Our 2020 culture list: everything you need to watch, stream and listen…


The turkey sandwiches have been finished off, even the Bounty bars have disappeared from the Celebrations tin and one more prosecco might send you over the edge.

Lucky, then, that it’s time to swear off alcohol for a few weeks and make the cinema (or the sofa) your new Saturday night destination.

If 2019 was the year of the Hot Priest, bent coppers, the Jen An-naissance, ‘Old Town Road’ and Brad Pitt in a plaid shirt, 2020 will be the year we’re all dressing like Jo, Beth, Meg and Amy from Little Women, falling for Phoebe Waller-Bridge all over again (thanks to Bond and Run, her new TV show starring Domnhall Gleeson) and obsessively dissecting Marianne and Connell’s relationship in the BBC adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Normal People.

Here’s everything you need to know to kick-start your cultural 2020.


Little Women

Little Women (Alamy Stock Photo)

With Christmas out of the way, there is really only one reason to leave the house before New Year’s Eve, and that is: to watch Little Women, the Greta Gerwig adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s iconic novel and pretty much the most perfect film of the year. Already receiving five-star reviews across the board, as well as major awards buzz, Gerwig’s film (starring Emma Watson, Timothée Chalamet, Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Laura Dern and Meryl Streep) will make your heart soar and break. (And inspire you to change your entire wardrobe.) Out Boxing Day​


George MacKay as Schofield in ‘1917’ (Alamy Stock Photo)

Bond director Sam Mendes’ latest film, 1917, is already being hailed as the biggest, boldest and best of his career so far. A First World War thriller, 1917 follows two young soldiers (played by relative newcomers George Mackay and Dean-Charles Chapman) as they are dispatched on a harrowing, high-risk mission to deliver a message which could stop an attack on hundreds of soldiers. This is a tragic story of lives wasted and lost, and a sure-fire awards contender. Out 10 January​


Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie in Bombshell (Alamy Stock Photo)

First came The Morning Show, the glossy Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon fronted series depicting the fall of a news anchor accused of sexual harassment on the biggest morning news show in America. Now comes Bombshell, the first MeToo film starring Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie. They play the women who brought down controversial Fox News CEO Robert Ailes, who resigned in 2016 following a series of accusations of sexual harassment. Two years after Time’s Up, it’s a dramatic, if slightly dispiriting, watch. Out January 17      

Queen and Slim

Daniel Kaluuya in Queen & Slim (Alamy Stock Photo)

Queen & Slim starts with a scene familiar to most of us: a man and woman on a Tinder date where the sparks aren’t really flying. But, on their way home, something few of us can imagine happening unfolds. After they’re pulled over by a police officer, the man shoots the cop in self-defence. So the couple – played exquisitely by Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya – go on the run. Written by Lena Waithe and directed by Beyoncé-approved Melina Matsoukas, this is slick, stylish and moving. Plus, there’s a killer soundtrack masterminded by Dev Hynes (Blood Orange). Out 31 January​

The Lighthouse

Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson (Alamy Stock Photo)

Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe get dark (and grow lots of facial hair) in this black and white horror documenting two lighthouse-keepers going mad in, you guessed it, a lighthouse. Wherever this film goes, praise follows. Out 31 January. (For more horror, catch A Quiet Place II, John Krasinksi’s follow-up to his much-lauded film, out on March.)

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers (Image supplied by Capital Pictures)

We’ll watch almost anything Tom Hanks stars in. And so to A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, the biopic centring on Fred Rogers, the children’s TV presenter and directed by Marie Heller (the woman behind last year’s hit Can You Ever Forgive Me?). The story follows investigative journalist Lloyd Vogel (played by Matthew Rhys) after he is sent to profile Rogers. Sceptical that anyone could truly be so nice, the interview forces him to reconcile his own story. Prepare to be moved. Out January 31 


Parasite (Alamy Stock Photo)

it a dark comedy, a tale of class struggle or a social satire? Really: who cares? Over the past few months, Parasite – the South Korean film directed by Bong Joon-ho – has become the most talked about foreign language film of the moment (and recently shortlisted for the best foreign film at the Golden Globes). And with good reason. Go and see this immediately, first, for the pub chat dissecting the film afterwards and, secondly, to join in on the ever-proliferating online memes. Out 7 February  ​


Kristen Stewart in Seberg (Alamy Stock Photo)

Kristen Stewart plays Jean Seberg, the French New Wave actress who became an FBI target due to her involvement with the Black Panthers and Civil Rights Movement. Conjecture that Stewart will be feted during awards season has already begun. Out 10 January


The Trial of Christine Keeler

The Trial of Christine Keeler (BBC/Ecosse Films/Ben Blackall)

Everyone knows you do absolutely nothing between Christmas and New Year. So grab a blanket, head straight for the sofa and settle down for The Trial of Christine Keeler, the BBC’s drama depicting the women at the centre of one of the most infamous scandals to have rocked the British establishment. A six-parter starring Sophie Cookson, Ellie Bamber and James Norton, catch the first episode on December 29, followed by the second the day after. 

