Most Anticipated Films of 2023

Infinity Pool (directed by Brandon Cronenberg) – 27 January

Possessor was one of the most unflinchingly brutal movies I’d seen in a long time, so I now approach Brandon Cronenberg’s work partially cowering but intrigued. The official synopsis of the picture is very vague, telling us it’s about a couple who are wealthy and young enjoying a vacation at an all-inclusive resort. However, outside the grounds of the hotel is something perilous & violent, a cultural collapse. If this is anything like Possessor, expect zero sentimentality from the director and visual effects that will melt your brain. Stars Mia Goth and Alexander Skarsgård.

Evil Dead Rise (directed by Lee Cronin) – 21 April

I enjoyed the last Evil Dead film more than I expected, but I’ve never been a massive fan of the series. So I wouldn’t have said I was too interested in this until the trailer dropped, which intrigued me. While the first act or a prologue will center on events at a cabin in the woods, the bulk of the action will take place in a Los Angeles apartment building, changing the series’ pace. There also seems to be a single Deadite, the deceased mother of a group of children now in the custody of their aunt. That personal angle to the horror, plus the gruesome bits we’re shown, leave me thinking this will be a visceral experience. I’m not a fan of gore, for gore’s sake, but the movie being directed by Lee Cronin gives me some confidence. His feature, The Hole in the Ground, didn’t stick the landing but did nail the atmosphere and made the stakes of the horror personal.

Killers of the Flower Moon (directed by Martin Scorsese) – May

Since wrapping The Irishman, legendary director Martin Scorsese has been working on this. It’s an adaptation of a novel that was based on actual events. In the 1920s, the FBI began investigating the murders of the Osage people after oil was discovered on their land. Jesse Plemmons is set to star as the lead investigator. He’ll be pitted against Robert DeNiro as the main antagonist. Leonardo DiCaprio, Brendan Fraser, and John Lithgow are also set to star. We will see this released sometime in May but not sure of the date, but it will drop on AppleTV+ likely on the same date or shortly after that. I will watch anything Scorsese puts out, so this one will get reviewed and discussed on the site.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse Part 1 – 2 June

The first Spider-verse movie is the best Spider-Man film we’ve ever gotten. It captured the heart of Sam Raimi’s trilogy while keeping things feeling fresh & modern. Miles Morales immediately endeared himself to audiences, and his supporting cast of allies and villains was so well developed, even if only given a few minutes on screen. This sequel looks to be more of the same, but I expect some twists. Oscar Isaac takes on the role of Miguel O’Hara, aka Spider-Man 2099, and Miles will be going to the other Spiders this time instead of them coming to his world. With Part 1 included in the title, I assume we’ll get a big exciting cliffhanger to string us along until the next. I am not interested in any other superhero movies coming out in 2023, so this will likely be the only one I review unless something else comes along that is truly an abomination worth discussing.

Asteroid City (directed by Wes Anderson) – 16 June

Anderson has already wrapped production on this one in the fall of 2021, so it could be coming out at any time in 2022. This will mark the first time he’s worked with Margot Robbie and Tom Hanks, but there will also be a flood of familiar faces. The story is set in 1955 and follows a group of parents & students gathering for a national Junior Stargazer convention. This could be used as a framing device for a series of short pieces, a la The French Dispatch. Beyond the previous big names mentioned, you have your usual suspects for an Anderson joint (Schwartzmann, Swinton, Murray, etc.). However, I’m more interested in seeing younger talent like Maya Hawke & Sophia Lillis and how they mesh with the director’s very particular tone & style. This is set to be a summer release, expecting limited to start and expanding a few weeks later.

Barbie (directed by Greta Gerwig) – 21 July

Upon reflection, I realized Greta Gerwig has yet to direct a movie I’ve disliked. From Frances Ha to Lady Bird to Little Women, I have enjoyed all of them, some more than others, but have disliked none. Margot Robbie is set to star as Barbie herself, with Ryan Gosling providing back-up as Ken. There’s no word on the tone or plot of the movie, but this could go in any direction. This is a very surreal take on the character from the teaser trailer. I wonder if we’ll see any “fictional characters in the real world” tropes or if the story will be contained in the world of Barbie. Because this is being done in conjunction with Mattel, I don’t expect the honest effects of Barbie dolls on American culture to be touched on by anything more than some throwaway jokes. I am apprehensive that this will end up being a very corporate, shallow meta-humor movie, and honestly, we don’t need more of those. It’s Gerwig directing, so that gives me some hope. Please don’t burn me, Greta.

