Ten films to see in 2019

New instalments of Star Wars and Toy Story are among this year’s crop of eagerly anticipated movies, writes John Daly

1 - The Favourite

Released today

Director Yorgos Lanthimos makes a leap backward from The Killing Of A Sacred Deer in a period tale of intrigue and sex set in the 18th century court of Queen Anne.

The cast to die for includes Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman in an era when England is at war with the French, duck racing was a popular pastime and pineapples were the ultimate pleasure.

All is well until a new servant with lofty ambitions sets queen and country at odds. Produced by Irish company Element Pictures.

2 - Stan & Ollie

January 11

Set in 1953, and charting the UK and Ireland tour (including the visit to Cobh and Cork) of the famous comedy duo, vainly trying to revive their careers to half-empty theatres.

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Steve Coogan and John C Reilly are perfectly cast as the complex double act who owned the movies until WWII, only to see their popularity dwindle through petty infighting and the public’s changed taste.

Written by Jeff Pope and directed by Jon S Baird, the film details the ghastly drudgery of their provincial tour, and the age-old rivalry that bubbled to boiling point.

Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda as the pair’s wives, Lucille and Ida, steal every scene they’re in.

3 - The Upside

January 11

A remake of the 2011 French hit, The Intouchables, where a quadriplegic billionaire hires an ex-convict to be his daily helper.

Limitless director Neil Burger takes the reins with Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart providing the bromance chemistry.

While it didn’t exactly bring the house down at the recent Toronto Film Festival, it still deserves a viewing given the cast, which also includes Nicole Kidman and Julianna Margulies.

4 - Green Book

February 1

Peter Farrelly, one half of the sibling duo who wrote and directed the likes of There’s Something About Mary turns his back on gross-out comedy for this true tale of Tony Lip, a doorman at the legendary Copacabana Club who struck up a friendship with African-American pianist Don Shirley and became his chauffeur around the Deep South in an era when race relations were at their worst.

Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali take the lead roles in a story scripted by Nick Vallelonga, the son of Tony Lip.

The film received a lasting blast of dubious publicity when Mortensen used the ‘N’ word repeatedly on a premiere press junket to highlight how the epithet was casually used during that time period.

5 - Captain Marvel

March 8

Things aren’t looking great for the Avengers after the carnage unleashed by Thanos in Infinity War — so what better time for a some female pyrotechnics to even the score.

Set in the 1990s, this latest Marvel Comic episode introduces Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, the Air Force pilot with all kinds of super powers.

Co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck take the helm, with Jude Law, Samuel L Jackson and Annette Benning rounding out the cast.

6 - Greyhound

March 22

Based on the book, The Good Shepherd, by CS Forester, this WWII actioner sees Tom Hanks once again putting on a military uniform, as he did in 1998’s Saving Private Ryan.

Bolstered with a cast that includes Elisabeth Shue, Stephen Graham and Lee Norris, Hanks plays the commander of the naval ship, Greyhound, which was relentlessly chased by German U-boats during the desperate Atlantic crossings.

Expect serious action from director Aaron Schneider, who won an Oscar for Best Live Action Short in 2003. Hanks also scripted the film.

7 - Wild Rose

April 19

Killarney born Jessie Buckley seems destined to take her burgeoning acting career to another level in 2019 with a number of film projects due for release during the year — especially this inspirational fairytale about a Glasgow petty thief who dreams of becoming a major Nashville singing sensation.

Directed by Tom Harper and scripted by Nicole Taylor, the film has ‘crowd pleaser’ written all over it and seems a just reward for RADA graduate Buckley, and her whole-hearted dedication to an entertainment career since coming second in the I’ll Do Anything television talent show in 2008.

8 - Toy Story 4

June 21

Hollywood has never been shy about messing with a classic, and those of us who thought the last film ended the series perfectly were obviously mistaken.

Creator John Lasseter said that Pixar would only make a fourth movie if it was “just as good as or better than the previous three in the franchise,” so who knows what’s in store.

Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack and the gang have all signed up again for this latest voyage ‘to infinity and beyond.’

9 - The Lion King

July 19

James Earl Jones as King Mufasa, Donal Glover as Simba, Beyoncé as Nala, and Seth Rogan as Pumbaa?

Stand aside and let me first in the queue. Director Jon Favreau’s live action reboot of this modern Disney classic journeys once again to Pride Rock and the battle for royal succession that’s pretty much like The Crown — except with a furry mane.

Hans Zimmer and Elton John reprise their respective roles as composer and songwriter from the 1994 animated original, though this reviewer is sad to see that Jeremy Irons lost his part as Scar to Chiwetel Ejiofor this time round.

10 - Star Wars: Episode IX

December 19

So where do you go after the majesty of Skellig Michael?

Such will be the focus of the next episode of this space opera written and directed by JJ Abrams. Stars Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley and Domhnall Gleeson will once again don the galactic garb for what will be the third and final instalment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy and the ninth and final instalment of the Star Wars Skywalker saga.

The plot, as always, is wrapped tighter than the third secret of Fatima, but one thing is sure — it’ll be huge.

Bright days as Irish films happy to do Sundance

The year ahead is also shaping up as a particularly good 12 months for Irish films, with five featuring at this year’s prestigious Sundance Film Festival.

Screening at the famous Park City, Utah location from January 2 to February 3, the line-up includes: Lee Cronin’s The Hole in the Ground, starring Seana Kerslake; two international co-productions, Sophie Hyde’s Animals and Sacha Polak’s Dirty God, alongside two Irish documentaries, Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell’s Gaza and Kim Longinotto’s Shooting the Mafia.

Seana Kerslake

Irish films have a good history at Sundance, with many like Brooklyn, The Lobster, Sing Street, and The Guard having used it as a springboard to greater things.

“The selection process is one of the most competitive in the world, so to have such a strong line-up 2019 edition festival is a fantastic achievement for our industry,” said Screen Ireland chief executive James Hickey.

“Two out of the 12 documentaries in the international line-up, selected from all over the world, are Irish.”

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