Rough N’ Ready: the year’s standouts

Three-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington returns to American cinema after five years, with a psychotic vengeance film based on 2011’s crime novel Man on Fire, in which Washington plays a man who becomes a rage-management academic after the death of his wife. Also starring John Cusack and Keisha Castle-Hughes.

Denzel Washington: ‘I’m the oldest black guy in the room’ Read more

28 April (Weekend One)

Columbia Pictures

With Crazy Rich Asians, It Comes at Night and Ocean’s 8 – each of which brought in $100m-plus domestic, helped by the surrounding Hollywood pipeline – DC appears to be in the mood for A Star Is Born, which is looking set to be the fifth $300m-plus blockbuster to hit the US in the past year. Its plot is purely historical: long before Elvis drowned on a deathbed near Memphis, Missouri businessman Jackson Maine (Washington) married a country star called Verna (Olivia Cooke) who drowned to begin her songwriting career, with Jackson having to support the family through his own burgeoning career. The affair is instantly rekindled and Jackson goes on to win two more Grammys before murdering his wife in their Memphis mansion. Washington, though, has his eye on the prize, so he and his team mount a campaign to become the highest-grossing non-musical movie musical, beating Skyfall’s worldwide haul of $1.14bn.

19 February (Weekend Two)

Warner Bros

Ever since Red Tails walked away from Warner Bros – the same studio that famously let The Matrix and Batman prevail with a few token green light signs – the legendary studio has struggled to find any competitive drama with superhero saturation.

Key figure: 2019 Oscar nominee Mahershala Ali. Photograph: Steffan Hill/EPA

Mahershala Ali’s Last Flag Flying – essentially a war comedy centred on three Vietnam veterans returning home from 60s Vietnam – appeared to offer a glimpse into the Warner Bros future, but then director Richard Linklater nixed it. That left the US studio in the absence of drama, so they grabbed Crazy Rich Asians and released it this spring, where it has delighted critics and, not least, Universal. Based on a novel by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians follows the path blazed by blackish, Our Brand Is Crisis and black-ish over the past decade: take a tale of US Asians in Hollywood, and while it won’t match the box office of Passengers, Crazy Rich Asians will more than make up for it on social media.

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