In Which We Are Staring Down Another Year.
Can you believe it, the 20’s, they are fully here again. Another year dawns and with that more new and exciting movies are coming down that pike. Now with the pandemic keeping things still totally in the air at all times, it’s hard to say exactly what the movie year will look like. Also each day you can find a myriad of piece written by a myriad of people about how the film industry is dying, that certainly might be the case, but a quick hop on the upcoming list always reveals plenty to get excited about. So without further ado…
Weren’t These Supposed to be Out?
Yes, the continuously shuffling schedule has ended up with a handful of upcoming films that are constantly being kicked around the calender. Here are a few highlights.
Top Gun: Maverick (May 27)
Perhaps the film that has been moved the most, the long awaited sequel to Top Gun well and truly seems to be heading to the big screen later this year. While the potential here is questionable, I at least expect Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski to pull out all the proverbial stops making these dog fights soar.
Next Goal Wins (TBD)
Taika Waititi has quickly elevated himself from indie wunderkind to top notch Hollywood talent. His other big movie will get a mention later, but one should also keep an eye out for this sports dramedy that got buried beneath Pandemic problems and the recasting of now known creep Armie Hammer. Anyway the story of a football team lead to a modicum of relevence by Michael Fassbender might be able to amble its way to the awards season later this year.
Mission: Impossible – 7 (September 30)
The latests, and penultimate, entry in the most entertaining action franchise has certainly seen it’s own share of difficulty. With pandemic delays, cast switch ups, and the eternal struggle to outdo past entries. While it’s difficult to determine if Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie will indeed top their previous work, we do know that they will make damn sure they try.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie (May 27)
The impact of the Disney/Fox merger is still be acutely felt as movies handled by either studio previously have to get moved around and determined without eating each others lunch. One of the victims has been the feature debut of America’s favorite animated restaurant family. Originally meant to premiere in 2020 (ha ha), the big screen version of the hit show is still kind of mystery. How will the low key charms of the sitcom translate to a wider canvas. We will find out this spring.
The Big Franchise Stuff
Yes, yes, here we will celebrate the death of art by noting some of the more interesting entries in long running series. You know those can be good as well.
The Batman (March 3)
Dark Knight fatigue might be real, but if there were an opportunity to counter it, it would be in the form of The Batman. Directed by the elegant studio hand of Matt Reeves (him of the original Cloverfield and Planet of the Apes sequels) this movie promises to return the caped crusader to one of his lesser known roles as the world’s greatest detective. The smaller stakes and terrific cast (with Robert Pattinson donning the suit and Zoe Kravitz, Paul Dano, Colin Farrell, and Jeffrey Wright joining the frey) it just might work out in the end.
Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (May 6)
I’m not really looking forward to this movie simply because it’s the latest in MCU, which honestly can feel like a chore nowadays. But because this is the first film in nearly a decade from Sam Raimi. The man who defined the modern day comic book film finally gets his crack at the biggest franchise going. Strange seems like the perfect character for Raimi’s particular eccentricities, and hopefully Bruce Campbell will show up as well.
Thor: Love and Thunder (July 8)
Waititi makes the list twice. After renovating the character with Thor: Ragnorak the director returns for another quest with the God of Thunder, this time joined by the plucky space friends of The Guardians of the Galaxy. Again hard to say if this will work out as well as the previous entry, but if Waititi is able to pull off another exuberant mix of wacky humor and overblown drama than a fun time is ensured.
The Predator series is one of those franchises cursed with followups with solid ideas that always seem to fall apart in execution. Prey once again has a terrific pitch: It’s the Predators first time on earth, and they most do battle with Comanche warriors in colonial America. Sounds great, add in the cast of mostly indigenous actors headed up by Legion’s Amber Midthunder, and smart genre director Dan Trachtenberg, and this might finally be the second great entry.
Avatar 2 (December 16)
Yes we just about the eternally delayed sequel to the highest grossing movie of all time (it regained that title after a re-release in China), but there has been on truism in the film industry for the past 30 odd years. Don’t bet against James Cameron. Honestly this movie might be terrible, but I don’t really care. I’ll be there day one for whatever the master action director has up his sleeves.
