50 films and TV series to see in 2019

All the biggest and best on-screen highlights from the year to come, featuring dynamite new talent and returning favourites.

Henry Barnes , Alex Davidson , Peter Hill , Georgia Korossi , Christina Newland , Lou Thomas

Bergman: A Year in a Life

Bergman: A Year in a Life

The new year brings crises and challenges, in-fighting and power struggles, kingdoms under threat and conventions on the slide. And that’s just on our screens.

2019’s film and TV schedules are jam-packed with revolutionary dramas, outrageous comedies and scintillating documentaries. From 19th-century adventurers aiming for the edge of the troposphere to contemporary heroes telling stories of the deep; from kings and superheroes to that bloke who handles your Amazon delivery — 2019’s film and TV has a story of every size.

Here we present our pick of 2019’s potentially great film and TV. At the very least, they’ll help you make it through what promises to be an interesting year.

Adam

Director Rhys Ernst

On paper, the plot of Adam, adapted from a novel by Ariel Schrag, sounds daft, even problematic. An awkward male teenager spends a summer in New York and falls for a queer girl who assumes that he is trans, and decides not to reveal that he is cisgender. Yet this film, directed by Rhys Ernst, who has spoken with great sensitivity on the challenges of adapting the book to the big screen and who identifies as a trans man, may prove to be one of the key queer films of the year. This coming-of-age comedy premieres at Sundance, before hopefully getting a release in the UK in 2019.

When can we see it? TBC

The Aeronauts

Director Tom Harper

Up, up and away with Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne, reunited after the gong-gluttonous Stephen Hawking biopic, The Theory of Everything (2014), under the roaring gas burner of a hot air balloon. Set in 1862, The Aeronauts stars Jones as pilot Amelia Wren who, along with scientist James Glaisher (Redmayne), chased her dream of flying a craft higher than anyone’s flown before. The film is currently shooting in the UK, while early publicity stills show Jones and Redmayne doing their own stunts 2,000 feet up in the air. For once, a piece of promo that doesn’t inflate the story. 

When can we see it? 1 November

Bergman: A Year in a Life

Director Jane Magnusson

2018 was the year of Ingmar Bergman’s centenary, and this fascinating documentary offers new perspectives on this master of cinema, using rare archive material to explore facets of his work. It focuses on 1957, a key year for the auteur in which he made two of his most beloved features (The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries) and directed four plays. A must for cinephiles and Bergman novices alike, Jane Magnusson’s film also explores his complex personal life as well as cementing his status in world cinema history. It’s both a tribute to and an interrogation of his brilliance.

When can we see it? 25 January

Birds of Passage

Directors Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra

Embrace of the Serpent (2015) was one of the most brilliant and surprising films of its year. Ciro Guerra’s follow-up, co-directed with Cristina Gallego, is one of the most eagerly awaited arthouse titles of 2019. It’s a sprawling chronicle of how a north Colombian tribe in the 1960s turns to selling drugs and building an empire in the middle of the desert. If the directors’ previous work is anything to go by, a plot summary won’t do justice to the vision of the filmmakers, who use breathtaking experimental flourishes that have been compared to the work of Alejandro Jodorowsky.

When can we see it? TBC

Brexit: The Uncivil War

Brexit: The Uncivil War

Bisbee ’17

Director Robert Greene

Kate Plays Christine director Robert Greene returns with an arresting documentary that reconstructs a shameful episode in American history from 1917, when more than 1,000 men, mostly migrant workers striking for better working conditions, were deported from the Arizona town of Bisbee to the New Mexico desert and left to die. Recreating the events with locals and actors, the film has been acclaimed for its innovative way of processing trauma and has earned comparisons with Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing (2012), which used similar techniques to confront the past. As tensions around immigration continue to rise in the US, it’s a tragically relevant documentary.

