Your definitive feminist guide to 2020’s must-see movies

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From Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn spinoff Birds of Prey to a live action Mulan and the new Phoebe Waller-Bridge penned James Bond movie, these are the films we can’t wait to see in 2020. 

For feminist film lovers, there’s never been a better time to go to the movies than right now.

More female-led films, more female directors, more female stories being told on the big, big screen… For cinephiles, 2020 will be a year full of movies that thrill. If you like superhero flicks, how about not one but three headlined by women, including the long-awaited Wonder Woman sequel, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow prequel co-starring Florence Pugh and Rachel Weisz, and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn spinoff Birds of Prey?

Those who like their movies to have leapt from the pages of a book will be excited to learn that 2020 will bring a new adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, as well as an adaptation of the controversial thriller The Woman in the Window, led by Amy Adams

There are horror movies too, like a reboot of The Grudge and a sequel to A Quiet Place. There’s action thrillers led by some of our favourite stars: Jodie Comer in Free Guy, Tenet led by Elizabeth Debicki, No Time To Die – a new James Bond movie – led by Lashana Lynch as the new 007 and with Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the writer’s chair. You’ll laugh at Military Wives, you’ll sing along to Into The Heights, and you’ll scream – with joy – for Legally Blonde 3. (Yes, Legally Blonde 3 is happening with Reese Witherspoon next year. What, like it’s hard?)

These are the movies you’re going to want to watch in 2020…

Like A Boss 

Tiffany Haddish. Rose Byrne. Two comedic stars at the top of their game. One riotous comedy that you’re going to want to see with all your girlfriends. Like A Boss tells the story of a pair of friends running a beauty company together who discover that one of their investors is stealing from them. The supporting cast includes Salma Hayek, Billy Porter and Jennifer Coolidge and, you know what? You absolutely love to see it.

Release date: 10 January 2020 in the US and 31 January 2020 in the UK. 

The Grudge 

There have been 11 movies in the Grudge universe and this will be lucky number 12. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Because this franchise, about a house quite literally infested with the pestilence of the occult, is definitely not broken. This iteration, starring John Cho and GLOW star Betty Gilpin, will be more of a departure from the originals, according to producers. Other than that, very little is known about the film. Best to go into it with as little information as possible. All the better to be spooked by.

Release date: 3 January 2020 in the US and the UK. 

Queen & Slim 

Written by Lena Waithe and directed by Melina Matsoukas, the woman behind the Formation video, this romantic thriller carries shades of If Beale Street Could Talk. It follows a young couple played by Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith, who are pulled over by a police officer while on their first date, changing their lives forever.

Release date: 27 November 2019 in the US and 31 January 2020 in the UK. 

Birds of Prey 

Are you ready for the year of female superhero movies? Margot Robbie’s Birds of Prey is first out of the gate, a rip-roaring, fabulous glam rock extravaganza of a movie that unites Robbie’s Harley Quinn with a new crew of female heroes. The movie has a gloriously female gaze courtesy of its female writer, director and costume designer, not to mention its diverse cast that includes Ali Wong and Rosie Perez. The future of the superhero world is female.

Release date: 7 February 2020 in the US and the UK. 

Emma

Yes, we know. There have been quite a few adaptations of Jane Austen’s Emma over the years. Gwyneth Paltrow has done it. Kate Beckinsale has done it. Romola Garai has done it. Why do we need another one? The answer is that we don’t, but we would like one, thank you very much, especially if it looks as clever as this version. Starring Anya Taylor-Joy as the titular heroine, it also features Bill Nighy as her father, Miranda Hart as Miss Bates and Josh O’Connor – soon to be Prince Charles in The Crown – as the foolish Mr Elton. Directed by Autumn de Wilde and written by Eleanor Catton, yes, the very same Booker-winning Eleanor Catton who wrote The Luminaries, this period drama is sure to delight.

Release date: 21 February 2020 in the US and 28 February 2020 in the UK. 

Invisible Man

Horror fans are going to love the sound of this new adaptation of HG Wells’ iconic novel of the same name. When her abusive ex-boyfriend Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) dies by suicide, Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) believes that she is finally free. Soon, though, a series of horrific events make her believe that her boyfriend might not be dead after all. Produced by Jason Blum, the master of horror behind Get Out and Ma, this movie is going to be a true nail-biter.

Release date: 28 February 2020 in the US and the UK. 

