These are the movies and TV shows I’m looking forward to in the new year:
“Gotham” Season 5 (TV series, Jan. 3, Fox) – The best live-action Batman universe TV series ever (I know, low bar) gets 12 episodes to make its closing statement. “Gotham” has been all over the place with its narrative and character arcs, but I’ll say this much: It’s always been entertaining. I’d like to see the show stop tiptoeing around Bruce and Selina; they are too cute to not have a more substantial romance story. Based on episode titles, Bane will be introduced and Jim Gordon will be at the center of the narrative. But the biggest question is whether Bruce will become Batman at “Gotham’s” end (which the promos hint at) or go off for a decade of training (which would jibe with traditional lore).
“The Punisher” Season 2 (TV series, January, Netflix) and “Jessica Jones” Season 3 (TV series, TBA, Netflix) – Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle keeps proving there’s more good story to tell, even if his dominant trait is being a violent vigilante. Following a satisfying arc in “Daredevil” Season 2, “Punisher” Season 1 was one of the elite Netflix MCU series. I’m definitely on board for what will probably be his swan song, as Netflix has been purging its slate of the MCU lately. Also scheduled – but undated – for 2019 is the third (and again, probably final) season for our favorite bitter, jeans-loving sleuth, Krysten Ritter’s Jessica Jones.
“Glass” (movie, Jan. 18) – Here it is: M. Night Shyamalan’s big chance to restore his status as a top-flight filmmaker. “Glass” combines the superheroes and supervillains introduced in “Unbreakable” (2000) and “Split” (2017), both of which were stealth superhero movies. How will he pull it off without the surprise factor in his back pocket? A wild-card element might be excellent young actress Anya Taylor-Joy, who shined in “Split,” but it’s unclear how substantial her role in “Glass” will be.
“I Am the Night” (TV series, Jan. 28, TNT) – I don’t know a lot about this series except that Chris Pine plays a “ruined reporter,” India Eisley plays an identity-seeking orphan and it’s directed by “Wonder Woman’s” Patty Jenkins. But it says a lot that TNT is pitching this as the second in its “Suspense Collection,” following “The Alienist” – one of my top 10 shows of last year – so I’m excited to get swept up in what should be a mood-drenched mystery.
“Fighting with My Family” (movie, Feb. 14) – This could be 2019’s answer to last year’s “Game Night” – a film that skirts several genres while maintaining a sense of fun and unpredictability. Based on a true story, the central arc chronicles a young woman (Florence Pugh) who lands her dream job as a fighter for World Wrestling Entertainment. Pugh is my favorite actress of the moment, and the cast’s depth extends to The Rock, Nick Frost, Vince Vaughn and Lena Headey.
Marvel Cinematic Universe movies – When you’ve made 20 films with a batting average of about .900, you don’t need to sell us on the specifics anymore; just tell us when they are coming out and we’ll be there. That said, it is nice that a female superhero finally has the lead role in “Captain Marvel” (March 8), starring Brie Larson. The epic “Avengers: Endgame” (April 26) should pay off the lingering questions from last year’s “Infinity War” and set the stage for a new grand direction for the saga. “Spider-Man: Far From Home” (July 5) might then provide a fun but character-centric palette cleanser.
“John Wick: Chapter 3” (movie, May 17) – Keanu Reeves returns for another go-around in the role he was born to play. This time, John Wick is on the run, with a bounty on his head as per the end of “Chapter 2.” The mythology and Wick’s background will likely be deepened, and Halle Berry joins the cast, but the hook, as always, is John Wick mowing down an insane number of bad guys.
“X-Men” movies – “Dark Phoenix” (June 7) and “The New Mutants” (Aug. 2) were both on my list last year, and both got bumped to 2019. I’m looking forward to them for the same reasons – the first as the definitive Jean Grey origin adaptation and the second as a daring attempt at a superhero horror story – but if they get pushed back again, they’re banned from my 2020 list.
“Terminator 6” (movie, Nov. 1) – Because it is heavily engaged in time travel and timelines, “The Terminator” is a rare franchise that can get away with constant fits and starts to its narrative, regularly wiping out previous threads. Although I know it’s not planned this way, I can pretend it’s some grand commentary on the nature of time. Arnold is back again as a version of an aging Terminator, but the big selling point is that Sarah Connor lives, and we’ll see Linda Hamilton in her iconic role for the first time since 1991’s “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”
“Veronica Mars” Season 4 (TV series, TBD, Hulu) – The “Veronica Mars” saga has a fascinating behind-the-scenes story as a canceled TV series that got resurrected as a movie by fans via Kickstarter and now has the streaming biz interested with Hulu’s eight-episode miniseries. Almost lost in the shuffle is that Rob Thomas’ saga has been a consistently solid representation of sun-soaked noir with a snarky heroine (Kristen Bell in the role that launched her career), a genuine father-daughter relationship and a delightful supporting cast.
“Big Little Lies” Season 2 (TV series, TBD, HBO) – Season 1 (2017) adapted the novel of the same name, solved its mysteries and brought its characters to logical end points. So while I don’t know where Season 2 will go, since it features a lot of the same creative team from Season 1 (lead writer David E. Kelley and actresses Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley), I’m on board. One concern is the departure of Jean-Marc Vallee, whose direction provided the beautiful West Coast style, but replacement Andrea Arnold is well-regarded.