The Favourite

Dir: Yorgos Lanthimos
Olivia Colman excels as an emotionally wounded Queen Anne in a bizarre black comedy of the English Restoration court, directed by the Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos. It is based on the true story of two noblewomen creating a horribly dysfunctional love triangle by competing for the queen’s favours: Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, and Abigail, Baroness Basham – played by Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone.
UK release date: 1 January

RBG / On the Basis of Sex

Dirs: Julie Cohen, Betsy West / Mimi Leder
These films count as one choice! It feels like an especially fraught moment to contemplate the career of US Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose forthright liberal judgments have made her a pop culture legend. RBG is a documentary directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West; On the Basis of Sex is a feature starring Felicity Jones as RBG.
RBG: 4 January; On the Basis of Sex: 8 February

An Impossible Love

Dir: Catherine Corsini
The fierce and passionate direction of Catherine Corsini is applied to this French melodrama of love and sexism, adapted from an autobiographical novel by Christine Angot. In the 1950s, a young secretary (Virginie Efira) has a passionate affair with a wealthy young man (Niels Schneider); she bears a child whom he refuses to acknowledge, so she must bring up their daughter alone.
4 January

Hugh Jackman as Gary Hart in The Front Runner.
Smooth running … Hugh Jackman as Gary Hart in The Front Runner. Photograph: Courtesy of Sony Pictures/Allstar/Sony Pictures Releasing

The Front Runner

Dir: Jason Reitman
It sounds so quaint in the brazen era of Donald Trump: the story of how, in 1988, the smoothly plausible Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart had all his hopes sunk by accusations of an extramarital affair. Hugh Jackman plays the presentable Hart, the estimable Vera Farmiga is his wife Oletha, and Sara Paxton is the other woman, Donna Rice, who endured the full misogynistic force of the press coverage.
11 January


Dir: Wash Westmoreland
Keira Knightley plays the great French author Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, who as a young woman in belle époque Paris was married to the notorious womaniser and rackety journalist Henry Gauthier-Villars (played here by Dominic West), who insisted on putting his name on the novels she wrote at first – and getting all the money. The director is Wash Westmoreland, who directed Still Alice; he co-wrote the screenplay with his partner, the late Richard Glatzer.
11 January

Stan & Ollie

Dir: Jon S Baird
Steve Coogan and John C Reilly give wonderfully observed performances as Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in this sad, sweet, true-life movie about the British tour they undertook after the second world war, in dire need of money. They endure miserable digs, second-rate theatres, terrible weather and the fact that their local promoter seems more excited about a new young comic called Norman Wisdom.
11 January

Beautiful Boy

Dir: Felix Van Groeningen
There can hardly be anyone hotter right now than Timothée Chalamet; here he plays a teenage meth abuser, Nic, whose addiction causes agony to his dad David, played by Steve Carell. The film is based on parallel father-and-son memoirs of this same experience.
18 January

Mary Queen of Scots

Dir: Josie Rourke
Screenwriter Beau Willimon, an old hand at American political thrillers, transfers his skills to scripting English and Scottish history with this tale of Mary, Queen of Scots, played by Saoirse Ronan. Margot Robbie plays her nemesis, Queen Elizabeth I, and David Tennant is the gloweringly suspicious churchman John Knox. Read our interview with the film’s director, Josie Rourke.
18 January

The Mule

Dir: Clint Eastwood
At 88 years of age, Clint Eastwood is showing no signs of slowing down. He directs this film based on a startling true-life story, and also stars as Earl, a second world war veteran who, in 2011, was discovered by astonished law enforcement officials to be the oldest drug mule in America, smuggling substances over the border into the US. Bradley Cooper plays the cop on his case.
25 January

Nicole Kidman in Destroyer.
Deep cover … Nicole Kidman in Destroyer. Photograph: Sabrina Lantos/AP


Dir: Karyn Kusama
Nicole Kidman’s self-transformation in this brutally tough crime thriller has been much acclaimed on the festival circuit. She plays Erin Bell, an FBI agent who has lost it, psychologically and physically, after going deep undercover with mobsters, and cuts a tortured figure as her life falls apart. Now she gets the chance to reckon with the people who damaged her.
25 January


Dir: Adam McKay
The former US vice-president, big oil nabob and waterboarding enthusiast Dick Cheney squats like a latex-inflated toad at the ear of power in this flashy political comedy from Adam McKay about the power behind the throne of George W Bush. It’s a scarily plausible impersonation from Christian Bale, whose bald-capped head has been enlarged to the size of a pale pink, bespectacled beachball. Amy Adams is on great form as Cheney’s formidable wife Lynne, with Sam Rockwell as Dubya and Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld..
25 January

