In Which We Look Ahead
A New Year. So much possibility, so much promise, and so many new movies! As always the world of film and talking about film is a fraught minefield filled with too much hedging, finger pointing, and belittling. So for this article I want to highlight the movies I am genuinely excited for. Like ready for to purchase my ticket or log in to a streaming service as soon as possible. Without further ado let’s begin.
We Were Here Last Year
First up a collection of flicks that made last years list, and are actually, well and truly coming out in 2023.
Killers of the Flower Moon
Scorsese will always get the top spot with a new project, and his latest, for Apple, promises to be intriguing. Chronicling the murders of people on the Osage reservation in the 1920’s, the film will certainly tackle Scorsese’s favorite themes: Crime, Greed, and the all American capacity for cruelty. Coming along for the ride is director stalwart Leonardo DiCaprio and freshly minted Oscar nominee Jesse Plemmons.
While every article about Wes Anderson has to mention his penchant for whimsy and twee aesthetics it’s these factors that continue to make his movies some of the most singular in contemporary cinema. This year he is returning with a sprawling ensemble cast (with newcomer to the Anderson crew, Tom Hanks) to explore a fictional astronomy competition in 1950’s America. Deadpan, perfect compositions, and adroitly chosen pop songs are guaranteed.
Beau Is Afraid
With only two feature length films to his name Ari Aster has already become one the arbiters of modern horror, perhaps being the director mostly closely associated with the supposed “elevation” of the genre. However you feel about those bonafides there’s no denying that his new project sounds intriguing. Aster is promising a “nightmare comedy” that is reportedly running three hours long, the biggest budget ever for indie darling A24 at $60 million, and with an extraordinary cast including Joaquin Phoenix, Nathan Lane, and Patti LuPone.
After a somewhat off-kilter turn with Mank David Fincher returns to the milieu that he works best in, fucked up thriller. Here we have Michael Fassbender as the titular hitman, and also Tilda Swinton is there. So far that’s all is known, but it’s certain to be a tense affair.
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1
After being in a nightmarish production for nearly three years the fruits of Tom Cruise’s latest death wish are finally ready for the big time. As always the stunts are the name of the game as Cruise and collaborator Christopher McQuarrie attempt the impossible of upping themselves yet again. Whatever the case, I can’t wait for the maniacal contraptions cooked up for our entertainment.
Yes we live in the world where all the biggest movies tend to be sequel and remakes. I’m not gonna list them all here, but here’s a few that I’m excited for.
Magic Mike’s Last Dance
One of the most surprising trilogies of the last decade get’s a proper sendoff as Channing Tatum once agains doff’s his clothes to the delight of all. Steven Soderbergh is back again in the director’s chair, and while he has promised a suitable 30-minute dance climax, one never knows exactly where his films go. So expect the unexpected as well as some mondo beefcake action.
It’s been a while since Michael B. Jordan has graced the screen. And the luminous star is taking it even further with his third entry in the excellent Rocky spinoff series. Here Jordan steps behind the camera and brings in exciting up and comer Jonathan Majors to face in the ring. Montages will abound as the two head to a dynamite sports movie clash.
John Wick 4
The master assassin is back to shoot and throat chop his way across cinema screens. Keanu Reeves has found his perfect role as the grieving hitman focussed on revenge. Here his globe trotting adventure promises more wild martial arts as he aims to take down the organization where he previously worked.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
The venerable archeologist is back for one last ride as he does battle with left over Nazi’s in 1960s America. One can’t help but feel that this might miss Steven Spielberg’s sure hand, but new director James Mangold has proven to be an excellent big time craftsman, and the hope fore spritely action and globe trotting can be fulfilled with aplomb.
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3
The only Marvel on this list, Guardians of the Galaxy promises to be a tearful conclusion to the MCU’s most personal corner of the universe. Director James Gunn has had a steady hand at balancing humor, action, and pathos, and if the trailer is anything to go by all three will be incredibly prominent as we say goodbye to our space friends.
Dune Part 2
One of the joys of Denis Villenueve’s Dune was seeing the totemic piece of science fiction be given the considered care needed to move the intricate world and story to the screen. But that might have been the easy part, for the second Dune movie we have to plunge headlong into the nuttier elements of the story. Alia, Feyd-Rautha, and Princess Irulan are all set to head to Arrakis this November.
Cartoons are great, even if they continue to be seen as some lesser art form by the general, so here’s a few to get excited for.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Into the Spider-Verse has proven to be a key in the world of modern American animation, a potent counterpoint to the stylistic rigidity of the movies made by Disney/Pixar and we are finally getting a full blown sequel this year. The trailer shows a whole world of Spider-People to be intrigued by, plus the series now signature stylistic shifts.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie
The only entry on this page that is slightly tongue in cheek, the adaptation of the perennial video game franchise is perhaps the lodestone of game movies becoming a new huge component of blockbuster filmmaking. Yes we know of the whole Chris Pratt situation, but I am willing to give this one a shot just to see if the folks behind the Minions can make this series just as ubiquitous.
