Winter is here and spring is on the way, so we're counting down the movies to see over the first four months of 2019. (May, per Screen Rant tradition, will be covered in our summer preview.) 2018 was pretty back-loaded when it came to films, with several tentpoles hitting theaters in the second half of December alone. So, in a way, it's good that things are going to slow down a bit and give everyone time to get caught up on 2018's late-year blockbusters (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Aquaman, etc.).
That's not to say early 2019 is hurting for event movies - far from it. Both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe have new films coming out, culminating with the release of this year's followup to Avengers: Infinity War. Of course, if superheroes aren't your flavor, there are several promising animated features on the horizon, including the much-anticipated finale to the How to Train Your Dragon series. Horror fans will also have multiple offerings to choose from, including one that's of the comic book variety.
To help narrow things down, we've put together a list of 15 Winter & Spring 2019 movies to see (along with some honorable mentions, at the end). The films are numbered in the order of their theatrical release date, so feel free to let us know what your personal most anticipated movies are in the comments section!
- This Page: Superheroes, LEGOs & Dragons
- Page 2: (More) Superheroes, Horror Movies & Honorable Mentions
15. Glass (January 18)
Plot Summary: M. Night Shyamalan brings together the narratives of two of his standout originals - 2000’s Unbreakable, from Touchstone, and 2016’s Split, from Universal - in one explosive, all-new comic-book thriller: Glass. From Unbreakable, Bruce Willis returns as David Dunn as does Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price, known also by his pseudonym Mr. Glass. Joining from Split are James McAvoy, reprising his role as Kevin Wendell Crumb and the multiple identities who reside within, and Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke, the only captive to survive an encounter with The Beast. Following the conclusion of Split, Glass finds Dunn pursuing Crumb’s superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters, while the shadowy presence of Price emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men.
The Breakdown: Unbreakable fans have been waiting nearly two decades for Glass and, judging by the trailers, their patience may yet be rewarded. M. Night Shyamalan's earned his best reviews in years since he went back to making modestly budgeted thrillers, and now aims to keep that trend going with his own shared universe sequel. More than anything, Glass looks and feels strikingly different from every other superhero movie coming out in 2019 - which is good, considering how saturated the genre's going to be that year. Plus, it's a Shyamalan movie, so you know there's going to be a major twist (or two) that everyone will be watching for.
14. The Kid Who Would Be King (January 25)
Plot Summary: Old school magic meets the modern world in the epic adventure THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING. Alex (Ashbourne Serkis) thinks he's just another nobody, until he stumbles upon the mythical Sword in the Stone, Excalibur. Now, he must unite his friends and enemies into a band of knights and, together with the legendary wizard Merlin (Patrick Stewart), take on the wicked enchantress Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson). With the future at stake, Alex must become the great leader he never dreamed he could be.
The Breakdown: You might not know the name Joe Cornish, but his 2011 directorial debut Attack the Block was an acclaimed sci-fi adventure that jump-started both Star Wars' John Boyega and Doctor Who's Jodie Whittaker's careers. Cornish is finally back with a new movie that has many of the same elements (a diverse group of young Londoners banding together to battle a fantastical threat) as his debut, and may yet prove to be equally entertaining for it. The Kid Who Would Be King's trailers are certainly playful and, really, any Arthurian reimagining that casts Stewart and Ferguson as Merlin and Morgana is doing (at least) two things right.
13. The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (February 8)
Plot Summary: The much-anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed, global box office phenomenon that started it all, “The LEGO® Movie 2: The Second Part” reunites the heroes of Bricksburg in an all new action-packed adventure to save their beloved city. It’s been five years since everything was awesome and the citizens are now facing a huge new threat: LEGO DUPLO® invaders from outer space, wrecking everything faster than it can be rebuilt. The battle to defeat the invaders and restore harmony to the LEGO universe will take Emmet, Lucy, Batman and their friends to faraway, unexplored worlds, including a strange galaxy where everything is a musical. It will test their courage, creativity and Master Building skills, and reveal just how special they really are.
The Breakdown: The LEGO Movie 2 looks like a perfectly satisfactory kid's movie sequel... which is both a good and not-so-good thing. LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller only worked on the script this time around, so that may explain why The LEGO Movie 2 trailer footage has felt somewhat generic and lacking its predecessor's freshness. At the same time, the sequel adds some promising names to the returning voice cast (Stephanie Beatriz, Tiffany Haddish) and promises to deliver much of what audiences love about the LEGO film brand. Everything might not be awesome anymore, but things could still be cool enough here.
