2020 movie preview: Our 40 most anticipated films

Photo: Sony Picture, Warner Bros. Pictures, Universal Pictures/MGM
Bad Boys for Life, Wonderwoman 1984 and No Time to Die. (Photo: Sony Picture, Warner Bros. Pictures, Universal Pictures/MGM)

2020 will have a tough act to follow at the box office after a year that featured Star Wars and Avengers saga closers, a Frozen sequel, and live-action remakes of The Lion King and Aladdin — and those were just from Disney.

Admittedly, 2019 doesn't have any $1 billion guarantees, but there's still plenty to be excited about, including a trio of female-driven superhero movies (Birds of Prey, Black Widow, Wonder Woman 1984), a pair of splashy musicals (West Side Story, In the Heights), Daniel Craig's James Bond swan song (No Time To Die), nostalgia titles galore (Bill & Ted Face the Music, Top Gun: Maverick, Coming 2 America, Ghostbusters: Afterlife) and much, much more.

Here's what we can't wait to feast our eyes on in 2020.

40. G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes

Release date: Oct. 16
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Henry Goulding, Samara Weaving, Iko Uwais
The scoop: Neither 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra nor 2013's G.I. Joe: Resurrection blew our army boots off. But any true G.I. Joe fan will tell you Snake Eyes has always been the coolest character. And now he'll be played by Crazy Rich Asians breakout Henry Goulding, with Ready or Not breakout Samara Weaving taking over as Scarlett. So we'll give this series one more shot.

39. Jungle Cruise

Release date: July 24
Directed by: Jaume Collete-Serra
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Jesse Plemons, Paul Giamatti
The scoop: Stars Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt have made no secret of the fact that this "adaptation" of the long-running Disneyland theme-park ride aspires to follow in the bow waves of the highly lucrative Pirates of the Caribbean series. Of course, that series was buoyed by the infectious of appeal of Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow. Will Jungle Cruise have a secret weapon that makes it sail?

38. Godzilla vs. Kong

Release date: Nov. 20
Directed by: Adam Wingard
Starring: Millie Bobby Brown, Alexander Skarsgård, Eiza González, Brian Tyree Henry
The scoop: Legendary's MonsterVerse hasn’t exactly crushed it — 2014's Godzilla and 2017's Kong: Skull Island were mixed bags, and 2019's Godzilla: King of Monsters was downright unsightly. But how can we not be excited for this long-awaited monster mash, the first such big-screen battle since 1962's King Kong vs. Godzilla?

37. Red Notice

Release date: Nov. 13
Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Dwayne Johnson
The scoop: We don't know all that much about Netflix's 2020 movie slate since the streamer is notoriously reticient when it comes to their original film projects. But we do know this movie unites Deadpool, Wonder Woman and The Rock for a heist thriller about an Interpol agent tracking the world's most wanted art thief. So that's pretty hot.

36. The Woman in the Window

Release date: May 15
Directed by: Joe Wright
Starring: Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Wyatt Russell, Brian Tyree Henry, Anthony Mackie
The scoop: We've been waiting a while to get a look at this star-studded thriller from Atonement and Darkest Hour director Joe Wright about an agoraphobic woman (Amy Adams) who witnesses a Rear Window-esque crime in a neighboring apartment. But the film was delayed from 2019, reportedly after confusing test audiences. We're finally getting closer to running outside and seeing it.

35. Uncharted

Release date: Dec. 18
Directed by: Travis Knight
Starring: Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg
The scoop: Our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man Tom Holland has been attached to this long-in-the-works spin on the third-person shooter video game for a while now, even telling Yahoo Entertainment in 2017 whom he'd want to see play Sully opposite his Nathan Drake. He name-dropped Marvel costars Chris Pratt and Jake Gyllenhaal. He got Mark Wahlberg instead, which is hardly a shabby consolation prize. (Update: According to new reports, Uncharted could be delayed beyond 2020 due to Holland’s production schedule for the next Spider-Man film.)

34. Promising Young Woman

Release date: April 17
Directed by: Emerald Fennell
Starring: Carrie Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Allison Brie, Adam Brody
The scoop: A story about a medical school dropout who goes out to nightclubs, fakes being blacked-out drunk and then does unspeakable things to the "nice guys" who bring her home and attempt to take advantage of her? This stylish thriller written and directed by Killing Eve showrunner Emerald Fennell could be the definitive #MeToo revenge movie.