Knives Out 2 (TBD)
Rian Jonson and Daniel Craig re-team for another humorous and incisive mystery. This time detective Benoit Blanc heads to Greece as he cracks a case involving a coterie of massive talent (Dave Bautista, Janelle Monae, Kathryn Hahn, Edward Norton, and more). Hard to say how much this one will relate to the first, but hopefully it will be just as entertaining.
Hey, this category might have some films that might fit elsewhere, but hey animation is it’s own thing that we should highlight.
Turning Red (March 11)
The obligatory Pixar film makes the list with another recent entry in the small scale side of their output. Here we follow the life of a tween girl who is cursed to turn into a giant red panda whenever she gets angry. I assume many heartfelt lessons and hilarity will result from this.
Wendell and Wyld (TBD)
The first feature film in more than decade from stop motion master Henry Selick is finally seeing the light of day after being in production for seemingly five years. This supposed R-Rated comedy follows two demons played Jordan Peele and Keagan-Michael Key as they try to escape from the underworld. I think a Halloween release might be in order.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Part 1 (October 7)
Of course the followup to one of the best animated films of the past ten years was going to make the list. Little is known about how this inter-dimensional version of the websligner will actually play out, but it will heavily involve Spider-Man 2099, here played by Oscar Isaac.
How Do You Live (TBD)
Will Hayao Miyazaki’s last film actually come out this year? Probably not, but one can dream. Yes the eternally retiring master has one more movie to give to the world before he well and truly calls it quits. The plot is vague, something about the relationship between a boy and his grandfather, but tears and awe are nearly guaranteed.
That Cinephile Stuff
Yes, yes, here’s where get arty. Don our monocles, log on to our letterboxd accounts, and bow down to the authors of pure Kino. Or, it’s the part of the list where notable directors have a new film that doesn’t fit in the previous categories.
Killers of the Flower Moon (TBD)
Of course Scorsese was gonna be the top of this part of the last. The grandmaster of American cinema drills down into the dark past of the west as he explores the genocidal killings of Native Americans in Oklahoma. He’s being supported here by an excellent cast that include Leonardo DiCaprio, Jesse Plemmons, and Lily Gladstone.
The Fabelmans (November 23)
Divorce has long been a sore sport for Steven Spielberg, and now he’s finally going to confront the one he experience as a child head on. This highly autobiographical tale will chart the life of a family disintegrating in mid-century America. Well worn territory for sure, but Spielberg is one of the greats for a reason, and this will be certainly an interesting watch.
The Northman (April 22)
Beloved indie director Robert Eggers scales up massively for this viking epic as a man (Alexander Skarsgård) seeks revenge on the man who murdered his father and took his mother. Eggers’ penchant for oddity and detail will certainly make this more than a standard actioner, and he’s supported by an awesome cast including Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Anya Taylor-Joy, and most importantly, Bjork.
Elvis (June 24)
Australian extravagance is ensured as Baz Lurhamn returns with his film about the life and times of the King of Rock. This movie may live on in infamy as the one where Tom Hanks caught COVID, but hopefully the film itself will be interesting enough to stand as it’s own unique thing.
Nope (July 22)
So far only a poster and a cast list has been revealed for Jordan Peele’s latests. But intriguing details have been floating around. Such as the film was partially shot in IMAX, certainly sounds like the scope of Peele’s vision has increased, and hopefully this new film from him is able to match it.
Disappointment BLVD. (TBD)
“Nightmare comedy,” is the only descriptor so far from new horror provoker Ari Aster. Indeed such a phrase could be used for his previous films, but his newest promises to be more expansive as it tracks the “life of successful entrepreneur,” here played by Joaquin Phoenix. That’s pretty vague, and Aster has promised a four hour fright fest, but all will be seen later this year. Hopefully.
Asteroid City (TBD)
Lovers of twee rejoice, Wes Anderson has another movie coming out this year. Does it star Bill Murray, yes. Is the rest of the cast also crazy stacked? (Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Jeffrey Wright, Bryan Cranston, Willem Dafoe etc.) Also yes? Is this all we know so far? Yep. Some have speculated this might be a western, or perhaps sci-fi film. Hard to say, but it will artfully arranged no matter what.