12. Fighting with My Family (February 14)
Plot Summary: Based on a true story, FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY follows reformed gangster Ricky, wife Julia, daughter Paige and son Zak as they make a living wrestling together in tiny venues. When Paige and Zak get the opportunity to try out for WWE, the family grabs a once-in-a-lifetime chance to turn their wildest dreams into a dazzling future. However, brother and sister quickly discover that to become superstars, both their talent and their relationship will be put to the test. FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY is a heartwarming and smart comedy that proves everything is worth fighting for when it comes to family.
The Breakdown: It's time already for another Dwayne Johnson movie - sorta. The Rock's being heavily used to sell Fighting with My Family, but in reality the film's a docudrama about real-life wrestler Saraya-Jade Bevis (aka. the WWE's Paige). With Stephen Merchant writing and directing, the film has the makings of a funny yet tender examination of Paige's journey from a working-class background to the major wrestling leagues. The movie also kicks off what could be a big (as in, breakout) year for star Florence Pugh, between her turn here and her roles in Ari Aster's Midsommar and Greta Gerwig's Little Women in the second half of 2019.
11. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (February 22)
Plot Summary: From DreamWorks Animation comes a surprising tale about growing up, finding the courage to face the unknown…and how nothing can ever train you to let go. What began as an unlikely friendship between an adolescent Viking and a fearsome Night Fury dragon has become an epic adventure spanning their lives. Welcome to the most astonishing chapter of one of the most beloved animated franchises in film history: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. Now chief and ruler of Berk alongside Astrid, Hiccup has created a gloriously chaotic dragon utopia. When the sudden appearance of a female Light Fury coincides with the darkest threat their village has ever faced, Hiccup and Toothless must leave the only home they’ve known and journey to a hidden world thought only to exist in myth. As their true destines are revealed, dragon and rider will fight together - to the very ends of the Earth - to protect everything they’ve grown to treasure.
The Breakdown: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World promises to be the Toy Story 3 of the series, in the very best way. The How to Train Your Dragon movies have long been celebrated for their beautiful animation and stirring mix of humor and drama, but The Hidden World aims to double-down on both of those aspects. In a year full of franchises that are ending in some fashion, the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy finale is on-course to deliver the most definitive and (possibly) satisfying conclusion of them all. Suffice it to say, audiences should prepare themselves emotionally for their final trip back to Berk.
10. Captain Marvel (March 8)
Plot Summary: The story follows Carol Danvers as she becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races. Set in the 1990s, “Captain Marvel” is an all-new adventure from a previously unseen period in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Breakdown: While MCU fans are plenty excited for Captain Marvel, that arguably has more to do with Marvel Studios' track record and the film's actual footage than its marketing. Captain Marvel's trailers haven't done all that great a job of explaining what the film's even about, much less who Carol Danvers is or why her origin story is compelling. But again, the movie itself seems quite engaging, between Brie Larson's stoic turn as Captain Marvel herself and the dazzling imagery of Carol using her (incredibly powerful) super-abilities in full. Even the digital de-aging on Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury (with two working eyes and all) looks great so far.
9. Us (March 15)
Plot Summary: Set in present day along the iconic Northern California coastline, Us, from Monkeypaw Productions, stars Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide Wilson, a woman returning to her beachside childhood home with her husband, Gabe (Black Panther’s Winston Duke), and their two children (Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex) for an idyllic summer getaway. Haunted by an unexplainable and unresolved trauma from her past and compounded by a string of eerie coincidences, Adelaide feels her paranoia elevate to high-alert as she grows increasingly certain that something bad is going to befall her family. After spending a tense beach day with their friends, the Tylers (Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Cali Sheldon, Noelle Sheldon), Adelaide and her family return to their vacation home. When darkness falls, the Wilsons discover the silhouette of four figures holding hands as they stand in the driveway. Us pits an endearing American family against a terrifying and uncanny opponent: doppelgängers of themselves.
The Breakdown: Us, we're pleased to report, looks as freaky and fascinating as everyone was hoping Jordan Peele's followup to his Oscar-winning horror hit Get Out would be. There are certainly elements the films have in common, but otherwise Us looks and feels like a different beast than Get Out, from a storytelling perspective. A horror-thriller about characters (somewhat literally) battling themselves sounds legitimately unnerving; all the more so when you know it's Peele who's calling the shots. Us promises to be further unsettling from a visual perspective, thanks to the cinematography by Mike Gioulakis (the same DP who worked on It Follows, Split, and Glass).