Military Wives

Sharon Horgan and Kristin Scott Thomas star as opposing leaders of an all-female choir comprised of spouses of those in the military currently on active duty. They come to blows over a rendition of Jerusalem. What more do you need to know? In all seriousness, this clever comedy – directed by Peter Cattaneo of The Full Monty fame – is full of wit and warmth and heart and will have you cheering in your seat.

Release date: 6 March 2020 in the UK. 

Mulan

The latest in Disney’s live-action conveyor belt is this adaptation of its 1998 animated film Mulan. But, unlike some of Disney’s other live-action movies, this version is not a shot-for-shot remake of the original cartoon. In fact, the film will divest from its source material almost entirely, cutting the songs and comedic relief Mushu the dragon to return to the traditional Chinese legend of Hua Mulan. Filmed in New Zealand by Whale Rider director Niki Caro, the movie stars Liu Yifei as the young woman who assumed the identity of a man to fight for her country. Gong Li, Jet Li and Donnie Yen appear alongside her in this lavish film. 

Release date: 27 March 2020 in the US and the UK. 

A Quiet Place 2

Though John Krasinski himself won’t be starring in this sequel to his smash-hit horror movie – spoiler alert, but he dies in the first film – the rest of the cast will be returning. That includes his real-life wife Emily Blunt as well as Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe, who played the couple’s on-screen children in the film. The plot of the movie is being kept tightly under wraps, but we know that the alien creatures who prey on sound are still roaming the world, and that Blunt’s character Evelyn is hell-bent on avenging the death of her husband. Sign us up.

Release date: 20 March 2020 in the US and the UK. 

No Time To Die

OK, yes. A new James Bond movie is hardly a cause for feminist celebration. However, THIS new James Bond movie – reportedly Daniel Craig’s last – was written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge and features Lashana Lynch stepping into his shoes as the new 007. Now that we can get behind.

Release date: 8 April 2020 in the US and 3 April 2020 in the UK. 

Black Widow 

Chris Evans as Captain America and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow.

Last year, we bid goodbye to Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow in Avengers: Endgame. But it was a a bit of an emotional anti-climax, really, overshadowed by the greater concern of Thanos’ world domination. In this, Johansson’s first standalone movie in the Marvel cinematic universe and a prequel to the existing Avengers movies, we get to say a true goodbye to one of the trailblazing female superheroes. The movie will focus on Black Widow’s life as Natasha, a Russian sleeper agent in the US, before she switched sides and joined the good guys. Directed by a female director and with an impeccable supporting cast including Rachel Weisz and Florence Pugh, this female superhero movie is worth celebrating.

Release date: 1 May 2020 in the US and UK. 

The Love Birds

The romantic comedy genre isn’t dead. Just ask Kumail Nanjiani, whose Oscar-nominated romcom The Big Sick did much to resurrect the genre back in 2017. Now, the comedian is teaming back up with The Big Sick’s director Michael Showalter on a new romcom co-starring Issa Rae. The story will follow Julie and Eric, a very normal couple who accidentally become embroiled in a murder mystery.

Release date: 1 May 2020 in the US and the UK. 

Legally Blonde 3

There’s one female lead who keeps on inspiring us: the formidable Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.

Elle Woods is back. Everyone’s favourite pink-loving lawyer-turned-politician returns in this long-awaited reboot. Though details on the plot are being kept secret, Reese Witherspoon is confirmed to reprise her most iconic character.

Release date: 8 May 2020 in the US and the UK.

Barbie

A live-action Barbie movie has been in the works for many years. At one point, Anne Hathaway was set to star, then Amy Schumer. Now, Margot Robbie will be taking on the title role as the doll expelled from ‘Barbieland’ for not being perfect enough and who decides to explore the ‘real world’. What’s more, Greta Gerwig is directing with her husband Noah Baumbach penning the script.

Release date: 8 May 2020 in the US and the UK. 

The Woman in the Window

In 2019, AJ Finn’s The Woman in the Window became shrouded in controversy after a report from the New York Times alleged that it bore “strikingly similar” plot details to another mystery novel, while the author himself was the subject of a New Yorker exposé. There’s no such thing as bad press, though, and this adaptation of the thriller novel will no doubt be one of 2020’s most talked about movies. Amy Adams stars as Anna, an agoraphobic psychologist who spies a crime occurring in her neighbour’s apartment. Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman, Brian Tyree Henry and Anthony Mackie round out this insanely star-studded cast with Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice) directing. 

Release date: 15 May 2020 in the US and UK. 

Wonder Woman 1984 

wonder woman
Chris Pine and Gal Gadot.

