2019 Epic Preview: Film & Television

TELEVISION

15. Top of the Morning (Apple, TBD)

No, Steve Carell isn’t reprising Brick Tamland, though he is playing a morning show newsman here alongside Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. Honestly, Top of the Morning is less notable for its creaky premise than for its historic position as the first original series from Apple’s upcoming streaming service. Will it be good? Who knows! But it’s got a lot of A-listers.

14. Modern Love (Amazon, TBD)

Once and Sing Street auteur John Carney brings this anthology to Amazon, based on the same-named romance column in the New York Times (…okay.) We can expect appearances from Tina Fey, Anne Hathaway, Dev Patel, Andy Garcia, and many more. This could be interesting, or it could be The Romanoffs.

13. Briarpatch (USA, TBD)

Listeners of Ringer podcast The Watch are curious to see the result of host/culture critic Andy Greenwald’s first television series, which he’s adapting from the 1984 crime novel by Ross Thomas and is executive produced by Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot, Homecoming). Rosario Dawson plays an investigator who returns to her hometown following the suspicious death of her sister; Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Alone at Night) directs the pilot.

12. Lovecraft Country (HBO, TBD)

After the unjust cancellation of Underground on WGN America, showrunner Misha Green is collaborating with Jordan Peele and Bad Robot on this supernatural horror/drama about a Jim Crow-era road trip — think Green Book, but good, and with monsters. Green has brought Jurnee Smollett-Bell over from her previous show, plus Jonathan Majors, Courtney B. Vance, and Widows’ Elizabeth Debicki.

11. Les Miserables (PBS, 4/14)

This BBC/Masterpiece six-part miniseries isn’t the musical, but a new adaptation of Victor Hugo’s iconic novel. Look forward to Dominic West as Valjean, David Oyelowo as Javert, Olivia Colman as Madame Thenardier(!), and Lily Collins as Fantine. Tom Shankland (The Missing) directs, and it looks sumptuous.


10. The Twilight Zone (CBS All Access, TBD)

I told you it was the year of Jordan Peele — one of his most interesting projects was actually the first announced, a revival of the seminal anthology The Twilight Zone where he will play the Rod Serling role. John Cho, Greg Kinnear, Adam Scott, Alison Tolman, Jacob Tremblay, and Steven Yeun are set to appear; it just really, really sucks that it’s on CBS All Access. Why they don’t want this to have the largest possible audience is beyond me.

9. Watchmen (HBO, TBD)

After the unlikely (critical) success of The Leftovers, LOST veteran Damon Lindelof had carte blanche at HBO…and chose to tackle Alan Moore’s groundbreaking anti-hero comic series in what is, at the least, an amusing flex against Zack Snyder. Bigger names in the cast include Jeremy Irons, Tim Blake Nelson, Jean Smart, Louis Gossett, Jr., Rectify’s Adelaide Clemens, and Sleepy Hollow’s Tom Mison. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are handling the score.

8. Central Park 5 (Netflix, TBD)

Looking to bounce back from last year’s disappointing A Wrinkle in Time, Ava DuVernay continues her fruitful partnership with Netflix (watch 13th if you haven’t already) for this miniseries about the young men unjustly convicted of rape in 1990. The cast of largely unknowns includes Vera Farmiga, Felicity Huffman, Hamilton’s Chris Jackson, Michael K. Williams, and John Leguizamo. You can bet she’s itching to include Donald Trump’s accusatory full-page ad.

7. Catch-22 (Hulu, TBD)

George Clooney executive produces, co-directs, and plays General Scheiskopf this new adaptation of Joseph Heller’s famously absurdist WWII novel. I’m of at least two minds here because I’ve adored the book since high school and have always wanted to see a full adaptation (Mike Nichols’ version was interesting, but flawed) — however, directing farce has not proven to be Clooney’s strong suit. Let’s hope that Kyle Chandler (Col. Cathcart), Hugh Laurie (Maj. de Coverly), and Christopher Abbott (Yossarian) are up to the challenge.

6. Devs (FX, TBD)

This mysterious new series from Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Annihilation), his first, is described as a techno-thriller about a computer engineer (Soyona Mizuno, Maniac) who believes her company’s mysterious development division (led by Nick Offerman!) had something to do with her boyfriend’s disappearance. And…that’s about all I found on it, which is fine, because it’s Alex Garland.

5. Y (FX, TBD)

I haven’t read it, but those who have say Michael K. Vaughn’s Y: The Last Man is one of, if not the, very best graphic novel series of the 21st century. The post-apocalyptic story begins with a plague where every male mammal suddenly drops dead — save for Dunkirk’s Barry Keoghan as Yorick, an amateur escape artist who, along with his Capuchin monkey, Ampersand, becomes a subject of intense interest. (Some believe he can save humanity from extinction; others just want to kill him.) Diane Lane plays his mother, a congresswoman; Imogen Poots his sister, an EMT. The series has been in the works for quite a while, and if it lives up to the source material might become a Thrones-style hit.

4. Fosse/Verdon (FX, TBD)

The Hamilton super-duo of Lin-Manuel Miranda and director Thomas Kail are producing this limited series about the creative (and tumultuous) partnership of choreographer Bob Fosse and dancer Gwen Verdon, played by Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams. It’s a pretty big swing for FX, who recently lost Ryan Murphy to a development deal with Netflix; Dear Evan Hansen’s Steven Levenson serves as showrunner here. But it’s an incredible story, and if anyone can do justice to Roy Scheider’s titanic performance in All That Jazz, it might be Rockwell.

3. What We Do in the Shadows (FX, TBD)

FX is just killing it, isn’t it? That’s four series in a row for John “King of Television” Landgraf’s network (the home of Atlanta and formerly The Americans) and I couldn’t be happier. Its last offering on this list is an Americanization of Taika Waititi’s cult film; he and Jemaine Clement executive produce (but don’t star, alas) in this mockumentary about vampire roommates in Staten Island. I just hope it hasn’t lost its unique Kiwi charm.

2. Good Omens (Amazon, TBD)

After some delay (I had included it in my 2018 preview), at last this supernatural comedy, based on the novel by Neil Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett, will make its way to Amazon Prime. Michael Sheen and David Tennant play an angel and a demon, longtime frenemies, who have come to enjoy the comforts of England and team up to sabotage the coming End Times.


1. The Mandalorian (Disney Plus, TBD)

The first major title on Disney’s new streaming service is major indeed: Jon Favreau’s live-action Star Wars series about bounty hunters in the seedy underbelly of Coruscant, reportedly set three years after Return of the Jedi. Boba Fett hailed from Mandalore, hence the familiar get-up in the image above, but this “lone gunfighter” is played by Game of Thrones’s Pedro Pascal; recently announced castmates include Nick Nolte(!) and Werner Herzog(!!!) It’ll also be a diverse group of directors, including Taika Waititi (again!), Bryce Dallas Howard, and Deborah Chow. Giving pause: A reported subplot about a baby. Going the sitcom route already?

ALSO: Natalie Morales runs a backyard bar in Abby’s, co-produced by Mike Schur…Daniel Radcliffe is an angel working for Steve Buscemi’s God in Miracle Workers…Ellen Page leads a dysfunctional family of superheroes in The Umbrella Academy…Chris Pine is on the Black Dahlia case in I Am the Night…in 1989, Julianna Marguiles tries to stop ebola in The Hot Zone…FX promises its new Shogun won’t be a whitewash…Russell Crowe plays Roger Ailes in The Loudest Voice in the Room, if that’s something you actually want to see…plus literally thousands of new Netflix series none of us have heard of yet.

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