101 films to look forward to in 2023 – part one

As we ring in the new year, it's time to look ahead to the cinematic riches that the next twelve months might offer us.


Hannah Strong, Charles Bramesco, Saskia Lloyd-Grainger

Welcome to the new year! As always, it’s time to look forward to the films we’re hoping to see hit the cinema and festival circuit this year, from blockbusters to indies, and 2023 is shaping up to provide something to satisfy just about every viewer. Let us know what you’re excited to see by tweeting us @LWLies.

1. Sanctuary (Zachary Wigon)  

If I had a pound for every time Christopher Abbott plays a man who hires an escort only to find himself in way over his head, I’d have two pounds, which isn’t a lot but it’s funny that it’s happened twice. Margaret Qualley plays the woman in question – a dominatrix who has been serving the meek but wealthy Hal – and things take a turn when her client attempts to end the relationship. This one got a lot of positive buzz out of the Toronto Film Festival and the combination of Abbott and Qualley is certainly appealing, so fingers crossed for distribution soon. Hannah Strong

2. Enys Men (Mark Jenkin, BFI)

Just normal men. Normal, enys-ent men. Actually, it’s pronounced “Ennis Main” as the title of Jenkin’s second feature – following breakout Bait – is Cornish for ‘Stone Island’. Like Bait, the film is shot on 16mm with post-synched sound, but this time Jenkin is working with colour, and the star is Mary Woodvine, who plays a researcher living and working on a remote Cornish island in 1973. She’s studying the local fauna, and seems quite content with her own company until it becomes apparent that past trauma is haunting our unnamed protagonist. It’s less a straightforward narrative and more a sensory experience for the viewer, humming with strange sounds and unusual textures. Jenkin is fast emerging as a unique filmmaking talent, and Enys Men is only further evidence he’s one to keep a close eye on. HS

ETA: 13 January (UK)

3. Dumb Money (Craig Gillespie) 

Aussie filmmaker Gillespie traded the big screen for the small one for Pam & Tommy, but he’s back with another ripped-from-the-headlines dramedy centered on the group of Redditors who caused a Wall Street meltdown in January 2021 when they worked against a group of investors who had bet that shares in US retailer GameStop would fall. Think The Big Short with more keyboards. Predictably there’s a starry cast attached: Gillespie reunites with Sebastian Stan, who starred in Pam & Tommy and I, Tonya, with Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Pete Davidson and Shailene Woodley all slated to co-star. HS

4. EO (Jerzy Skolimowski, BFI)   

EO fever has already swept America, and shortly the UK will get the chance to fall in love with the cinema’s newest and pointiest-eared hero. The long-awaited return of Polish virtuoso Jerzy Skolimowski follows a very good donkey as he rambles through Europe: eating carrots; falling in with some soccer hooligans; killing a guy. Mostly, though, he’s bearing witness to the foibles of humanity and bearing the brunt of our imperfection, just like Jesus Christ before him. Re-energizing the premise of Robert Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar with startling formal experimentation and a banging EDM soundtrack (not to mention the cameo of the year courtesy of Isabelle Huppert), Skolimowski has made one of his illustrious career’s freest films at the tender age of eighty-four. Charles Bramesco

ETA: 3 February (UK)

5. Knock At The Cabin (M Night Shyamalan, Universal)

The Shyamaniacs will be out in force come February, when M Night’s adaptation of Paul G Tremblay’s apocalyptic horror novel hits cinemas. Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge play Andrew and Eric, a vacationing couple whose isolated idyll is rudely interrupted by a gang of weapon-wielding doomsayers (lead by Dave Bautista and Servant star Rupert Grint) who claim that the end is nigh, and in order to prevent it, they have to make the ultimate sacrifice. Having read Tremblay’s harrowing novel, I for one can’t wait to see what tricks Shyamalan has up his sleeve, particularly after the wild ride that was 2022’s Old. HS

ETA: 3 February (UK/USA)

