Movies and TV shows John is looking forward to in 2020 (Commentary)


ere are 10 movies and 10 TV shows I’m looking forward to in the new year:

“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” (TV series, Jan. 7, NBC) — Jane Levy (“Don’t Breathe,” TV’s “Suburgatory”) stars as a woman who can read people’s innermost thoughts in the form of songs, which only she can see them performing. There’s a chance the producers are cashing in on the popularity of musicals and the fact that there’s a “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”-sized hole on the schedule. But there’s no arguing with the cast, which includes Lauren Graham (going for a third iconic mother role after “Gilmore Girls” and “Parenthood”) and “CXG” veteran Skylar Astin.

“The Outsider” (TV series, Jan. 12, HBO) — “Stephen King” is its own TV genre now, and no one can keep up with all of the adaptations of his work, but if you’ve liked any of the small-town murder mysteries from recent years, this one should be on your radar. Ben Mendelsohn — one of those “Oh, that guy; I like him” actors — plays the lead detective. Jason Bateman plays the guy who definitely did not murder a local boy, but all the evidence says he did. The verdict is out on whether the solution is satisfying, but the trailer’s mood is enticing and it bodes well that “The Wire” veteran Richard Price is the lead writer.

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” Season 10 (TV series, Jan. 19, HBO) — Larry David and HBO have a mutually sweet deal going: Whenever he has enough good material for a new season of “Curb,” he makes it. It’s a good deal for viewers, too, because we know David won’t make a half-hearted season. I expect Season 10 will be prettay, prettay, prettay good.

“Briarpatch” (TV series, Feb. 6, USA) — “Briarpatch” should also be on mystery fans’ radar. Rosario Dawson is the latest Netflix Marvel Cinematic Universe star to break out into a lead role in her own series, as Allegra Dill returns to her hick hometown to find out who killed her sister. Producer Andy Greenwald’s previous major credit is “Legion,” which will be a perk for some, a bug for others. While “Briarpatch” seems to have its share of quirkiness, it also appears accessible.

“Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn” (movie, Feb. 7) — DC’s latest ever-shifting Birds of Prey lineup includes Huntress, Black Canary, Renee Montoya and Harley Quinn. It’s not an accident that Margot Robbie’s cheerful villain — the highlight of 2016’s “Suicide Squad” — is squeezed into the title. If this movie is good, the DC Extended Universe will find itself back in geekdom’s good graces heading into the guaranteed hit that is “Wonder Woman 1984.” Could there be a genuine DC vs. Marvel rivalry shaping up?

“Fantasy Island” (movie, Feb. 14) — This is such as ridiculous premise that it’s actually clever: Cheap-but-(usually)-good horror factory Blumhouse takes the old (non-horror) TV series “Fantasy Island” and gives it a dark spin. If done well, it could be a tighter answer to TV’s”Westworld.” It could also be terrible, but I’ve been wanting to actually like a Lucy Hale (also starring in the new TV series “Katy Keane”) project since her days on “Privileged,” and maybe this is it.

“High Fidelity” (TV series, Feb. 14, Hulu) — A remake is worth doing if the original needs improvement, which is not the case here, as the 2000 film (based on Nick Hornby’s novel) is a classic. But then there’s a second reason: if it’s a fresh angle into old material — and that could apply here. So while I initially reacted to the news of a “High Fidelity” reboot with a groan, the trailer looks pretty good, and Zoe Kravitz is definitely not a John Cusack clone. The retro record store serves up nostalgia, and I can’t help but feel a kinship with someone who goes around rating things and making top-five lists.

“Brahms: The Boy II” (movie, Feb. 28) — “The Boy” (2016) is an excellent single-house horror mystery with a creepy yet logical solution. The writer and director return for this sequel, and I’m also looking forward to seeing Katie Holmes, who isn’t in a lot of films these days. The fact that there’s still no trailer out (even though this film was originally slated for last year) is perhaps a bad sign, but I find it kind of intriguing.

“Black Widow” (movie, May 1) — I initially thought this would be a story of Natasha’s (Scarlett Johansson) resurrection, but it actually takes place between “Civil War” and “Infinity War.” While that seems to take some urgency away from the story, it’s cool that Marvel listened to the fans and is delivering a Black Widow film. As a bonus, Florence Pugh (“Fighting with My Family,” “Midsommar”) joins the MCU.

