Just yesterday, Dune: Part Two was delayed to 2024, marking the latest casualty in the ongoing strikes led by SAG-AFTRA against movie studios as a result of failed labor negotiations. It’s pretty disappointing that we’re resorting back to near-COVID times in terms of skeptical movie release dates and constant delays.
But I thought I’d take the chance to turn it into a positive and look at the movies I’m still looking forward to (hopefully) seeing in 2023. It’s still a pretty loaded list, chalked full of esteemed directors and big blockbuster tentpoles. Dune: Part Two was a big one, but it wasn’t the only one.
I also thought it might be fun – or depressing – to look back on this list as we’re turning to 2024 and see how many of them are actually released to the public. I’ve got my hopes up that most of them will, simply because they already have festival premieres set and I can’t imagine studios wanting to hold over material too much longer after their initial time in the limelight (see, Showing Up).
I’ve already done some tentative list making in anticipation for my Best of 2023 list and it’s been a pretty solid year for movies. I expect some of these anticipated releases to land on said list, but it’ll take a few exceptional films to shake up what might be the best year of the decade at the theaters so far.
Some honorable mentions before we get started:
Priscilla, Sofia Coppola
Maestro, Bradley Cooper
Anatomy of a Fall, Justine Triet (Palme d’Or winner)
May December, Todd Haynes
The Boy and the Heron, Hayao Miyazaki
10. The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
Call me cautiously optimistic, but I think the trailer looks pretty good for this one. It’s an odd story, turning a young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) into the main character of movie that predates any of the original Hunger Games films. I love the gold tinge throughout the trailer, giving the movie a sense of sorrow that bleeds through the glamour.
The rest of the cast is loaded with people I like, from Peter Dinklage and Hunter Schafer to Rachel Zegler, Jason Schwartzman and Viola Davis. Fingers crossed!
9. The Holdovers
Another trailer that won me over almost immediately after seeing it, The Holdovers looks utterly delightful. There aren’t enough filmmakers nowadays experimenting in the same lane as Richard Linklater, Kelly Fremon Craig, or Alexander Payne.
The movie follows an instructor (Paul Giamatti) forced to stay with the few students who aren’t able to go home for the holidays (labeled, The Holdovers). A hangout movie in a sense, and one that looks equal parts riveting, insightful, and tender.
8. Poor Things
Yorgos Lanthimos’ hotly anticipated return is supposedly still releasing in 2023, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the next big arthouse release to fall. As all of Lanthimos’ movies tend to be, Poor Things looks absolutely deranged and manic, bathing in dark comedy and using dread to build suspense.
Bear with me as I give you a short plot summary: Bella Baxter (Emma Stone) is brought back to life by the brilliant and unorthodox scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe). Under Baxter’s protection, Bella is eager to learn. Hungry for the worldliness she is lacking, Bella runs off with Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo), a slick and debauched lawyer, on a whirlwind adventure across the continents.
Count me in.
7. Evil Does Not Exist
*Note: no poster for this one (yet!)
I’m going out on a limb here and hoping that Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s newest movie will have a 2023 release. The acclaimed director behind Drive My Car has a surprise film coming to festivals around the country this fall, one I’m hoping will follow in the same footsteps as his prior few releases.
Evil Dead Not Exist’s placing on this list is solely on the name of the director. Drive My Car is one of the most beguiling movies I’ve ever seen, equally sad and hopeful, mournful and uplifting. It’s hard to follow up something of that magnitude – it’s always a surprise to see an international film nominated for Best Picture – but I can’t wait to see him try.
6. The Zone of Interest
Although not winning the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest was the talk of the town. A film centered on the horrors of the holocaust at Auschwitz, but always kept at a distance where you never actually see the violence.
Reviews were overwhelmingly positive for this one coming out of Cannes, and I’m generally in the bag for Jonathan Glazer’s movies. To this day, I’m not sure how he conceived Under the Skin. He makes movies that feel inspired by something other than film. We’ll see what this one has in store.
I usually like all of Ridley Scott’s movies to varying degrees. Some of them, like Alien and Thelma & Louise, are stone cold classics. Others, I’ve been more of an admirer than a fan. I prefer when he works on a massive scale, using big set pieces to drive action and intensity.
Needless to say, that looks to be the case with Napoleon, which looks like an expansive, overwhelming, and visceral experience. The titular character is played by Joaquin Phoenix. I hope I get the chance to see this on the big screen before it hits Apple TV+.
4. The Creator
Original storytelling is hard to come by in the science fiction genre. It’s normally eaten up by the likes of Star Wars or Marvel, but there’s been a few to seep through in the past. I’m hoping Gareth Edwards’ The Creator will be the latest.
Set in a world dominated by artificial intelligence, The Creator looks high octane and heart pounding. John David Washington is back to big filmmaking after starring in Tenet, and honestly, this doesn’t look too far off in terms of tone. I imagine it’ll be more linear, but I’m hoping it’s the same level of quality. The trailer looks great for this one, too.
Michael Mann returns with Ferrari, a movie chronicling the luxury sports car family through the creation of their world famous brand. Starring Adam Driver, the movie looks to be incredibly dark and visceral, right in the same lane as past Mann films – obviously Heat and Collateral.
Adam Driver is due for a bounce back after a few misses in auteur projects (commercially speaking, I’ve still liked most of them). He looks to turn his fortunes around, and I think he’ll do just that. It’s been well documented that Michael Mann has a strong fanbase that’ll eat up whatever he delivers – and to that I say, count me in.
2. Killers of the Flower Moon
Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited return since The Irishman. I’m not sure I have to give much of a sales pitch for this, but I will note that this stars the following actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, Jesse Plemons, Brendan Fraser, and many more.
Scorsese’s getting up there in age and I’m not sure how many more of these we’ll get. He’s arguably the most important figure in cinema in the last half century, and it’s an event whenever he has a new movie coming out. Prepare accordingly.
1. The Killer
But my personal favorite director has a new movie releasing. David Fincher’s The Killer is his first movie since 2020, and his first in the thriller genre since Gone Girl. I’m a simple man, I have simple tendencies. When David Fincher releases a movie, I watch it – simple as that.
It stars Michael Fassbender in his return to the big screen and is described as depicting the life of an assassin as he escapes an international manhunt and battles personal demons. It’s his shortest movie in quite some time, marking a divergence from past odysseys like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Zodiac. If this gets pushed to 2024, it becomes personal.