Challengers (directed by Luca Guadagnino) – 11 August

Luca directs a movie, and I am there. He’s become that kind of a director, so I’m on board until he makes something irremediably bad. Once again, he gives us a romance but this time set in the world of competitive tennis. It’s reportedly about a love triangle between characters played by Mike Faist (West Side Story), Josh O’Connor, and Zendaya Coleman. Zendaya is the wife of Faist and manages his career, which has fallen into a losing streak. Her ex-boyfriend (O’Connor) shows back up, and apparently, the love triangle is not just a heterosexual one. I’m most interested in seeing Zendaya’s performance here. She’s managed to wiggle away from her Disney kid persona with Euphoria, but that’s still a high school show. Hoping she plays an adult here, and from what Luca has said, this is a “kinetic, sexy” movie about “fucked up people.” 

The Exorcist (directed by David Gordon Green) 13 October

I know Green didn’t strictly stick the landing of his Halloween trilogy, but as I argued on the podcast, it is a franchise full of awful movies. At least he gave us some interesting ideas, and (other than the terrible ending) I liked the twist on the concept. Now Green is making an Exorcist sequel, another troubled franchise with only one arguably good follow-up (The Exorcist Part III). This time, the spotlight is on Chris Macneil (Ellen Burstyn). A father realizes his daughter is possessed by a demon and seeks out Chris because of her experience with her child decades prior. Legacy sequels/reboots are the thing now, so I’m sure we will get some of that. Leslie Odom, Jr. plays the dad, and Ann Dowd is also in the cast. I want some atmospheric horror scene from this; creeping dread like the original. 

Dune Part 2 (directed by Denis Villeneuve) – 3 November

I’ll be honest; I wasn’t a massive fan of the first Dune movie despite being a big fan of Villeneuve. However, I greatly appreciated the worldbuilding & production design. By the nature of this adaptation, it was a partial story with open character arcs. With this second part, it will be easier to see if the whole thing comes together now, and I hope it does. The anti-messiah narrative within Dune is a compelling element, a challenge to centuries of Western thinking that saviors will just show up and fix things while reality has proven that wrong. I’m concerned about future adaptations of books in the series as Warner Discovery is giving Disney a run for its money in being the worst media company on the planet.

Attack the Block 2 (directed by Joe Cornish)

Attack the Block was a sleeper hit that introduced me to John Boyega. Since then, he’s risen in prominence, but now Joe Cornish will return to this British science fiction world. The last time we saw Boyega’s heroic Moses being hauled away in a police van despite saving his apartment building (and possibly the world) from an alien invasion. This time around, gentrification is one of the problems plaguing the community as that apartment building has been turned into expensive high-rise condos, which happened to those original shooting locations since 2011. I’m guessing that the initial invasion either left something behind that’s been dormant since, or the invaders finally have backup arriving a little late. I’m interested to see how Moses evolves as a character and how Cornish has grown as a filmmaker.

Bad Behaviour (directed by Alice Englert)

Actress Alice Englert makes her directorial debut with this dark comedy. Lucy (Jennifer Connelly) is a former child actress attending a spiritual retreat run by Elon (Ben Wishaw). Lucy is also navigating a troubled relationship with her adult daughter (Englert). Connelly is one of those actresses who has been in many movies, but most of the ones we think of were from early in her career. Now in her fifties, I would like to see Connelly be given the same meta-fictional reflective work that her peers have experienced. I’m thinking of people like Ethan Hawke or Nicolas Cage. This sounds like she’ll be playing a character similar to her own life on the surface, so interested to see how this is explored and developed in the context of a dark comedy.

The Bikeriders (directed by Jeff Nichols)

Nichols is one of my favorite American filmmakers who won me over with pictures like Take Shelter and Midnight Special. But, unlike other filmmakers, he captures Middle America in a way that makes it feel vibrant. Photographer Danny Lyon was one of the pioneers of New Journalism, where he embedded himself with his subjects. The result of one of these jobs was the photobook The Bikeriders, detailing a motorcycle club in the late 1960s. Nichols has taken those photos and constructed a fictional narrative using them as inspiration. This will star Jodie Comer and Austin Butler, with regular Nichols collaborator Michael Shannon showing up too. 