When can we see it? TBC

Boy Erased

Director Joel Edgerton

Lucas Hedges is one of the most exciting young actors around. He’s been tipped for an Oscar nomination for his sensitive performance as a gay man sent to a conversion centre by his pastor father (Russell Crowe) and mother (Nicole Kidman, who has received universal acclaim for the film). Based on the memoir by Garrard Conley, it’s the second drama of the last 12 months to focus on the controversial practice of so-called gay conversion therapy, following Desiree Akhavan’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post. With its top-notch cast and direction from Joel Edgerton, it’s one of the most anticipated films of the spring.

When can we see it? 8 February

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind  

Director Chiwetel Ejiofor

Chiwetel Ejiofor’s directorial debut is based on Malawian writer William Kamkwamba’s memoir (written in collaboration with Bryan Mealer), which tells the story of the teenage Kamkwamba’s struggle to stay in school when his family can’t afford the tuition fees. Not only did Kamkwamba sneak back into lessons, he used knowledge pilfered from the library to design and build a windmill — made out of bits of his bicycle, no less — that saved his village from famine. Ejiofor, no doubt keen to show off his own broad skill set, also stars, wrote the screenplay AND dismantled his own cherished Brompton to build the prop windmill. Maybe.   

When can we see it? TBC

Brexit: The Uncivil War (C4)

Director Toby Haynes

As arguments around Brexit continue to divide the nation, this provocative TV drama is set to be a hot topic. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Dominic Cummings, the man behind the Vote Leave campaign who helped enable perhaps the biggest political shock in modern British history. Dramas that feature real-life characters are always a fun watch, but the synopsis suggests a critical and interrogative exploration of the tactics used to sway voters, including controversial legal and ethical issues around data-mining. It is set to broadcast in January, two months before Britain is due to leave the EU.

When can we see it? 7 January

Burning

Director Lee Chang-dong

Voted the third best film of 2018 in the Sight & Sound poll, Burning is a noir-ish thriller about a man who meets a woman he knew from many years ago and gets sucked into a disturbing mystery he is unable to resist. Lee Chang-dong’s extraordinary film boasts one of the most remarkable performances of the last 12 months, with a star-making turn from Jeon Jong-seo, who transforms from a straight male fantasy to a possible femme fatale to something altogether more fascinating. The conventions of the ‘manic pixie dream girl’ trope have never been so devastatingly demolished. A masterpiece.

When can we see it? 1 February

Central Park Five director Ava DuVernay

Central Park Five director Ava DuVernay

Captain Marvel

Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

Even those with superhero fatigue may find it hard to resist the new Marvel blockbuster, starring Oscar-winner Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, one of the galaxy’s most powerful heroes. Best known for their American indie flicks Half Nelson (2006) and Mississippi Grind (2015), it’s exciting to see what directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck will bring to the studio’s first female-led adventure. It’s the latest in a string of adventurous filmmaker choices for Marvel — Taika Waititi and Ryan Coogler did excellent work with Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther respectively. We can’t wait.

When can we see it? 8 March

Catch-22 (C4)

Directors George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Ellen Kuras

Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 is often described as an ‘unfilmable’ novel, owing to its complex narrative structure. Despite this, it’s been adapted a handful of times already – most famously by Mike Nichols in 1970, albeit in a flawed adaptation. This new mini-series, produced and directed by George Clooney (who also co-stars), is the most ambitious yet, with a strong cast including Kyle Chandler and Hugh Laurie and a big budget behind it. It will be interesting to see whether the series retains Heller’s absurdist satire and dark comedy. One of the blockbuster TV dramas of 2019.

When can we see it? TBC

Cats

Director Tom Hooper

Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench, Idris Elba, Taylor Swift et al leaping about in catsuits seems off the cards, sadly. Instead, cutting-edge motion-capture is the rumoured mode of transformation in Tom Hooper’s film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical adaptation of T.S. Eliot’s poetry collection. Still, Cats is full of absolute bangers, as the Jellicle tribe wrestle with a tough decision. The vocal force-of-nature that is Jennifer Hudson will no doubt deal a powerhouse version of ‘Memory’. Hearing committed A-list performers channelling spirited felines promises to be something special.

