilarious.”
Josh and Benny Safdie have reteamed with Good Time (2017) coscreenwriter Ronald Bronstein for Uncut Gems, in which Adam Sandler plays a jewelry dealer whose merchandise is stolen. The cast also features Lakeith Stanfield, Idina Menzel, Judd Hirsch, Eric Bogosian, Pom Klementieff, and The Weeknd.
Elisabeth Moss will play Shirley Jackson, the writer known for her novel The Haunting of Hill House and the classic short story “The Lottery,” in Shirley, an adaptation of Susan Scarf Merrell’s novel directed by Josephine Decker (Madeline’s Madeline). Also cast are Michael Stuhlbarg as Jackson’s husband and Odessa Young and Logan Lerman as a young couple who moves into the Jackson house and becomes involved in a psychodrama that will inspire Jackson’s next novel.
Dee Rees (Mudbound) has cowritten (with Marco Villalobos) and will direct an adaptation of Joan Didion’s 1996 novel The Last Thing He Wanted. Anne Hathaway will play a reporter for the Washington Post who quits covering the 1984 presidential campaign in order to care for her father (Willem Dafoe), even as she becomes romantically involved with a high-level government official (Ben Affleck).
The Beach Bum, Harmony Korine’s first feature since Spring Breakers (2012), stars Matthew McConaughey as Moondog, a rebellious rogue, and features Isla Fisher, Snoop Dogg, Zac Efron, and Jonah Hill. The film will be out on March 22.
After he previews High Flying Bird at Slamdance, Steven Soderbergh will roll out The Laundromat, the story of the Panama Papers investigation into the law firm Mossack Fonseca, which created over 200,000 offshore shell companies where the superrich have stashed their cash. The Netflix-backed thriller written by Scott Z. Burns (The Bourne Ultimatum, Contagion) stars Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Matthias Schoenaerts, Antonio Banderas, Jeffrey Wright, James Cromwell, and on and on.
A casting call for “lots of extras” was put out in Cincinnati last month, where Todd Haynes is working on Dry Run, a feature based on Nathaniel Rich’s New York Times Magazine article “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare.” In 1999, corporate defense attorney Rob Bilott filed a suit against the chemical company that would expose the damage it had inflicted on the environment for decades.
Noah Baumbach’s second project for Netflix, after 2017’s The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), doesn’t have a title yet but we do know that Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver play a married couple on the verge of splitting up. Laura Dern and Merritt Wever appear in supporting roles.
In an as-yet-untitled movie directed by Miranda July (Me and You and Everyone We Know, The Future), Evan Rachel Wood plays a woman whose parents (Richard Jenkins and Debra Winger) are planning a big heist. Another woman (Gina Rodriguez) is brought into the fold when she discovers the family’s secrets.
Janicza Bravo, whose Lemon was a critical favorite at Sundance in 2017, has directed Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Nicholas Braun, Colman Domingo, and Jason Mitchell in Zola, a film based on a Twitter thread that became a Rolling Stone article about two wild days in Florida.
Lena Waithe (Master of None, The Chi) has written Queen & Slim, about a couple played by Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) and Jodie Turner-Smith (Lemon) who are pulled over by the police on their first date. This will be director Melina Matsoukas’s (Insecure) debut feature.
Edward Norton has been working on Motherless Brooklyn, an adaptation of Jonathan Lethem’s novel about a detective with Tourette’s, since the early 2000s, and last year, all the pieces finally fell into place. Norton stars alongside Bruce Willis, Willem Dafoe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Leslie Mann.
Sean Durkin has kept busy producing work by his Borderline Films compatriots Josh Mond and Antonio Campos, but hasn’t directed a feature himself since he won an award at Sundance in 2011 for Martha Marcy May Marlene. Until now. In The Nest, a businessman (Jude Law) brings his American wife (Carrie Coon) and kids home to Britain, where the isolation and sheer expense of the English manor they move into threatens to destroy the family. Campos, in the meantime, is adapting Donald Ray Pollock’s 2011 novel The Devil All the Time, and the film starring Chris Evans, Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska, and Mia Goth should be out in 2020.
Richard Linklater’s Where’d You Go Bernadette?, an adaptation of Maria Semple’s 2012 bestseller starring Cate Blanchett, Billy Crudup, Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer, and Laurence Fishburne, opens on March 22. Emma Nelson plays fifteen-year-old Bee Branch, who heads up the search for her missing mother (Blanchett). Meantime, way back at the end of 2017, Linklater told the Houston Chronicle’s Craig Hlavaty that he was quietly working on a film about his childhood in Houston in the late 1960s and that he hoped to have it ready for the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. That would be this July.