6. Broker (Hirokazu Koreeda, Picturehouse)

Two soulful scumbags steal abandoned babies and sell them on to rich families through black market adoptions in this Hirokazu Kore-eda heartwarmer. Sang-heon, played by Song Kang-ho, owns a small laundry business and runs the infant-pinching side hustle with his friend Dong-so, played by Gang Dong-won – together they pilfer sprogs from the ‘baby-boxes’ (places where people can anonymously leave unwanted children) at a local church. When they’re discovered by a young mother who returns after leaving her baby, the brokers team up with her and embark on a dysfunctional road trip to seek out the best new parents for the kid, all the while unwittingly pursued by a pair of detectives. Broker won the Ecumenical Jury Award at the last Cannes, and Kang-ho was awarded Best Actor – sounds like a tender, sparky story about the families we choose, and as long as it’s not too soppy, always up for one of those. Saskia Lloyd-Grainger

ETA: 24 February (UK)

7. Blue Jean (Georgia Oakley, Altitude)

A Venice breakout and BIFA winner, Blue Jean is the auspicious debut of Georgia Oakley, and concerns a closeted PE teacher living under the bootheel of Thatcher’s reign of terror. Jean (a luminous Rosey McEwan) ekes out a quiet existence, keeping her sexuality a secret from her family, much to the frustration of her girlfriend Viv. When a new student starts at Jean’s school and is the subject of lesbophobic bullying, Jean’s quiet existence is threatened, and she has to choose between love and life as she knows it. It’s a melancholy slice-of-life drama that cuts to the heart of how inhumane the Section 28 era truly was – something worth remembering, given the UK’s current government would probably bring it back given half a chance. HS

ETA: 10 February (UK)

8. Barbie (Greta Gerwig, Warner Bros)  

Life is plastic and fantastic in Greta Gerwig’s heavily pap-shotted yet still largely mysterious entrée into the IP game. Surely her take on the perky plaything has a few tricks up its ruffled taffeta sleeve, starting with rumours that stars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling aren’t the only Barbie and Ken in a universe operating under The LEGO Movie’s metatextual elasticity. If anyone can blaze a path through the studio system while retaining their creative identity, it’s Gerwig, one in a small handful of directors from her generation with name-brand cachet to throw around. Best-case scenario, it’s playtime for the thinking person’s blockbuster. CB

ETA: 21 July (UK/USA)

9. Women Talking (Sarah Polley, Universal)

For Sarah Polley’s first film in a decade, she takes to an isolated Mennonite colony turned into a feminist battleground: the local women have gotten wise to a program of systemic rape and concealment, leaving them with the options to stay and reform a population of cruel and complicit men, or forge out on their own and build a new path to God. Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, and Rooney Mara give some of the year’s most widely-lauded performances as the spokespeople for the stay, leave, and swing voting blocs. Coming from Polley, a survivor of institutionalised predation who left Hollywood behind to make it in the indie wilds, it’s a thunderously personal statement. CB

ETA: 10 February (UK)

10. Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, Universal)

Christopher Nolan has conquered war, dreams, memory, space, time, superhero franchising — all that’s left is the end of the world, and that’s just where the stakes have been set for his latest megabudget epic. The quasi-biopic covers forty-five years in the life of atomic bomb inventor Robert Oppenheimer, as the scientist’s reckless innovation under the Manhattan Project ends World War II and drastically reshapes humankind’s understanding of its own capacity for destruction. Cillian Murphy plays the man responsible for beginning our march toward planetary suicide, joined by a huge, eclectic ensemble including Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Matt Damon, and Emily Blunt. This summer, we are all sons of bitchesCB

11. Dune: Part II (Denis Villenueve, Warner Bros)  

Those curious about what will take place in the second instalment of Denis Villeneuve’s sandy, spicy sci-fi epic can just consult anyone who’s read the novel — the people who have love nothing more than being asked about it. As for the laypeople, there’s still plenty to look forward to in the introduction of new cast members Florence Pugh, Austin Butler, Lea Seydoux, and Christopher Walken, plus the promise of more screen time for the heretofore sparsely-shown Zendaya. Eyes will glow, empires will fall, Timothée Chalamet will probably do that goofy little two-step walk across the desert again. Bring on the giant worms! CB

ETA: 3 November (UK/USA)

12. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Part One (Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson, Sony) 