How Do You Live
The grandmaster of animation, Hayao Miyazaki, has always been working on one final film, but this is the year he finally releases it. In the work for over ten years, and with a plot that is mostly kept under wraps, the concluding statement form the medium’s singular artist is shaping up to be quite the emotional experience. Anime may have been a mistake, but Miyazaki’s work is worth it all.
We all want that personal vision in out films, and the next batch will provide just that.
The twinned movie meme of the year, two directors try their hand at milestones of the mid 20th century. Greta Gerwig, with her bubbly and acidic comedy will take a crack at finally taking the Barbie dolls to live action with Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. On the other end of the spectrum we have Nolan tackling the man who would become the destroyer of worlds with Cillian Murphy. These movies have nothing in common, but are both releasing on July 21st, so get your double feature plans ready now.
Luca Guadagnino returns this year with a movie that promises a touch less viscera than his previous two projects. , Zendaya stars in a story pitched as a sports rom-com in the world of tennis. Guadagnino has always had a strong hand for romance and bodily exertion, so it’s exciting to see him move into a new variation of that genre.
Poor Things & AND
Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos has found surprising success in modern Hollywood, as his movies of bizarre ritual and alienation have proven to attract top talent and actual interest from audience. He’s scheduled for two movies this year, though we will see if both of them make it. Poor Things is pitched as nutty redux of Frankenstein as a woman (Emma Stone) transplants the mind of her daughter into her body. Even less is known about And other than it stars Jesse Plemmons and Stone and is some sort of ghost story. Either way prepare to be disturbed and amused with Lanthimos behind the camera.
The king of professionals, Michael Mann, returns with his first movie in nearly a decade. This time he turns his aptitude for precision to the world of fine automobiles. Adam Driver continues his descent into the world of Italian accents by playing the renowned car manufacturer. One can only hope there are plentiful scenes of night lights gleaming off of windshields.
While a film about the titular type of romance seems like an almost trite topic, director Todd Haynes has a knack for inverting the familiar into something much more unexpected and artful. The lovers in this case appear to be Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore.
Francis Ford Coppola is one of the most esteemed directors in the history of the medium and he has one last giant swing of a film to make. After years of hocking wine he has cashed it all in on this science fiction epic about an architect rebuilding New York after a natural disaster. Adam Driver once again stars, but the most intriguing element is the promise of Coppola usually specially developed VFX for this project. It will certainly look wild.
Bradley Cooper’s swerve from America’s pretty douchebag to respected director is interesting in its own right, but here he takes it a step even further as he stars and directs in a biopic about the life of Leonard Bernstein. There’s already been some consternation of Cooper donning aggressive makeup to inhabit the role, but I’m willing to give this one a shot based on the excellent work he did with 2018’s A Star is Born
Ridley Scott, the busiest octogenarian in Hollywood, has yet another historical epic. This time he turns his focus to the French emperor and the conquests and romances of his years in the revolutionary army. Joaquin Phoenix takes the lead here, and it will be interesting to see if the two can recapture the magic of their previous collaboration.
The Iron Claw
Sean Durkin has quietly made a name for himself directing disquieting dramas that present as horror movies without explicitly being them. This style is an interesting fit for his third project, a decades long portrait of the Von Eric family, important figures in the field of professional wrestling. Perhaps most intriguing of all is that this seems like a serious awards play for lead Zac Efron, whose aggressively handsome demeanor will go headlong against the troubled family’s history.
William Oldroyd is not a big name in the world of filmmaking, he’s made only one movie. But that movie was Lady Macbeth, the feature debut of now superstar Florence Pugh. If he can take the same approach with Thomasin Mackenzie and Anne Hathaway we will have another winner on our hands. The questions remains to be seen if the adaption of Ottessa Moshfegh’s novel can live up to the incredibly off putting source material.
After mucking around in big franchise movies, director of big things Gareth Edwards returns with an original and mysterious science fiction project. The film stars John David Washing and Gemma Chan, and that’s about all we know. Will be exciting to see Edwards penchant for scale applied to a new story.
Odds and Ends
Here are some projects that didn’t quite fit into the other categories but I wanted to highlight.
The newest horror freakout from Branden Cronenberg releases in three weeks, so hard to get completely riled up just yet. But if Possessor proved anything it’s that Cronenberg the younger lives up to the family name. And with Mia Goth hopping in front of the camera we know this is going to be all kinds of fucked up.
The title says it all. There’s a bear loose in the woods high on cocaine. The trailer has had a bit of a viral sensation around it. So one hopes this lives up to the doofy premise and doesn’t wind up as another Snakes on a Plane.
Nicolas Cage is fully back. After a decade of scrounging in the DTV world his star has been recast as the elder statesman of wacky actors. Here he gets to play Dracula, which seems like a match made in heaven. Even further this comedy, from Chris McKay director of The Lego Batman Movie, promises to focus on the falling out between Dracula and his faithful servant (played by Nicholar Hoult) have a falling out.