When can we see it? 20 December

Central Park Five (Netflix)

Director Ava DuVernay

Ava DuVernay has form when it comes to exploring systemic racism in America via Netflix productions. While her doc, 13th, took on the history of the prison-industrial system, her next project is a fictionalised mini-series chronicling a notorious miscarriage of justice. In 1989 five male teenagers of colour (Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise) were wrongly convicted of raping a white female jogger — a crime for which they were exonerated in 2002. Helping DuVernay realise this knotty tale is an ensemble cast that includes emerging talent — Jharrel Jerome (Moonlight), Jovan Adepo (Fences); established names — Felicity Huffman, Vera Farmiga; and lesser-seen blasts from the past — Famke Janssen and Joshua Jackson.

When can we see it? TBC

Chaplin

Directors Peter Middleton and James Spinney

As a revered icon of the silent era, Charlie Chaplin is not new to the cinematic treatment. See Robert Downey Jr’s Oscar-nominated 1992 performance and critic Richard Schickel’s documentary in 2003. Peter Middleton and James Spinney’s forthcoming doc still sounds exciting thanks to new access to archival riches granted by the Chaplin estate. Unpublished visual and audio recording will substantiate a tale that takes in the full sweep of a talent that began in poverty in south London, was accepted then rejected by America, before ending up in Switzerland. Middleton and Spinney’s debut, Notes on Blindness (2016), established them as sensitive and innovative filmmakers. Expect a complex and nuanced portrait.

When can we see it? TBC

The Favourite

The Favourite

Colette

Director Wash Westmoreland

It’s been too long since Keira Knightley had a meaty role. Ending this lean streak is the story of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, a country girl whose marriage took her to Paris, where she became a bestselling author… only the books were published under her husband’s name. Stylish costumes and queer sexual expression colour what promises to be a resonant exploration of gendered power struggles and creative endeavour. (It would be an interesting double-bill with The Wife.) Dominic West co-stars as Colette’s affable but controlling husband ‘Willy’ in a true story fictionalised by Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer, the duo that brought us Still Alice (2014).

When can we see it? 11 January

Untitled Danny Boyle/Richard Curtis Project

Director Danny Boyle

The names involved in this collaboration scream of middlebrow Brit sensitivities. We’ll have to see how many broad emotions one film can hold. Danny Boyle’s return to film, after a TV dalliance with last year’s Trust and his abortive Bond gig, is a musical comedy centring on a struggling musician played by EastEnders actor Himesh Patel. Set in the 60s/70s and shot in Norfolk, this project stands out as the platform for Ed Sheeran’s first feature film role. Kate McKinnon bulks out the cast alongside English rose Lily James and, bizarrely, Maryana Spivak, best known for her role in Andrey Zvyagintsev’s unrelentingly bleak film, Loveless.

When can we see it? 28 June

Untitled Downton Abbey Project

Director Michael Engler

Rejoice, fans of Julian Fellowes’ Emmys-smashing, post-Edwardian, upstairs-downstairs costume drama, because the rumours have finally metabolised into a full-bodied movie production. Reuniting all principle cast members (minus only Dan Stevens (RIP) and Lily James), Downton Abbey The Movie is set nine months after the sixth and final series ended. New blood is in the mix in the form of Imelda Staunton, Geraldine James, Simon Jones, David Haig, Tuppence Middleton, Kate Phillips and Stephen Campbell Moore. The release date suggests awards hopes.

When can we see it? 13 September

Eternal Beauty

Director Craig Roberts

One pure pleasure in this dirty life has been watching the rise of Sally Hawkins’ star. The luminous British actor who came to prominence in the ’90s, via Mike Leigh, was rarely out of the headlines last year with the double-whammy of The Shape of Water and Paddington 2. In Eternal Beauty she is Jane, a woman with schizophrenia who is left at the altar but finds solace in a fellow lost soul played by David Thewlis. This is Welsh actor Craig Roberts’ follow-up to his impressively odd directorial debut, Just Jim, and was once again shot in Wales, so expect an ambience born of local knowledge.