Cat Person (directed by Susana Fogel)

If you still need to read Kristen Roupenian’s fantastic short story, Cat Person, do that immediately. This adaptation is being billed as a psychological thriller which is a bit confusing as I don’t read the original short story as a thriller at all. It stars Emilia Jones (Utopia) as the lead, with Nicholas Braun (Succession) as the man who will shake up her life in a profoundly unsettling and relevant way. The only thing I need from this picture is to capture the story’s tone, which is very melancholy and weird. It’s such a fabulous piece that I hope the film adaptation does justice. You can squeeze some atmospheric horror out of the story, but it will always be a human-centered narrative.

Club Zero (directed by Jessica Hausner)

Jessica Hausner’s unsettling science fiction slow-burn Little Joe surprised me. She’s got another psychological drama coming our way with Club Zero. The story is set in an elite private school and tells the story of the strong bond between one teacher and five students, which gets dangerous and becomes cult-like. Mia Wasikowska is starring as the teacher, and I’m interested to see her in an older role. I’ve only ever seen her playing young people, so this will be different to see her in a mentor role to teenagers, made even more intriguing that it sounds like she is the villain of the piece.

Beau Is Afraid (directed by Ari Aster)

I would happily pre-order tickets for any Ari Aster movie. After the one-two punch of Hereditary and Midsommar, Aster made his mark on critics and audiences. He’s described this one as a “four-hour nightmare comedy,” though I suspect it may be cut down some before a theatrical release. Joaquin Phoenix is set to star as “one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time.” Nathan Lane, Patti Lupone, and Richard Kind are set to co-star, making me even more intrigued. All three are fantastic stage and screen actors, which leads me to believe Aster is working on what is likely his most extensive work to date. Whether you love or hate his output, it is impossible to say he doesn’t make exciting movies. I’ll certainly be there when this one releases.

Darling (directed by Bruno Forzani and Hélène Cattet)

I loved Forzani & Cattet’s giallo homages Amer and The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears. They both captured the atmosphere of those Italian horror films while adding a modern twist. Darling will be their first foray into animation, so I’m interested in seeing how their work translates. The story concerns Gloria, a young painter living in New York City as an underground artist. She is assaulted one night by a mysterious figure with white eyes. After the attack, she starts feeling a darker side of herself emerging, causing her to become more violent even with herself. I’m curious how similar this will be to the pairs’ previous movies and if they are using animation as a way to try out new narrative themes & techniques as well.

Die, My Love (directed by Lynne Ramsay)

Ramsay has wowed me with Ratcatcher, We Need To Talk About Kevin, and You Were Never Really Here. Her next movie stars Jennifer Lawrence and is based on a novel of the same name. That book is about a woman going through postpartum depression. She loves her family but is feeling increasingly oppressed in this environment, having destructive & violent thoughts. I am not a huge fan of Lawrence, but Ramsay will always have my attention. This sounds like a story ideally suited for the director, who has previously explored similar themes. Martin Scorsese is producing.

Eileen (directed by William Oldroyd)

Lady Macbeth has been Oldroyd’s only feature film, and it was a killer debut. Now he’s back at Sundance with his sophomore effort based on a novel by Ottessa Moshfegh. It tells the story of a young woman, Eileen (Thomasin McKenzie), who is strange and feels increasingly alienated in 1960s Boston. She works at a dingy women’s prison, and things start to change when a new woman (Anne Hathaway) joins the staff. A sexually charged relationship develops between the two, and eventually, Eileen’s new friend reveals a horrible crime and gets the protagonist entangled in the fallout. Oldroyd knows how to work with sexual tension and the destructive elements of seduction. This should be an incredible picture.

The End (directed by Joshua Oppenheimer)

I regretfully haven’t yet seen Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence (yet). They are two clearly searing documentaries that look like tough watches, which is probably why I haven’t jumped at them yet. This will be the director’s first foray into fictional narrative films, and he has bitten off a lot. It will be an apocalyptic musical starring Tilda Swinton. The story is centered around the last human family left alive on Earth and a visit from extraterrestrial knights. It is such an odd concept that it has my attention. Looking forward to seeing a trailer or set photos to get a sense of the tone Oppenheimer is going for with this picture.

