Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of film critics two questions and publishes the results on Monday. (The answer to the second, “What is the best film in theaters right now?”, can be found at the end of this post.)
This week’s question: What are your hopes for the movies of 2019?
Ken Bakely (@kbake_99), Freelance for Film Pulse
2018 was a year when movies like “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians” were deeply beloved and widely seen, genuinely making their marks as among the most prominent cultural touchstones of the year; and even smaller titles like “Love, Simon” and “To All the Boys I Loved Before” made strides for a cinematic future that’s more diverse and representative, all while being warmly embraced by audiences. In 2019, I hope that far more movies like these are made by the major studios, and that viewers continue to embrace them with great enthusiasm.
Robert Daniels (@812filmreviews), 812filmreviews, Freelance
The return of mid-budget adult filmmaking to a prominent cultural perch would be welcomed. 2018 saw exceptional films like “Annihilation,” “First Man,” Widows,” etc., all but ignored at the box office in lieu of disasters, such as “Venom” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” True, every year there are examples of films that reach beyond critical success to discover commercial triumph: flummoxing many—but rarely have their prosperity come at the expense of others’ cinematic real estate. Maybe streaming is the answer, but I’d love to see mid-budget films return to prominence.
Edward Douglas (@EDouglasWW), The Weekend Warrior, VitalThrills.com, NextBestPicture.com
My hopes aren’t necessarily for movies but for the world of film criticism, which has grown increasingly lazy in the last couple years. I can’t tell you how irked I get, as someone who has barely worked in the last nine months, that all these younger people are able to get work as film — a dream job in my mind — who just don’t want to do the work required with the job. To me, this means getting to see as many movies as possible IN THEATERS, showing up for press screenings on time, making an effort to see movies outside your normal wheelhouse (which for many modern-day “critics” is just superhero movies or prestige awards films) and most importantly, watch movies that you’re not being paid to see. You can’t be a film critic if you don’t have a fairly rounded knowledge of films of all varieties and genres, and if you’re just an angry Millennial who wants to rant and rave and always be living in a constant state of outrage, maybe you should do something else with your time. You’ll be amazing how much happier you’ll be.
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There’s been a lot of talk about the divide between critics and the moviegoing public, and that’s nothing new. Being aware that the people who read your reviews are also the ones who will go see movies (thereby maintaining the illusion that there’s some need for film critics) is paramount to know who these movies are being made for i.e. the paying public. If you honestly think a studio or an investor cares what some random film critic thinks when they know they have a popular movie that can make money, then you’re living in denial. Lastly, Twitter is generally garbage, but “Film Twitter” is even worse, and the amount of cliquishness that’s pervaded both “Film Twitter” and the general film critics community is what’s responsible for the lack of diversity and why film criticism is worse now than any time in the past two decades. No one thinks for themselves anymore, and it’s all about making sure your opinion matches your immediate peers. My hope is that film critics make an effort to do better in 2019, and I’m sure it will never happen.
Alonso Duralde (@aduralde), TheWrap, Linoleum Knife, Breakfast All Day
My hope is that “Roma” isn’t an outlier for Netflix, and that the company takes the idea of theatrical distribution alongside streaming more seriously in the years to come. There’s no reason why their model can’t include more opportunities for people to see the fine films they are producing on the big screen.
Luke Hicks (@lou_kicks), Film School Rejects, Birth.Movies.Death., Bright Wall/Dark Room
Is it too unrealistic to hope that Marvel will unveil “Avengers: Endgame”, simultaneously realize that their entire institution is really just one huge, heavy chain of static development (i.e. the lack thereof) hanging on and hindering cinema, and concomitantly commit to shut the whole enterprise down before the commencement of 2020? If so, then I hope they continue down the road of more inventive and inclusive evolution that “Black Panther” signified.
But I won’t waste my primary cinematic hope on Marvel. I have two primary hopes for 2019. First, the return of Terrence Malick as a great, relevant filmmaker via “Radegund.” Second, the recognition of Kelly Reichardt as one of the best directors alive after the small — but surely unparalleled — release of “First Cow.” Essentially, I hope for the prominence of thoughtful filmmaking.
