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The Movies You Need to Watch Before You Go to the Movies in 2020

Our annual backwards guide to the remakes, reboots, and franchise returns of the coming year.
Movies To Watch
By  · Published on January 9th, 2020

The Shape Halloween

Halloween (1978) and Halloween (2018)

Now that they’ve wiped the slate of Halloween sequels and retconned the canon to only include the 1978 original and the 2018 direct sequel of the same name, Blumhouse is continuing things in their own way with another sequel, this one titled Halloween Kills. Play catch up with Laurie Strode and family as well as killer Michael Myers by seeing the first two related movies that came out 40 years apart.
Due date: October 16th

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009) and G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)

Ray Park played the character Snake Eyes in these two live-action movies based on the G.I. Joe toys and cartoons, but now Henry Golding is taking over the role for Snake Eyes, which is apparently a character-focused prequel to the previous installments rather than a reboot. That’s doable when you’ve got a hero who mostly wears a mask, I guess.
Due date: October 16th

Black Widow (2020)

Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is expected to be less connected than the franchise has been in the past, and The Eternals looks at least to be as independent-but-canon as Guardians of the Galaxy. But you never can tell with the MCU, and with it being the second installment of the year (25th overall), it won’t hurt to see the first one first.
Due date: November 6th

Clifford’s Really Big Movie (2004)

Everyone’s favorite giant red dog, Clifford, has starred in numerous children’s books as well as cartoon series based on those books. One of those series, PBS’s Clifford the Big Red Dog, spawned this animated feature released to theaters. It will serve as a foundation for you as you prepare to take the kids to the new live-action family film also titled Clifford the Big Red Dog.
Due date: November 13th

Eaux Profondes (1981)

Patricia Highsmith’s novel Dark Water is about to receive an official film adaptation of the same name care of director Adrian Lyne, master of the erotic thriller. It won’t be the first version brought to screen, though, as there was this French adaptation starring Isabelle Huppert that features a translated title.
Due date: November 13th

Godzilla (2014), Kong: Skull Island (2017), and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

First, they brought back Godzilla. Then they brought back King Kong. Then Godzilla got another movie with some of his old friends. Now he’s coming back again to face King Kong in Godzilla vs. Kong. This could be the battle of the century or it could be like that movie in which Batman and Superman face off. Either way, prepare for a lot of destruction with the three precursors in the MonsterVerse franchise.
Due date: November 20th

Venus and Serena (2012)

Sister tennis icons Venus and Serena Williams have now been the focus of numerous documentaries, but Venus and Serena is the one that stands out as the joint biographical treatment. And it’s the one that will likely have the most general overlap with the upcoming biopic focused on their father, King Richard.
Due date: November 25th

Escape Room (2019)

The quickest sequel turnover of the year goes to Escape Room 2, which will bring back Taylor Russell’s character from this original released just last year. The horror movie, which ties into the popular trend of escape room games, follows a bunch of strangers trapped in a deadly puzzle as they attempt to survive.
Due date: November 30th


Dune (1984)

After turning down the offer to direct Return of the Jedi, David Lynch made this sci-fi movie based on the popular Frank Herbert novel(s). It was a critical and financial disaster. Since then, Dune has been adapted as a popular TV miniseries (with sequels), but now the book is getting another big-screen attempt courtesy of Denis Villeneuve. Actually it’ll be at least a two-part adaptation. Lynch’s Dune might not be great, but there’s much to like here and there and will be fun to compare against the highly anticipated and hopefully successful new version.
Due date: December 18th

West Side Story (1961)

When you’re a remake, you’re a remake all the way… The musical West Side Story is a redo of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which itself is a reworking of the ancient play Pyramus and Thisbe. And like Romeo and Juliet, there’s no reason why West Side Story shouldn’t be adapted as a film multiple times and ways. This time and way is a classic, a Best Picture winner even. The next time and way is from Steven Spielberg and features a more racially appropriate cast.
Due date: December 18th

Coming to America (1988)

Eddie Murphy is back, and when ’80s movie stars get a comeback, they do so with late sequels to their old hits. Murphy will reprise his role as Prince Akeem in Coming 2 America (as well as other various characters), following up on this original big lie and fish out of water romantic comedy from 32 years ago.
Due date: December 18th

Puss Gets the Boot (1940)

This is the first-ever theatrical animated Tom and Jerry short film, though the cat and mouse characters had different names at the time. It also gave them their first of many Oscar nominations, but not the win. Rather than watching the 1992 feature Tom and Jerry: The Movie before catching the upcoming live-action/animation hybrid Tom and Jerry, kick off a binge-watch of the old cartoons beginning with Puss Gets the Boot. Be warned, though, that it’s not the most politically correct short.
Due date: December 23rd

The Croods (2013)

Long-delayed and once thought dead, The Croods 2 is now scheduled for release at the end of 2020. Presuming it won’t be pushed back again, now is the time to see the original, an animated comedy about a caveman family that was a global box office success seven years ago.
Due date: December 23rd

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.