13 Jan 2019 AT 10:29 AM

What to watch, read and play in 2019

Movies, series, gaming and more ways to fill up your next 12 months
13 Jan 2019 AT 10:29 AM
What to watch, read and play in 2019

With a more globalised, always-on, streaming-saturated world than ever, you’ve never had so much competition for attention – so what should you be reading, playing and watching in the upcoming year? ShortList has the verdict – and the perfect plan to get you up to speed…

Was M. Night Shyamalan’s greatest ever twist the one involving 2016’s Split turning out to be a part of the same super-cinematic universe as 2000’s Unbreakable? No, it was the thing about Bruce Willis being a ghost, obviously. But still, if you aren’t champing at the bit to see Samuel L. Jackson’s villainous Mr Glass go head-to-head with James McAvoy’s 24 distinct personalities – with Willis in the middle - well, do you even enjoy films? What’s wrong with you?

Prepare:  By rewatching the other two films, then insisting on calling them the Eastrail 177 trilogy – based on the fact that all three films revolve around the derailment of a single train.
Release date:  January 17

Avengers: Endgame
Hear that rumbling in the distance? That’s the most ambitious crossover movie project in history careening towards its decade-in-coming conclusion, right before the Marvel Universe hits the hard reset button and gets on with Phase Four. Will Steve Rogers survive? Will Iron Man settle down and make nano-booties for a baby? Will you cry a little bit and not even apologise for it? In that order: hopefully, really hopefully, and almost definitely. Book a day off in April so you can see it ahead of the inevitable spoiler-wave.

Prepare:  …by re-watching as many of the Avengers films as you humanly can in the runup. If you’ve only got time for one, Age Of Ultron.
Release date:  April 26

Black Leopard
Been letting the award-winning reading slide recently? Bit too keen on the old comfort reads?

Don’t worry, because now Booker-winning author Marlon James is going straight-up fantasy, with the first in a planned trilogy that takes on a mercenary scrapping his way through a hallucinatory version of ancient Africa.

Prepare:  By blitzing through A Brief History Of Seven Killings, James’ last (super-acclaimed) novel.
Release date:  February 5

John Wick 3
Consider this: we’ve already been promised a higher bodycount than either of the previous Wicks for this final installment of Keanu Reeves’ dog-avenging trilogy, and considering that part two notched up 128 corpses, that means you’ll be averaging more than one per minute. All those lives, needlessly squandered, just so old John-boy can look cool with a brace of H&K machine-pistols, eh? One for when you’re at a low ebb.

Prepare:  By finally going to at least one Brazilian jiu-jitsu lesson, so you can tut disapprovingly when John applies a sloppy shoulder-lock before he caps some poor sap.
Release date:  May 16

What We Do In The Shadows
If you haven’t seen Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi’s original mockumentary about a group of vampires sharing a flat, then sprint to your nearest movie-streaming device and get that sorted, before getting all unnecessarily excited about this sort-of-sequel series, starring The Mighty Boosh’s Matt Berry as a Staten Island blood-sucker.
Prepare:  Seriously, watch the film. Or watch it again?
Release date:  Spring

Pop quiz, hotshot: what’s the most compelling first season of any longform drama ever? You could make arguments for Breaking Bad or The Sopranos, but the connoisseur’s answer is this relentless little number, stuffed with all the feel-bad comedy you’d expect from the writer of Veep but as Machiavellianly plotted as any season of The Wire. Brian Cox plays the ageing patriarch fighting tooth and nail for his empire, Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off plays a millionaire doomsday prepper, and there’s more backstabbing than the Roman senate. Exemplary.

Prepare:  By watching the first season, and then telling everyone around you that you have to “control the narrative” whenever the opportunity arises.
Release date:  June

Dark Phoenix 
Will this be good? Will it? The evidence of the existing ‘young’ X-Men films says maaaybe, but this reboot/reshuffle of Jean Grey’s downfall is a comic-fan-favourite for a reason: it’s one of the most genuinely heart-rending chapters in Marvel history. Don’t worry, you can still expect optic blasts.

Prepare:  By reading Chris Claremont’s original Dark Phoenix Saga in comic form. If the film’s terrible, at least you’ll know what they were going for.
Release date:  June 7
Untitled Goose Game
Listen: there are going to be a lot of games where you can ‘be’ a heavily-scarred man toting a bunch of improbable weapons this year, but there will only be one in which you play an ornery goose. Would you rather steal hats, open gate and otherwise enrage hapless farmers, or protect the Zargon nebula from the Thraxxian mother-swarm? If it’s the second one: tough, we just made that up. Goose! Goose! Goose!