Visually playful and non-cringingly self-aware in its multiversal antics, Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse was joyfully faithful to the infinite possibility of intersecting comic book worlds in a way that the Disney-neutered live-action reboots, with their corporately dampened wit, haven’t quite mustered. The sequel Across the Spiderverse, the second in what will be a trilogy, promises to be even more artistically ambitious, incorporating six different dominant visual styles and further stretching the bounds of animation in the mainstream. Miles Morales returns and is reunited with Gwen – and it’s been speculated that Spider-Punk, Spiderman 2099 and the Japanese Spiderman will join the busload of parallel-world Spider-folk for more psychedelic web-slinging adventures. SLG

ETA: 2 June 2023 (UK/USA)

13. Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One (Christopher McQuarrie, Paramount) 

It’s been a long time coming – five years in fact – but soon the dynamic duo of McQuarrie and Cruise will be lighting up our screens again. Dead Reckoning represents the most ambitious entry in the Mission: Impossible franchise to date, with the two films produced back-to-back and serving as a send off to Ethan Hunt, beloved IMF agent, and his motley crew of associates including Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson and Vanessa Kirby. Naturally the plot is being kept tightly under wraps, but it’s guaranteed we’ll be seeing Cruise throwing himself off buildings, out of planes, and battling all manner of ne’er-do-wells. You’ll want to see this one on as big a screen as you can find. HS

ETA: 14 June 2023 (UK/USA)

14. God Is a Bullet (Nick Cassavetes) 

Nick ‘Son of John’ Cassavetes has had a fascinating career both on-camera and behind it – while he’s best known as the man behind weepy rom-coms The Notebook and My Sister’s Keeper, for his first film in nine years he’s striking out into action-thriller territory, with a little help from Jamie Foxx, Nicolaj Coster-Waldau and… er, Andrew Dice Clay. Boston Teran’s original novel sees a hardened small-town cop searching for his teenage daughter, who’s been kidnapped by a satanic cult – his only lead is an ex-member, current junkie, who he’s forced to team up with in order to find her. Sure to be a cheery watch then. HS

15. Passages (Ira Sachs)

Here at LWLies, we would follow Franz Rogowski to the ends of the earth, so it’s no challenge to get excited about his next project – starring in a new film from American director Ira Sachs. He plays a filmmaker whose marriage to his husband Martin (Ben Whishaw) is tested when he embarks on a whirlwind romance with Agathe (Adèle Exarchopoulos). Martin begins an affair of his own in retaliation, further complicating matters, and leading the couple to reconsider the boundaries of their relationship. Juicy stuff! HS

16. The Way of the Wind (Terrence Malick)

We have it on good authority that Terry is hard at work on bringing his 11th feature film to audiences, but anyone who knows his films knows you can’t rush the master. Still, we might get to see his take on the life of Jesus Christ at Cannes or even the Venice Film Festival later in the year. What do we know so far? Well, Hungarian actor Géza Röhrig is playing the big JC himself, while Mark Rylance mentioned he’s playing various versions of Satan. All of Jesus’s disciples are expected to feature, including Matthias Schoenarts as Saint Peter and Aiden Turner as Saint Andrew. Ben Kingsley and Franz Rogowski are on the cast list too, but it’s important to remember anyone can end up missing the final cut when it comes to Malick. Still, we couldn’t be more excited to see what the master has been working on. HS

17. Beau Is Afraid (Ari Aster, A24) 

Originally reported under the title ‘Disappointment Boulevard’, Ari Aster’s much-discussed third feature stars Joaquin Phoenix as “one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time”. Way back in June 2020 – on the Midsommar press tour – he described his next project as “a four-hour nightmare comedy”. It’s unclear how much that factors into the finished result. What we do know is that an eclectic cast including Michael Gandolfini, Patti LuPone, Nathan Lane and Richard Kind have been assembled alongside Phoenix, and it’s every bit as likely to divide viewers as Hereditary or Midsommar. HS