33. The Invisible Man

Release date: Feb. 28
Directed by: Leigh Whannell
Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Storm Reid
The scoop: A year after a memorable supporting turn in Jordan Peele's Us, Handmaid's Tale heroine Elisabeth Moss gets her very own horror vehicle with this remix of the 1933 classic and based on the H.G. Wells novel. Directed by Saw vet Leigh Whannell, this one was originally intended to be part of Universal's Dark Universe series before Tom Cruise's The Mummy went kaput in 2017.

32. Raya and the Last Dragon

Release date: Nov. 27
Directed by: Paul Briggs, Dean Wellins
Starring: Cassie Steele, Awkwafina
The scoop: Awkwafina's Hollywood takeover continues. First there were the breakout performances in 2018 box-office hits Ocean's Eight and Crazy Rich Asians, then an Oscar-worthy dramatic turn in 2019's The Farewell. Now she'll add her voice to this intriguing Disney Animation project written by CRA screenwriter Adele Lim about a warrior (Cassie Steele) searching for the world's last dragon.

31. Free Guy

Release date: July 10
Directed by: Shawn Levy
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Taika Waititi, Lil Rel Howery
The scoop: This summer actioner easily has one of the year's most clever premises: Ryan Reynolds's bank teller and nonplayer character (NPC) living inside a violent video game discovers that he might actually be the hero his over-the-top universe needs. Jodie Comer (Killing Eve), Taika Waititi, Utkarsh Ambudkar and Lil Rel Howery round out a killer cast.

30. Halloween Kills

Release date: Oct. 16
Directed by: David Gordon Green
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Anthony Michael Hall, Judy Greer
The scoop: Many Michael Myers fans loved his return in 2018's Halloween, others were less than impressed. Still, the film's $159 million slaying was more than enough to continue this rebooted series in a sequel about which we know very little at this point. What we do know: Between the phenomenal Knives Out and the glorious return of Laurie Strode, Jamie Lee Curtis is having a moment.

29. Respect

Release date: July 10
Directed by: Liesel Tommy
Starring: Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Mary J. Blige
The scoop: Jennifer Hudson may have ended 2019 on a sour note, with her nightmare-fueling Cats (though she does own Cats' best moment, booming out "Memories"), but the Oscar-winning Dreamgirls breakout won't have to wait long for a make-good. She'll play late Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin in this summer biopic, so be prepared to put some respect back on her name.

28. The Witches

Release date: Oct. 16
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, Chris Rock
The scoop: Roald Dahl movie adaptations have always been a crapshoot. For every Fantastic Mr. Fox there's been a BFG, for every Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005). The Anjelica Huston-starring Witches (1990) remains in the upper tier, and here Back to the Future helmer Robert Zemeckis teams with co-writer Kenya Barris (Black-ish) to pit Anne Hathaway against some poor child. Let's hope it's a work of... genius.

27. Venom 2

Release date: Oct. 2
Directed by: Andy Serkis
Starring: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Woody Harrelson, Naomie Harris
The scoop: Critics had a field day with 2018's Venom, roasting the crazy-pants anti-hero spin-off starring a very dedicated Tom Hardy to the tune of a 27 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences responded by dropping a cool $213 million (and $856 million internationally!) on tickets. A couple intriguing developments for the sequel: motion-capture maestro Andy Serkis is stepping into the director's chair, and Naomie Harris has reportedly enlisting as the villainous Shriek.

26. The Trial of the Chicago 7

Release date: Sept. 25
Directed by: Aaron Sorkinf
Starring: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Michael Keaton, Jeremy Strong, Mark Rylance
The scoop: Aaron Sorkin writes and directs (in his sophomore effort behind the camera after 2018's underappreciated Molly's Game) this drama about the Chicago Seven — the anti-war activists involved in a high-profile trial from charges stemming from their activities at the 1968 Democratic Convention. Bonus points for bringing the rising stars of Watchmen and Succession together in Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Mark Strong, respectively.

