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17 essential things to see, read and do in 2019

Michelle Williams and Sam Rockwell star in Fosse/Verdon

Start filling your diary for the year ahead with the exhibitions, books and films that everyone will be talking about




Michelle Williams and Sam Rockwell take top billing in this spellbinding TV series about the life and love(s) of Broadway power couple Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon. Their turbulent relationship, on- and off-stage, inspired classics like Cabaret, Chicago and Pippin, but something much darker lay beneath the glossy surface. Musical maestro Lin-Manuel Miranda is executive producing, so expect a healthy dose of jazz hands amongst the drama. Airs April 9 on FX

Taron Egerton plays Elton John in fantasy musical Rocketman


Last year brought us Rami Malek’s all-singing, Oscar-winning Freddie Mercury. This year, Taron Egerton is stepping up to fill the rock’n’roll-shaped hole he left behind. His portrayal of Elton John is already whipping up Oscar buzz – the seeds were sown when he duetted with the legend himself at a post-Academy Awards bash last month. Expect a bespectacled, glitter-garnished marvel of a movie, sure to get you chanting “Hold me closer tiny dancer” at the top of your lungs. Out May 24 (UK); May 31 (US)

The Goldfinch

Donna Tartt diehards rejoiced when the film adaptation of her 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. The release date has shifted to October to firmly position it as Oscar contender – put it on your one-to-watch list now. Out October 11 (US)

What Men Want

Remember that long-forgotten, Mel Gibson classic What Women Want, in which he can hear women’s deepest, darkest thoughts? Well, this is the gender-twisted remake. Taraji P. Henson plays a ball-busting sports agent edged out of the top spot by her younger male colleague, but things take a turn when she develops the power to hear the ponderings of all of the men around her and decides to outmaneuver the office. Cue some slapstick moments, high levels of sass and a few laughs at the expense of gender stereotypes.

For fans of: Something’s Gotta Give; What Happens in Vegas; Crazy, Stupid, Love


Following the incredible critical success of Get Out, director Jordan Peele is back with a new psychological thriller that promises to scare the living daylights out of all of us. This time, he has recruited queen of dystopian drama Elisabeth Moss and the sublime Lupita Nyong’o as his leads alongside newcomer Winston Duke (whom you may have spotted in Black Panther) in a scream-fest story about a family whose beach vacation quickly descends into a nightmare when some uninvited visitors arrive. Out March 15

For fans of: Sorry to Bother You, Get Out, A Quiet Place

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

This release has all the marks of a cult classic: based on the bestselling novel by Maria Semple, directed by indie royalty Richard Linklater, and featuring the stellar cast of Cate Blanchett, Kristen Wiig and Billy Crudup. It follows young Bee as she attempts to unravel the mystery of where her mother has disappeared to. A soul-warming, coming-of-age comedy for all generations. Out March 22

For fans of: About a Boy, Little Miss Sunshine, 20th Century Women

Taraji P. Henson with Josh Brener in What Men Want

Captain Marvel

The pap shots have been doing the rounds and the rumors are swirling, but finally the official trailer is here and boy does it look kick-ass. Brie Larson helms the first female-led Marvel spin-off – a landmark moment for the comic book giants. In-between saving the world and some serious pyrotechnics, her dark history is unveiled and we find out exactly how Carol Danvers came to be Captain Marvel. Out March 8

For fans of: Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Deadpool

Oscar winner Brie Larson takes the lead in Captain Marvel


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, is being published in English, and it’s set to be just as controversial.

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 March 28

Read if you loved: Rachel Cusk’s Outline trilogy


Madness, memory and the violence of the patriarchy are tackled with searing thoughtfulness in Husdvedt’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 March 19

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.

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

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.

Read if you loved: Circe by Madeline Miller


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 opens on January 25 until July 10, showcasing the photographer’s early Polaroids, mixed-media experimentations and powerful portraits of his soul mate, the poet and musician Patti Smith. The second phase, from July 24 until January 5, 2020, will examine the impact Mapplethorpe’s work had on the world.

Go if: You’re a fan of Helmut Newton’s risqué images

Candy Darling by Robert Mapplethorpe, 1973

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, which runs from May 9 until September 8 at The Met and will be kicked off by a gala event co-hosted by Lady Gaga, Serena Williams, Alessandro Michele, Harry Styles and Anna Wintour. The exhibition promises to unpack 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.

Go if: You loved the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition

Dora Maar Centre Pompidou, Paris

Dora Maar may have modeled for Man Ray, Jean Cocteau and Pablo Picasso (with whom she also had a stormy romantic relationship), but she was so much more than an artist’s muse. Maar was a formidable creative force in her own right – her innovative, uncanny photographs piqued the interest of the Parisian avant-garde and she became an influential figure of the surrealist scene of the 1930s. An exhibition at Centre Pompidou in the French capital from June 5 to July 29 aims to do justice to her unsung talents.

Go if: You’re a fan of Lee Miller’s experimental shots

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 from 27 June until 15 September for this major retrospective and draw your own conclusions.

Go if: You love the selfie work of Sophie Calle

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

Judy Chicago: A Reckoning Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami

The landmark 1979 work The Dinner Party by 79-year-old American artist Judy Chicago is an installation celebrating female achievement and anatomy that literally gave a seat at the table to 39 women the history books had ignored, from Greek poet Sappho to explorer Sacagawea and artist Georgia O’Keeffe. The work’s legacy has seen Chicago hailed as the founder of feminist art, but the full scope of her creative contribution is only recently being given the visibility it deserves. Cue Judy Chicago: A Reckoning until April 21 at the ICA Miami, exploring the first three decades of the artist’s career.

Go if: You love feminist artists Joan Jonas and Louise Bourgeois


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