When can we see it? TBC

The Favourite

Director Yorgos Lanthimos

Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone and Olivia Colman storm Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite, the Greek auteur’s early 18th-century comedy-drama. Fuelled with a monstrous, extravagant energy, it’s an exceptional work on so many levels, powered by three roaring performances in superb costumes designed by Sandy Powell (Carol). With his latest film, Lanthimos’s innate weirdness turns into a powerful black comedy, with Colman’s emotionally damaged Queen Anne occupying the throne when England was at war with France. But Lanthimos’s idea of a period drama, mostly filmed at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, is even more riotous than it sounds. Jealousy and erotic whispers adjoin cynical royal manners to make for wild entertainment.

When can we see it? 1 January

Good Omens

Good Omens

Frozen 2

Directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee

No need to let it go (as long as “it” means “hopes for another Disney vision of sisterly love”). Frozen’s original directors (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee) and stars (Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad) return for a late 2019 release. Although precise plot details remain under wraps, co-director Buck has revealed Elsa, who suffered her way through Frozen, has more fun this time around and that all characters in the cold kingdom of Arendelle are carefully evolved. Anyone who simply can’t wait for more snowman antics should note down 19 Jan: the ETA of Frozen 1.5, aka 21-minute short, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.

When can we see it? 22 November

Game of Thrones (Sky)

Directors David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, David Nutter and Miguel Sapochnik

This is what it has all been building towards. Eight years of intricate machinations, ruthless power-grabs, merciless violence, fur-clad hotties, mud, war, sex and complex characters will come together in the eighth and final series. Who would have thought in 2011, when George R.R. Martin’s novel A Song of Ice and Fire received its first round of adaptations, that this dirty, detailed fantasy would so enthral the masses? Expect David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to honour the revered cultural place Game of Thrones now holds with an unforgettable six episodes of coherent long-game pay-offs. Brace yourself: favourites will surely die.

When can we see it? April

Good Omens (BBC/Amazon)

Director Douglas Mackinnon

Neil Gaiman! Terry Pratchett! Michael Sheen! David Tennant! If there’s such a thing as wholesome devilishness these names deliver it. Pratchett died in 2015 leaving a last request to Gaiman to adapt their 1990 co-authored book. An obscenely star-studded cast includes Jon Hamm as Archangel Gabriel, Derek Jacobi as Metatron as well as Frances McDormand, Nick Offerman, Nicholas Parsons, Steve Oram, Miranda Richardson and Mark Gatiss. Concerning the unlikely friendship between an angel (Sheen) and a demon (Tennant) as the apocalypse looms, Good Omens will be full of existential humour, pulled off with a light absurdist touch. The trailer suggests excellent chemistry between the actors. Treat yourself.

When can we see it? TBC

Greed

Director Michael Winterbottom

Jessie Armstrong’s Succession, Danny Boyle’s Trust — the plight of the billionaire made for big narrative business in 2018. Greed, in which Steve Coogan plays a 1%-er gearing up for a lavish 60th birthday party, should keep the stock high. Michael Winterbottom directs and co-wrote the script with Sean Grey (Veep, The Thick of It). Other listed assets: Asa Butterfield, Isla Fisher and David Mitchell in the supporting cast. Production stills have shown a perma-tanned Coogan strutting around the island of Mykonos dressed as Julius Caesar. Prepare for the fall of another empire. 

When can we see it? Late 2019

Happy as Lazzaro

Director Alice Rohrwacher

Alice Rohrwacher’s follow-up to The Wonders is another strange, charming comedy set in a rural Italy seemingly populated by eccentric peasants. Happy as Lazzaro’s tale of exploited tobacco workers supersedes that earlier film by throwing in elements of magic realism and by offering a damning indictment of Italian society. Meanwhile, several scenes of urban poverty are as horrifying as they are hilarious. A step up from one of Europe’s most distinctive filmmakers.