25. Bad Boys for Life

Release date: Jan. 17
Directed by: Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah
Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Alexander Ludwig, Vanessa Hudgens, Charles Melton
The scoop: Detectives Mike Lowery (Will Smith) and Marcus Bennett (Martin Lawrence) return to the big screen for the first time since 2003's Bad Boys II. Considering it’s a January release, their reunion could set the tone for a make-or-break, Avengers and Star Wars-less year at the box office as streaming threatens to dramatically cut into theatricals dividends. So we guess the question is, Bad Boys, Bad Boys, whatcha gonna do? (Sorry.)

24. Stillwater

Release date: Nov. 6
Directed by: Tom McCarthy
Starring: Matt Damon, Abigail Breslin, Camille Cottin
The scoop: The plot doesn't sound particularly stunning: It's a drama about an Oklahoman father (Matt Damon) who travels to France after his daughter (Abigail Breslin) is arrested for murder. But considering this is Tom McCarthy's first film since his Best Picture-winning Spotlight, and he has also helmed gems like The Station Agent and The Visitor (we forgive him for The Cobbler), we're firmly on board.

23. Candyman

Release date: June 12
Directed by: Nia DaCosta
Starring: Yahya Mateen-Abdul II, Tony Todd, Teyonah Parris, Colman Domingo
The scoop: The 1992 slasher flick Candyman has always been an underrated horror gem, and this remake offers several reasons for fans to get excited. With the film co-written and produced by Jordan Peele, who has reinvented himself as one our most influential, brilliant minds in horror — and returning original star Tony Todd in a supporting part (with Yahya Mateen-Abdul II taking on the titular role) — this should be delicious.

22. Onward

Release date: March 6
Directed by: Dan Scanlon
Starring: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, Lena Waithe, Ali Wong
The scoop: Tom Holland didn't get his wish of having Chris Pratt co-star in Uncharted, but the pair do get to (voice) act with one another in Pixar's first entry of 2020. They play elf brothers in a fantastical suburb who embark on a mission to save their endangered world of trolls, mermaids and unicorns while reconnecting with their dead father. John Ratzenberger, meanwhile, keeps his Pixar streak alive.

21. The Last Duel

Release date: Dec. 25
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck
The scoop: Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have written their first script together since 1997's Good Will Hunting and it's… a 14th century-set period piece about King Charles VI declaration that French knight Jean de Carrouges settle his dispute with his squire by way of fight 'til death? The Oscar-nominated Nicole Holofcener co-wrote with them, Ridley Scott directs, and Adam Driver stars while coming off a red-hot 2019, making this one an instant early awards contender.

20. Fast & Furious 9

Release date: May 22
Directed by: Justin Lin
Starring: Vin Diesel, Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren, Michelle Rodriguez
The scoop: The Fast & Furious franchise is as prolific as Star Wars: After last year's spin-off Hobbs and Shaw, Part 9 will mark the fourth F&F entry in six years. Justin Lin returns to direct his fifth entry since 2006, while cast members new to the franchise include hip-hop sensation Cardi B and former wrestling/hip-hop sensation John Cena. Conspicuously absent: Both Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham).

19. Untitled Saw Project

Release date: May 15
Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Max Minghella, Marisol Nichols, Chris Rock
The scoop: Can executive producer, story writer and star Chris Rock follow in the footsteps of fellow funnyman Jordan Peele in excelling in horror after transitioning from comedy? It's a bold and inspired move by Lionsgate to entrust Rock with rebooting the studio’s most treasured, bloodiest horror franchise, a move reportedly inspired by the Saturday Night Live alum's love for the series. He'll play a detective investigating a series of grisly crimes.

18. King Richard

Release date: Nov. 27
Directed by: Reinaldo Marcus Green
Starring: Will Smith
The scoop: Will Smith has been working nonstop in recent years, with lead roles in three movies in 2019 alone (Aladdin, Gemini Man, Spies in Disguise) — and one of those was a double role. So it's only appropriate that he plays Richard Williams, the man who helped push daughters Venus and Serena to tennis superstardom. Of course, one question lingers over this project: Why not just a movie about the Williams sisters themselves?

17. Mulan

Release date: March 27
Directed by: Niki Caro
Starring: Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Li Gong
The scoop: Oh don't you worry, Disney has not run out of animated films to reamke after 2019 brought us Dumbo, Aladdin and The Lion King. 1998's Mulan, though, has always been among the underrated Disney classics. This version looks like a fierce, stylish, Crouching Tiger-esque epic, and that won't only rouse Mouse House fans, it could inspire folks to dig back into the vaults and rediscover the original.

