14 Bold Predictions for Pop Culture in the 2020s

What will happen in our pop culture in the decade to come? Our team peers into a crystal ball to make some predictions.

Decade Predictions

This guest essay is part of our Decade Rewind. Keep up as we look back at the best, worst, and otherwise interesting movies and shows of the 2010s.


As the 2010s draw to a close, a seemingly endless crop of end-of-decade lists have sprung up, many of them breaking down the best film and television that were released during that time. And sure, doing so is great — we’ve even published a Decade Rewind series dedicated to that very task at Film School Rejects — but what about the decade to come? Looking ahead to the 2020s, the FSR team puts forth our major pop culture predictions for those next 10 years. Join us in 2029 to find out how many we got right.


Spider-Man Will Get Another Reboot

Spider Man Far From Home

The sky is blue, the ocean is deep, and there will be another Spider-Man reboot before the end of the 2020s. I can’t tell if I’m so sure of this because I see a demand for it or if it’s just an inevitability I can feel it in my bones. Tom Holland will be wrapping up his Spidey career within a couple of years, and I imagine Sony will want to go in a new direction, especially if Marvel is no longer involved. My bet is on a dark, gritty take that will rival Joker’s attempt at a prestige superhero picture, maybe with an outside-the-box pick for Peter Parker. If nothing else, it may be an exciting opportunity to cast anyone other than a skinny white boy. (Margaret Perreira)


It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Will Get At Least 10 More Seasons

Always Sunny Group

This fall, in the 11th hour of the decade, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia reached a significant milestone: at 14 seasons, it tied The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet for the longest-running live-action comedy in history. It’s already been renewed for a 15th season, which will push it into its third decade on the air, and it’s been more or less greenlit by FXX for as long as showrunner Rob McElhenney and the rest of the Gang want to keep producing it. So it is my prediction (as well as my deepest heart’s desire) that the show will keep trundling on, blowing through the entirety of the upcoming decade just like it did the previous one.

It’s not an impossible dream — at a now-steady rate of 10 episodes per season, we could get to the year 2030 with only a hundred more, less than the current 153 the show has under its belt. This is my prediction, and I’m standing by it, even if it means my definitive ranking will never be complete or truly definitive. It’s worth it. (Liz Baessler)


More Iconic Horror Villains Will Get a Comeback

Pennywise

I am still shocked that Pennywise is so popular in 2019. In a decade defined by the resurgence of arthouse horror films by a fresh slate of auteurs, to see a singular horror villain – an evil supernatural clown, no less – to be received in such a way is remarkable. It’s Freddy Krueger syndrome all over again, a certifiably spooky character that’s embraced as a cross-cultural icon. The electricity that Pennywise’s popularity brings to the genre is where I hope to see it go in the coming decade. We know that horror films can be taken seriously now, so that’ll hopefully give the genre more leeway to lean back into the supernatural slashers that defined it decades prior.

Michael Myers is back and Leprechaun returned, but if I was going to pinpoint what’ll catapult this idea into the ‘20s, it would be Jordan Peele and Nia DaCosta’s upcoming spiritual sequel to Candyman. If that’s as big of a hit as I’m expecting it to be, then it’s just a matter of time before we see Fede Alvarez’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre, that long-gestating winter-set Friday the 13th, and maybe even a Hellraiser movie that’s actually written to be a Hellraiser movie! I mean, for real: who doesn’t want to see Kevin Bacon and/or Tim Blake Nelson play Freddy Krueger? These are legitimate figures in the history of horror, and they deserve to have as much reappraisal as the genre as a whole has been given in the past decade. For monsters that live in the darkness, I can only hope this decade they’ll get another day in the sun. (Jacob Trussell)


The Next A Nightmare On Elm Street Reboot Will Be Directed by a Woman

Elm Street Freddy Vs Nancy

The horror community has been buzzing about the potential for another reboot of Wes Craven’s iconic slasher film A Nightmare On Elm Street. Craven’s estate has started taking pitches, and Twitter users have been speculating about who would be best to take on the film about the creepy, knife-gloved killer. Some have been advocating for Daniel Isn’t Real director Adam Egypt Mortimer and Doctor Sleep director Mike Flanagan has stated he wants to pitch, meaning a lot of horror powerhouses are throwing their hats into the proverbial ring. But, the buzz has been centered around only male directors.