A couple of weeks ago, Rian Johnson (Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) wrapped Knives Out, a murder mystery starring Daniel Craig, Lakeith Stanfield, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, and Christopher Plummer.
Reykjavík-based Australian theater and film director Benedict Andrews will follow up on his feature debut, Una (2016), with Against All Enemies, a political thriller in which Kristen Stewart plays Jean Seberg during the years that the star of Breathless was being secretly investigated by the F.B.I. The film also stars Jack O’Connell, Anthony Mackie, Vince Vaughn, and Zazie Beetz.
Hirokazu Kore-eda, whose Shoplifters won the Palme d’Or in Cannes last year, recently shot his first film set outside of Japan. Like so much of his other work, though, The Truth will be driven by a family dynamic, focusing on a confrontation between Fabienne (Catherine Deneuve), a famous French actress who’s just published a memoir, and her daughter, Mumir (Juliette Binoche), who’s returned to Paris from New York. The first on-screen pairing of Deneuve and Binoche would be remarkable enough, but the cast also features Ethan Hawke and Ludivine Sagnier.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa has also left Japan for his latest project. To the Ends of the Earth, the second film he’s shot abroad after making Daguerreotype (2016) in France, takes him to Uzbekistan, where young Yoko (Atsuko Maeda) is shooting an episode of her travel variety show. “The once-great Timurid Empire has fascinated me for decades,” says Kurosawa. “To the Ends of the Earth will surely be unlike any film I’ve made thus far.”
Apichatpong Weerasethakul has had at least one run-in too many with the censors in Thailand’s military government. “The last few years working in Thailand, it’s been about trying to be subversive,” he tells Hannah Ellis-Petersen in the Guardian. “But I can only go so far.” Memoria, starring Tilda Swinton as a Scottish woman traveling in Colombia, will be the first film Apichatpong’s shot outside of his home country. The story will incorporate his own experiences with “exploding head syndrome,” a mysterious condition that causes sufferers to hear loud noises or see flashing lights while falling asleep or waking up.
Though Wes Anderson lives in France, he hadn’t made a film there until he began shooting The French Dispatch with Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Timothée Chalamet, Benicio del Toro, Mathieu Amalric, Jeffrey Wright, Léa Seydoux, Lois Smith, and Saoirse Ronan. Interweaving three storylines about American journalists in twentieth-century Paris, the film may not premiere until next year.
Frankie will be the first film Ira Sachs (Little Men, Love Is Strange) will have made outside the U.S. Starring Isabelle Huppert, Brendan Gleeson, Marisa Tomei, Greg Kinnear, Jérémie Renier, Ariyon Bakare, and André Wilms, the story centers on a family vacationing in Sintra, Portugal, and dealing with “a life-changing experience.”
Japanese director Sion Sono will make his English-language debut with Prisoners of the Ghostland. “It might be the wildest movie I’ve ever made, and that’s saying something,” Nicolas Cage told an audience in Macao last month. “I wear a skin-tight black leather jumpsuit with grenades attached to different body parts, and if I don’t rescue the governor’s daughter from this state line where they’re all ghosts and bring her back, they’re gonna blow me up. It’s just crazy. It’s way out there.”
The French roster this year is almost overwhelming. Let’s actually begin with a Dutch director, Paul Verhoeven, who’s re-teamed with Elle producer Saïd Ben Saïd and Virginie Efira, who played a devout Catholic in Elle, on Benedetta, based on historian Judith C. Brown’s 1986 book Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy. Last April, when the film was still entitled Blessed Virgin, Saïd tweeted a quote from Verhoeven who said that Benedetta “must be deeply infused with a sense of the sacred. I have been interested in the sacred ever since I was a child.”
Roman Polanski is tackling the Dreyfus affair with J’accuse, whose title is taken from Emile Zola’s 1898 public condemnation of the French government for jailing Captain Alfred Dreyfus, an artillery officer of Jewish descent convicted of treason despite irrefutable evidence that he had not, in fact, delivered French military secrets to the Germans. Louis Garrel and Jean Dujardin lead a cast that includes Emmanuelle Seigner, Mathieu Amalric, Melvil Poupaud, and Olivier Gourmet. As Andrew Pulver reports for the Guardian, Polanski’s first project of the #MeToo era has not been warmly received on social media.
