The basics: Joaquin Phoenix gets stuck into the grease paint, Robert DeNiro basically reprises an old Scorsese character and director Todd Phillips is the man behind, um, The Hangover films?
Story in a sentence: A man disregarded by society lives out his dream of becoming a murderous clown
What’s the buzz? We’re surprised you can hear us over all the buzz around Joker. It received an 8-minute standing ovation when it premiered at Venice (imagine clapping for eight solid minutes) and its story of the 99% has caused an avalanche of think-pieces across the media
How to convince your mates: Just laugh creepily until they give in
Golden Globes: Best Actor in a Drama (Joaquin Phoenix), Best Original Score - Motion Picture (Hildur Gudnadóttir)
Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor (Joaquin Phoenix), Best Director (Todd Phillips), Best Adapted Screenplay (Todd Phillips & Scott Silver), Best Film Editing (Jeff Groth), Cinematography (Lawrence Sher), Costume Design, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Best Original Score (Hildur Gudnadóttir), Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Le Mans ‘66
The basics: Matt Damon and Christian Bale buddy up in this true story under the watchful eye of James Mangold who directed, among other legendary faves, Girl, Interrupted, Walk the Line and Logan
Story in a sentence: Ford hire Matt Damon and Christian Bale to create and drive a car that can beat Ferrari in the notoriously dangerous Le Mans race
What’s the buzz? Everyone’s feeling very heart-eye-emoji about Bale and Damon’s bickering and bantering double act
How to convince your mates: “No but you see it’s not even really about cars! It’s about friendship!!!”
Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Film Editing (Andrew Buckland & Michael McCusker), Sound Mixing, Sound Editing
The basics: Rian Johnson - you know, the guy who directed The Last Jedi and sci-fi twister Looper - doing an Agatha Christie style murder mystery, with Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Craig, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Chris Evans and Christopher Plummer? Wild!
Story in a sentence: Wealthy crime novelist throws himself an 85th birthday party that becomes a meta-whodunnit when he winds up dead and his entire extended family are suspects
What’s the buzz? You don’t pull together that director, that cast and that story without raising a few intrigued eyebrows, and with Rian Johnson on board you know it won’t be your traditional murder-mystery
How to convince your mates: Not sure you’ll have to tbh. But “Star Wars meets Agatha Christie” might come in handy
Oscar nominations: Best Original Screenplay (Rian Johnson)
The basics: The beloved American classic gets a very millennial update courtesy of Greta Gerwig and an all-star cast including Saiorse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet and Emma Watson.
Story in a sentence: Sisters Amy, Jo, Beth and Meg grow up, find themselves and navigate existential crises in post Civil War America.
What’s the buzz? Saoirse Ronan and Greta Gerwig got a host of noms for their last film together (Lady Bird) so it’s no surprise that Ronan’s just been nominated for the Best Actress Oscar.
How to convince your mates: “Remember the book Joey Tribiani had to hide in the freezer? This is that.”
Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Actress (Saoirse Ronan), Actress in a Supporting Role (Florence Pugh), Best Adapted Screenplay (Greta Gerwig), Costume Design, Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplat)
The basics: A darkly surreal comedy about reckoning with unquestioning nationalism, directed by Taika Waititi who made Thor: Ragnarok the deadpan superheroic joy that it is.
Story in a sentence: A young German boy in Nazi Germany finds his mum is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic - and his imaginary best friend (who, by the way, is Hitler) isn’t happy about it.
What’s the buzz? Well, as you can imagine the storyline has tongues wagging - but the reviews and the Oscar noms suggest it’s got the chops to back it up.
How to convince your mates: “If you liked Thor: Ragnarok, you’ll love this”
Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Actress in a Supporting Role (Scarlett Johansson), Best Adapted Screenplay (Taika Waititi), Production Design, Best Film Editing (Tom Eagles), Costume Design
1917 (10 January)
The basics: Sam Mendes (yer man behind American Beauty, Skyfall and Spectre) has created this World War One drama from a fragment of a story his granddad told him. It’s been filmed to look like one long, continuous shot.
Story in a sentence: At the height of the war, two British soldiers are sent on an impossible mission to deliver news of an imminent ambush.