16. News of the World

Release date: Dec. 25
Directed by: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Tom Hanks, Neil Sandilands, Thomas Francis Murphy, Chukwudi Iwuji
The scoop: The second of two 2020 Tom Hanks prestige pics (after May's Greyhound), this adaptation of 2016 novel by Paulette Jiles follows a man in 1860s Texas who helps rescue a young girl kidnapped by a Native American tribe. We're just reading tea leaves at this point, but its Christmas Day release date should be good news.

15. Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Release date: July 10
Directed by: Jason Reitman
Starring: Finn Wolfhard, McKenna Grace, Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd
The scoop: Producer Ivan Reitman didn't wait long to reboot the Ghostbusters franchise for a second time after Paul Feig's divisive 2016 all-female version. He kept this one in the family, passing the directing reins to son Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air), whose new spin features the Midwestern family of the late, great Dr. Egon Spengler (played by the late, great Harold Ramis) learning the tricks of his supernatural-battling trade.

Bill & Ted Face the Music

Release date: Aug. 21
Directed by: Dean Parisot
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, William Sadler, Samara Weaving, Jillian Bell
The scoop: Fans have been clamoring for Bill & Ted 3 for years now, and Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter have been saying they're down for another for just as long. And it's finally happening! Not to harsh any mellows, but let's just remember how bad the original sequel, 1991's Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, was. It's just always good to keep expectations at bay. Now that that's out of the way, we're in the midst of the Keanussaince, so we have full faith.

13. In the Heights

Release date: June 26
Directed by: Jon M. Chu
Starring: Anthony Ramos, Stephanie Beatriz, Corey Hawkins, Lin-Manuel Miranda
The scoop: Before Lin-Manuel Miranda struck gold with Hamilton, he was merely a 2008 Tony Award winner for the acclaimed (but not quite as lucrative) Broadway hit In the Heights, about a Manhattan bodega owner debating whether or not to return to the Dominican Republic. So it stands to reason that Heights get the Hollywood treatment before Hamilton. And judging from the film's vibrant and toe-tapping trailer (which includes updated references to the plight of Dreamers and DACA), we're in for a treat.

12. Eternals

Release date: Nov. 16
Directed by: Chloé Zhao
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Kit Harrington
The scoop: The cast to this fall superhero release is exciting on many levels: Angelina making her Marvel debut; GoT stars Richard Madden and Kit Harrington reuniting; stars as diverse as Salma Hayek, Gemma Chan, Barry Keoghan and Bryan Tyree Henry joining the fray. But Kumail Nanjiani has stolen all the thunder for this one in recent weeks with photos of his crrrrrrazy physical transformation for his part. Regardless, we're hoping for a good, funny Guardians of the Galaxy-esque ride.

11. Top Gun: Maverick

Release date: June 26
Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Starring: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Glenn Powell, Jennifer Connelly
The scoop: Top Gun was a sensation when it was released in 1986, cementing a young Tom Cruise's status as Hollywood's newest A-list star. Three decades later, Cruise has reinvented himself as a middle-aged action star who will happily push the boundaries of what actors can (or should) accomplish when it comes to stunt work, as proven by recent Mission: Impossible installments. That's all to say, expect Cruise to really fly (both literally and figuratively) when he returns to mentor a new class of Navy aviators in this highly anticipated sequel.

10. Coming 2 America

Release date: Dec. 18
Directed by: Craig Brewer
Starring: Eddie Murphy, James Earl Jones, Wesley Snipes, Arsenio Hall, Tracy Morgan
The scoop: The Eddie Murphy comeback that he says not to call a comeback rolls on with this eagerly awaited return of Prince Akeem, hero of one of the funniest comedies to come out of the '80s. In the sequel, which reunites Murphy with his Dolemite director Craig Brewer and costar Wesley Snipes, Akeem once again comes to America after learning he has a long-lost son in the States.