Bertrand Bonello will explore the origins of the zombie genre in Zombi Child, which will shift between Haiti in 1962 and present-day Paris as it relates the story of a fifteen-year-old Haitian girl and her aunt, a voodoo priestess.
If all’s gone according to schedule, Philippe Garrel will have completed shooting Le sel des larmes by now. Cowritten with Jean-Claude Carrière and Arlette Langmann, the story centers on a young man torn between two women and between accepting and rejecting his father.
Olivier Assayas will likely soon begin shooting Wasp Network with Edgar Ramírez, Penélope Cruz, Gael García Bernal, Pedro Pascal, and Wagner Moura. Based on Fernando Morais’s 2015 book The Last Soldiers of the Cold War, the story centers on Cuban spies who infiltrated anti-Castro groups in Florida in the 1990s.
French lightning round:
- Bruno Dumont’s Jeanne will be a sequel to 2017’s Jeanette, the Childhood of Joan of Arc, carrying the story, once again in musical form, through Joan’s victorious battles against the English to her trial and subsequent death.
- Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid (The Kindergarten Teacher) will look back on his years in Paris in Synonymes, another film produced by Saïd Ben Saïd.
- Adèle Haenel (The Unknown Girl, Nocturama) will star with Valeria Golino in Portrait of a Lady on Fire, a film by Céline Sciamma (Girlhood) about a painter in the eighteenth century, and with Jean Dujardin in Le daim, Quentin Dupieux’s film about a guy who’ll sacrifice just about everything for a spectacular suede jacket.
- Les ennemis will mark the eighth collaboration between director André Téchiné and Catherine Deneuve, who’ll play a grandmother whose grandson joins a group of radical Islamists. Deneuve also plays the lead in Cédric Kahn’s Happy Birthday, in which her party’s disrupted by the arrival of her daughter (Emmanuelle Bercot).
- Gérard Depardieu stars in Bertrand Blier’s Convoi exceptionnel, which is about a screenplay that maps out the lives of two friends, and in Guillaume Nicloux’s C’est extra, in which he meets controversial author Michel Houellebecq at a spa in Normandy.
- In Arnaud Desplechin’s Roubaix, A Light, a weathered police chief and a fresh recruit investigate the murder of an old woman in the titular northern French city.
- Anne Fontaine will revisit the tale of Snow White in Pure as Snow, with Isabelle Huppert, Benoît Poelvoorde, and Damien Bonnard.
- Jeanne Balibar has directed herself, Ramzy Bedia, Emmanuelle Béart, Mathieu Amalric, and Bulle Ogier in Merveilles à Montfermeil, which Cineuropa’s Fabien Lemercier calls “a madcap comedy” about goings on in the office of the mayor of the Parisian suburb.
- In An Easy Girl from Rebecca Zlotowski (Grand Central, Planetarium), a sixteen-year-old girl (Mina Farid) allows her older cousin (Zahia Dehar) to introduce her to all the fun that can be had over one long hot summer.
- Guillaume Canet (Tell No One) directs Marion Cotillard, François Cluzet, and Benoît Magimel in Nous finirons ensemble, a sequel to 2010’s Little White Lies in which a group of friends reunites for a surprise birthday party.
As for Leos Carax’s Annette, the long-awaited English-language musical with Adam Driver and Michelle Williams, it’s been delayed more than a few times, but Jordan Raup suggests at the Film Stage that shooting should begin this summer.
Pain & Glory reunites Pedro Almodóvar with Antonio Banderas, Julieta Serrano, and in a “special appearance,” Penélope Cruz in a portrait of a director looking back on a series of episodes in his long life.
Albert Serra is working on an adaptation of Liberté, the play he recently staged in Berlin with Ingrid Caven and Helmut Berger about a group of French libertines who take their radical ideas to Germany in 1774. And with Personalien, Serra imagines Rainer Werner Fassbinder writing and rehearsing a play about the decadence of the eighteenth century in a cavernous theater in Berlin.
In As Long as the War Lasts, Alejandro Amenábar (The Others) depicts the last six months in the life of poet and philosopher Miguel de Unamuno who, on the eve of the Spanish Civil War, opposed both Franco and the Republic.
Elsewhere in Europe
In Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s Ahmed, a radicalized teenager in Belgium plans to kill his teacher. As Screen’s Melanie Goodfellow reported last April, Vincent Maraval, the founder of distributor Wild Bunch, says that a “strong aspect of the script is the way it opens a debate around the interpretation of the Koran by a young kid under influence.”