Q.V. Hough (@QVHough), Vague Visages, RogerEbert.com
In 2019, I’m hoping to see more filmmakers execute original and unorthodox concepts. In general, I’m concerned that directors feel they must always address Topic A, B, C — aware that casual viewers will check out early, or simply lose interest, if they don’t see a tiny bit of themselves on screen. Be creative, be original, keep an open mind.
Overall, I’m hoping for more critical analysis, from young viewers and critics alike, and less celebrity adoration. I’m hoping for fewer cliches and broad strokes when depicting people from the heartland, especially those from my native Upper Midwest.
Monique Jones (@moniqueblognet), SlashFilm, Shadow and Act, Mediaversity Reviews
One of my 2019 hopes include more of a focus on decency. It’s clear that 2018 was a highly divisive year and one of the most talked-about films of last year was the Mr. Rogers documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.” It was so popular because its core message was respecting others, especially those who are different than yourself. Hopefully this year, film and television decides to engage more with that particular message and promote common decency and kindness among others.
I also hope that the #TimesUp movement gets even bigger. Of course, as someone who writes about race and culture at most of my outlets (including my own site, colorwebmag.com), people probably expect that the first thing I’m going to hope for when it comes to 2019 is more diversity. Of course, I do hope for that. But at this point in my career, that hope goes without me saying it, I think. What I really want is for things to go beyond the standard surface calls for “diversity” and that people actually get specific about why certain types of diversity are meaningful, such as a broader recognition of womanhood.
I feel like my wish is beginning to get underway thanks to “Surviving R. Kelly,” which told the harrowing stories of R. Kelly’s victims, all of which are black and brown women. Too often, minority women, especially black women, go unbelieved when they relate their stories of sexual abuse and violence, such as when Lupita Nyong’o relayed her own story regarding Harvey Weinstein, but her story became overshadowed and ignored because the focus went more towards Weinstein’s white victims. Even more crudely, Nyong’o was the only victim Weinstein felt he had to come out of the woodwork for to put forth the narrative that she was lying. Ditto for Salma Hayek, who said on the record that she felt that Weinstein only sought to discredit she and Nyong’os stories of harassment because they were women of color.
In short, I hope that we as a society recognize the humanity and womanhood of all women, regardless of their race. There shouldn’t be a dividing line between who gets to be recognized as a woman.
Joey Keogh (@JoeyLDG, Contributing Editor of Wicked Horror, freelance for Birth.Movies.Death, Vague Visages, The List
2018 was an amazing year for women in film so, obviously, I want to see that continue, along with more diversity in general for the LGBT community, people of color, and anybody else who has yet to see themselves properly reflected on the big screen. As a lifelong horror fanatic, it was incredible to see women take over the genre last year, from “Cam” to “Revenge” and everything in between. I asked everybody I interviewed in 2018 the same question; “Do you think the future of horror is female?” Most either answered enthusiastically in the affirmative or corrected me by advising that horror has always been female.
As naive, even borderline ignorant, as that answer might sound, it did give me hope that the very real changes we can see happening in horror are being welcomed because, for a lot of people actively working in the genre, it’s a given that women would be taking over. So, really, my biggest hope for 2019 is to see those people proven right. A female-directed movie opened Frightfest for the first time in its 20-year history in 2018. This year, I’d like to see women leading the charge in every festival across the board — and elsewhere too. After all, as far as certain people are concerned, it’s only right that we start to make ourselves heard, after spending all this time apparently owning it quietly behind the scenes.
2018 saw a wide range of incredible movies released, but unfortunately, some of the best ones died a quick death at the box office, subsequently suffocating the life out of their awards aspirations. “First Man” and “Widows” are two of the most disheartening examples of outstanding films going nowhere beyond a strong critical reception, but the flipside is far more damaging, as when audiences flock to mediocre at best films such as “Bohemian Rhapsody”, well, you get shitshows like last night’s Golden Globes ceremony and put more inaccurate laziness into production. Please, try to start trusting critics more and branching out of your comfort zones; you just might enjoy something you never even dreamed you could ever like. At the very least, don’t beg for worthy installments in disastrous franchises and then decide you want to play the Bird Box Challenge when your prayers are answered *cough* “Bumblebee”. Go see the good movies 2019 has in store and let’s all collectively try to ignore the garbage.
