Netflix has a heavy roster of original movies ready for 2020, and here are the most anticipated ones. It’s easy to downplay just how massive an impact Netflix has had on the entertainment world in less than a decade. Their binge-watch model of consuming television has now become the norm, even with the traditional networks, and their original programming and films have had an immense impact on the business as well as forced an infamously archaic industry to catch up with modern times.
2019 alone saw Netflix make huge steps forward as Roma took home several Oscars and current titles like Marriage Story, Dolemite is My Name, and The Irishman look set to dominate the latest awards season. This is something that the platform will want to replicate in 2020, especially as competition on the streaming market gets tougher and audiences have greater options, including Disney+.
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Netflix is kicking off the year with big Oscar hopes for 2020 as well as a large presence at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. While there is still plenty to be announced and very few titles have confirmed release dates yet, these are the most exciting Netflix original movies of 2020 as things stand. All of these dates are subject to change.
The Last Thing He Wanted
Director Dee Rees helped to take Netflix original films into a new level of prestige and industry awareness with her drama Mudbound, a Sundance favorite that the streaming service acquired exclusive distribution rights for upwards of $12.5 million. The movie went on to receive four Oscar nominations and helped push Netflix into the category of serious contenders of awards season, paving the way for the likes of Roma and this year’s The Irishman. For her follow-up title, Rees is taking on one of the great legends of American literature, Joan Didion (herself the subject of a Netflix-exclusive documentary.) Adapted from her 1996 novel The Last Thing He Wanted, the political thriller stars Anne Hathaway as a journalist covering the 1984 Presidential election who is forced to step away from work to care for her ailing father, an arms dealer to Central American dictatorships (Willem Dafoe). Didion’s work is seldom adapted and this story has cinematic potential all over it. The film will premiere on January 27 at the Sundance Film Festival.
Directed by Greg Barker and based on his own award-winning documentary, Sergio is a biographical drama about Sérgio Vieira de Mello, a United Nations diplomat of Brazil who worked for the United Nations as a High Commissioner for Human Rights for many years. He was celebrated as one of the 20th century’s pre-eminent humanitarians before tragically dying in the Canal Hotel bombing in Iraq alongside his staff in 2003. The cinematic drama of his life will star Brazilian actor Wagner Moura in the lead role, with the supporting cast including Bradley Whitford and Knives Out‘s Ana de Armas. Sergio will make its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 28 before heading to Netflix later in 2020.
To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You
2018 was the Summer of Love for Netflix, thanks to a series of platform-exclusive romantic comedies that hooked in potentially millions of viewers and helped to revive a genre that Hollywood had long declared dead. At the heart of this boom was To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, an adorable teen romance based on the best-selling YA novel by Jenny Han. It made stars of Lana Condor and Noah Centineo and seemed to be just what everyone ordered that Summer. In the sequel, P.S. I Still Love You, Lara Jean and Peter’s romance is taken up a notch but faces difficulties when another one of her love letters enters the picture and complicates matters with a good old-fashioned love triangle. The movie is expected to be released on February 12, 2020.
Netflix hooked a big one in the form of their multi-million dollar exclusive deal with showrunner Ryan Murphy. Easily one of the biggest names on TV, Murphy made the jump from Fox to Netflix and brought with him a host of intriguing projects. One of the first to drop on Netflix will be The Prom, which Murphy himself will direct. Based on the Tony Award-nominated musical, The Prom centers on a group of washed-up egotistical actors who decide that the best way to revive their flagging reputations will be to reinvent themselves as activists. Their target is the conservative town of Edgewater, Indiana, where a lesbian student has been banned from bringing her girlfriend to her high school prom. While the Broadway show featured an ensemble of musical favorites, the movie will be a full-on star parade, featuring Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, James Corden, Awkwafina, Keegan-Michael Key, and Kerry Washington. The Prom currently does not have a release date.
