Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
Release date: February 6
Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn rises from the ashes of Suicide Squad to lead this DC Comics flick, with not a Jared Leto in sight. Directed, written and produced by women at Robbie’s command, and featuring a hefty all-female lead cast including Robbie, Rosie Perez and comedian Ali Wong, it promises an intriguing entry to a genre that, until Wonder Woman‘s breakout success, was largely aimed at men.
Release date: February 13
Directed by acclaimed artist Autumn de Wilde, from a script by Man Booker Prize-winning novelist of The Luminaries, New Zealand’s Eleanor Catton, and a score by Isobel Waller-Bridge (the older sister of Fleabag‘s Phoebe), this film – the first big-screen take on Jane Austen’s classic since the 1996 version that made Gwyneth Paltrow a star – has a pedigree that’s brain-melting.
The Invisible Man
Release date: February 27
Largely filmed at Sydney’s Fox Studios and with NSW’s Southern Highlands filling in for Northern California, Leigh Whannell turns H.G. Wells’ horror icon into a contemporary allegory about gaslighting and the domestic violence epidemic. With The Handmaid’s Tale‘s Elisabeth Moss as the monster’s increasingly unhinged victim, this one will be powerful.
Release date: March 26
Disney’s strategy of layering flesh and blood onto its animated classics has to some extent delivered mixed fortunes. Beauty and the Beast was all swirling elegance but The Lion King‘s transition from animated jungle to the real world seemed to jag for many. Mulan, the live-action adaptation of the 1998 animated film of the same name, will star Liu Yifei as Mulan along with an A-ticket cast including Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee and Jet Li.
Release date: April 2
The first of two Pixar releases set for 2020 (the other is the musically-inclined Soul), this nutty animation follows two teenage elves – voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt – who use a magical spell to bring back their dead father for a day. Unfortunately, they can only manage his legs. The trailer promises some heavy metal-infused Dadaist mayhem, but it’s Pixar so you’ll also cry.
No Time to Die
Release date: April 8
Craig, Daniel Craig returns for what’s supposed to be his final outing as Bond, James Bond. The troubled production, which started with Danny Boyle in the director’s chair until he left in August 2018 due to “creative differences”, is now led by some youthful creatives: director Cary Joji Fukunaga, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge who was brought in to spruce up the screenplay. How much will their new-school attitudes affect such a decidedly old-school franchise? We can’t wait to see.
Release date: May 1
Aussie Cate Shortland, best known for her sensitive 2004 debut Somersault, is directing Marvel’s Phase 4 debut? Which insane Disney studio head okayed this? Because they deserve a raise. Scarlett Johansson stars as former KGB assassin and a member of the Avengers, Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow).
Fast & Furious 9
Release date: May 21
Latest chapter of a thrilling billion-dollar film franchise or tired old workhorse milking a brand until its last gasps? You be the judge. The ninth Fast & Furious film is actually the 10th film in the franchise and will be directed by Justin Lin from a script by Daniel Casey.
Wonder Woman 1984
Release date: June 4
This second instalment to the cinematic reboot of the Wonder Woman character may not have the legs-and-lasso camp of the Lynda Carter TV series but the franchise has broken the spell of recasting the character, a hurdle which challenged film and TV producers for decades. The sequel updates the action to 1984 and this one will land sharply: the trailer promises fast-paced action and a gleaming suit of gold armour.
Top Gun Maverick
Release date: June 26
Take a classic boys-own action film from the 1980s, add some boys-own existential man-angst and you have a film perfectly pitched at the original film’s audience, who will be flying this mission from their cinema seats with a box of popcorn in hand. Tom Cruise returns as “Maverick”, the once-dashing test pilot who is now a pilot instructor and finds himself prepping a team of new pilots. Val Kilmer also returns.
Release date: July 10
Having seemingly rattled the cages of the cinematic snowflake set with their all-girl Ghostbusters, Sony is having a more conventional crack at a sequel, calling Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Annie Potts back to duty, along with a new cast, to deliver what is basically a direct follow-up to 1984’s Ghostbusters and 1989’s Ghostbusters II.
Still to come:
Tenet, released July 16
Christopher Nolan is back on his weirdo stuff.
Bill & Ted Face the Music, released August 21
Samara Weaving, niece of Hugo, is playing Keanu’s daughter.
The Witches, released October 16
Remake by Robert Zemeckis with Anne Hathaway filling Angelica Huston’s role.
Eternals, released November 6
The other major instalment of Marvel’s Phase 4, it stars Angelina Jolie and Kumail Nanjiani.
Dune, released November 18
Denis Villeneuve’s remake of the film that almost prematurely ended David Lynch’s Hollywood career. An all-star cast is led by snazzy dresser Timothee Chalamet.
West Side Story, released December 16
Less a remake of the 1961 film than a close adaptation of the Broadway musical by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim.
Robert Moran is a culture reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age
Michael Idato is the culture editor-at-large of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.