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Dir: Marielle Heller
With a screenplay by that great and underrated film-maker Nicole Holofcener, this tragicomic true-life story of fakery looks mouthwatering. Melissa McCarthy plays Lee Israel, a once bestselling biographer who fell on hard times and turned to counterfeiting literary manuscripts.
1 February


Dir: Lee Chang-dong
This superbly subtle mystery thriller from Korean auteur Lee Chang-dong is for many people the film of the year. It is a love triangle which turns into a fear triangle and a hate triangle, based on a short story by Haruki Murakami. A young man falls in love with a beautiful young woman who dumps him in favour of a rich smoothie who has a creepy obsession with setting things on fire. Then she disappears. What has happened?
1 February

The Kindergarten Teacher

Dir: Sara Colangelo
Maggie Gyllenhaal plays an unhappy woman in this American indie drama, remade from a 2014 film by Israeli director Nadav Lapid. She is naggingly unfulfilled in her family life and professional career as a teacher and then becomes obsessed with the idea that one of her kids is a genius.
8 February

If Beale Street Could Talk

Dir: Barry Jenkins
Barry Jenkins, whose Moonlight won the best picture Oscar two years ago, returns with this impassioned adaptation of the 1974 James Baldwin novel. It is a story of love and injustice in 1970s Harlem, when a young man is falsely accused of rape and his pregnant girlfriend has to prove his innocence.
8 February


Dir: Ali Abbasi
This bizarre Swedish film, adapted from a story by horror-fiction author John Ajvide Lindqvist, has comprehensively weirded out all who have seen it. A young customs officer has what amounts to a professional superpower: she can smell fear. But when she applies that skill to a guilty-looking person who resembles her, a strange story unfolds.
8 February

Fighting With My Family

Dir: Stephen Merchant
Stephen Merchant directs this British comedy about wrestling, effectively remade from a documentary about a WWE wrestler in the US. Florence Pugh and Jack Lowden play Saraya and Zak, a brother and sister who are both talented wrestlers, but have a terrible sibling rivalry when they audition for WWE.
1 March

Brie Larson as Captain Marvel.
Superpowers … Brie Larson as Captain Marvel. Photograph: Allstar/Marvel Studios

Captain Marvel

Dirs: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
This is Marvel Studios’ first female-led superhero film and its first with a female director: Anna Boden. Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers, a former US air force fighter pilot whose DNA becomes fused with that of a Kree – a militaristic alien being – giving her superpowers.
8 March

Happy as Lazzaro

Dir: Alice Rohrwacher
One of the most gorgeous and beguiling films on the festival circuit now gets a release. It is a lovely magic-realist fable set among an exploited peasant community who appear to be living in the 19th century – yet this is misleading. Among them is the happy idiot boy Lazzaro, who, like his namesake, is destined to be mysteriously reborn.
15 March

Happy as Lazzaro.
Beguiling … Happy as Lazzaro. Photograph: Allstar/Netflix


Dir: Jordan Peele
Jordan Peele’s satirical horror movie about racism, Get Out, made him a hot property, and now we have a movie about which little is known, other than that the director is calling it a “social-horror thriller”. It stars Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke and Elisabeth Moss.
15 March


Dir: Lukas Dhont
This is a much admired Belgian movie about trans issues – though it has been criticised for using a cisgender actor in the lead. Lara, played by Victor Polster, is a 15-year-old transitioning to female, yearning to be a ballerina, and facing incomprehension and transphobia along with all the other hurdles a dancer must endure.
15 March

Out of Blue

Dir: Carol Morley
Here is a movie straight out of left field: a metaphysical noir starring Patricia Clarkson as a tough New Orleans cop investigating the mysterious death of an astrophysicist – based on the Martin Amis novel Night Train. Director Carol Morley is such a restlessly creative film-maker.
22 March

The White Crow

Dir: Ralph Fiennes
David Hare scripts this handsomely appointed drama starring Oleg Ivenko as the young Rudolf Nureyev as he prepares to defect to the west in the early 60s, while remaining enigmatic about his exact motives. Real-life dance star Sergei Polunin plays his Kirov roommate, Yuri Soloviev.
22 March

The White Crow.
Nureyev steps out … The White Crow. Photograph: PR

What Men Want

Dir: Adam Shankman
A cheeky gender-inverting remake of Nancy Meyers’s 2000 comedy What Women Want, which starred Mel Gibson as an adman who suddenly finds he can read women’s minds. Now it’s Taraji P Henson as a sports agent who gets the edge when she gains telepathic access to guys’ thought processes.
22 March


Dir: Tim Burton
Just when you’d recovered from the tearful trauma of the 1941 Disney animated classic, there comes a new live-action version. Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito star.
29 March

Tim Burton’s Dumbo.
Tearful … Tim Burton’s Dumbo. Photograph: Allstar/Walt Disney Productions