The Boys in the Band
Another exclusive from Ryan Murphy’s Netflix deal, The Boys in the Band is an adaptation of one of American theater’s key pieces of LGBTQ+ storytelling. Joe Mantello, a multi-award winning actor-director will be behind the camera directing the cast who took on the main roles in the most recent Broadway revival of the show (which Murphy also produced.) The play revolves around a group of gay men who gather for a birthday party in New York City and was previously adapted for the big screen by William Friedkin. This cast includes Jim Parsons from The Big Bang Theory, Andrew Rannells from Big Mouth, Star Trek‘s Zachary Quinto, and Matt Bomer. The Boys in the Band currently does not have a release date.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Director and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman has helped bring to life some of modern cinema’s strangest and most esoteric stories, from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (for which he won an Oscar) to Being John Malkovich and his sinfully underrated directorial debut Synecdoche, New York. He makes his return behind the camera for Netflix with an adaptation of Iain Reid’s horror novel I’m Thinking of Ending Things. Jesse Plemons plays Jake, a man driving his new girlfriend (Chernobyl‘s Jessie Buckley) to visit his parents for the first time, unbeknownst to him that she’s considering ending their relationship. On the way to their location, they find themselves taking an unexpected and horrifying detour. Kaufman doesn’t get to make films very often and they seldom get the credit they deserve, so I’m Thinking of Ending Things is certainly a must-watch. The film currently does not have a release date.
Over the course of several years, many young women were reported missing on Long Island and presumed dead, but their statuses as sex workers and “problem women” meant they were dismissed by the authorities as not worth the trouble. It wasn’t until bodies started appearing on the South Shore barrier islands that the world took notice. Taken from the non-fiction book by Robert Kolker, Lost Girls is directed by award-winning documentarian Amy Garbus, with Amy Ryan, Thomasin McKenzie, and Gabriel Byrne in starring roles. This is another lofty drama that Netflix plans to premiere at Sundance this year, where it will screen on January 28th.
Rebecca remains the most well-known novel of author Daphne du Maurier and arguably one of the true icons of English literature. The most famous adaptation of this gothic thriller came from Alfred Hitchcock in 1940, but now Ben Wheatley of High Rise and Free Fire fame is taking on the story. Lily James plays the new Mrs. de Winter, wed to Maxim (Armie Hammer) after a brief courtship, and Kristen Scott Thomas is Mrs. Danvers, the devious housekeeper who seems determined to drive her new mistress mad by reminding her of the late Rebecca. Maxim’s first wife who died under mysterious circumstances. Rebecca currently does not have a release date.
Tick, Tick… Boom!
Following the staggering success of Hamilton, actor-composer Lin-Manuel Miranda has been delightfully inescapable, popping up in everything, from Mary Poppins Returns to His Dark Materials. 2020 will see the theatrical release of the cinematic adaptation of his first musical, In The Heights, but that one is being directed by Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians.) Miranda will direct his own movie musical for Netflix in the form of tick, tick… boom! Adapted from the off-Broadway show composed by Jonathan Larson, the creator of Rent, this more personal show tells the story of an aspiring composer named Jon and his emotional journey in figuring out if a life in the performing arts if what he really wants. Miranda has played the lead role on stage but rumors have spread that Andrew Garfield is his current choice for Jon. Tick, tick… boom currently does not have a release date.
Army of the Dead
While Zack Snyder fans continue to campaign for another pretty big film in his back-catalog, the director is returning to his zombie roots with Army of the Dead. Initially planned as a sequel to his 2004 horror Dawn of the Dead, it’s unknown if Army of the Dead will be part of that continuity or if it’s simply another excuse for zombie madness. Either way, you can’t go wrong with a plot that includes a group of mercenaries trying to pull off an epic heist at a Las Vegas casino in the middle of a zombie outbreak. The cast includes Dave Bautista, Garrett Dillahunt, Raúl Castillo, and Chris D’Elia. Army of the Dead currently has no release date.