GET HYPED FOR 2019

Shortlist - - THIS WEEK - Words: Joel Snape

The best films, TV and more to keep you sit­ting down this year.

WITH A MORE GLOBALISED, AL­WAYS-ON, STREAM­ING-SAT­U­RATED WORLD THAN EVER, YOU’VE NEVER HAD SO MUCH COM­PE­TI­TION FOR AT­TEN­TION – SO WHAT SHOULD YOU BE READ­ING, PLAY­ING AND WATCH­ING IN THE UP­COM­ING YEAR? SHORTLIST HAS THE VER­DICT – AND THE PER­FECT PLAN TO GET YOU UP TO SPEED…

GLASS

Was M. Night Shya­malan’s great­est ever twist the one in­volv­ing 2016’s Split turn­ing out to be a part of the same su­per-cin­e­matic uni­verse as 2000’s Un­break­able? No, it was the thing about Bruce Wil­lis be­ing a ghost, ob­vi­ously. But still, if you aren’t champ­ing at the bit to see Sa­muel L. Jack­son’s vil­lain­ous Mr Glass go head-to-head with James McAvoy’s 24 dis­tinct per­son­al­i­ties – with Wil­lis in the mid­dle - well, do you even en­joy films? What’s wrong with you?

Pre­pare: By re­watch­ing the other two films, then in­sist­ing on call­ing them the Eas­trail 177 tril­ogy – based on the fact that all three films re­volve around the de­rail­ment of a sin­gle train.

Re­lease date: Jan­uary 17

AVENGERS: ENDGAME

Hear that rum­bling in the dis­tance? That’s the most am­bi­tious cross­over movie project in his­tory ca­reen­ing to­wards its decade-in­com­ing con­clu­sion, right be­fore the Mar­vel Uni­verse hits the hard re­set but­ton and gets on with Phase Four. Will Steve Rogers sur­vive? Will Iron Man set­tle down and make nano-booties for a baby? Will you cry a lit­tle bit and not even apol­o­gise for it? In that order: hope­fully, re­ally hope­fully, and al­most def­i­nitely. Book a day off in April so you can see it ahead of the in­evitable spoiler-wave. Pre­pare: …by re-watch­ing as many of the Avengers films as you hu­manly can in the runup. If you’ve only got time for one, Age Of Ul­tron.

Re­lease date: April 26

BLACK LEOP­ARD

Been let­ting the award-win­ning read­ing slide re­cently? Bit too keen on the old com­fort reads?

Don’t worry, be­cause now Booker-win­ning author Mar­lon James is go­ing straight-up fan­tasy, with the first in a planned tril­ogy that takes on a mer­ce­nary scrap­ping his way through a hal­lu­ci­na­tory ver­sion of an­cient Africa. Pre­pare: By blitz­ing through A Brief His­tory Of Seven Killings, James’ last (su­per-ac­claimed) novel.

Re­lease date: Fe­bru­ary 5

JOHN WICK 3

Con­sider this: we’ve al­ready been promised a higher body­count than ei­ther of the pre­vi­ous Wicks for this fi­nal in­stall­ment of Keanu Reeves’ dog-aveng­ing tril­ogy, and con­sid­er­ing that part two notched up 128 corpses, that means you’ll be av­er­ag­ing more than one per minute. All those lives, need­lessly squan­dered, just so old John-boy can look cool with a brace of H&K ma­chine-pis­tols, eh? One for when you’re at a low ebb.

Pre­pare: By fi­nally go­ing to at least one Brazil­ian jiu-jitsu les­son, so you can tut dis­ap­prov­ingly when John ap­plies a sloppy shoul­der-lock be­fore he caps some poor sap.

Re­lease date: May 16

“BOOK A DAY OFF IN APRIL TO SEE AVENGERS: ENDGAME BE­FORE THE SPOILER-WAVE”

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHAD­OWS

If you haven’t seen Thor: Rag­narok di­rec­tor Taika Waititi’s orig­i­nal mock­u­men­tary about a group of vam­pires shar­ing a flat, then sprint to your near­est movie-stream­ing de­vice and get that sorted, be­fore get­ting all un­nec­es­sar­ily ex­cited about this sort-of-se­quel se­ries, star­ring The Mighty Boosh’s Matt Berry as a Staten Is­land blood­sucker.