When can we see it? 15 March

If Beale Street Could Talk

If Beale Street Could Talk

High Life

Director Claire Denis

Claire Denis’ first film in the English language received rave reviews on its TIFF premiere in September. An erotic, philosophical sci-fi film, it concerns a crew of criminals sent into space on a mission to find alternative energy sources. Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche star, two actors known for their consistently fascinating choice of roles and strong screen presence. One scene even involves an outpouring of bodily fluid. We won’t say which fluid, but still — you have been warned.

When can we see it? TBC

If Beale Street Could Talk

Director Barry Jenkin

Speaking of which… If you wept watching Moonlight, dig out the tissues again for If Beale Street Could Talk. Barry Jenkins’ second feature is as beautiful and moving as his debut. This time around Jenkins adapts James Baldwin’s story about Tish (Kiki Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James), a young couple in 1970s Harlem who are split asunder when Fonny is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. Jenkins’ film is another veracious look at black life in America, with all the heartbreaks and setbacks that entails.

When can we see it? 8 February

Jerk (BBC)

Director TBC

After the success of Jerk’s 2016 pilot, Tim Renkow returns as a man with cerebral palsy who uses his condition to get away with saying anything he wants. Expect hilarious and excruciating moments of taboo-busting comedy with the feel of prime Curb Your Enthusiasm. Renkow co-writes with Stu Richards, as well as starring as a version of himself. This four-part series is sure to reveal plenty of uncomfortable truths about him, his condition, and how people perceive both.

When can we see it? TBC

John Wick: Chapter 3

Director Chad Stahelski

To have any chance of thrilling punters like John Wick’s first two outings, chapter three will have to be one of 2019’s finest action films. At the time of writing, little detail is known about John Wick: Parabellum (AKA Chapter 3), except that Keanu Reeves is still on the run as the laconic eponymous hitman. Other key players including Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne and Lance Reddick return, while former stuntman and key Keanu collaborator Chad Stahelski is back directing, too. With luck it’ll bang like bonfire night.

When can we see it? 17 May

Joker

Director Todd Phillips

Even those bored with incessant comic book adaptations and reboots will find promise in this juicy concept: the Joker reimagined as a failed stand-up comedian who turns to crime. Joaquin Phoenix will play Batman’s arch-nemesis, but the casting of Robert De Niro as a talk show host and the 1981 setting properly pique the interest. De Niro played the greatest failed comic on film in The King of Comedy (1982) in the same era. Maybe this new film from Todd Phillips is part of a Rupert Pupkin cinematic universe?

When can we see it? 4 October

The Kid Who Would Be King

The Kid Who Would Be King

The Kid Who Would be King

Director Joe Cornish

Guinevere meets Grange Hill in Joe Cornish’s genre mash-up. Louis Ashbourne Serkis (son of Andy) plays Alex, an ordinary suburban school-boy who finds Excalibur — as you do — and learns he is fated to form a modern knights of the round table to defeat Morgana, a medieval villain played by Rebecca Ferguson. Merlin pops up too. Double Merlin in fact, as Angus Imrie (sprog of Celia) plays the wizard’s schoolboy ruse, while Patrick Stewart plays him in his true, elderly form. Anticipate a Spielbergian jaunt full of corrupt adults, kids on a journey of discovery and extraordinary heroism in everyday settings. 

When can we see it? 15 February

The Last Tree

Director Shola Amoo

After a happy childhood in Lincolnshire, Femi moves to inner London, where he is baffled by the culture and values of his new home, which force him to make a decision about what it means to be young, black and male. That précis hints that Shola Amoo’s second feature will continue some of the themes of its predecessor, A Moving Image (“the film Spike Lee might have made about Brixton,” said The Guardian). Change is a powerful thing to explore, and Amoo assembles a cast of great promise, including Nicholas Pinnock (Counterpart), Coronation Street’s Denise Black, and Sam Adewunmi. It’s developed and funded by the BFI, who have a proud partnership with a filmmaker of rare eloquence.