18. Poor Things (Yorgos Lanthimos, A24)

Now in full Hollywood mode with his pick of the A-lister litter, Yorgos Lanthimos has tapped a 1992 novel putting a spin on the Frankenstein mythos: a woman (Emma Stone) drowns herself to escape her abusive husband (Ramy Youssef), only to be reanimated by her mad scientist father (Willem Dafoe) with the brain of her own unborn child. Mark Ruffalo, Jerrod Carmichael, Christopher Abbott, Margaret Qualley and Kathryn Hunter also appear in what’s sure to be a grim, deadpan, atmosphere-heavy revision of the horror playbook. The Favourite made him an awards darling — will the mainstream follow him into stranger, grislier territory? CB

19. The Killer (David Fincher, Netflix)

It’s not clear why exactly Fincher’s latest was delayed from 2022 – maybe Netflix are courting a festival premiere, maybe Fincher’s just taking his time in the edit suite – but it’s hard to not be excited about the prospect his return to the dark subject matter that made his name, reuniting with Se7en screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker. Adapted from the French comic book of the same name about a hardened assassin known only as The Killer in the grips of a psychiatric down-spiral, Michael Fassbender will be terrorising us in due course, alongside Tilda Swinton and Charles Parnell. HS

20. Infinity Pool (Brandon Cronenberg, Neon)

2022 belonged to Cronenberg Sr – 2023 belongs to the brood. Brandon Cronenberg has been carving out a nasty little niche for himself as a purveyor of shocks, while still managing to not lean too heavily on familial influence. Alexander Skarsgård and Mia Goth star in his third film as James and Em Foster, a couple on vacation at an exclusive resort who are invited into a world of depravity for the ultra-elite. In exciting news for sickos everywhere, the film was slapped with an NC-17 rating by the MPAA, which was challenged and upheld. It’s since been re-edited to bag a more palatable (and distributable) R rating, but we’re strapping in for something suitably mind-bending all the same. This one will premiere in January at the Sundance Film Festival. HS

21. On Dry Grass (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)   

Turkey’s most esteemed filmmaker returns with another terse, elegant drama plumbing the fissures within the souls of ordinary men. This time around, the great Nuri Bilge Ceylan takes as his subject a teacher, completing a mandatory mission in the snow-dusted hills of Anatolia while he awaits reassignment to the more clement, metropolitan conditions of Istanbul. During this time, he “loses perspective,” per an interview with Ceylan, though that could mean anything from political dissidence to religious crisis. But we can safely bank on painterly compositions of pastoral nature scenes, meditations on moral turpitude, and perhaps a little dialogue expounding on the differences between varieties of yogurt. In any case, a bow at Cannes is practically guaranteed. CB

22. 1976 (Manuela Martelli)

Back in May, Chilean actress Manuela Martelli received positive notices out of Cannes for her directorial debut, a parable with sharp political undertones. Aline Kuppenheim stars as Carmen, a woman off to renovate her beach house and turn a blind eye to the oppressive Pinochet regime, though the ugliness of modern life won’t leave her alone. A priest beseeches her to look after the young man he’s been hiding, and her agreement sets her on a path toward “unexplored territories, away from the quiet life she’s used to.” As of late, Pablo Larraín has been carrying the banner of Chilean cinema on the global stage pretty much solo; it’s heartening to see someone else coming in to expand the world’s understanding of all the national cinema can do. CB

23. Timestalker (Alice Lowe)

Agnes has a problem – every time she’s reincarnated, she falls in love with the wrong man. Sounds pretty inconvenient, but like the premise for a very fun twist on the rom-com. Alice Lowe writes, directs and stars in her second feature, and it’s a welcome return seven years after her criminally underrated debut Prevenge. Her supporting cast are pretty great too: we’ve got Jacob Anderson (currently winning audiences over in the Interview with the Vampire television series), Aneurin Barnard (David Copperfield), Tanya Reynolds (Sex Education) and Nick Frost (you know who he is!) HS

24. Alcarràs (​​Carla Simón, Mubi)

Critically acclaimed winner of the Golden Bear and Best International Feature Film at the Academy Awards, Carla Simon’s family drama about the decline of peach harvesting in rural Catalonia had one of the best box office turnouts of 2022 in Spain. The Sole family have spent every summer picking peaches from their orchard in Alcarràs, but this tradition is threatened when they face eviction on account of the proposed installation of solar panels. A poignant meditation on family, the sense of longing for a vanished place, and the clash between agriculture and industry, Alcarràs has already moved many. Its success as a Catalan-language film with a cast of non-professional actors and such gentle subject matter, is both laudable and encouraging. SLG

