A round-up of some of the films, TV programmes and theatre events I’m looking forward to in 2019.
We seem to say this every year now, but 2019 will once again be the year of the sequel – particularly for Disney films. From Avengers: End Game in April, through to Star Wars: Episode IX in December, 2019 is going to be full of ’em. I am also looking forward to Toy Story 4 (can it be as good as the third one?) and Frozen 2 (No, they wouldn’t let it go). All four of those franchises have made Disney oodles of cash at the box office – will they do the same in 2019?
Disney’s also going to be busy with the live action versions of some of their classic animated films. Tim Burton has previous experience with his version fo Alice in Wonderland, but will that carry over to his version fo Dumbo? Guy Ritchie (who has not particularly been setting the box office alight) is in charge of the live action version of Aladdin – surely securing Will Smith as the Genie will help that find an audience? And The Jungle Book director Jon Favreau is at it again with The Lion King. What a cast: Donald Glover, Beyonce, Chiwetel Ejiofor – it could turn out to be one of the year’s biggest releases when it arrives in July.
Away from Disney (and Hollywood), I’m not ashamed to say I am intrigued by the Downton Abbey film. We haven’t seen much of it yet, but I was a huge fan of the TV series and I hope the transfer to the big screen loses none of the show’s magic. And I can’t wait to see Maggie Smith back as the Dowager Duchess!
In terms of the smaller films, I will definitely be checking out Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench and Ian McKellen in All is True, the story of what happened to Shakespeare when he returned to Stratford. I’m going to have a very long wait to see Greta Gerwig’s version of Little Women – a book I’ve read countless times, and I do love the Winona Ryder film version. It’s not out until December, but I’m already counting down!
I say this on the radio a lot: the quality of content being made for TV is now as good, if not better, than what we see in the cinema. When you have the likes of Meryl Streep (Big Little Lies), Emma Thompson (Years and Years) and George Clooney (Catch 22) starring in TV content, then I think that argument stands. 2019 will see the return of some major TV series as well as some brand new ones for us to sink our teeth into.
Game of Thrones returns in April for its final season. Finally, fans will know who wins the battle for the Iron Throne. Can both Daenerys and Jon Snow survive? We shall see…
I’m very excited by the BBC/Amazon adaptation of Good Omens, starring Michael Sheen and David Tennant.
Another fantasy adaptation that’s got me excited is His Dark Materials, again being produced by the BBC, this time in conjunction with HBO. The cats includes James McAvoy, Dafne Keen, Ruth Wilson and Lin-Manuel Miranda. I doubt we’ll see it until very late in the year, but I can’t wait!
Probably the show I’m most looking forward to seeing return is The Crown. Back for season three, the series has undergone a complete recast with National Treasure Olivia Colman taking over the role of The Queen, with Tobias Menzies now playing Philip and Helens Bonham Carter joining the cast as Margaret. I thought the first two seasons of the Netflix drama were absolutely excellent, and I am really looking forward to seeing Colman do her Queen.
A big change is coming to how we watch TV in 2019 as Disney, Apple and Warners all prepare to launch their own streaming services. We know Disney+ will arrive towards autumn, and will include both Star Wars-relates content as well as Marvel: Tom Hiddleston’s starring in a series all about Loki. The Apple launch has been rumoured for quite some time and they are busy preparing content, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston have just shot a series about a morning TV news show.
Because I live in London, this is going to have something of a West End focus (sorry). But, my first choice is a show that will be touring throughout the UK in 2019: Ian McKellen is celebrating his 80th birthday with a new solo show that will play to 80 stages across the UK. He’s promising to tell stories from his work on Tolkien, Shakespeare and others. I already have my tickets, I think this is an opportunity to spend an evening hearing from one of the greatest actors still working in film, TV and on stage.
Also in 2019, Sally Field, Bill Pullman, Colin Morgan and Jenna Coleman star in a new production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons at the Old Vic. I don’t think I need to tell you much more about that….
Tom Hiddleston returns to the West End in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, wrapping up Jamie Lloyd’s Pinter at the Pinter season. Good luck trying to secure tickets.
The incomparable Cate Blanchett stars alongside Stephen Dillane in When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other, which opens at the National Theatre in January.
And Hugh Jackman brings his one-man show to various venues around the UK in May and June.