Pre­pare: Se­ri­ously, watch the film. Or watch it again?

Re­lease date: Spring

SUC­CES­SION

Pop quiz, hot­shot: what’s the most com­pelling first sea­son of any long­form drama ever? You could make ar­gu­ments for Break­ing Bad or The So­pra­nos, but the con­nois­seur’s an­swer is this re­lent­less lit­tle num­ber, stuffed with all the feel-bad com­edy you’d ex­pect from the writer of Veep but as Machi­avel­lianly plot­ted as any sea­son of The Wire. Brian Cox plays the age­ing pa­tri­arch fight­ing tooth and nail for his em­pire, Cameron from Fer­ris Bueller’s Day Off plays a mil­lion­aire dooms­day prep­per, and there’s more back­stab­bing than the Ro­man se­nate. Ex­em­plary.

Pre­pare: By watch­ing the first sea­son, and then telling every­one around you that you have to “con­trol the nar­ra­tive” when­ever the op­por­tu­nity arises.

Re­lease date: June

DARK PHOENIX

Will this be good? Will it? The ev­i­dence of the ex­ist­ing ‘young’ X-Men films says maaaybe, but this re­boot/reshuf­fle of Jean Grey’s down­fall is a comic-fan-favourite for a rea­son: it’s one of the most gen­uinely heart-rend­ing chap­ters in Mar­vel his­tory. Don’t worry, you can still ex­pect op­tic blasts. Pre­pare: By read­ing Chris Clare­mont’s orig­i­nal Dark Phoenix Saga in comic form. If the film’s ter­ri­ble, at least you’ll know what they were go­ing for.

Re­lease date: June 7

UNTITLED GOOSE GAME

Lis­ten: there are go­ing to be a lot of games where you can ‘be’ a heav­ily-scarred man tot­ing a bunch of im­prob­a­ble weapons this year, but there will only be one in which you play an ornery goose. Would you rather steal hats, open gate and oth­er­wise

en­rage hap­less farm­ers, or pro­tect the Zar­gon neb­ula from the Thraxxian mother-swarm? If it’s the se­cond one: tough, we just made that up. Goose! Goose! Goose!

Pre­pare: With a quick go on the re­mas­tered Hit­man: Blood Money, which is avail­able this Jan­uary and sim­i­lar, al­beit with a hit­man in­stead of a goose.

Re­lease date: Spring

GAME OF THRONES

Sea­son Eight! Who knew we’d get here? Not Ge­orge RR Martin’s fans, many of whom are – un­der­stand­ably – a tiny bit peeved that the show’s bar­relling to­wards its cli­max while the books (go­ing since 1996!) have creaked to a halt. Still, let’s all en­joy the mad­ness one more time, as every­one does their best to stop the White Walk­ers with the pos­si­ble ex­cep­tion of Cer­sei who’s gone ab­so­lutely bonkers. Go on, sing the theme tune.

Pre­pare: With a mas­sive cafetiere and an ex­ten­sive deep-dive into the Song Of Ice And Fire wiki, so you’re fully pre­pared to de­bate the rel­a­tive mer­its of Gendry and Daen­erys’s re­spec­tive claims to the Iron Throne.

Re­lease date: April

JOKER

De­pend­ing on how you count, DC has about half-a-dozen dif­fer­ent takes on the clown prince of crime in the off­ing, in­clud­ing at least a cou­ple more with Jared ‘Look at me, I’m mad, me’ Leto but the ac­tu­ally in­ter­est­ing one prom­ises to be this, the ac­tu­al­ly­maybe-mad Joaquin Phoenix tak­ing on an ori­gin story for the char­ac­ter that sees him get closer than ever to his stand-up co­me­dian roots.

Pre­pare: By breez­ing through Alan Moore’s sem­i­nal The Killing Joke, then look­ing up Grant Mor­ri­son’s mind-jan­gling con­spir­acy about it on YouTube (no, don’t do that now, it’s a mega-spoiler).