When can we see it? TBC

The Lion King

Director Jon Favreau

Disney’s cannibalistic remake jolted the world awake with its first trailer, showing the shot-by-shot resemblance to 1994’s steamroller. James Earl Jones is in both. Ditto for some of the music. But one thing has changed: computing power. Disney won’t tag it as ‘live action’ but say it follows the “technologically groundbreaking” approach of the 2018 version of The Jungle Book. The photorealistic imagery does awe, but there must be humanity beneath the trickery if Jon Favreau’s costly epic is to enchant tomorrow’s consumers. The inclusion of Donald Glover (Atlanta, Community, and AKA rapper Childish Gambino) as the voice of Simba will help. 

When can we see it? 19 July

Les Misérables

Director Tom Shankland

Nobody does period drama better than the BBC, and this new six-part adaptation promises to do Victor Hugo’s epic novel justice. Starring Dominic West as Jean Valjean and David Oyelowo as Javert, the cat-and-mouse interplay takes place against the backdrop of a time of revolution. Scripted by Andrew Davies (House of Cards, A Very Peculiar Practice), this will be a world away from the musical adaptation that dominates popular imagination, instead diving deep into the rich drama of Hugo’s opus. Olivia Colman’s turn as Madame Thénardier may be the icing on the cake.

When can we see it? 30 December

The Name of the Rose (BBC)

Director Giacomo Battiato

Some know it as a novel, others a Sean Connery film, but now Umberto Eco’s tale of a monks’ home bathed in blood (abbeytoir?) is stretched like a heretic into eight parts for television. Casting is from the gods, with John Turturro as William of Baskerville and Michael ‘Person of Interest’ Emerson as the abbot. Shot at Cinecittà Studios, this $30-m series might make the prestige Sunday-night slot. One thing we know: it will look sumptuous thanks to cinematographer John Conroy, whose work includes Luther, Broadchurch and The Tunnel.

Rocketman

Rocketman

When can we see it? TBC

Once upon a Time in Hollywood

Director Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino’s 1969-set crime mystery sees a fictional TV actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double (Brad Pitt) navigate the end of the hippie era while making a play for superstardom. Meanwhile, Margot Robbie’s casting as Sharon Tate and Damon Herriman’s role as Charles Manson suggests the film will tackle real-life events that scandalised Tinseltown: namely, the former’s murder by disciples of the latter. But will Once upon a Time in Hollywood follow the lead of Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009) in presenting a fierce, fantastic alternative history? Time will tell. For now it’s all on the QT and very hush hush. 

When can we see it? 26 July

Our Planet (Netflix)

Directors Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey

Global treasure David Attenborough returns with the same crew who made the awe-inspiring Planet Earth. Aside from being the world’s most prominent naturalist, Attenborough is perhaps the key voice in the climate change debate. He recently addressed the UN climate change summit in Poland to warn: “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.” Beautifully shot stories of animal life on earth are bound to figure in this new series. Let’s hope there’s habitat enough left to shoot many more.

When can we see it? 5 April

A Private War

Director Matthew Heineman

Rosamund Pike garnered a Golden Globe nomination for her performance as the American Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin, killed in 2012 while reporting on the crisis in Syria. It’s a superb performance, showing the real human being behind the iconic figure she has become, particularly since her death. Colvin is an intriguing character, whose idealism veered towards cynicism when she realised western governments would sooner ignore the horrors of war abroad. The role offers Pike plenty of scope to create a powerhouse performance that may earn her a second Best Actress Oscar nomination. Colvin’s interrogation of Colonel Gaddafi is a highlight.

When can we see it? 15 February

Rafiki

Director Wanuri Kahiu

Wanuri Kahiu’s moving drama about the love that grows between two female friends was banned in her native Kenya, where gay sex is punishable by up to 14 years in jail. Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva star as Kena and Ziki, a couple whose romance seems doomed amid cultural and social conservatism. Sensitive performances and an air of authenticity are the highlights of this vividly shot tale. Bold, intelligent filmmaking.