Sex Education

Otis and Eric from Sex Education

When Netflix dropped Sex Education last year, 40 million people tuned in for awkward but brilliant scenes of teen love and sexual discovery, spearheaded by a brilliant Gillian Anderson as a sexual therapist. Emma Mackey, Ncuti Gatwa and Asa Butterfield return after the show turned them from fresh faces to breakout stars. Out January 17

Small Axe

Small Axe (BBC/McQueen Limited/Des Willie)

Letitia Wright and John Boyega star in Steve McQueen’s BBC drama Small Axe, a six-part series of 60 minute films charting the West Indian immigrant experience in London between 1968 and the early 1990s. ‘I wanted to look at the real roots of first and second generation [black immigrants]; how they changed British culture and [what they] achieved in a hugely hostile environment,’ McQueen told ES Magazine in November. For more McQueen, head to the Tate Modern from 13 February, for the first major exhibition of his work. Release date TBC

Normal People

Normal People (BBC/Element/Enda Bowe)

When Sally Rooney’s Normal People came out in 2018, it rapidly cemented the voice-of-a-generation status she had earned with her debut, Conversations with Friends. The BBC adaptation, starring Daisy Edgar-Jones as Marianne and Paul Mescal as Connell, is set to be as addictive as Rooney’s writing. Release date TBC  

The New Pope

Jude Law in The New Pope

Jude Law reprises his role as Pope Pius XIII alongside John Malkovich in the follow-up to The Young Pope, Paolo Sorrentino’s captivating Vatican drama. According to early reviews, it’s ‘glorious,’ ‘divine,’ ‘gorgeous’ and ‘immaculate.’ Count us in. Out January 12

White House Farm

White House Farm

Another true story that rocked the nation, White House Farm – according to ITV – will give ‘fascinating insight’ into the 1985 shocking murder of five members of the same family (including two six-year old boys) on White House Farm. Starring Stephen Graham, Freddie Fox and Cressida Bonas, the story is told over six episodes. Out January 8.


Fresh from his excellent turn in Succession, Matthew MacFadyen teams up with Fleabag’s sister Sian Clifford in Quiz as Charles Ingram, the former British army major who cheated his way to winning £1 million. Release date TBC  


Prepare for full Phoebe Waller-Bridge fever to break out again with Run, a romantic thriller starring Merritt Weaver and her first love – and charismatic life guru – played by Domhnall Gleeson. The series centres on them attempting to fulfil a pact made long ago. Our bet? That PWB is about to send another Irishman stratospheric. Swoon. Release date TBC​


La Roux – Supervision

La Roux aka Elly Jackson (WireImage)

If ‘In For The Kill’ and ‘Bulletproof’ were as era defining for you as they were for us, put the release of La Roux’s third album, Supervision, in your calendar now. Following the single ‘International Woman Of Leisure’ – a powerful response to male privilege – as well as work with Tyler, the Creator on his latest album, Igor, <and> a split from her label and long-term girlfriend, Supervision will no doubt be an album full of self-reflection (and total bangers). ​Out 7 February 

Selena Gomez – Rare

Selena Gomez at the AMAs (Getty Images for dcp)

Selena Gomez has been working on Rare, the follow-up album to 2015’s Revival, for the past four years. It was ready two years ago, but Gomez scrapped the album ‘to feel the feelings that [she’s] gone through’. Already described as her most ‘honest music’ yet, expect not-so-coded references to The Weeknd and Justin Bieber, which will probably set the internet ablaze. Out 10 January​

Madonna at the Palladium

Madonna (Getty Images)

It. Is. Happening. From 27 January to 16 February, London officially belongs to Madonna, as she embarks on a major residency at the Palladium following her worldwide Madame X tour. Sell everything you own for a ticket; we know we will. 

Louis Tomlinson – Walls

Louis Tomlinson (Getty Images for iHeartMedia)

Those One Direction boys have been busy lately: Harry Styles released his second album, Fine Line, in December, just as Liam Payne dropped LP1. Now, it’s Louis Tomlinson’s turn, with the release of Walls. ‘I’m really relieved to finally be here,’ he has said. ‘Thank you very much everyone for your patience.’ Out January 31

Tame Impala – The Slow Rush

Kevin Parker of Tame Impala (AFP via Getty Images)

Fans of Tame Impala – aka Kevin Parker – have patiently been waiting for this ever since the 2015 release of Currents. The Slow Rush will apparently focus on the ‘notion of the passage of time.’ Which probably means more epic songs ripe for festival audiences in 2020. Out February 14

Grimes – Miss_Anthropocene

Grimes in 2016

In the last few years, Grimes has called her last album, 2015’s Art Angels, ‘a stain on my life,’ referred to her record label as ‘my piece of shit label’ and earned countless tabloid headlines for her relationship with a certain Tesla founder. What we already know is Miss_Anthropecene is a ‘concept album about the anthropomorphic Goddess of climate change.’ Buckle in. Out 21 February 


Uncle Vanya

The cast of Uncle Vanya

Conor McPherson (the author of Girl From The North Country) is reviving Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya at the Harold Pinter Theatre. The story follows an elderly professor and his glamorous wife; when they visit their rural estate, two friends fall in love with the wife. The cast includes Toby Jones, Richard Armitage, Aimee Lou Wood (of Sex Education fame) and Rosalind Eleazar​. From January 14 

The Welkin

The Welkin

Lucy Kirkwood, the woman behind multi award-winning show (and then Channel 4 drama) Chimerica, returns with The Welkin at the National Theatre. Starring Maxine Peake and set in 18th-century Suffolk, it depicts a pregnant murderer facing a jury of 12. ​From 15 January

4,000 Miles

Timothée Chalamet

Timothee Chalamania is about to hit the West End in earnest, as the 23-year-old makes his stage debut at The Old Vic as the grandson of Dame Eileen Atkins in Amy Herzog’s tale of an ageing New York radical. ​ From April 6

To Kill a Mockingbird

The poster for the upcoming To Kill a Mockingbird

West Wing and The Social Network writer Aaron Sorkin’s Broadway hit adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird comes to London from May to mark the 60th anniversary of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer-winning novel. Rhys Ifans takes on the role of Atticus Finch. Our only question is: how fast will he talk? From 21 May​


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