8. Captive State (March 29)
Plot Summary: Set in a Chicago neighborhood nearly a decade after an occupation by an extra-terrestrial force, “Captive State” explores the lives on both sides of the conflict - the collaborators and dissidents.
The Breakdown: Rupert Wyatt has worked more in television than film since he made 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but he's finally back with a new movie (and a sci-fi one, too) in 2019's Captive State. This one appears to wear its political concerns on its sleeves and seems all the more intriguing for it, based on the trailers released so far. It also has a great cast that includes Moonlight's Ashton Sanders, John Goodman, Vera Farmiga, and If Beale Street Could Talk's KiKi Layne in key roles. There's not a ton of buzz around this one right now, but Captive State may yet become a dark horse success, judging by the talent involved.
7. Dumbo (March 29)
Plot Summary: From Disney and visionary director Tim Burton, “Dumbo” expands on the beloved classic story where differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight. Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming and spectacular aerial artist, Colette Marchant (Eva Green), until Holt learns that beneath its shiny veneer, Dreamland is full of dark secrets.
The Breakdown: By the sound of it, Dumbo not only re-imagines the Disney animated film in live-action, but vastly expands up it narratively. Couple that with its trailers' use of the tear-jerking "Baby Mine" and the movie seems like a heartfelt remake of a Mouse House classic... maybe. To be frank, Tim Burton's uneven track record over the past decade is a big part of why many are wary of him taking on Dumbo, especially in light of the mixed response to his Alice in Wonderland retelling, nine years ago. Still, the film reunites Burton with his Batman Returns stars Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito, so it's definitely got that working in its favor.
6. Pet Sematary (April 5)
Plot Summary: Based on the seminal horror novel by Stephen King, Pet Sematary follows Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke), who, after relocating with his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) and their two young children from Boston to rural Maine, discovers a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near the family’s new home. When tragedy strikes, Louis turns to his unusual neighbor, Jud Crandall (John Lithgow), setting off a perilous chain reaction that unleashes an unfathomable evil with horrific consequences.
The Breakdown: Stephen King fever will be rampant as ever in 2019, thanks to films like Pet Sematary. King's original novel was previously adapted by Mary Lambert in 1989 and her film has since become a cult success among horror genre enthusiasts. Nevertheless, the new Pet Sematary movie seems promising enough, between its talented stars and King's disturbing-as-ever tale about why "Sometimes dead is better". Nobody's really expecting this one to become anywhere near the pop cultural phenomena that IT was in 2017, but it has the makings of a respectable adaptation - as opposed to being yet another misfire based on King's books.
5. Shazam! (April 5)
Plot Summary: We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s (Asher Angel) case, by shouting out one word - SHAZAM! - this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult Super Hero Shazam (Zachary Levi), courtesy of an ancient wizard. Still a kid at heart - inside a ripped, godlike body - Shazam revels in this adult version of himself by doing what any teen would do with superpowers: have fun with them! Can he fly? Does he have X-ray vision? Can he shoot lightning out of his hands? Can he skip his social studies test? Shazam sets out to test the limits of his abilities with the joyful recklessness of a child. But he’ll need to master these powers quickly in order to fight the deadly forces of evil controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Strong).
The Breakdown: Jokes about 2019’s other Captain Marvel movie aside, Shazam! aims to explore the comedic side of the DCEU in fresh and exciting ways. That begins with star Zachary Levi, who's so far been pitch-perfect as the titular superhero in the film's marketing. Director David F. Sandberg has further demonstrated he’s the right man for the job through his playful online interactions and production updates alone. Shazam! itself looks like a clever twist on a (superhero) coming of age comedy, and a nice followup to James Wan’s unapologetically goofy DC fantasy epic Aquaman. The DCEU may yet go two for two on entries directed by horror filmmakers, by the looks of it.
4. Hellboy (April 12)
Plot Summary: Based on the graphic novels by Mike Mignola, Hellboy, caught between the worlds of the supernatural and human, battles an ancient sorceress bent on revenge.