When can we see it? TBC

Rocketman

Director Dexter Fletcher

Dexter Fletcher stepped in to direct smash hit Bohemian Rhapsody when Bryan Singer was hauled off the project, so he’s a sensible choice to helm another flamboyant-megastar-musician biopic. Taron Egerton will play… ladies and gentlemen! Mr! Elton! John! Egerton had John’s blessing having befriended him on the set of Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) and subsequently spent three months under John’s tutelage learning to play piano. With Egerton also having aced the title role in Fletcher’s fun sporting biopic Eddie the Eagle, Rocketman has good chance of achieving some dizzying heights. As long as they don’t downplay John’s sexuality, an accusation levelled at Bo Rhap.

When can we see it? 24 May

Sex Education (Netflix)

Directors Kate Herron and Ben Taylor

Otis’s mum wants to talk to him about sex. A lot. It’s her job. Being a teenage virgin with a sex counsellor mum can’t be easy, but perhaps there’s a way Otis can turn this to his advantage: there’s a certain cachet to being the kid with all the answers in a school full of questioning horny teens. Netflix starts the new year with a bang with its eight-part comedy-drama, billed as a “British love letter to the classic American high school story”, though we’re not sure which American high school story featured a teen selling sex tips. Asa Butterfield plays Otis; Gillian Anderson supplies the “Oh Muuuuuummmmm!” moments.

When can we see it? 11 January

Stan <span class="amp">&</span> Ollie

Stan & Ollie
Credit: Aimee Spinks, www.aimeespinks.com

Sorry We Missed You

Director Ken Loach

Ken Loach’s follow-up to the Palme d’Or-winning I, Daniel Blake is another David v Goliath story. Struggling dad-of-two Ricky (Kris Hitchen) pits himself against the gigantean complexities of the gig economy when he tries to get established as a self-employed delivery driver. Loach’s regular writer, Paul Laverty, and producer, Rebecca O’Brien, signed for his latest film, which is part-funded by the BFI. Expect delivery – driver availability depending – sometime in 2019.

When can we see it? TBC

The Souvenir

Director Joanna Hogg

Joanna Hogg captures middle-class British sensibilities like no one since Play for Today-era Mike Leigh, and her admirers have grown over just three films. Martin Scorsese is among them; having seen her second, Archipelago, he signed on to executive produce her fourth, The Souvenir. This BFI-funded drama has an impeccable talking point: mother and daughter Tilda Swinton and Honor Swinton-Byrne play out that same relationship on screen, as a young film student begins to break free of family and find independence. Richard Ayoade and Tom Burke are in the mix. For once, Tom Hiddleston is not.

When can we see it? TBC

Stan & Ollie

Director Jon S. Baird

Last year’s London Film Festival closing night film takes the show on the road. Steve Coogan plays Stan Laurel, while John C. Reilly dons fat suit (and associated health issues) to play the ailing Oliver Hardy. The plot follows the pair on their farewell tour, a little-heralded jaunt in which they played to UK crowds who’d largely forgotten them, and Jon S. Baird’s film pays tribute to two comedy giants as they reckon with their descent. A fine mess to get into ahead of the BFI’s Laurel & Hardy season, which pratfalls into BFI Southbank in January.

When can we see it? 11 January

Sunset

Director László Nemes

László Nemes’s Son of Saul took us on a discomforting journey into Auschwitz at the height of the Holocaust. The Hungarian director’s second film stars Juli Jakab as a young woman scouring Budapest for her nefarious brother as the Austro-Hungarian empire threatens to crumble. It’s no less compelling than Son of Saul, but its horrors are glimpsed through a tissue-thin veneer of respectability. Sunset appeared in the Official Competition at last year’s London Film Festival. 