It’s been three years since the release of the first Wonder Woman movie. Three years since director Patty Jenkins broke records to become the highest-grossing female director, three years since Gal Gadot ascended to the plane of iconic superheroes, three years since Chris Pine cemented his position as the best Hollywood Chris (Editor’s Note: hmm, did he? Pretty sure Chris Evans is the best Hollywood Chris). Now, the whole gang is back – even Pine, whose character Steve Trevor died in the original – in this long-awaited sequel. Barely anything is known about the plot other than the fact that it is set in 1984. But who needs more information than that? Shut up and take our money!

Release date: 5 June 2020 in the US and the UK. 

In The Heights

Before Lin Manuel Miranda created Hamilton, he was the man from Washington Heights. The creative genius’ first musical was based on his own early life in New York City and centred on the lives of the Dominican community who lived there. Miranda will be starring in this film adaptation of the Broadway musical, but the main role will be played by Anthony Ramos – John Laurens and Phillip Hamilton in the original Broadway cast of Hamilton.

Release date: 26 June 2020 in the US and later in the year in the UK. 

Free Guy

Jodie Comer is swapping Villanelle for video games in Free Guy, her new movie. Set inside a video game in which an avatar played by Ryan Reynolds suddenly becomes conscious that he’s a character in the game, the movie is a funny action romp that meditates on ideas of identity and sentience. Also, it features Comer in two roles: first, a chic video game assassin and, secondly, a nerdy gamer in the real world. She has the range to pull them both off.

Release date: 3 July 2020 in the US and the UK. 

Tenet

Absolutely nothing is known about this movie. That’s not a joke – this new thriller from director Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk, Batman Begins) is so shrouded in secrecy that all we know is that it stars John David Washington, Elizabeth Debicki and Robert Pattinson and is an action movie. That’s all we know. We do know, though, that Australian actor Debicki is one of the great stars of her generation. So if she’s leading the cast in this movie it will be worth seeing.

Release date: 17 July 2020 in the US and the UK. 

Last Night In Soho 

Edgar Wright, the director behind Shawn of the Dead, is finally making a return to horror with this new London-based film. Starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith and New Zealand newcomer Thomasin McKenzie, the film will straddle two plotlines – one in the 60s and one in the present day. “Taylor-Joy will play the lead in the 60s, while McKenzie will play a fashion student in modern day scenes,” Collider reports. “Smith will be playing Taylor-Joy’s manager of sorts.” 

Release date: 25 September 2020 in the US and the UK.

Death On The Nile

Fire up the little grey cells and start twirling those moustaches… Kenneth Branagh’s Hercule Poirot is back. After 2017’s lavish Murder on the Orient Express, Branagh is tackling another of Agatha Christie’s great ensemble mysteries. Once again, Branagh has assembled a fantastic cast to star in his film: Gal Gadot, Letitia Wright, Rose Leslie, Annette Bening, Sex Education’s Emma Mackey, Armie Hammer and Jennifer Saunders will all star in the film. Whodunnit, though? You’ll have to wait until late 2020 to find out.

Release date: 9 October 2020 in the US and the UK. 

The Witches

The 1990 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches starring Anjelica Huston and Rowan Atkinson gave an entire generation of children nightmares and thrills audiences to this day. This 2020 update, which swaps the novel’s English setting for 60s-era Alabama and will star Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer and Stanley Tucci, is a worthy successor.

Release date: 16 October 2020 in the US and the UK. 

The Eternals

Now that the Avengers franchise is complete, audiences are looking for a new ensemble superhero flick. The Eternals could be that movie. Starring Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, Kit Harington, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek and Kumail Nanjiani, it tells the story of a group of celestial beings whose lives become entangled with humans. Female filmmaker Chloe Zhao is directing and the first glimpses of actors in costume on the set look suitably fantastical. We can’t wait.

Release date: 6 November 2020 in the US and the UK. 

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Raya And The Last Dragon

What is it about Disney animated movies that pull our heartstrings? Even just reading the plot description for this movie has us feeling emotional: “In a land called Kumandra, a warrior named Raya searches for the last dragon in the world.” The film, which was written by Crazy Rich Asians screenwriter Adele Lim, is set to be a celebration of Asian culture and history. Awkwafina will voice Sisu, a water dragon who is the last of her kind, while Cassie Steele will be the brave young warrior Raya.

Release date: 25 November 2020 in the US and the UK. 

Images: Warner Bros, Disney, Legally Blonde

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.

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