Eric LaRue (directed by Michael Shannon)

Actor Michael Shannon will make his directorial debut with this picture. Based on a stage play, Eric LaRue was written as a response to the 1999 Columbine shooting. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Florida happened in 2017, and Shannon was reminded of this work and decided to adapt it for a film. The story follows Janice, the mother of a school shooter. She is forced to sit down with the parents of her son’s victims and then a long-delayed visit to her son in prison. The focus is not on the specific act of violence but on the traumatic shockwaves that ripple for years to come. I appreciate that the production moved from Arkansas to North Carolina after the overturning of Roe v Wade, which caused Arkansas to ban abortion. If states restrict people’s reproductive rights, they should lose the money productions like these bring in.

How To Blow Up a Pipeline (directed by Daniel Goldhaber)

This nonfiction book about the history of social justice movements in using property destruction as an act of protest has been adapted into a narrative feature. Set in West Texas, the story will be centered on eight young people who are aware of the ongoing climate collapse and attempt to destroy an oil pipeline. I expect the film to argue in favor of guerilla tactics like this, and if it doesn’t, I will be exceptionally upset. I get very incredulous when texts like this are adapted into feature films, but I am also interested to see where it ends up on the political spectrum. Lukas Haas and Sasha Lane are the only names I recognize from the cast list. Daniel Goldhaber previously directed CAM, a horror movie I heard mixed reviews of, so this makes me curious to see if the final product is good.

I Saw the TV Glow (directed by Jane Schoenbrun)

Director Jane Schoenbrun gave us an incredibly unique & emotional experience with We’re All Going to the World’s Fair. Now she has far more attention, which has earned her a more well-known cast. Justice Smith and Brigette Lundy-Paine will star in this horror film about two teenagers whose favorite television series is canceled. In the wake of its ending, reality seems to fall apart for the pair. I wonder how esoteric Schoenbrun will keep it, as her feature debut was a haunted, ghostly picture. The supernatural isn’t really glimpsed in that movie but hinted at. Expecting something similarly restrained but with a larger budget, we may get some on-screen horrors that are more explicit?

The Iron Claw (directed by Sean Durkin)

Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene is one of my favorite movies of the 2010s. I even did a Cinematic Immersion Tank write-up about it. Unfortunately, it took him a decade for his follow-up; the criminally slept on The Nest. However, we won’t have to wait long for his third picture. The Iron Claw is centered on the real-life Von Erich family, a lineage of professional wrestlers who started in the 1960s. They have been said to have been cursed due to career-ending injuries and multiple suicides by members of the clan. This one stars Zac Efron, Lily James, and Jeremy Allen White. Durkin is the master of complex family dramas that verge on horror, soaking the screen in an atmospheric dread. I cannot wait to see what he does with this tragic story.

Landscape with Invisible Hand (directed by Cory Finley)

Cory Finley’s Thoroughbreds was a revelation of a film. Though she appears in so much, it was a rare treat to see Anya Taylor-Joy given a complex, meaty part and do amazing things with it. Finley’s next is a science fiction picture where an alien occupation has ruined the job market. A married couple finds one of the few lucrative ways to make money is to broadcast their sex life to these curious alien overlords. This eventually leads to them hating each other, and fun ensues. Tiffany Haddish is involved with more information to come.

Magazine Dreams (directed by Elijah Bynum)

Hot Summer Nights was not the cult phenomenon I think A24 expected it to be. It’s not a bad movie, but it definitely misses that extra something to make it big. Bynum is back with Magazine Dreams, focused on a young man with a volatile temper. Killian Maddox is obsessed with working out, works at a grocery store, and attends court-ordered therapy to deal with violent mood swings. Doctors warn that his workout intensity will harm him, but Killian is focused on competitive bodybuilding above anything else. The story intrigues me, and anything that explores the fallout of toxic masculinity has my attention. Bynum had such a strong visual sense in his first feature; I hope we see him working with a script that plays to his strengths. 

Master Gardener (directed by Paul Schraeder)

Though not everything he’s made lately is excellent, when Paul Schraeder delivers the goods (see First Reformed, The Card Counter), it blows everything out of the water. He’s best when depicting lonely men unable to come to terms with modernity. Sometimes they are far gone into madness, like Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. Lately, though, Schraeder has been presenting even more complicated protagonists struggling against a system that has clearly shown itself to be cold and uncaring, often juxtaposed to a political issue (the environment, torture of POWs in US custody). This one is focused on a horticulturist in love with two different women. Joel Edgerton plays the lead, with Sigourney Weaver & Quintessa Swindell as his love interests. But, knowing Schraeder, that will just be the start. 