When can we see it? TBC

This Time with Alan Partridge (BBC)

Director TBC

Armed sieges, shop-soiled chocolate oranges, incorrect use of foglamps. Alan has swallowed the lot and returned to motherbase as temporary co-host of This Time, a BBC magazine show in The One Show mould. Having disgraced himself with a wheel of Stilton last time, the ex-North Norfolk Digital host may be more diplomatic around Broadcasting House, but it’s unlikely. Sidekick Simon (Tim Key) will be on-board, while Felicity Montagu returns as factotum and bearer of the fungal foot powder, Lynn. The writers don’t need first names: Lee and Herring, Iannucci, Coogan and the Gibbons, and they promise much in an era of TV when Youth Hostelling with Chris Eubank seems dignified.

When can we see it? TBC

Wild Rose

Wild Rose

Untitled Chris Morris project

Director Christopher Morris

“I’m aware of what he’s cooking,” says Chris Morris’s friend Simon Blackwell, “but I can’t show you the menu.”  From the title down, not much is known about Morris’s new venture, which was shot in secrecy in the Dominican Republic (and part-funded by the BFI). Anna Kendrick stars – continuing her fondness for the strange and challenging, while also indicating Morris’s high status as a creator of memorable, incendiary art. Miles Robbins (son of Tim) and Kayvan Novak will appear, alongside Orange Is the New Black’s Danielle Brooks.

When can we see it? TBC

Us

Director Jordan Peele

Teased with a tweet promising ‘a new nightmare’, Jordan Peele must work hard to better the old one, Get Out, which earned over $250m. Us follows two couples, one black, one white. Winston Duke and Lupita Nyong’o will face off against Elisabeth Moss and (this is a guess) Tim Heidecker. “It’s true to what Jordan wants to make, which are these thought-provoking popcorn movies,” said Moss, who is an excellent choice for characters who remain likeable in extreme situations. For anyone wishing to feel old, the wider cast includes the film debut of Duke Nicholson. You may know his grandfather, Jack.

When can we see it? 15 March

The Virtues (C4)

Director Shane Meadows

A troubled man heads to Ireland and a confrontation with the past in Shane Meadows’ four-parter, which he says merges the apocalyptic feel of Dead Man’s Shoes with the bitter humour of This Is England. Given that the troubled man is Stephen Graham, expect an emotional wallop and an emphasis on the damage inflicted on us as children being unshakeable through life. There is no word on character trajectory but the biblical naming – Joseph and Dinah appear to be the two main roles – may hold clues. The locations move between Sheffield, Liverpool and Belfast.

When can we see it? April

The White Crow

Director Ralph Fiennes

Rudolf Nureyev began his life in propulsion (he was born on a Siberian train) and never really stopped. Ralph Fiennes’ biopic of the ballet legend follows him to age 23, when he made the decision, while in Paris, to defect. Taking us to that point, David Hare’s script vaults around to embrace the youngster’s training under ballet master Alexander Pushkin, played by Fiennes, and his burgeoning ego (a difficult thing to sustain under Communism). Changes in colour and aspect ratio underline the eras. Ukrainian dancer Oleg Ivenko has lovely verve and swagger in the lead role, and the ballet sequences are superb. It’s just a pity we miss out on Nureyev’s 1978 Muppet Show appearance, where he and Miss Piggy planned to dance their take on Tchaikovsky, ‘Swine Lake’.

When can we see it? 22 March

Wild Rose

Director Tom Harper

“It’s a people’s film,” said Jessie Buckley of the film that — judging by the people’s reaction at its BFI London Film Festival premiere – is about to make her famous. After her brilliance in Beast she plays Rose-Lynn, mother of two and fresh out of prison, a Johnny Cash lyric made flesh — which is lucky as she is obsessed by Nashville and intent on performing. Tom Harper (who made the seriously undervalued War Book) gives the story hope and rhythm, while Julie Walters and Sophie Okenedo bring beautiful characters to life, playing with themes of class and ambition that move and convince.

When can we see it? 19 April

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