Pet Sematary

Dirs: Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmeyer
Stephen King’s brand identity in the horror world is as strong as ever, and here is the second movie version of his 1983 novel. It is the exquisitely horrible and obscene story of a doctor whose son is killed in an accident and who takes the corpse to the supernatural burial ground nearby – with grotesque results.
5 April

The Sisters Brothers

Dir: Jacques Audiard
French director Jacques Audiard has mastered the western with terrific elan. It is 1850s Oregon, and John C Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix play quarrelsome brothers Eli and Charlie Sisters, who are on a mission to assassinate a certain individual in San Francisco, and have to work with a prissy private detective, played by Jake Gyllenhaal.
5 April


Dir: Paolo Sorrentino
It was only a matter of time before Paolo Sorrentino made a film about Silvio Berlusconi. Sorrentino’s longtime star Toni Servillo plays the Italian politician and media magnate, and the film is about Loro (that is: them), the group of hideously complicit businessmen and hangers-on who enabled his rule.
12 April

Toni Servillo as Berlusconi in Loro.
Toni Servillo as Berlusconi in Loro. Photograph: PR

Red Joan

Dir: Trevor Nunn
Theatrical heavyweight Trevor Nunn makes a rare sortie into the movies for this period drama inspired by the life and times of the KGB’s veteran British spy Melita Norwood. Here she is transformed into “Red” Joan Stanley, and played as a young woman by Sophie Cookson and in later years by Judi Dench.
19 April

Eighth Grade

Dir: Bo Burnham
A hyper-contemporary comedy-drama from first-time writer-director Bo Burnham (and veteran producer Scott Rudin) that has been much admired. It is about an eighth-grader (ie around 13 years old) who is obsessed with social media and keeps making self-help and self-esteem videos on YouTube which, by getting hardly any views, undermine her self-esteem.
26 April


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Oscar nominations 2019: Roma and The Favourite deserve acclaim, but no female directors is woeful
The Academy consensus has produced two blue chip frontrunners, but passed over some exceptional films directed by women in the process

Peter Bradshaw

22, Jan, 2019 @4:00 PM

Article image
The 88 movies we're most excited about in 2015
Think 2014 was a good year for film? Think again. This year is shaping up to be one of the classics. Here’s what’s on our radar

Guardian Film

06, Jan, 2015 @3:23 PM

Article image
The 50 best films of 2019 in the UK: the full list
Our pick of the year’s top movies released in the UK reveals the end of an era, painful breakups, festive families, horrors both real and imagined, and heroes of many kinds

20, Dec, 2019 @9:36 AM

Article image
How to Train Your Dragon soars over Green Book at UK box office
Escape Room breaks into Top 10 ahead of Oscar hopefuls Melissa McCarthy and Richard E Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Charles Gant

05, Feb, 2019 @2:50 PM

Article image
Golden Globes 2019: it's Dick Cheney v Lady Gaga in a surreal title fight | Peter Bradshaw
Vice is a surprise frontrunner – perhaps due to liberal nostalgia for when Republicans were intelligible – while A Star Is Born squares up to it, a little over-solemnly, in the best drama category

Peter Bradshaw

06, Dec, 2018 @5:34 PM

Article image
Lovers, haters and dead dictators: the must-see movies of autumn 2017
Kicking off our guide to the season’s cultural highlights, we head to the cinema for the return of Blade Runner, a tale of taboo sex and Armando Iannucci’s stunning Stalin satire. Here are the 20 films we’re most looking forward to this autumn

Peter Bradshaw

11, Sep, 2017 @5:00 AM

Article image
The 100 best films of the 21st century
Gangsters, superheroes, schoolkids, lovers, slaves, peasants, techies, Tenenbaums and freefalling astronauts – they’re all here in our countdown of cinema’s best movies since 2000

Peter Bradshaw, Cath Clarke, Andrew Pulver and Catherine Shoard

13, Sep, 2019 @5:00 AM

Article image
The 50 best movies of 2018 in the US: the full list
A heartfelt Mexican drama leads our critics’ pick of the top films released in America this year – adding to tales about off-grid survival, toxic relationships, confused schoolkids and game-changing superheroes

04, Dec, 2018 @12:00 PM

Article image
Best films of 2019 so far
Charlize Theron flips into funny with Seth Rogen, Mel Gibson picks Vince Vaughn as his accomplice and Avengers reach their Endgame – the finest movies yet this year released in the UK

Catherine Shoard and Andrew Pulver

06, Jun, 2019 @5:00 AM

Article image
Summer 2017's best movies: from Scarlett Johansson's hen night to Morrissey's teen years
Pop’s great miserablist gets a biopic, Scarlett Johansson has stripper trouble, Charlize Theron explodes into ultraviolence, and Union deserter Colin Farrell shakes up a girls school during the US civil war

Andrew Pulver, Gwilym Mumford and Peter Bradshaw

15, Jun, 2017 @5:00 AM