The Breakdown: Neil Marshall’s Hellboy reboot looks more like an Underworld or Resident Evil film (complete with Milla Jovovich in a key role) than Guillermo del Toro’s take on the franchise. That’s not a bad thing either, per se, especially since that kind of genre fare plays to Marshall’s B-movie sensibilities. Still, there’s a bit of disconnect between Hellboy’s trailer and how its cast and crew talk about the reboot. The latter keep describing the movie as being a grisly monster horror film, whereas the former has much more of an action-comedy vibe. Hopefully, the movie proper will strike a balance between these extremes, much like Mike Mignola’s source comics before it.
3. Missing Link (April 12)
Plot Summary: Meet Mr. Link: 8 feet tall, 630 lbs, and covered in fur, but don’t let his appearance fool you… he is funny, sweet, and adorably literal, making him the world’s most lovable legend. Tired of living a solitary life in the Pacific Northwest, Mr. Link recruits fearless explorer Sir Lionel Frost to guide him on a journey to find his long-lost relatives in the fabled valley of Shangri-La. Along with adventurer Adelina Fortnight, our fearless trio of explorers encounter more than their fair share of peril as they travel to the far reaches of the world to help their new friend.
The Breakdown: Laika’s stop-motion artistry has only grown more and more sophisticated with each passing film, and that shouldn’t change with Missing Link. Narratively, on the other hand, the studio’s latest offering seems a bit conventional and a step back from the layered parables in Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings especially. Of course, it’s possible Missing Link’s trailers are somewhat misleading and the actual film has more depth than its promos have let on. Either way, it should make for good kid-friendly entertainment and (with a little luck) may yet have some substantial themes to go with Mr. Link’s unintentional shenanigans.
2. The Curse of La Llorona (April 19)
Plot Summary: In 1970s Los Angeles, La Llorona is stalking the night - and the children. Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother suspected of child endangerment, a social worker and her own small kids are soon drawn into a frightening supernatural realm. Their only hope to survive La Llorona’s deadly wrath may be a disillusioned priest and the mysticism he practices to keep evil at bay, on the fringes where fear and faith collide.
The Breakdown: No, The Curse of La Llorona isn’t a Conjuring universe film. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was, however, between James Wan producing, the 1970s setting, and the jump scares in the film’s trailer (which is certainly reminiscent of Wan’s previous work). Wan and his team clearly think highly of La Llorona, seeing as they’ve already hired director Michael Chaves to helm The Conjuring 3 next. Fans of Wan’s cinematic horror universe may want to give this one a look for those reasons alone, especially since Annabelle 3 isn’t due out until July. Who knows: the “Weeping Woman” may yet become the next great horror movie monster.
1. Avengers: Endgame (April 26)
Plot Summary: A culmination of 22 interconnected films, the fourth installment of the Avengers saga will draw audiences to witness the turning point of this epic journey. Our beloved heroes will truly understand how fragile this reality is and the sacrifices that must be made to uphold it.
The Breakdown: It might not be titled Infinity War - Part 2, but Avengers: Endgame is very much the second half of that film, and the conclusion that MCU fans have been anticipating and dreading in equal measure. Endgame also has a whole lot of ground to cover, between wrapping up the Thanos storyline, bidding farewell to the original Avengers (in some way), and bringing Phase 3 of the MCU to a satisfying close. Suffice it to say, directors Joe and Anthony Russo are going to earn that potential 3-hour runtime with this one, by the look of things. And better yet, when it’s all done, we’ll finally be able to answer the question: what now?
- Serenity (January 25) - Between its enigmatic premise and Matthew McConaughey going all philosophical again (a la True Detective), Steven Knight’s thriller has a lot of potential. But is there a reason this one’s being “dumped” in late January?
- Cold Pursuit (February 8) - The “Liam Neeson with a snowplow” movie is actually a remake of a Norwegian dark comedy by the original film’s director. It looks like the new version is a bleak action-comedy as well, which should only benefit its ridiculous premise.
- Isn't It Romantic (February 13) - Rebel Wilson’s new project has a great setup (“What if you were trapped in a Hollywood rom-com?”) and the rom-com itself made a big comeback in 2018. Whether this meta take on the genre will actually work in motion, however, is another matter.
- Alita: Battle Angel (February 14) - Robert Rodriguez’s manga adaptation has been delayed twice already, which is rarely a good sign. On the other hand, the visuals have gotten better and sharper with each passing trailer. Maybe this one really did just need the extra time for post-production?
- Happy Death Day 2U (February 14) - The first Happy Death Day was a clever mashup of slasher tropes and Groundhog Day-style comedy. Question is, should it have stayed a one-off, or is there enough gas left in the tank for a satisfying sequel?