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
Joanna Langfield (@JoannaLangfield), The Movie Minute
I am so encouraged by the work we saw hit the screen in 2018. Not only was it a big step forward in terms of diversity and inclusiveness, the quality was so strong, I had a really tough time winnowing down my Top Ten List. It’s here if you want to see what I finally gave up and committed to. So, for the year ahead, maybe we could focus on Film Twitter.
Yes, Film Twitter can be a great thing, a sometimes all too public arena where critics and film lovers can go back and forth, maybe, hopefully, enlightening one another. And, of course, it can also be a great place to meet new fellow travelers. But it can also be a pretty brutal forum, with posters snidely ripping one another to ribbons, some under the false flag of a created handle. As a child (ha) of talk radio, I am all too familiar with the democracy of nameless callers participating in a great conversation and some that are filled with pointless venom and bile. Twitter, it feels, is a kind of online extension of that. But I was very heartened this past week when word got out about Tiffany Haddish’s unfortunate performance in Miami New Year’s Eve. Sure, there were those who jumped on a kick-her-when-she’s-down bandwagon. But Comic Twitter did exactly the opposite. So many performers posted words of support, memories of their own on stage disasters. Their public understanding gave perspective and inspiration. We don’t always have to agree. Or even like one another. But maybe we can at least treat one another with some respect.
Sarah Marrs (@Cinesnark), LaineyGossip.com, Freelance
My movie hope for 2019 is that every movie I see is good. I want to be surprised and thrilled and moved by what I see, and I hope all of it is good. And if they can’t all be good, then I hope they’re entertaining anyway. And if it can’t be good or entertaining, then…I resolve not to dwell and move on to the next thing, which will hopefully be good. I hope The Discourse™️ is dominated by positivity and enthusiasm, and if we don’t all the like same things, then that’s okay. No reason to go sh*tting on someone’s porch just because we don’t all like the same movies. So here’s hoping everything is good and/or entertaining, and if not, then at least we can leave each other alone over the stuff we don’t like.
Joel Mayward (@joelmayward) Cinemayward.com, Freelance
I’m hoping for more films in 2019 which genuinely upend and transform audiences’ lives for the better — their politics, their ethics, their sense of empathy for neighbors and strangers. I would love to hear more stories of cinema making society a better place, like Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther” breaking a 35-year ban in Saudi Arabia as both men and women sat together in a cinema to watch a Hollywood production, or Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s “Rosetta” inspiring new legislation protecting marginalized youth in Belgium. I’m one of those idealists who believes beauty (which includes cinema) can save the world; our world is presently in need of more such salvific beauty. Specifically, because I’m doing my PhD on their filmography and philosophy, I’m very hopeful for the Dardenne brothers’ upcoming new film “Ahmed” — I hope it competes at Cannes in May and I hope it’s their best film yet.
Anne McCarthy (@annemitchmcc), Teen Vogue, Ms. Magazine, Bonjour Paris
My movie hopes for 2019 are to see fewer franchise films on the market and see more indie ones break through. Controversial opinion: I think there have been far too many “Transformers” and “Fast and the Furious” films (there is a new “Transformers” film out now, and a new “Fast and the Furious” film slated for 2020). Although I have enjoyed some of them, at this point, it feels like such a shameless money-making endeavor. The art and joy of film become lost when an idea is beaten to death, and the pursuit of profits trumps all. Of course, not all share my view. I’d love to see more films like “The Favourite” — smaller films with powerful performances, where empowered women are front and center.
Mike McGranaghan (@AisleSeat), The Aisle Seat, Screen Rant
When I was growing up, the biggest hits of the year were the movies that were most original — “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Ghostbusters,” “Back to the Future,” “E.T.” and so on. Today, it seems like almost every movie is based on some previously existing property. So many of them are sequels, prequels, remakes, or reboots. They’re based on TV shows, best-selling novels, comic books, videogames, or toys. Of the 25 top-earning movies in 2018, only one, “A Quiet Place,” was a total original.
My hope for 2019 is that we see at least two or three original movies that are not based on any previously-existing property become bona fide blockbusters. Nothing against all the other stuff, since I enjoy a lot of those films, too. But if we could get so much as a glimmer that some originality is creeping back into the cinematic landscape, I would be immensely grateful.
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