The most exciting movies of 2020 – crime films and thrillers

The Many Saints of Newark

Also known as the Sopranos movie. Thirteen years after the series ended, David Chase delivers a belated prequel, set in mob-tastic 1960s and 70s New Jersey. Young Tony is played by James Gandolfini’s son, Michael, while Alessandro Nivola, Vera Farmiga, Corey Stoll and Jon Bernthal round out the cast.

The Woman in the Window

Let’s give this film the benefit of the doubt and hope its delayed release and reshoots are to polish a future classic, rather than salvage a botched job. Dodgy novelist AJ Finn’s Rear Window-ish thriller is being brought to the big screen by Joe Wright (with Tracy Letts on scripting duties); Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore and Anthony Mackie round out the cast. Could this be the film to finally bag Adams an Oscar?

Watch the trailer for The Woman in the Window on YouTube

Mob Girl

Jennifer Lawrence has been missing from action for far too long; this is her ball-busting comeback, as a New York mafia mum who becomes an FBI informant. It’s based on a Pulitzer-prize winning memoir from 1992; what makes this especially inviting is that Paolo Sorrentino is directing, and it will be his first film with a female lead.

Dark Waters

Todd Haynes’s thriller has been out for a while in the US. It comes to the UK in February, trailing acclaim for Haynes’s slight change of direction and Mark Ruffalo’s leading turn as a corporate lawyer who uncovers troubling links between unexplained deaths and the chemical company DuPon, which settled a class-action suit for $671m in 2017.

The Duke

Roger Michell reunites with Jim Broadbent almost a decade after the underrated Le Week-End for a larky but dark caper about a cabbie in 1961 who nicks Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery. He then sends ransom notes offering to return the painting if the government invest more in elder care. Helen Mirren, having just played in The Good Liar, gets involved with another singular crim.

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Death on the Nile

Kenneth Branagh’s massive-tached turn as Hercule Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express in 2017 gave us a major panto hit. Now the Belgium crime fighter has yet more stiffs to sift on another luxy holiday. Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Annette Bening and, er, Russell Brand, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders are all either suspects or corpses.


Evan Rachel Wood, Richard Jenkins and Debra Winger appear in Kajillionaire

Family business … Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger and Evan Rachel Wood as con artists in Kajillionaire. Photograph: Matt Kennedy

The return of multi-hyphenate Miranda July kicks off a quartet of crime films premiering at Sundance. Richard Jenkins and Debra Winger star as hardened con artists who’ve spent more than a quarter of a century years raising a child (Evan Rachel Wood) they hope will turn into a heist icon.

The Nest

Sean Durkin’s mostly UK-set thriller features Jude Law and Carrie Coon as a couple who relocate from Washington in the 1980s and wind up going bananas inside their isolated manor house. It is Durkin’s second feature after Martha Marcy May Marlene, and features Anne Reid in the number three role, which can only be an enticement.

Lost Girls

Documentarian Liz Garbus goes true crime for this story of a woman searching for her missing daughter who uncovers a possible serial killer targeting Long Island sex workers. Leave No Trace breakout Thomasin McKenzie co-stars with Amy Ryan; Lola Kirke and Gabriel Byrne also appear.

Promising Young Woman

Watch the trailer for Promising Young Women on YouTube

Killing Eve series two showrunner Emerald Fennell directs this super-buzzy thriller. It stars Carey Mulligan as the duplicitous title character, whose past is valiantly trying to catch up with her. This looks like a bracing change of tack into neo-noir for Mulligan, a great actor in need of a surprising second act. Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Jennifer Coolidge and Molly Shannon co-star.

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Aaron Sorkin’s second film as director as well as quip chief looks closer to his home turf than the patchy Molly’s Game. This is a dramatisation of the case of the Chicago Seven, who were charged with anti-democratic actions in 1968 – which means, in film terms, a ton of fellas facing off in a courtroom. They include Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Jeremy Strong, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Frank Langella, William Hurt, Michael Keaton and Mark Rylance.

Deep Water

Adrian Lyne’s return to the big screen 17 years after Unfaithful will also be – fingers crossed – Ben Affleck’s return to quality film-making. Based on the Patricia Highsmith novel about an unhappily married couple playing increasingly lethal mind games with one another, it suggests Affleck has rightly identified Gone Girl as his last decent picture. Knives Out’s Ana de Armas is his tricksy missus.


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