22 essential things to see, read and do in 2019

Nicole Kidman leads an all-star cast in the film adaptation of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch

The most exciting films, books and exhibitions to take you through summer and beyond…



The Goldfinch

Donna Tartt diehards rejoiced when the film adaptation of her bestselling 2013 novel was announced, and as the cast list rolled in, it sure didn’t disappoint. Nicole Kidman, Sarah Paulson, Ansel Elgort and Luke Wilson headline this epic coming-of-age tale about an outsider with a burdensome secret. Put it on your one-to-watch list now. Out September 13 (US); September 27 (UK)

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time In Hollywood

Once Upon a Time In Hollywood

Who better than Quentin Tarantino to tell the goriest, most appalling tale in all of Hollywood history? With the help of the biggest names in the business – Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Al Pacino and Damian Lewis – this summer blockbuster retells the story of the infamous Manson murders, carried out by cult leader Charles Manson and his doting minions, which sent shockwaves through Tinseltown back in 1969. Robbie is uncanny as tragic actress Sharon Tate, the most high-profile victim and then wife of Roman Polanski, but be sure to watch out for cameos from a slew of future stars, such as Margaret Qualley (currently lighting up the small screen in Fosse/Verdon) and Sydney Sweeney (the breakout star of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects). Out July 26 (US); August 14 (UK)

The Handmaid’s Tale

The tag line for season three of The Handmaid’s Tale promises that we’ll “witness the birth of a revolution”, hinting at the thrilling, unstoppable rise of the resistance in Gilead. The show hit US and UK screens in June and, as if that weren’t enough, on September 10 we have the breathlessly anticipated publication of Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments. Blessed be the fruit. Out now on Hulu (US) and Channel 4 (UK)

Tales of The City

This ground-breaking series based on Armistead Maupin’s novels first aired in the 1990s and promptly became a queer classic. The show returned to modern-day San Francisco this summer with Laura Linney reprising her role as Mary Ann Singleton and Ellen Page playing her daughter. It’s a joyous and heart-breaking watch about finding your home and choosing your family. On Netflix now


Where to start with this little nihilistic number? The creepy, noir sequences of Joaquin Phoenix cackling to himself in his derelict apartment; the manic clown makeup; his stumbling walk that ever so slightly pays homage to Heath Ledger’s iconic Joker… It all looks utterly unmissable. The internet went into overdrive when the first teaser trailer dropped, promising more than just a film about a volatile villain, but a cautionary tale about what can happen to the broken-spirited and downtrodden souls of this world. Will Phoenix join the ranks of legendary sociopaths like No Country for Old Men’s Javier Bardem and Silence of the Lambs’ Anthony Hopkins? We can’t wait to find out. Out October 4

When They See Us

In her latest project, cultural powerhouse Ava DuVernay takes on the tragic 1989 case of the Central Park Five, dramatizing the experience of five teenagers of color who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in Central Park. Given DuVernay’s rock-solid record of crafting sensitive explorations of racial inequalities (see her Academy Award-nominated documentary 13th), it’s bound to be special. On Netflix now

Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us



This provocative portrayal of female sexuality won 31-year-old Nina Leger the Anaïs Nin Prize in 2017, when the novel was first published in French. Now the English-language translation (by Laura Francis) promises to captivate even more readers. For fans of the subversive and daring writing of Leïla Slimani. Out August 1

Read if you loved: Three Women by Lisa Taddeo


With Anna Burns scooping the 2018 Man Booker Prize for Milkman and Sally Rooney hailed as Salinger for the Snapchat generation, Irish literature is having something of a moment. Next up is Nicole Flattery, a writer from Co. Westmeath whose new collection of stories deserves your full attention. Out now

Read if you loved: My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

ADELE Leïla Slimani

French-Moroccan writer Leïla Slimani won France’s ultimate literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, for her bestselling, incendiary thriller about infanticide, Chanson Douce (entitled Lullaby in the UK and The Perfect Nanny in the US). Now her daring first novel, Adele, about a woman who is addicted to sex, has been published in English, and it’s set to be just as controversial. Out now

Read if you loved: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

SPRING Ali Smith

This is the third instalment in Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet, which isn’t about the seasons as such, but more the idea of interconnection. Chronologically written, the series explores the passing of time and the state of Britain: experimental fiction at its most vital from an award-winning author at the height of her powers. Out now

Read if you loved: Rachel Cusk’s Outline trilogy


Madness, memory and the violence of the patriarchy are tackled with searing thoughtfulness in Hustvedt’s latest novel. The story of a young woman finding her way in the world is ignited by a clever splicing of disparate elements: diary entries, the narrator’s novel manuscript, overheard conversations and present-day commentary. It’s funny and philosophical. Out now

Read if you loved: Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

DAISY JONES & THE SIX Taylor Jenkins Reid

Amazon has already commissioned a 13-part series produced by Reese Witherspoon based on this novel, which the Hollywood power player has called “beautifully layered and complex”. Fans of Almost Famous will be captivated by the story of the rise and fall of a 1970s rock and roll band. Out now

