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Staff Picks: Films We Are Still Looking Forward to In 2020

30 June 2020

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Staff Picks: Films We Are Still Looking Forward to In 2020

It may feel like a decade has passed but we have finally reached the halfway point of 2020. To describe this year as surreal would be an understatement. Those who looked to escape from their lives through films found the exercise to be futile; the daily news constantly grew increasingly stranger than fiction. 

Then again, it wasn’t even possible to catch a movie in a theatre after March. A period typically marked by loud summer blockbusters caved into a deafening silence. The film world moved online but it just wasn’t the same without the atmosphere and overcharged beverages. 

Instead of looking back like we usually do, we decided to take this six-month mark to look ahead. It’s still unknown when normalcy can set in but we remain optimistic that we will be able to – at the very least – catch a film in a cinema before the end of the year. Here’s hoping that the collective fever dream that is 2020 will end soon (or at least, eventually).


Matt – Dune (2020)

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Country: USA, Hungary, Canada, United Kingdom
Release Date: 17 December 2020

Dune (2020) is the latest attempt at bringing Frank Herbert’s novel of the same name to the big screen. Set in the far, far future of 10191, the sci-fi space opera will follow the son of a noble family entrusted with the protection of his people and family on the universe’s most dangerous planet.

It’s fittingly unreal that the much-awaited latest adaptation of Dune will finally be released this year. The history behind the various screen adaptations of Dune, stretching back to the 1970s, has been as convoluted and thrilling as its plot. Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ambitious 15-hour take had plans to cast Orson Welles and Salvador Dali. David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation was a box office disaster dogged by countless issues behind the scenes but has remained highly influential.

Frank Herbert’s novel might just prove to be unadaptable but I have faith in Denis Villeneuve. I mean, this is the same guy who lived up to the similar hype of a long-awaited Blade Runner sequel. The cast behind the 2020 film looks to be solid as well, with indie darlings such as Timothée Chalamet and Oscar Isaac taking the lead. 

With all the anticipation, here’s hoping the film doesn’t turn out to be the Chinese Democracy of the film world. But then again, there’s probably no better year to disappoint than in 2020.


Matt – Prisoners of the Ghostland

Director: Sion Sono
Country: Japan
Release Date: TBA

The Sion Sono and Nicolas Cage team up centres on notorious criminal Hero (Cage), who is sent to rescue an abducted girl who has disappeared into a dark supernatural universe.

Even if Kubrick was brought back from the dead (wilder things have happened this year), I would still be more excited for Prisoners of the Ghostland than what zombie Kubrick could bring. 

Described by critics as the “most subversive filmmaker working in Japanese cinema today”, cult Japanese director Sion Sono is known for outlandish films that defy definition. It’s practically a match made in heaven for his first English film Prisoners of the Ghostland to involve the equally subversive and idiosyncratic Nicolas Cage.

Cage describes the film as “the wildest movie I’ve ever made” – high praise coming from the Oscar-winning actor, with once-in-a-career highlights such as Vampire’s Kiss and the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man. As a fan of both auteurs, I have been eagerly anticipating Prisoners of the Ghostland for years and it seems like the horror-thriller will finally be released some time this year. 


Stacy – Master

Director: Lokesh Kanagaraj 
Country: India
Release Date: TBA

Originally set to release in April 2020 in conjunction with the Tamil New Year, Master is one of the most hyped and awaited Tamil films of 2020. Of course, most of that has to do with Vijay, Kollywood’s leading star. The actor releases only one film a year that usually goes on to do record-shattering business.

However, Master is special because it brings two Vijays together – Vijay and Vijay Sethupathi. The two lead a star-studded ensemble cast into what is potentially the film of the year. There has been no confirmation about what the film is about but the former is speculated to play a teacher while the latter is the villain of the film. All the music from the film has already been launched and is still sitting at the top of many top 10 charts.

With Tamil cinema moving towards digital premieres on Amazon Prime or Netflix (with Ponmagal Vandhal being the first), Master will definitely not take that route. The “first day, first show” craze is very real with fans from all around the world clamouring for tickets. This is also undoubtedly the best day for business for these highly anticipated films. Fans are starved for new films from their favourite actors and I’m calling it here first that Master is going to be a monumental success.


Stacy – 83

Director: Kabir Khan
Country: India
Release Date: TBA

The sports drama will focus on India’s cricket World Cup victory in 1983.

83 has the largest ensemble cast I have ever seen in a Bollywood film, with actors coming from all over India to shoot. It chronicles the 1983 Cricket World Cup victory of the Indian team with Ranveer Singh playing the then-captain, Kapil Dev. The film also features Singh’s wife, Deepika Padukone, with the pair reuniting on screen for the first time since their marriage.

A film that documents one of the most iconic moments in Indian sporting history is, of course, met with much anticipation and buzz. The film’s promotion somewhat kicked off in January, before India entered a total lockdown, delaying the trailer and the release of the film. Still, 83 is touted to do big business as it will be dubbed into several other Indian languages.

The makers of 83 have shut down rumours about a digital release, as the film is about cricket and that is best enjoyed as a community. I have big hopes for the film as it features a powerhouse of talents. If something that happened in 1983 is still regarded with such legendary status, even COVID-19 cannot shake that.


Judith – Mank

Director: David Fincher 
Country: USA
Release Date: October 2020

Starring Gary Oldman as its titular character, the biographical period piece follows the conflict between Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles over the credit of one of cinema’s most iconic films.

What’s more iconic in the world of film than Citizen Kane (1941)?  David Fincher’s biographical drama based on Herman J. Mankiewicz, co-writer of the Hollywood classic, seems to be everything that I could wish for. Helmed by Gary Oldman in the titular role, one of my most favourite actors, and David Fincher, one of my most favourite directors, Mank is definitely something I’m looking forward to. 

Mank fables the conflict between Herman Mankiewicz and Orson Welles’ over screenplay credit for Citizen Kane. This was, and perhaps still is, one of the most significant controversies that marked the golden age of Hollywood. Mankiewicz himself, too, is a contentious character, which would further fuel the already colourful world of showbiz. Currently, the film is set to release in October 2020 on Netflix, should things go smoothly. 


Read more:
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Staff Picks: Our Favourite Films of 2019 (So Far)
Staff Picks: What We’re Catching at the 30th Singapore International Film Festival