Prepare:  With a quick go on the remastered Hitman: Blood Money, which is available this January and similar, albeit with a hitman instead of a goose.
Release date:  Spring

Game Of Thrones
Season Eight! Who knew we’d get here? Not George RR Martin’s fans, many of whom are – understandably – a tiny bit peeved that the show’s barrelling towards its climax while the books (going since 1996!) have creaked to a halt. Still, let’s all enjoy the madness one more time, as everyone does their best to stop the White Walkers with the possible exception of Cersei who’s gone absolutely bonkers. Go on, sing the theme tune.

Prepare:  With a massive cafetiere and an extensive deep-dive into the Song Of Ice And Fire wiki, so you’re fully prepared to debate the relative merits of Gendry and Daenerys’s respective claims to the Iron Throne.
Release date:  April

Depending on how you count, DC has about half-a-dozen different takes on the clown prince of crime in the offing, including at least a couple more with Jared ‘Look at me, I’m mad, me’ Leto - but the actually interesting one promises to be this, the actually-maybe-mad Joaquin Phoenix taking on an origin story for the character that sees him get closer than ever to his stand-up comedian roots.

Prepare:  By breezing through Alan Moore’s seminal The Killing Joke, then looking up Grant Morrison’s mind-jangling conspiracy about it on YouTube (no, don’t do that now, it’s a mega-spoiler).
Release date:  October

The Testaments
Ooh it’s worthy and relevant to today’s political landscape and all that, but is the Handmaid’s Tale TV show – whisper it – a teeny bit bleak? If so, fast-forward to the (maybe!) happy ending with Margaret Atwood’s 15-years-in-coming follow-up to the original book, which jumps the action on a decade and a half after original Handmaid Offred tried to escape from Gilead.

Prepare:  Look, just read the original book. It’s bleak, but it’s certainly no worse than seeing the whole thing play out on your massive HD telly.
Release date:  Spring

The Twilight Zone
Jordan Peele loves suspense. Loooves it. You knew that, of course, from the fact that he won an Oscar scribing the most original and unsettling thrillers of all time in Get Out, but it’s also evident in his sketches as half of Key & Peele – the little nods to everything from zombie classics to The Shining and The Exorcist. Now he’s taking a run at rebooting the TheTwilight Zone, with a Whatsapp-groups-worth of his movie mates aboard. Oof.

Prepare:  By Googling K&P’s classic Airplane Continental, a dainty little sketch with a Twilight-Zone twist.
Release date:  Late 2019

Adapting Joseph Heller’s mostly-hilarious anti-war satire to the screen might seem like a thankless task – the book’s presented in non-chronological order, with multiple events reappearing from different perspectives and more than 50 characters – but surely, surely if anyone can do it it’s the Cloonster, your old mate George, also appearing as Scheisskopf alongside a Kyle Chandler, Hugh Laurie and Girls regular Christopher Abbott. Handsomest cast ever? Handsomest. Cast. Ever.

Prepare:  By blasting through the book, so you can breezily remark on how well its criticism of bureaucracy holds up under the current circumstances.
Release date:  Spring

Days Gone
Another post-apocalyptic scenario featuring waves of thinly-disguised zombie-style things –  they’re called ‘freakers’ this time, and they’re speedy? Yeah, yeah, but listen: here you’re dealing with entire swarms of the things, with animals infected as well as humans, in a game that’s set to squeeze every last bit of juice out of your creaking PS4 Pro while we all gear up for the next generation of consoles.

Prepare:  By fine-tuning your animal-evasion skills with the mostly-overlooked Horizon, one of last year’s legitimately best games (and one where you don’t even have to feel bad about hunting animals, since they’re all malevolent robots anyway).
Release date:  April 26

Skull & Bones
Piratical games have traditionally been hard to get right – recreating the nuances of proper ship-to-ship battling including the wind, sea and rival crews going at it is a hefty task – but with Sea Of Thieves turning out to be a hit, it’s little surprise that UbiSoft are going in for a crack with this slightly more serious take on the nautical lifestyle allowing multiplayer raiding across Disputed Waters.

Prepare:  With a quick splash around on Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag – still one of the best games of the series, and the precursor to S&B’s tactical naval combat.
Release date:  Late 2019