What’s the buzz? This immersive, edge-of-your-seat epic is supposedly unlike any war film you’ve ever seen - it’s already won Best Drama at the Globes and is now up for the Best Picture Oscar.
How to convince your mates: “Is 1917 the most intense war movie ever made? Let’s find out.”
Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture - Drama, Best Director - Motion Picture (Sam Mendes)
Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (Sam Mendes), Best Original Screenplay (Sam Mendes & Krysty Wilson-Cairns), Production Design, Cinematography, Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Best Original Score (Thomas Newman), Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Bombshell (17 January)
The basics: Charlize Theron, Margot Robbie and Nicole Kidman in a #metoo era newsroom drama.
Story in a sentence: Based on true accounts, three Fox News staffers work together to take down head honcho Roger Ailes for his inappropriate behaviour.
What’s the buzz? Powerful performances and an emotional subject matter have conspired to make this one of the must-see films of the new year.
How to convince your mates: “It’s timely, and topical, and entertaining... what more do you want from a January drama?”
Oscar nominations: Best Actress (Charlize Theron), Actress in a Supporting Role (Margot Robbie), Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Bombshell is out on 17 January, find out more here
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (31 January)The basics: Tom Hanks stars as beloved children’s entertainer Mister Rogers. Director Marielle Heller is responsible for Diary of a Teenage Girl and Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Story in a sentence: A grizzled, cynical old journalist begrudgingly accepts an assignment to profile Mister Rogers, not realising the experience will completely change his life
What’s the buzz? Based on an astonishing profile in Esquire (spoilers), reviewers have described this as a biopic but not as you know it. “A warm hug”, “emotionally intelligent”, “authentic”, “heartfelt” - and many, many calls for Tom Hanks to win an Oscar (which would be his third!)
How to convince your mates: “Tom Hanks is in it.”
Oscar nominations: Actor in a Supporting Role (Tom Hanks)
Queen & Slim (31 January)
The basics: Bonnie and Clyde (if Bonnie and Clyde had been decent hardworking people on the run for their lives instead of career criminals), with Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith.
Story in a sentence: A deeply romantic drama about a couple whose first date ends up less ‘dinner and a movie’ and more ‘forced to go on the run after killing a cop in self-defence’.
What’s the buzz? The sweeping love story and the hugely relevant basis for the film have made it a must-see, while the amazing soundtrack is also getting a lot of props.
How to convince your mates: “Look, if Beyoncé’s a fan it must be good.”
Queen & Slim is out 31 January, find out more here
The Lighthouse (31 January)
The basics: A psychological thriller and two-man show starring Robert Pattinson with a very impressive moustache and Willem Dafoe with a very impressive beard.
Story in a sentence: Two lighthouse keepers try to maintain their sanity while living on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.
What’s the buzz? Glowing reviews across the board and an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography.
How to convince your mates: “Honestly, you need to see this moustache.
Oscar nominations: Cinematography
Parasite (7 February)The basics: A dark and disturbing modern fable from the master of Korean cinema, Bong Joon-ho.
Story in a sentence: The lives of one rich family and one poor family become entangled - but who is feeding off who?
What’s the buzz? “The most talked about foreign-language film of 2019”, Parasite won the Palme d’Or at Cannes 2019 and is up for some of the biggest Oscars too. It’s also inspired a lot of memes - you’ve probably seen images and gifs from it without even realising.
How to convince your mates: “Two words: Jessica Jingle.”
Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture - Foreign Language
Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (Bong Joon Ho), Best Original Screenplay (Bong Joon Ho & Jin Won Han), Best International Feature (South Korea), Production Design, Best Film Editing (Jinmo Yang)
Dark Waters (28 February)
The basics: Mark Ruffalo. Need we say more? Just in case the answer is yes, you’ll also find Anne Hathaway in this legal thriller - and it’s based on real events.
Story in a sentence: Dogged attorney Mark Ruffalo goes after one of the world’s largest corporations, risking his future, his family and his life to expose the truth about “forever chemicals”.
What’s the buzz? Currently 92% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and with a social conscious, it’s already a success in the US.
How to convince your mates: “Remember Carol? The director’s just made an eco-drama."
Dark Waters is out 28 February, find out more here