The first quarter of a calendar year is often where studios dump movies that are neither worthy of summer blockbuster status nor potential Oscar material. Which is to say, often the pickings are a tad slim. That said, there's a Marvel movie in here. So ... yay?
Here are 24 interesting-looking movies slated to appear between Jan. 11 and the end of March. You better believe all release dates are subject to change.
“A Dog’s Way Home.” Charles Martin Smith directs this ostensible (read: you don’t need to see the first one) sequel to “A Dog’s Purpose,” a treacly movie that got pulled from theaters when it became clear maybe the dogs in the movie didn’t have a great time making it. I am sure this one is kosher — it’s about a dog that gets lost as travels 400 miles to find its owner — sort of a solo “Incredible Journey” thing. (Speaking of Charles Martin Smith, if you have never seen “Never Cry Wolf” and like wolves, check it out.)
“The Upside.” Bryan Cranston stars as a quadriplegic billionaire named Phillip Lacasse in search of an aide, a job filled by the recently paroled ex-convict Dell (Kevin Hart). Heartstrings will be tugged. With Nicole Kidman, Julianna Margulies, and Aja Naomi King; the movie is based on the French film “The Intouchables.”
“Glass.” Man alive, is M. Night Shyamalan’s career revival something else. This third movie in the trilogy that started with “Unbreakable” (2000) and continued in “Split” (2016), is actually highly anticipated, which is something that most Shyamalan movies have not been for a good long time. With Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, and James McAvoy.
“The Kid Who Would Be King.” I would bet all of the change in my pockets against all of the change in your pockets that you can figure out what this movie is about. You got it! Joe “Attack the Block” Cornish directs Andy Serkis’s son Louis Ashbourne Serkis as a boy who finds Excalibur and has to fight Morgana and hangs with Merlin.
“Serenity.” Matthew McConaughey (playing a guy with the extremely “movie” name of Baker Dill) and Anne Hathaway maybe commit a murder. Or she wants him to murder someone, possibly her husband (Jason Clarke). Is this “Body Heat” on a boat? It could be! Trailers for this thing have been floating around forever. Look for Diane Lane, Djimon Hounsou and Jeremy Strong, a veritable who’s who of mid-list 2019 character actors. I might see this just for the pleasure of the cast.
“Miss Bala." Catherine Hardwicke directs Gina Rodriguez, Ismael Cruz Córdova and Anthony Mackie as Gloria (Rodriguez) becomes involved in crime across the border. I mean, don’t do crimes, but as Fugazi put it, “May all your borders be porous.”
“The Prodigy.” This horror flick directed by Nicholas McCarthy stars Taylor “Orange is the new Black” Schilling, Jackson Robert Scott, Peter Mooney and Colm Feore in a tale of a mother whose son stars sporting signs of possession which is always a rough moment for parents.
“What Men Want.” Wow, we the people are really doing this, huh? A remake of the still-execrable 2000 film “What Women Want,” Taraji P. Henson plays a woman who can suddenly hear men's inner thoughts. While she uses this power for business purposes, apparently, let me tell you right now: If this movie ends with her deciding to just date women from now on, I will personally lead the Oscar push.
“Cold Pursuit.” Remember when Liam Neeson did things like “Schindler’s List” instead of just action movies about revenge? Yeah, me neither. Here, our man stars (with Laura Dern, Emmy Rossum and Tom Bateman) in a remake of the Norwegian black comedy “Kraftidioten,” in which Nels Coxman (Neeson) and his wife (Dern) head down the path of bloody vengeance after their son dies.
“The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.” Mike Mitchell directs from a script by O.G. Lego Movie geniuses Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. With Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Tiffany Haddish, Will Arnett and more as the voices of various Lego people in this much-anticipated sequel to the totally excellent “Lego Movie.” You have to watch out for those Duplo aliens.