25. Inside (Vasilis Katsoupis) 

Those on the lookout for breakout directorial talents would do well to keep an eye on this auspicious feature debut from Vasilis Katsoupis, in which an art thief triggers an alarm that automatically locks him in the penthouse he was ransacking. So the scene is set for an intense specimen of the escape picture, as days of dehydration and starvation force this man to the core of his most primal survival instincts and into the deepest recesses of his unrestful psyche. Willem Dafoe puts on a harrowing one-man show in the lead role, beckoning us to join him in a spiral of madness and desperation — not that we’d expect anything less from the famously intrepid actor. This one’s bound for the Berlin Film Festival in February.  CB

26. Super Mario Bros Movie (Aaron Horvath, Michael Jelenic, Universal)

Anyone feeling personally betrayed that star Chris Pratt does not do The Voice as the mushroom-stomping Italian plumber of repute — your experiences are valid. But there’s still a strong curiosity factor to the most famous character in video gaming’s first big-screen outing since the shall-we-say polarising live-action vehicle with Bob Hoskins in 1993. As is tradition, he’s on a mission to save the Mushroom Kingdom from the clutches of reptilian villain Bowser (voiced by Jack Black) and rescue the beloved Princess Peach (voiced by Anya Taylor-Joy), now powered-up with the post-Minions comic sensibility of animation studio Illumination. Whether that’s a good thing or not is up to you, or in many cases, your children. CB

ETA: 7 April 2023

27. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (James Mangold, Disney)

The less said about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull the better – it’s time to focus on the future, and hopefully Number 5 will be a more compelling entry into this classic adventure franchise. Set against the backdrop of the Space Race, Indy and his goddaughter Helen (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) will face off against the nefarious former Nazi – yes, Nazis again – Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen) who “seeks to use the moon landing program for his own good”. Spielberg was originally set to return as director, but he was replaced by Mangold, making this the first Indy flick without him at the helm. Will it all hold together without him? HS

ETA: 30 June 2023

28. Ferrari (Michael Mann, STX) 

The aptly named Adam Driver gets to put on his Italian brand dynasty boots again to step into the role of Enzo Ferrari in car-mad Michael Mann’s long-awaited new biopic, co-written with Italian Job writer Troy Kennedy Martin, who died in 2009. Assuming no bloody doors will be blown off in homage, but you never know. Rather than exploring Ferrari’s whole life, the film concentrates on one window in 1957, when things had gone a bit tits up for Ferrari – then nearly 60, so Driver’s aging up – who had lost a son and was skirting bankruptcy. It follows him as he throws caution to the wind and enters the infamous Mille Miglia, a 1000-mile endurance race between Brescia and Rome. Penelope Cruz stars as Ferrari’s wife Laura, Shailene Woodley as his mistress Lina Lardi, Patrick Dempsey as Piero Taruffi, another racecar driver, and the crew features a cluster of Oscar-nominees – Pietro Scalia is editor, Massimo Cantini Parrini is costume designer, and Erik Messerschmidt is director of photography.  SLG

29. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 (James Gunn, Disney)

James Gunn bids farewell to the MCU with the final installment in his Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy, as he heads off to helm rival studios Warner Bros’ DC division. It’s been quite a wait (by superhero standards) between sequels, and in that time Chris Pratt has managed to obliterate most public goodwill towards him by espousing Republican political views, but there’s no doubt that audiences will turn out for this one, which co-stars Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper and Pom Klementieff, with Will Poulter and Chukwudi Iwuji joining as the baddies. Apparently this send-off will explore the origins of the wise-cracking anthropomorphic Rocket Raccoon, and undoubtedly set the set for the next part of Marvel’s Phase Five. HS