On Barren Weeds (directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan)

The Wild Pear Tree is a true revelation of a film, and Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan deserves much of the credit. His work feels literary, like watching a dense and complex novel unfold on-screen yet never losing touch with the humanity that underlies all the characters. Again, he’s returning to the Anatolia region, this time telling the story of a depressed schoolteacher who finds some semblance of peace in the teachings of a colleague. Knowing Ceylan, this will be a slow burn, probably three hours long, but with a story and characters that remain with you for a long time.

Peter Pan & Wendy (directed by David Lowery)

David Lowery delivered with The Green Knight, and now he’s set to retell the classic story of Peter Pan in his own way. Actual children will play the title characters with Jude Law as Captain Hook and Jim Gaffigan as Smee. This is Lowery’s second collaboration with Disney; he previously directed Pete’s Dragon, which I have not seen but have heard excellent things about. I’m not typically a fan of the current trend to make “live-action” remakes or reboots of classic Disney films, but with Lowery onboard, I am intrigued. Hoping he’s allowed to put his signature style on the picture.

Rebel Ridge (directed by Jeremy Saulnier)

Jeremy Saulnier’s second and third films (Blue Ruin and Green Room) are some of the most intense and affecting film experiences I’ve had in the last decade. He’s taken the revenge film and turned it on its head, making the protagonists more complicated and delivering challenging stories. His fourth film, Hold the Dark, a Netflix exclusive, was painfully bad. However, that may be because he didn’t write that picture. Rebel Ridge has Saulnier back in the writer-director seat. John Boyega was set to star but backed out due to “family issues.” Now Aaron Pierre (The Underground Railroad) is in the starring role. Pierre will be playing an ex-marine who takes on dirty cops. Saulnier excels at telling emotionally powerful revenge movies, and I hope this one is a return to form. Otherwise, he may have mined this vein for all its worth and needs to find new themes to explore.

Poor Things (directed by Yorgos Lanthimos)

Yorgos Lanthimos is one of the most consistently satisfying directors for me right now. I completely understand how many people are turned off by his work, a mix of brutal violence and the driest comedy possible. This film is about a woman (Emma Stone reuniting with Lanthimos post-The Favourite) who is stuck in an abusive relationship. Her solution to this problem is to have her brain replaced with that of her unborn child, and her father performs the surgery. Willem Dafoe plays her surgeon father. As with all this director’s work, it will be odd but ultimately incredibly thought-provoking.

Spaceman (directed by Johan Renck)

I haven’t seen HBO’s Chernobyl, but it should be high on my list of things to watch. That mini-series director Johan Renck is helming this adaptation of a novel about an astronaut being sent to investigate a large cloud of space dust. He also forms a friendship with a giant spider (is Jon Peters producing this?). Carey Mulligan plays the astronaut’s wife but even more intriguing to me is Adam Sandler playing the astronaut. I usually hate his work, but he is generally pretty good anytime he is in an artsier film (see Uncut Gems).

Strangers (directed by Andrew Haigh)

Andrew Haigh should be more famous. His same-sex romantic drama Weekend is one of the best movies about the early stages of a relationship I have ever seen, understanding the delicate nature involved. Lean on Pete is a stunning work reflecting the themes of abandonment in the lives of the younger generation in the United States. The film, based on a Japanese novel, is about a screenwriter living in London who discovers his dead parents alive in his childhood home, looking like they did when he was a child. This is the first time I will have seen Haigh tackle a fantastic concept, and so I’m interested to see how his very grounded, human-centered style plays with more magical ideas. Andrew Scott stars as the screenwriter, with Claire Foy & Jamie Bell playing his resurrected parents. Paul Mescal plays the next-door neighbor.

The Zone of Interest (directed by Jonathan Glazer)

Jonathan Glazer makes riveting movies. He started with Sexy Beast, followed that up with Birth, and topped himself with Under the Skin. This next film is a Holocaust picture based on a novel that tells its story from the point of view of a Nazi officer who falls in love with his boss’s wife. This will likely be the surface-level story, as Glazer does not make conventional films. However, he commented in a recent interview about studying photographs of the “haunted faces” of Holocaust victims. A recent short film was also cited by Glazer to explore the themes he wants to focus on in Zone of Interest. I know he will surely take us on a bizarre and strange journey. Glazer reportedly shot the film in the late summer/fall of 2021. He’s currently editing and playing with the idea of multiple cuts from different character perspectives, which has me even more interested.


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