A new year means awards shows and recognition for the many great films of 2019—and it also means that it’s time to get hyped about the next big thing coming to the silver screen in 2020. For fans of mysteries and thrillers, 2020 is shaping up to be quite the year. Check out the most highly anticipated mystery and thriller movies that will have you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
The Night Clerk (February 21, 2020)
Voyeurism is a classic thriller trope, and it can create a lot of tension in the right hands. The Night Clerk stars Tye Sheridan as a nosy front desk clerk. When a murder is committed on his watch, he becomes the prime suspect. Sheridan's co-stars include Helen Hunt and the apparently very busy Ana de Armas, who is set to appear in a number of other movies on this list.
The Invisible Man (February 28, 2020)
The Invisible Man is a very loose adaptation of H.G. Wells’ sci-fi/horror classic of the same name. Under the guidance of director Leigh Whannell, this version morphs into a psychological thriller—though it retains all the chilling elements that the book is known for. Elisabeth Moss stars as a woman in danger, first from an abusive partner and then from a mysterious threat.
Spenser Confidential (March 6, 2020)
Spenser Confidential is based on the novel Wonderland by Ace Atkins, which continues the saga of Robert B. Parker's popular private eye character Spenser. Spenser is a tough ex-cop who, in the upcoming film, moves in with an aspiring MMA fighter in Boston, with whom he forges a friendship and investigative partnership. The two wind up working to solve a double homicide. All of this stuff about rugged ex-cops and Boston and crime probably has you wondering: Is Mark Wahlberg the star of this movie? Man, you bet he is.
Lost Girls (March 13, 2020)
From the mid-nineties to the early 2010s, the beaches of New York were the hunting grounds of a terrifying serial killer. Over the course of more than a decade, the Long Island Serial Killer murdered at least 10 and perhaps as many as 16 people—mostly women and mostly sex workers—and hid their bodies along Ocean Parkway on the South Shore of Long Island. The grisly real-life discoveries on Gilgo Beach and Jones Beach never led to an arrest.
The definitive account of the case is investigative reporter Robert Kolker's Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery. Now, Netflix is adapting Kolker's nonfiction book as a crime drama starring Amy Ryan. Ryan plays a mother desperate for answers after the sudden disappearance of her daughter.
Wildland (March 12, 2020 in Denmark, 2020 in the United States)
Scandinavians sure know how to make a good crime thriller. Wildland comes to us from Denmark, where it's known as Kød & Blod. Sidse Babett Knudsen, of Westworld fame, stars in this story of an orphaned girl taken in by her aunt and cousins. The seemingly normal family lives a second, secret life outside of home: That of violent and remorseless criminals. This film debuts in Denmark in March, and should make its way stateside at some point later in the year.
No Time to Die (April 2, 2020 in the United Kingdom and April 10, 2020 in the United States)
Mortality hasn't been much of an issue for James Bond, who has been in Her Majesty's Secret Service since before man landed on the moon. On the other hand, Bond might be showing his age in more ways than one. After a gritty and (relatively) realistic reboot in Daniel Craig's first Bond flick, Casino Royale (2006), the series has drifted back to its old tropes and formulae. There's good stuff in the classic Bond playbook, but the super-spy's most recent adventure, Spectre, failed to impress critics and didn't do much better with many fans.
Related: The Best James Bond Movies, Ranked
So maybe there's subtext awaiting us in No Time to Die, which opens five years after Spectre. An aging Bond is being called out of retirement by CIA pal Felix Leiter. The gray-haired former agent will set out to prove that there's life in him—and this series—yet. There's a lot of reason for hope: The latest Bond flick is armed with a superb supporting cast (adding Rami Malek and Ana de Armas to a recurring crew that includes Ralph Fiennes, Christoph Waltz, and Jeffrey Wright), an exciting choice of director in Cary Joji Fukunaga (known for 2015's Beasts of No Nation), and a script that was fine-tuned by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (best known for creating, writing, and starring in BBC’s Fleabag).
Promising Young Woman (April 17, 2020)
Promising Young Woman stars Carey Mulligan as Cassie, a once-promising med student turned nightclub vigilante. Cassie spends her nights pretending to be incapacitated by drink at local nightclubs in order to attract would-be rapists and then—once she has them alone—exacting her revenge. Grim as that premise is, the trailer makes this film look colorful and stylish. Balancing a slick and fast-moving flick with such serious subject matter will be tough, but Promising Young Woman appears to have a team that can pull it off: Bo Burnham adds his star power to Mulligan's on screen while Killing Eve's season two showrunner Emerald Fennell takes on the dual tasks of writing and directing.