“The Woman in the Window” (movie, May 15) — The hook here is the “Rear Window”-esque premise (a woman thinks she witnesses a murder) combined with Amy Adams as an agoraphobic. We already know she can nail the role of a troubled person trying to solve a crime, as seen in the 2018 miniseries “Sharp Objects.” Julianne Moore is also on board. I stopped the trailer partway through, as it starts to reveal the plot; it had already hooked me anyway.

“Wonder Woman 1984” (movie, June 5) — Gal Gadot returns for her second lead go-around as the most famous female superhero. Chris Pine is also back — presumably in flashbacks, unless his character is also ageless now — as does director/co-writer Patty Jenkins. Superheroes and 1980s nostalgia? “WW84” might be the surest thing in box-office history.

“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” (movie, July 10) — The “Ghostbusters” franchise proves that two timelines can exist without confusing audiences, something that I wish Disney (which refuses to release “Star Wars” Legends stories) would learn. This will be the third film in the original 1980s saga, whereas 2016’s “Answer the Call” is in a different universe. The trailer smartly teases us with new cast members without showing Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson suiting up again — but that’ll come in the movie. Adding to the multi-generational spirit, director Jason Reitman (“Juno”) takes the reins from his father, Ivan.

“Tenet” (movie, July 17) — I’m not all-in on writer-director Christopher Nolan like some people are, but his resume is certainly more hit than miss. And his original premises are often fascinating, including this one that features the type of mind-bending notions we’ve come to expect after “Memento,” “Inception” and “Interstellar.” This is another one of those trailers that I stopped before the end in order to preserve the surprise(s).

“Last Night in Soho” (movie, Sept. 25) — The latest from director Edgar Wright (“Baby Driver”) stars one of today’s finest — and most prolific — young actresses, Anya Taylor-Joy, navigating a creative plot. Sandy can travel through time, so she visits the 1960s, the era of her favorite singer. But “Soho” is also listed as a horror film, so that adds another layer of unpredictable appeal.

“Godzilla vs. Kong” (movie, Nov. 20) — The human characters will continue from last year’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” but let’s hope the spirit is more in line with 2017’s “Kong: Skull Island,” the most fun entry of this series so far. Regardless, this will be the biggest special effects romp of all time. The only problem is that I don’t know who to root for; I like both of these big fellas.

“The Alienist” Season 2 (TV series, undated, TNT) — I checked the web to find out if there’d be a third entry in TNT’s Suspense Collection (following 2018’s “The Alienist” and 2019’s “I Am the Night”) and got a dream answer: Yes, and it’ll be a second season of “The Alienist.” Presumably, it’ll be another gaslit turn-of-the-20th-century NYC mystery. Daniel Bruhl and Dakota Fanning (starting to carve out a nice career as an adult) were particularly good in Season 1.

“Fargo” Season 4 (TV series, undated, FX) — The first three seasons were all gold, so I’m on permanently on board for this series. Season 4 promises to be a stark departure, though, as it goes all the way back to the 1950s to chronicle a crime-family clash between the African-American and Italian syndicates in Kansas City.

“The Haunting of Hill House” Season 2 (TV series, undated, Netflix) — Mike Flanagan’s 2018 miniseries that beautifully and creepily adapted Shirley Jackson’s classic novel is the best season of horror TV I’ve ever seen. There’s no more story to tell about the Crain family, so Season 2 will follow the format of “The Terror” and tell a brand-new yarn under the “Haunting” banner. Some reports say the new season will be called “The Haunting of Bly Manor.”

“Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous” (TV series, undated, Netflix) — There’s only a teaser trailer of a stalking raptor so far, and the premise sounds ridiculous: Six teens get trapped on Isla Nublar after the disaster at Jurassic World. Well, maybe it’d be a decent little thriller in live-action, but this show is animated. That said, this is the first-ever “Jurassic Park” TV series, so it’s worth checking it out to see if it’s as silly as it seems, or if it’s surprisingly good.

“Lizzie McGuire” (TV series, undated, Disney Plus) — Continuations of old TV series have entered the shrug-worthy stage, but this one is worth a raised eyebrow, at least. The first episode is titled “13 Going on 30,” which illustrates a pretty cool premise: Lizzie (Hilary Duff) is grown up, but this is the era of the perpetual kid, so her inner child is still the animated tween Lizzie from the 2001-04 Disney Channel series. Most of the cast is on board, but it’s of some concern that Lalaine is still a holdout; we all know how “The Lizzie McGuire Movie” (2003) suffers from her absence.

What movies and TV series are you looking forward to in 2020? Share your thoughts in the comment thread below.