Jessica Hausner (Lourdes, Amour fou) directs Ben Whishaw, Emily Beecham, and Kerry Fox in Little Joe, in which genetically engineered plants have a strange effect on anyone who comes into contact with them.
Following his 2015 trilogy Arabian Nights, Portuguese director Miguel Gomes will return with Selvajara, based on Euclides da Cunha’s 1902 book Rebellion in the Backlands, a history of an uprising in northeastern Brazil led by a messianic leader against the republican army in the 1890s.
In November, Roy Andersson presented a few clips from About Endlessness, and writing for Sight & Sound, Jonathan Romney suggested that it “won’t mark a major departure for Andersson, although the joy of his latter-day films lies in their subtle variations on a core set of themes and tropes.”
Corneliu Porumboiu’s The Passenger has been referred to in some corners as a comedy, and the premise suggests that it could well be. Vlad Ivanov plays a policeman who travels to the Spanish island of La Gomera in order to learn el silbo, a means of communicating across great distances by whistling. He also aims to get a controversial prisoner released from a Romanian jail.
Ildiko Enyedi, who won the Golden Bear in 2017 for On Body and Soul, directs Léa Seydoux in The Story of My Wife, an adaptation of Hungarian author Milán Füst’s 1942 novel about a Dutch sea captain in a café who bets he’ll wed the next woman who walks in. He does, but then nearly drives himself mad trying to discover whether or not she’s cheating on him.
Marco Bellocchio’s The Traitor is based on the life of Tommaso Buscetta, the first Sicilian mafia boss to become an informant for Italian and American prosecutors.
In Ulrich Seidl’s Wicked Games, two brothers return to Austria to bury their mother before each returns to their respective homes in Romania and northern Italy—chased by their pasts.
Alberto Testone plays Michelangelo in Sin, a big-budget biopic from Andrei Konchalovsky, winner of the Silver Lion in Venice for Paradise (2016). As Nick Vivarelli reports for Variety, the film “focuses on the Renaissance artist’s anxieties and his struggle for creative freedom at a time when he was under heavy pressure from his powerful patrons.”
Lech Majewski (The Mill and the Cross) may have finally completed Valley of the Gods, his ambitious project about the richest man in the world and his potential biographer starring John Malkovich, Josh Hartnett, Keir Dullea, and Charlotte Rampling. And he’s already begun shooting Brigitte Bardot the Wonderful, in which a boy watching Godard’s Contempt is transported to Bardot’s dressing room, where he encounters Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Jean-Paul Belmondo, and the Beatles.
Ken Loach’s Sorry We Missed You tells the story of a family in northeastern England struggling to climb out from under a mountain of debt in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008.
Francis Lee (God’s Own Country) will direct Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan in Ammonite, the story of romance between a palaeontologist and a wealthy woman in a coastal town in the 1840s.
Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Ben Whishaw, and Peter Capaldi star in The Personal History of David Copperfield, a modern retelling from Armando Iannucci (The Death of Stalin). “I want it to feel real and present, even though it’s set in 1840 in London,” Iannucci has told IndieWire’s Jenna Marotta.
A father (Javier Bardem) and daughter (Elle Fanning) wheel around New York City dealing with the father’s chaotic mental state in Sally Potter’s untitled project. The cast will also feature Salma Hayek, Chris Rock, and Laura Linney.
We haven’t seen any updates on Ben Wheatley’s “all-guns-blazing sci-fi action thriller” Freak Shift for quite some time now, but Wheatley has lined up a fresh take on Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel Rebecca for Netflix starring Armie Hammer and Lily James. Alfred Hitchcock, of course, made his classic version in 1940.
We’ve already made note of the forthcoming films from Hirokazu Kore-eda and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, but while 2018 top tens are strewn with works by Jia Zhangke, Bi Gan, and the late Hu Bo, so far, 2019 looks relatively quiet. That said, Lav Diaz has dusted off a screenplay he wrote back in 2000, a political thriller that, as he tells the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Bayani San Diego Jr., now reads like a “premonition, as it predicted the rise of a new Filipino despot.” Rodrigo Duterte became president of the Philippines in the summer of 2016. The title of Diaz’s project? 2019.
In Parasite, Bong Joon-ho’s first Korean-language feature since Mother (2009), each of four family members (Song Kang-ho, Jang Hye-jin, Park So-dam, and Choi Woo-shik) possesses a unique characteristic. But as Charles Barfield reports for the Playlist, “there are no actual parasites or aliens to be seen in the film.”