Re­lease date: Oc­to­ber

THE TESTAMENTS

Ooh it’s wor­thy and rel­e­vant to to­day’s po­lit­i­cal land­scape and all that, but is the Hand­maid’s Tale TV show – whis­per it – a teeny bit bleak? If so, fast-for­ward to the (maybe!) happy end­ing with Mar­garet At­wood’s 15-years-in­com­ing fol­low-up to the orig­i­nal book, which jumps the ac­tion on a decade and a half af­ter orig­i­nal

Hand­maid Of­fred tried to es­cape from Gilead.

Pre­pare: Look, just read the orig­i­nal book. It’s bleak, but it’s cer­tainly no worse than see­ing the whole thing play out on your mas­sive HD telly.

Re­lease date: Spring

THE TWI­LIGHT ZONE

Jor­dan Peele loves sus­pense. Loooves it. You knew that, of course, from the fact that he won an Os­car scrib­ing the most orig­i­nal and un­set­tling thrillers of all time in Get Out, but it’s also ev­i­dent in his sketches as half of Key & Peele – the lit­tle nods to ev­ery­thing from zom­bie clas­sics to The Shin­ing and The Ex­or­cist. Now he’s tak­ing a run at re­boot­ing the TheTwi­light Zone, with a What­sapp-groups-worth of his movie mates aboard. Oof. Pre­pare: By Googling K&P’s clas­sic Air­plane Con­ti­nen­tal, a dainty lit­tle sketch with a Twi­lightZone twist.

Re­lease date: Late 2019

CATCH-22

Adapt­ing Joseph Heller’s mostly-hi­lar­i­ous anti-war satire to the screen might seem like a thank­less task – the book’s pre­sented in non-chrono­log­i­cal order, with mul­ti­ple events reap­pear­ing from dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives and more than 50 char­ac­ters – but surely, surely if any­one can do it it’s the Cloonster, your old mate Ge­orge, also ap­pear­ing as Scheis­skopf along­side a Kyle Chan­dler, Hugh Lau­rie and Girls reg­u­lar Christo­pher Ab­bott. Hand­somest cast ever? Hand­somest. Cast. Ever. Pre­pare: By blast­ing through the book, so you can breezily re­mark on how well its crit­i­cism of bu­reau­cracy holds up un­der the cur­rent cir­cum­stances. Re­lease date: Spring

DAYS GONE

An­other postapoc­a­lyp­tic sce­nario fea­tur­ing waves of thinly-dis­guised zom­bie-style things – they’re called ‘freak­ers’ this time, and they’re speedy? Yeah, yeah, but lis­ten: here you’re deal­ing with en­tire swarms of the things, with an­i­mals in­fected as well as hu­mans, in a game that’s set to squeeze ev­ery last bit of juice out of your creak­ing PS4 Pro while we all gear up for the next gen­er­a­tion of con­soles.

Pre­pare: By fine-tun­ing your an­i­mal-eva­sion skills with the mostly-over­looked Hori­zon, one of last year’s le­git­i­mately best games (and one where you don’t even have to feel bad about hunt­ing an­i­mals, since they’re all malev­o­lent ro­bots any­way). Re­lease date: April 26

SKULL & BONES

Pi­rat­i­cal games have tra­di­tion­ally been hard to get right – recre­at­ing the nu­ances of proper ship-to-ship bat­tling in­clud­ing the wind, sea and ri­val crews go­ing at it is a hefty task – but with Sea Of Thieves turn­ing out to be a hit, it’s lit­tle sur­prise that UbiSoft are go­ing in for a crack with this slightly more se­ri­ous take on the nau­ti­cal life­style al­low­ing mul­ti­player raid­ing across Dis­puted Waters.

Pre­pare: With a quick splash around on As­sas­sin’s Creed: Black Flag – still one of the best games of the se­ries, and the pre­cur­sor to S&B’s tac­ti­cal naval com­bat.

Re­lease date: Late 2019

“IF ANOYONE CAN DO IT, IT’S THE CLOONSTER, YOUR OLD MATE”

GLASS

AVENGERS: ENDGAME

JOHN WICK 3

DARK PHOENIX

CATCH-22

SKULL & BONE

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