ETA: 5 May

30. Untitled Safdies/Sandler Project (Safdie Brothers, Netflix)

Scorsese has De Niro, Almodóvar has Cruz, and the Safdie Brothers have Adam Sandler. After the roaring success of Uncut Gems, it was only a matter of time before they got the band back together, and Netflix boarded the project in October 2022. Of course we don’t know anything about the plot (or the rest of the cast) yet, but while receiving a lifetime achievement award at the Gothams in November, Sandler revealed “I can’t say that I’m gonna look that handsome in it. It’s not a handsome moment…It’s gonna be tough.” HS

31. Maestro (Bradley Cooper, Netflix)

A biopic of musical legend Leonard Bernstein has been in the works for a long while now, and Martin Scorsese was initially tipped to direct, before he decided to work on The Irishman instead. After him, Steven Spielberg was lined up, but he ceded the camera to Cooper after A Star is Born. Cooper serves as director, star and co-writer, with Carey Mulligan playing his wife Felicia Montealegre and Jeremy Strong as the art critic and writer John Gruen, who eventually wrote the biography The Private World of Leonard Bernstein. One of the most respected conductors and composers of all time (and the mentor of Lydia Tár) this one has awards glory written all over it. HS

32. Asteroid City (Wes Anderson, Searchlight)

The obvious cliche term for this one is star-studded. There it is, we said it. Wes Anderson’s newest is just that – with new recruits like the ubiquitous Margot Robbie as well as Brody, Dafoe and all the old chestnuts – and set at a Junior Stargazer astronomy convention in a fictional American desert town, Asteroid City is all about the etoiles. As parents and their heaven-gazing offspring gather for the convention of scientific scholars, their lives begin to interlink in strange and mesmerising ways. Expectations are as ever either extremely high amongst fans for Wes to work his particular magic, or scoffed at from the off by the Anderson-averse – so it’s guaranteed either to please or to edifyingly piss off. It also seems we might get The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, Anderson’s new Roald Dahl adaptation for Netflix, this autumn. SLG

ETA: 17 June

33. Wonka (Paul King, Warner Bros) 

Hot Wonka! He’s Willy Wonka, he’s hot — whaddaya need, a road map? Okay, okay, so there’s some understandable scepticism surrounding this origin picture for the whimsical chocolatier, played as a sprightly young lad by Timothée Chalamet warbling the occasional musical number. But hasn’t director Paul King more than earned the benefit of the doubt on the merit of his two Paddington films? And hey, they made a good Wonka film once upon a time, so it stands to reason it can be done again. One can only assume this kiddie confection will reckon with the dark legacy of colonialism ingrained in the enslavement and displacement of the indigenous Oompa-Loompa population. CB

ETA: 15 December 

34. Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese) 

Delicately titled and overflowing with cinematic heavyweights, Scorsese delivers his first film since The Irishman. Robert DiNiro, Jesse Plemons, Lily Gladstone, Brendan Fraser and Leonardo DiCaprio, who is also a producer on the film, form the central cast. It dramatises the non-fiction book ‘Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the birth of the FBI’, by David Gramm, which explores a series of murders committed in Oklahoma in the 1920s in the Osage Nation, linked to the discovery of oil on tribal land. This leads to a major investigation by the then-newly formed FBI.  The budget is reportedly the largest to have ever been spent on an Oklahoma-based production, so this had better be good. SLG

35. Haunted Mansion (Justin Simien, Disney) 

In 2003, a few months after Pirates of the Caribbean proved that theme park rides could be translated into head-spinning box-office receipts, the Mouse House tried squeezing a movie out of another one of their attractions. The Eddie Murphy-led comedy set in the spooky old estate from Disneyland came in undead on arrival, but Justin Simien may have cracked it this time around — at the very least, he’s gotten off on the right foot by casting Lakeith Stanfield as a paranormal investigator and Tiffany Haddish as a Cajun psychic, aiding single mom Rosario Dawson as she attempts to purge her New Orleans home of apparitions portrayed by Jared Leto and Jamie Lee Curtis. No hourlong queuing times required! CB

ETA: 11 August

36. Creed III (Michael B Jordan, Warner Bros)

Steel yourself for some personnel changes in this, the second sequel to the most rapturously received reboot of the IP Era. Though he’s stayed on as producer, the previous films’ director Ryan Coogler has ceded his seat to franchise star Michael B. Jordan, behind the camera for the first time. Sylvester Stallone, the OG Rocky Balboa himself, will not get back in the ring for this round. But the space he leaves behind will be more than amply filled by a chiseled-from-rock Jonathan Majors, entering the fray as a new rival to our man Adonis. But however things change, when you get down to it, each match is still a battle of wills between two men fighting for their lives. Put ‘em up. CB