The long in development Marilyn Monroe biopic has been filling the internet with chatter about its supposedly risque material that nearly sent Netflix in a tizzy. Ana de Armas plays the star and it’s overseen by maverick director Andrew Dominik so anything is possible.
The Killer (TBD)
After mixing it up with Mank, David Fincher returns to his wheel house of morbid violence and existential dread. This time he charts the career of a professional hitman (Michael Fassbender) as he skulks about Paris slowly losing his mind. Sounds like prime Fincher material to me.
Three Thousand Years of Longing (TBD)
Mad Max mad man George Miller has another actioner coming down the pike. In the meantime he cooked up something completely different. A romantic drama between a woman (Tilda Swinton) and a genie (Idris Elba). An intriguing premise to be sure, and with Miller at the helm this movie will be anything but normal.
Crimes of the Future (TBD)
Body horror maestro David Cronenberg returns with one last hurrah. This time a film concerning bodily modifications and starring Cronenberg favorite Viggo Mortensen and Kristen Stewart. The premise and cast all promise a dysmorphic and unnerving experience.
Alex Garland has spent his stint as director concocting beautiful and unnerving sci-fi stories that drill down into the heart of the human condition. With his latest we don’t know how much genre has been added to the stew, but the story of woman (Jessie Buckley) going on vacation will certainly much more off putting than we think.
Poor Things (TBD)
After a long break, Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos once again re-teams with Emma Stone for a movie that sounds as bug nuts as one would hope. Here Stone plays a woman who has the brain of her child transplanted into her mind by a mad scientist. Definitely a setup for oddly staged drama and creepy humor.
White Noise (TBD)
With his penchant for acerbic domestic comedies and high class drill downs it’s a bit of a swerve for director Noah Baumbach to tackle one of literatures most willfully obtuse authors with Don DeLillo’s White Noise. This movie could easily be a disaster (much like the airborne toxic event in the novel), but it is a massive swing for Baumbach and returning acting partners Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig.
Ah Damian Chazelle, directing wunderkind turned Oscar villain, turned underrated talent. While the discourse of previous films reside in the past one can easily anticipate his splashy return to the big screen with an epic about the silent age of Hollywood starring Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie.
Other Interesting Stuff
These don’t quite fit into the other categories, but color me intrigued.
Don’t Worry Darling (September 23)
Actress Olivia Wilde has had her ups and downs, but she found something special with her 2019 coming of age comedy Booksmart. For her follow up she has employed the talents of Florence Pugh and Harry Styles for a mid century psychodrama of some kind. The movie has been a bit of flashpoint because it lead to the celebrity coupling of Wilde and Styles. Hopefully the film we be able to step out of that shadow.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (April 22)
Ah Nicolas Cage, not a year goes by without him releasing some sort of wild sound film. Here he stars as himself, and Cage the character gets embroiled in a crime comedy as his biggest fan (Pedro Pascal) invites him to an extravagant birthday part. This could be incredibly lame, or it could be super fun. Hopefully the Cage gods land on the Latter.
Everything Everywhere All at Once (March 25)
Honestly this is the multiverse movie we should get excited about. Directed by wacky duo Daniels (them of LMFAO videos and Swiss Army Man) Everything follows the life of a woman (Michelle Yeoh) who gets sent spiraling through alternate dimensions and has to fight her way out to save everything. The pitch, cast, and trailer are all great, so hopefully this film delivers this spring.
Riley Stearn’s oddball masculine takedown The Art of Self Defense proved his skills as a director, and this year he returns with an even higher concept premise for his lens. Here Karen Gillan plays a woman who has herself cloned, but eventually must do battle with her doppelganger to decide which one gets to live in the world.
With just a few films Welsh director Gareth Evans has proved himself to be perhaps the best modern choreographer of hand-to-hand combat. With Raid films and his tv series Gangs of London behind him he’s got a hot new project for Netflix. Havoc stars Tom Hardy as detective fighting his way through a city to uncover some sort of conspiracy. Sounds great to me.
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