Read if you loved: Play It as It Lays by Joan Didion

THE AGE OF LIGHT Whitney Scharer

From the Surrealist parties of bohemian Paris in the 1930s to the battlefields of World War II, this work of historical fiction removes photographer Lee Miller from the shadow of her artist partner Man Ray, positioning her as a free-thinking woman who lived an extraordinary life on her own terms. Out now

Read if you loved: Circe by Madeline Miller


Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life Tate Modern, London

Back in 2003, Olafur Eliasson created a huge glowing sun in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, and a staggering two million people came to see it. Now the Danish-Icelandic artist returns to the gallery with a career-spanning survey of his immersive, perspective-shifting installations. Expect a program of unforgettable experiences. Until 5 January 2020

Shiota Chiharu: The Soul Trembles Mori Art Museum, Tokyo

Memories, anxiety, dreams and silence are themes that recur in the work of Berlin-based artist Shiota Chiharu. The exhibition’s title hints at those intangible, soul-trembling experiences from which she draws inspiration. Once a student of Marina Abramovic, and best known for her intricate installations of black and red thread, this new exhibition will be her largest solo show to date. Until 27 October 2019

Connecting Small Memories by Shiota Chiharu, 2019
Mary Quant at the V&A; Simone Leigh: Loophole of Retreat at the Guggenheim

Mary Quant Victoria & Albert Museum, London

The iconic creations of Mary Quant, the fashion designer who launched a vibrant youthquake on the British high street in the 1960s, are now on display at London’s V&A. It’s a chance to marvel at Quant’s miniskirts for rebel girls – “I liked my skirts short because I wanted to run and catch the bus to get to work,” she once said – and appreciate her energizing way with color. Until February 16, 2020

Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe Now Guggenheim Museum, New York

Once a staff photographer for Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine, and controversial for his documentation of New York’s counterculture scene in the 1970s, Robert Mapplethorpe’s fascinating creative output is being explored via two back-to-back exhibitions at the Guggenheim in New York. The first phase of Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe Now showcased the photographer’s early Polaroids, mixed-media experimentations and powerful portraits of his soul mate, the poet and musician Patti Smith. Now in its second phase, it examines the impact Mapplethorpe’s work had on the world. Until January 5 2020

Simone Leigh: Loophole of Retreat Guggenheim Museum, New York

Chicago-born artist Simone Leigh is having her New York moment. Known for her ceramics exploring the experiences and histories of black women, 2018’s Hugo Boss Prize winner is having the full scope of her practice celebrated with a solo exhibition at 5th Avenue’s Guggenheim Museum (until August 4), while across town her monumental bronze sculpture Brick House – a signature female bust – has been unveiled on the High Line’s new plinth.

Dora Maar Centre Pompidou, Paris, and Tate Modern, London

Too often, Dora Maar’s talent has been eclipsed by her nine-year relationship with Pablo Picasso. Two cities will be showcasing the full breadth of Maar’s long career and uncovering the truth about this talented artist who was a key figure in the avant-garde movement of the 1930s, creating radical photomontages that became important works of surrealism. First stop, Centre Pompidou in Paris until July 29, then on to Tate Modern in London from November 20 to March 15 2020.

Dora Maar stands with her painting Nature Morte au Bocal et à la Tasse, 1945

Camp: Notes On Fashion The Met Fifth Avenue, New York

The 1964 essay Notes on “Camp” by American writer and activist Susan Sontag has inspired the Costume Institute’s spring 2019 exhibition at The Met, which was kicked off in May with a gala event co-hosted by Lady Gaga, Serena Williams, Alessandro Michele, Harry Styles and Anna Wintour. The exhibition unpacks the camp aesthetic and its evolution, examining how fashion designers have used the sensibility as inspiration and helped to fuel its celebration in mainstream culture. Until September 8

Lee Krasner: Living Colour Barbican, London

“I like a canvas to breathe and be alive. Be alive is the point,” said artist Lee Krasner, whose expressive, large-scale paintings crackle with energy. The full force of Krasner’s inventiveness – from early self-portraits to her dynamic works that pioneered abstract expressionism – is celebrated at the Barbican’s major summer exhibition. Krasner’s marriage to Jackson Pollock is just one of the fascinating details of her colorful life. Until September 1

Cindy Sherman National Portrait Gallery, London

In the age of the selfie, the work of American artist Cindy Sherman – who started photographing herself disguised as fictitious characters in the mid-1970s – is bound to ignite heated conversations. Her extraordinary body of work interrogates the tensions between identity and artifice, drawing on cinema, television, advertising and fashion as visual references. Head to the National Portrait Gallery for this major retrospective and draw your own conclusions. Until 15 September

Two Marc Jacobs SS16 looks, part of Camp: Notes on Fashion

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