Summer used to be the time for blockbusters, but the slow creep of all-summer-movies-all-year-long means that we know get a new Pixar film, a live action adaptation of a Disney classic and a sequel to a 2018 horror hit in…March. Also this month: a buddy film involving two frontiersmen and a cow; a sports movie doubling as a fallen star’s potential comeback vehicle; and a film deemed too hot for 2019. Here’s what’s coming soon to a theater near you.
The Burnt Orange Heresy (Mar. 6th)
The tough, funny crime fiction writer Charles Willeford has a near flawless record when it comes to adaptations (see: Cockfighter, Miami Blues, The Woman Chaser) — and this adaptation of the author’s noirish 1971 novel is likely to keep that winning streak going. Claes Bang (most recently seen in Netflix’s Dracula) is an art critic who’s fallen on hard times, which makes him a perfect patsy to be drawn into a dangerous game involving an art collector, a reclusive painter and your run-of-the-mill femme fatale. Elizabeth Debicki, Donald Sutherland and Mick Jagger, moonlighting from his day job, co-star. Expect twists within twists.
The Climb (Mar. 20th)
It began life as a seven-minute short film co-written by its stars, Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Marvin, about two friends, a grueling bike ride, and a confession involving an affair with one man’s fianceés. Now, for the duo’s feature-length version, that self-contained revelation becomes the jumping-off point for a buddy comedy that ends up dealing with love, death, failure, and the way that male friendships often change and morph over the years. There’s a reason this little-American-movie-that-could has won over festival audiences from Cannes to Park City.
First Cow (Mar. 6th)
A mismatched pair of Oregon Territory settlers played by John Magaro and Orion Lee try to make their fortune by selling “oily cakes” to trappers and frontiersmen. In order to do that, however, they’ve got steal milk from the only cow in town during the dead of night. The fact that the secret of their success is owned by the richest man in town does not bode well. Director Kelly Reichardt returns to the wild, wild West she previously explored in Meek’s Cutoff, and delivers what may be the most unusual and moving buddy comedy of the year. It’s also proof that she’s one of the most exciting American filmmakers working today.
The Hunt (Mar. 13th)
It’s out of the ordinary for a President of the United States to send a film into exile…but who said we live in ordinary times? That’s more or less what happened to Blumhouse’s update of The Most Dangerous Game — shortly before its scheduled release last fall, Donald Trump raised objections to what some assumed was a story of privileged liberal elites hunting red-state captives for sport. (The fact that the release was scheduled close to a pair of mass shootings probably didn’t help.) Directed by Craig Zobel (Compliance), co-written by Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse (recent collaborators on HBO’s Watchmen), and featuring a cast that includes everyone from Hilary Swank to GLOW‘s Betty Gilpin, the movie is still likely to cause a stir regardless of any future comments from our commander-in-chief.
Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Mar. 13th)
Rooted in a different sort of divisive issue, this Sundance sleeper hit follows a pregnant teenaged girl named Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) and her cousin Skylar (Talia Rider) as they travel from small-town Pennsylvania to New York to secure an abortion. Director Eliza Hittman has a track record making sharp, observant character studies in films like Beach Rats, and this drama should introduce her to a much wider audience. The sequence in which you find out why the film has such a lengthy title is, in a word, devastating.
Mulan (Mar. 27th)
Last year’s The Lion King essentially ran the original Disney classic through a photorealistic filter. Directed by Niki Caro (Whale Rider), this new take on their takes a slightly different approach. There’s no wisecracking dragon but its retelling of the legendary female warrior’s story will feature a lot of martial arts action and surround star Liu Yifei with Asian screen legends like Donnie Yen, Gong Li, and Jet Li. That seems like a fair trade.
Onward (Mar. 6th)
Set in a fantasy world that’s gotten tame over time, the latest from Pixar is just your usual movie about a pair of teenage elf (Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) who use a wizard staff to revive their long-dead father. This is one of two new Pixar films we’ll get this year (the other is this summer’s music-oriented Soul) — neither of them are sequels or, given the ambitious concepts, safe bets for the studio, which suggests the animation behemoth is entering a very interesting new phase.
A Quiet Place Part II (Mar. 20th)
John Krasinski returns to the world of his inventive 2018 horror movie to resume the story of the Abbott family (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe), resourceful survivors on an Earth that’s been devastated by hungry alien invaders with super-powered hearing. The original found clever ways to explore that scary premise. Whether or not this sequel can do the same remains to be seen (and heard), but it does add Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou to the cast, which can’t hurt.
The Truth (March 20th)
The great Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda (After Life, Shoplifters) ventures outside Japan to tell the story of a French movie legend (played by real-life French movie legend Catherine Deneuve) and her difficult relationship with her daughter (Juliette Binoche). Ethan Hawke and Ludivine Sagnier round out the cast, meaning Kore-eda should have ample support in translating transporting his delicate, moving style to a new setting.
The Way Back (Mar. 6th)
Attempting a comeback, Ben Affleck stars in a movie about a man, well, attempting a comeback. Specifically, he plays Jack Cunningham, a former basketball star who’s fallen on hard times after struggling with addiction. The film reunites Affleck with Gavin O’Connor, director of The Accountant, and seems like an ideal showcase the star’s acting chops, which have sometimes gotten overlooked in recent years — and one that will allow him to comment on his own recent struggles without talking about them directly.