In the 2020s, I think a female director will be chosen to helm the reboot. The films of the A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise have only been directed by men, but the story is often centered on the experience of a young girl, such as Nancy from the original film. With the number of amazing horror movies directed by women that are finally getting recognition, a director such as Jenn Wexler or maybe Karyn Kusama would breathe life into the franchise. (Mary Beth McAndrews)


Paul Thomas Anderson Will Make a Movie Musical

Paul Thomas Anderson

Is there anything Paul Thomas Anderson can’t do? I mean, he’s the guy who made Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, and Magnolia all before he was 30 and also somehow made a movie about oil insanely entertaining. So, my answer is going to be a resounding “no.” One of the most overlooked secret ingredients to PTA’s impressive list of masterpieces is his impeccable musical sensibilities.

From Boogie Nights’ perfect placement of The Beach Boys and Electric Light Orchestra on its soundtrack and Magnolia’s heartbreaking lip-syncing montage, to the dazzling, energetic music videos he’s made with the pop group Haim, and, of course, his iconic partnership with Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, who has composed a majority of PTA’s soundtracks, he seems to really have a grasp on how film and music compliment each other. So, doesn’t it seem natural that PTA’s next move be a musical? I mean, after movies about a porn star, Scientology, oil drilling, would it really be the craziest thing in the world? And, who knows; maybe that’ll be what it takes to get Daniel Day-Lewis out of retirement. (Aurora Amidon)


Cillian Murphy Will Star in a Movie Musical

Peakyblinders

Before he was an actor, Cillian Murphy thought his claim to fame would be in music, and he was even in a band, The Sons of Mr. Green Genes. Irish news channel RTE actually did a quick bit about them back in the day in which 19-year-old Murphy rocks a guitar and also a much thicker Cork accent than anything you’d hear from him now. When I had the chance to speak with him a couple of years ago, Murphy said he wouldn’t be opposed to doing a musical film, and considering he’s stayed pretty invested in the music scene – he even helps run a music and arts festival in his home city called Sounds from a Safe Harbor – the idea of him featuring in a musical feels both good and fundamentally right. Perhaps something with John Carney, director of Sing Street? Consider this prediction post me willing such majesty into existence. (Ciara Wardlow)


There Will be Multiple Movies About the Trump Presidency

Johnny Depp Donald Trump Art Of The Deal Funnyordie

Brace yourselves. Before 2030, I’m predicting we’ll see a minimum of eight narrative feature films about Donald Trump‘s presidency: at least two of them focused on the election; a The Report-style retelling of the Mueller investigation; a Jay-Roach-helmed impeachment drama; a satirical tragicomedy following Rudy Giuliani, Anthony Scaramucci, and Sean Spicer; an artful, indie apocalyptic thriller about how none of this had to happen if we dealt with climate change properly; a gratuitously violent horror blockbuster about how none of this had to happen if we dealt with climate change properly; and an R-rated animated film directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg about the life of George and Kellyanne Conway. (Cyrus Cohen)


The Social Network Will Get a Sequel

The Social Network

Just this year, we learned that a few parties from The Social Network are game for a sequel. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin said there was enough material for a follow-up film — though he hasn’t said exactly what he’s got his eye on. There’s been quite a bit of Facebook-related scandal, from Cambridge Analytica to Russian influence campaigns in the 2016 election, so Sorkin’s got a handful to choose from. Jesse Eisenberg, who played Mark Zuckerberg in the original, also said he was interested in reprising his role for a sequel.

There’s been nothing from director David Fincher; he’s been busy working on other projects like Mindhunter and his new film Mank. But within the next decade, we’re definitely going to keep an eye out for the much-needed part two. With the acclaim of the first movie, including its place in the top 10 of our Best Films of the Decade list, we predict the sequel will be just as good. Hopefully, it’ll be even better. (Fletcher Peters)


Studios Will Develop More Isolated In-Universe Content

The Mandalorian First Look

Given the massive reach of franchises like Harry Potter and Star Wars, it’s no surprise that their studios hoped to replicate these properties’ success with new films linked to the original source material. But as the underwhelming box office and mediocre critical reception for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and Solo: A Star Wars Story prove, crafting hollow extensions of popular movies won’t automatically create profitable memorable films.

In the 2020s, franchises will achieve better sustainability by creating separate but in-universe television series and films that aren’t tied to the plot of existing films. Star Wars and Harry Potter film spinoffs — Rogue One and the aforementioned Solo and The Crimes of Grindelwald — have mainly served as prequels that fleshed out elements of the in-universe canon that audiences already knew through existing backstories.

Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian is aiming for something different. The series expands on the original films’ Western and Samuraiinspirations, exploring the life of a Star Wars bounty hunter in a way that — with some help from Baby Yoda — promises longevity for the franchise after this year’s The Rise of Skywalker. Sure, we’ll still be seeing an Obi-Wan Kenobi series and an eventual adaptation of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, but perhaps also more isolated Star Wars programs and a show about unknown characters from the Wizarding World? (Abby Monteil)


Hollywood Will Revive More Dead Actors

Rebel Without A Cause

Digital recreations of dead actors appearing in movies are nothing new. However, the next decade will see the trend exploited more so than ever before. After it was announced that James Dean will be starring in an upcoming war movie called Finding Jack, the company responsible for resurrecting the deceased performer revealed that they own the rights to over 400 celebrities. This means that they could cast CGI versions of everyone from Bette Davis to Burt Reynolds in any random movies or TV shows, and that’s exactly what they’ll do.

Dead actors will be the biggest box office draw, just as they had been when they were alive. Expect to see sequels to all of your favorite classics with creepy avatars of the original cast members. There will be dream ensembles made up of performers who didn’t get to share a screen together when they were still alive. Hollywood has proven time and time again that milking people’s nostalgia can be profitable, and pretty soon the dead won’t be allowed to rest in peace.

Cary Grant will return to reclaim the hearts of audiences worldwide, replacing Noah Centineo as Netflix’s romantic comedy golden boy. Elsewhere, Andre the Giant will become Hollywood’s most typecast actor in villainous heavy roles, and he’ll fight Vin Diesel in the inevitable Fast and the Furious sequel that’s set in space. Perhaps we’ll even get to see a Batman vs. Superman reboot starring the dream duo of Adam West and Christopher Reeve. The possibilities are endless. (Kieran Fisher)


Taylor Lautner Will Become an Indie Darling

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part

Since Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson have become tremendously respected forces in both independent filmmaking and high-budget Hollywood, it’s about time for the Taylor-Lautnaissance. None of us will expect it, but it’s inevitable. As the 27-year-old actor/model evolves, he’ll start thinking more about his legacy and just how far late-2000s sex symbol status can take someone’s career. Taylor Lautner‘s last film role in the dramatic (albeit poorly reviewed) Run the Tide offers some insight into the type of roles he’s interested in pursuing, and with the right material, he could follow in his Twilight co-stars’ footsteps. (Cyrus Cohen)


Genres Will Get Even More Twisted Thanks to Societal Changes

Get Out Daniel Kaluuya

The 2020s are poised to bring monumental political, social, economic, and environmental changes (not to stress you out like Reverend Toller or anything). These divided and anxious times will most likely be fertile soil for a continuation and evolution of the horror renaissance audiences saw in the 2010s with Hereditary, Get Out, The Babadook, It Follows, The Witch, and others. Now that studios are aware indie horrors can grab audience attention, it’s even more likely they will be willing to take risks on more unconventional, experimental, and absurdist stories and filmmakers.

Given the success of recent films like Parasite, Sorry to Bother You, and Knives Out that meld social issues with dark humor, with the last one also playing with the mystery genre, I would also bet that political commentary in film will undergo a similarly outlandish renaissance in response to the Trump era. Basically, movies are going to push the envelope even further to compete with our unhinged reality and break through the endless stream of online content. Can’t wait. (Heather Hardee)


Cynthia Erivo Will Win an Oscar

Image

With just one award left to reach the ever-so coveted EGOT, I feel comfortable betting on Cynthia Erivo winning an Oscar before the decade is done. With two chances in 2020 (for Best Actress and Best Original Song via Harriet), the odds are already in her favor. It’s tough to say whether she’ll come out on top this year given the heavy competition she’s up against, but after extremely memorable roles in Widows, Bad Times at the El Royale, and now her acclaimed title role in the Harriet Tubman biopic, it’s clear she’s just getting started. She’s continued to select ambitious projects by exciting, established directors. With leading roles in the third season of Genius as well as John Ridley’s second narrative feature, her future looks blindingly bright. (Cyrus Cohen)


A Documentary Will Be Nominated for Best Picture

Apollo

I’m not going so far as to predict that a documentary will win the Academy Award for Best Picture because let’s take one thing at a time. But the next decade should see a nonfiction feature finally nominated for the top Oscar. We’ll soon be 20 years into the documentary golden age, and every now and then at least one doc receives enough buzz and end-of-year-list attention to spark the question of why not also a Best Picture nomination.

This year we ought to see Apollo 11 earn that honor (it’s already making some critics’ groups’ top 10 lists), but it won’t. Sure, doc features have their own category, but so do animated features and thanks to the increase in Best Picture nominees, at least two more of those have been recognized by the Academy outside its bracket and in the general Best Picture category. In the 2020s, it’s documentary’s time. (Christopher Campbell)

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