9. A Quiet Place: Part II

Release date: March 20
Directed by: John Krasinski
Starring: Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds, Cillian Murphy, Djimon Hounsou
The scoop: The action was quiet, but the reception was loud – very loud – to 2018's excellent and deeply original horror flick A Quiet Place, which scared up $188 million at the U.S. box office. John Krasinski remains the writer-director for Part II, but the Abbott family will have to find those blind extraterrestrial baddies without him this time (rest in peace, Lee). Remember to eat your nachos before the movie starts.

8. Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

Release date: Feb. 7
Directed by: Cathy Yan
Starring: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ewan McGregor, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Ali Wong
The scoop: After all that confusion over multiple Harley Quinn spin-offs in the works, we're just glad there's one actually on the way. And coming very soon. Not only that, Harley (Margot Robbie) will be joined by veritable squad of ass-kickers that includes Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) as they help protect a young girl (Ella Jay Basco) from the villainous Black Mask (Ewan McGregor).

7. Soul

Release date: June 19
Directed by: Pete Docter, Kemp Powers
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Daveed Diggs, ?uestlove
The scoop: If you thought you had some heavy conversations with kids after Coco, just wait until you see what Pixar has in store with Soul. Jamie Foxx voices a musician who is "transported out of his soul" (we're pretty sure that means he dies) and must find his way back with the help of an infant soul (Tina Fey). Like Inside Out, Pixar will once again dive deep into our subconscious in the name of entertaining families, and there's little doubt the results will once again leave us awed. (And yes, Ratzenberger's in this one, too.)

6. Black Widow

Release date: May 1
Directed by: Cate Shortland
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, David Harbour, Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz
The scoop: We're finally getting a Black Widow movie! Of course, it's after she's dead and all — or at least will be, since this film is set years before Endgame. But better late than never… This ScarJo send-off, which takes place in between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, tracks Natasha Romanoff as she returns to her homeland and reunites with her colorful family of sorts. Look for Florence Pugh to continue her ascent to super-stardom as another Black Widow.

5. Tenet

Release date: July 17
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh
The scoop: Leave it to Christopher Nolan to release a 2 minute, 10 second trailer that still leaves viewers scratching their heads as to what the film is actually about. (Considering how many trailers give away the whole plot, it's actually appreciated). Some viewers have compared this to a "reverse 6 Underground," referencing Netflix's new thriller about off the grid secret agents (Washington is shown apparently willfully dying before taking on missions.) But Christopher Nolan joints are largely incomparable. Expect as much from Tenet.

4. West Side Story

Release date: Dec. 18
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, Corey Stoll, Rita Moreno
The scoop: It's a big year for New York City-set musicals. Six months after In the Heights we'll get a new take on the classic story of the Jets and Sharks, told through the lens of Steven Spielberg — marking the directing great's very first musical. Ansel Elgort feels like the first perfect choice to Tony after sashaying through certain Baby Driver scenes, while newcomers Rachel Zegler and Ariana DeBose take on, respectively, Maria and Anita — and original Anita Rita Moreno returns for style points.

3. No Time to Die

Release date: April 10
Directed by: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rami Malek, Ana de Armas, Lashana Lynch
The scoop: You know there's a lot to be excited about in a Bond movie when you're fully invested halfway through the trailer — and that's before Rami Malek shows up as the story's new big bad, Safin. This one will feel especially bittersweet given it marks the final go-round as 007 for 51-year-old actor Daniel Craig. Remember all that controversy over a "blond Bond"? He's been one of the very best we've had.

2. Dune

Release date: Dec. 18
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoa, Oscar Isaac
The scoop: As much as we all love David Lynch, one of his biggest misfires was his underwhelming 1984 take on the Frank Herbert sci-fi classic, making the property perfect for a remake. And who better than Blade Runner 2049 visionary Denis Villeneuve to lead the charge? Timothée Chalamet will get his Kyle MacLachlan on (there's something we never thought we'd type) as galaxy savior Paul Atreides.

1. Wonder Woman 1984

Release date: June 5
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal
The scoop: 2017's Wonder Woman not only proved historic in showing the true power of a female-lead superhero movie, it practically saved the DC Extended Universe, coming on the heels of major clunkers like Batman v Superman and Justice League. Expectations for the sequel, then, are decidedly high, which might explain why they've brought costar Chris Pine back from the dead. But we're more excited for new additions Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal, both in roguish roles, not to mention the '80s setting. This should be bodacious.

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