“Isn’t it Romantic?” Rebel Wilson, Liam Hemsworth, Adam Devine and Priyanka Chopra star in this romantic comedy about a New York City architect (Wilson) struggling at her job and at love. After a mugging, she discovers, much to her disappointment that her life is a rom-com and that she is the star. Expect some light genre deconstruction, the on-genre resolution.
“Alita: Battle Angel.” This James Cameron-produced, Robert Rodriguez-directed CGI fest based on a terrific sci-fi manga has been pushed back a whole lot, possibly to dial down the uncanny valley terror induced by the main character’s face.
“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” Third and possibly final film in this exceptionally charming animated series about a bunch of Viking kids training dragons. Here, they discover the world where dragons come from and have to defeat the baddie who is trying to ... destroy that world? Enslave the dragons? Something like that.
“Chaos Walking.” Tom “Spider-Man” Holland stars in this adaptation of the 2008 sci-fi novel “The Knife of Never Letting Go” in which women have vanished and living creatures can hear each other’s thoughts in a giant jumble called the Noise. Doug “Go” Liman directs.
“Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral.” I love that Tyler Perry still puts his name at the top of these movies, as if anyone else is (or even could be!) making Madea movies. This one is about a funeral in “backwoods Georgia.”
“The Iron Orchard.” All hail West Texas! Ty Roberts directs Lane Garrison, Ali Cobrin and Austin Nichols in a story about oil fields and poverty and class and being rich and vulgar. Every generation gets the “Giant” it deserves, I suppose.
“Captain Marvel.” If you are a long-term Marvel comics fan or even an observer, it must blow your mind that “Guardians of the Galaxy,” a nth level property on its best day, was a smash hit. Which is to say that I never really thought I would see a movie about the somewhat obscure Carol Danvers, a character who has bounced around more identities than Madonna. As a rule, I am agnostic on comic book movies, but I am not made of stone — Brie Larson beating the heck out of Skrulls as she reps for the Kree Empire is pretty dope.
"Us.” Director Jordan “Get Out” Peele let loose the trailer for this horror movie on Christmas, which I watched about 45 seconds of before I decided, “Nah, I want to know as little about this as possible before seeing it.” As Peele noted in an interview, “Very important for me was to have a black family at the center of a horror film. It’s also important to note that this movie, unlike ‘Get Out,’ is not about race. It is instead about something I feel has become an undeniable truth. That is the simple fact that we are our own worst enemies.” With Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke. SOLD.
“Wonder Park.” In this animated picture, a young girl imagines the theme park of her dreams, then gets to visit it (and perhaps save it) many years later.
“Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” Cate Blanchett, rocking quite the wig, is Bernadette, the kind of mom who is married to a nice guy who adores her (Billy Crudup), has a brilliant kid who understands her quirks (Emma Nelson) and one day disappears for no reason. (It’s a comedy, not a thriller.) Based on Maria Semple’s novel of the same name, the film includes Kristen Wiig, James Urbaniak, Judy Greer, Troian Bellisario, Zoe Chao, and Laurence Fishburne, the latter of whom appeared in Linklater’s 2017 picture “Last Flag Flying.”
“The Beach Bum.” Upon first examination, one perhaps views this as the most McConaughey role that e’er McConaughey-ed — Harmony “Gummo” Korine writes and directs our man as the titular bum, a “rebellious stoner who lives by his own rules,” according to the IMDB page. With Snoop Dogg and Isla Fisher, so, yeah, maybe going not totally sober is the way to go.
“Greyhound.” Tom Hanks stars as Navy Commander Ernest Krause, who takes command of the U.S. destroyer Greyhound during a potentially deadly encounter with German U-boats during World War II.
“Dumbo.” Disney’s part-live-action, part-expensive-CGI series of remakes continues with this rethink of one of the most traumatic children’s movies ever made.
“Captive State.” John Goodman, Vera Farmiga, Ashton Sanders, and Jonathan Majors star in this sci-fi movie about an occupying alien force and the lives of those in a Chicago neighborhood.