The Woman in the Window (May 15, 2020)
This year will see the release of the film adaptation of the hit thriller novel The Woman in the Window. The book's intrigue wasn't limited to the printed page; a controversy surrounded it upon publication when astute readers noted its debts to other stories, including The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954), and Sarah A. Denzil's Saving April.
There are ethical questions about all of this that might keep some people away from The Woman in the Window, but the hit book also proved that assembling a bunch of familiar plot points into a kind of psychological thriller Greatest Hits album is a pretty effective way to write an enjoyable story. Questions of influence aside, this should be a good one.
Related: 8 Books Like The Girl on the Train
Fast & Furious 9 (May 22, 2020)
Fans of action-thrillers, rejoice: There's yet another Fast & Furious film coming out this year. These movies have somehow managed to become better by growing more ridiculous. We don't know much about the plot of this one yet, so it remains to be seen if it's a straightforward action flick or more of a heist thriller, as some entries into the series have been. Thriller fans will be keeping their fingers crossed for the latter.
The Many Saints of Newark (September 25, 2020)
We’ve seen plenty of mobster flicks by now, but there's always room for one more—especially when it's a prequel to The Sopranos, written by legendary Sopranos showrunner David Chase. Michael Gandolfini will step into the role of a young Tony Soprano, replacing his legendary father James, who passed away in 2013.
The Sopranos brought gangster life down to Earth and favored emotional stakes over action and thrills, so prepare for quiet realism in The Many Saints of Newark. Still, the film will almost certainly please fans of crime dramas and thrillers as well.
Death on the Nile (October 9, 2020)
Agatha Christie fans were treated to a modern adaptation of her work in 2017's Murder on the Orient Express. That film was judged to be "just okay" by pretty much every critic out there, but no matter: there are still more than 60 Agatha Christie novels left to work with, and Kenneth Branagh (who directs this sequel and also reprises his role as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot) seems determined to keep at it. Death on the Nile is an all-time great even by Christie's standards, and a good adaptation would be a real treat.
Deep Water (November 13, 2020)
Directed by Adrian Lyne (Fatal Attraction, Indecent Proposal), starring Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas, and based on a great novel by the inimitable Patricia Highsmith, Deep Water is in the running to be one of the best thriller flicks of the year—if not the decade. It's been nearly 20 years since we last heard from Lyne (the most recent film he directed was 2002's Unfaithful), but Deep Water looks like it will fit right in with his back catalog of psychosexual thrillers.
I Care a Lot (2020)
I Care a Lot stars Rosamund Pike as an unscrupulous legal guardian who uses her talent for law to con those in her care, all without leaving a trace of her misdeeds behind. The hook: Her latest mark is not nearly so helpless as she thought. Not a lot is known about the details of this one, but Peter Dinklage reportedly plays a character with mob connections, so it seems safe to say that the legal guardian's con goes rather seriously awry.
I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020)
Netflix's I'm Thinking of Ending Things is based on the psychological thriller of the same name by Iain Reid. The book kicks off with a man taking his girlfriend to meet his parents, an innocuous enough day that soon evolves into something far more sinister. The mind-bending plot is a perfect fit for legendary screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, who also directs this one. That's all we can say without giving away too much of the book, but rest assured that this a must-see for cinephiles and psychological thriller fans alike.
Mob Girl (2020)
Mafia dramas are full of action, but they never feel more like psychological thrillers than in the tense moments that surround a character's decision to go state's witness. There's a nervous energy in sequences like the climax of Goodfellas or the most shocking moments of The Sopranos. Mob Girl is going to be bringing a whole lot of that suspense, because it's all about an informant: Arlyne Brickman, a real-life mafia wife who flipped on the crooks and later became the subject of a hit true crime book of the same name by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Teresa Carpenter. This film version stars Jennifer Lawrence as the titular mob girl and follows Brickman's life story from her early years in New York City's Lower East Side to her dangerous decision to aid the government's case against the Colombo crime family.
Featured still from "The Woman in the Window" (2020) via Twentieth Century Fox