Lou Ye’s Saturday Fiction features Gong Li as an actress and spy in Shanghai in December 1941. Though she learns of Japan’s plans to attack Pearl Harbor, she decides to keep this bombshell to herself. Also cast are Pascal Greggory, Mark Chao, Joe Odagiri, Ayumu Nakajima, and Tom Wlaschiha.
Meantime, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s anxiously awaited adaptation of Hsieh Hai-meng’s novel Shulan River is currently slated for 2020.
Pablo Larraín (No, Jackie) will likely have two films out this year. He’s already shot Ema, in which Gael García Bernal and Mariana Di Girolamo play a couple who adopt a child. Ema “will question what it is we mean by family,” says Larraín. “I think that idea has changed greatly in Chile and around the world.” Larraín’s adaptation of Anand Giridharadas’s The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas, in the meantime, is still in preproduction. Amy Adams, Kumail Nanjiani, and Mark Ruffalo will star in the story of a Bangladesh Air Force officer who fights to save the life of an avowed “American terrorist” who’d tried to kill him.
Nighthawk, directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho (Neighboring Sounds, Aquarius) and Juliano Dornelles, stars Udo Kier and Sonia Braga in the story of a filmmaker who discovers that the people of a Brazilian village he’s set out to document are not who they seem to be.
Johnny Depp, Mark Rylance, and Robert Pattinson will star in Waiting for the Barbarians, an adaptation of J. M. Coetzee’s 1980 novel directed by Ciro Guerra (Embrace of the Serpent, Birds of Passage). The story centers on a magistrate of a small colonial town on the frontier of an unnamed empire. The colonists prepare for an attack that may never come.
Karim Aïnouz (Futuro Beach) has shot an adaptation of Martha Batalha’s 2016 novel The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao, which centers on two rebellious sisters in Rio de Janeiro in the 1940s.
Lorenzo Vigas, who won the Golden Lion in Venice in 2015 for From Afar, is working on The Box, the story of a sixteen-year-old boy in Mexico who’s called to collect the bones of his father from a mass grave. But then, on the street, the boy sees a man who looks exactly like his father.
Werner Herzog collaborated with geoscientist Clive Oppenheimer on Into the Inferno (2016), and the two are reteaming for Fireball, which will explore the impact of comets and meteors on mythology and religion.
Steve James (Hoop Dreams, America to Me) is currently working on Chicago Story, a portrait of the city as it heads into next month’s mayoral election.
In July, Kirsten Johnson (Cameraperson) told Film Comment’s Chloe Lizotte that her next project, Dick Johnson, will be a collaboration with her father. “With the magic of fiction, and the help of stuntpeople, my dad will die unexpectedly in each scene of the movie, until he dies for real, and then nothing will be able to help us,” she says.
Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name, Suspiria) is currently completing Salvatore Ferragamo: The Shoemaker of Dreams, which tells the story of the shoe designer who worked with several Hollywood stars in the 1920s before returning to Italy to launch his luxury brand.
Gianfranco Rosi, whose Fire at Sea (2016) won the Golden Bear in Berlin and was nominated for an Oscar, has been working on Nocturne, a study of life along the borders between countries in the Middle East that may not be ready until next year.
Ari Aster, whose feature debut Hereditary was a smashing success last year, will follow up with Midsommar, in which a couple (Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor) travel to a festival in rural Sweden and get caught up a violent pagan ritual.
Jordan Peele, too, saw a resounding success with his feature debut, Get Out, in 2017. Us will star Lupita Nyong’o as a woman who returns to beachside childhood home with her husband (Winston Duke) and kids (Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex) to discover that they’re all being threatened by mirror images of themselves.
The Lighthouse, starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, will be Robert Eggers’s first feature since The Witch (2015). The film, shot on black-and-white 35 mm by Jarin Blaschke, focuses on an aging lighthouse keeper in twentieth-century Maine.
As it happens, three American remakes of strong northern European movies—a tradition that includes Christopher Nolan’s 2002 version of Erik Skjoldbjærg’s Insomnia (1997) and George Sluizer’s 1993 remake of his own The Vanishing (1988)—are in the works. Jake Gyllenhaal will star in a new take on Gustav Möller’s directorial debut, The Guilty, Denmark’s entry in the foreign language Oscar race. Iceland submitted Benedikt Erlingsson’s Woman at War, and though it didn’t make the shortlist, Jodie Foster is planning to direct and star in the English-language remake. And Ruben Östlund’s Force Majeure (2014) will reemerge as Downhill, directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (The Way, Way Back) and starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Will Ferrell, Miranda Otto, Zoë Chao, and Zach Woods.
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