ETA: 3 March

37. M3gan (Gerard Johnson, Universal) 

The killer-doll subset of horror cinema enters the 21st century with the cherubic M3GAN, a hunk of dangerously powerful technology that wants nothing more than to be your bestest friend. She can dance! She can run around on all fours like some kind of demon horse! And if any bullies give you a shove, she can murder them with swift and extreme prejudice! Robotics expert Allison Williams has created a monster to hang out with the niece left in her custody following her sister’s passing, a not-so-subtle commentary on the hazards of AI run amok. Twice as fabulous as Chucky and twice as cold as Patty McCormack, M3GAN is a true force to be reckoned with. CB

ETA: 6 January (USA) 13 January (UK) 

38. The Exorcist (David Gordon Green)

David Gordon Green is trying to improve on perfection with an Exorcist reboot. What power compelled the director to attempt to make another follow up to the beloved original nearly 50 years after its release in 1973, following the 1977 mega-flop that was The Exorcist 2 and the slightly better third iteration in 1990, is a mystery. But it’s happening. Set to be released on the suitably cursed Friday the 13th of October 2023, the untitled Exorcist film will doubtless draw huge cinema crowds – but who will win their bets, the naysayers or the hopeful? SLG

ETA: 13 October

39. Renfield (Chris McKay, Universal) 

One of the many perks of the public domain is that side characters can be spun into protagonists to add to the elastic canon. Whether this shows itself as an entertaining change of perspective or a wince-worthy display of barrel-scraping in the instance of Chris McKay’s imminent Renfield, is all to play for. Nicolas Hoult plays the eponymous fly-munching henchman to Count Dracula, inhabited by the other Hollywood Nicolas, Cage. The premise is that Renfield is revitalised by falling in love with an angry traffic cop, perplexingly dubbed Rebecca Quincy and played by Akwafina, in modern day New Orleans. Written by Ryan Ridley and part of a grand Universal Pictures scheme to reboot the classic screen monsters (again), Renfield leaps into the mix of comedic vampire cinema in April. SLG

ETA: 14 April

40. De humani corporis fabrica (Verena Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor)    

Don’t worry about the reports of mass walkouts at the Cannes premiere of the latest project from the boundary-busting Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab; a select class of strong-stomached viewers will find that it’s actually impossible to look away from this slimy, squelchy, intricately textured collection of footage from French surgical hospitals. With micro-cameras devised specifically for this documentary, we venture into sensitive crannies of the human body for an unprecedentedly intimate view of what makes our biology go, an observational bent that also extends beyond our guts to frame these medical institutions as complex organisms unto themselves. The cathartic final scene already has one entry on 2023’s running list of great needle drops sorted. CB

41. Magic Mike’s Last Dance (Steven Soderbergh, Warner Bros)

Soderbergh and Channing Tatum bid farewell to sweet stripping himbo prince Mike Lane this February, as he leaves the United States for the United Kingdom (hoards of middle-aged women were spotted hanging around Peckham during production). Selma Hayek co-stars, but it doesn’t appear as though any of Mike’s posse will be returning for this trilogy-ender, more’s the pity. Even so, grab your gal pals and a bottle of rosé – there’s nothing that will stave off the winter blues quicker than watching Tatum cavort to the sound of Ginuwine’s Pony. HS

ETA: 10 February

42. The Colour Purple (Blitz Bazawule, Warner Bros)   

Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Alice Walker’s classic novel was a massive success (though famously didn’t win any of the 11 Oscars it was nominated for) but this new version is actually based on the popular Broadaway musical. Ghanian artist and director Blitz Bazawule, probably best known for directing Beyonce’s Black is King, is at the helm, with singer Fantasia in the lead role of Celie Harris Johnson. Colman Domingo, Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks and singer H.E.R co-star. HS

ETA: 20 December

43. Foe (Garth Davis)

In the near future, Junior and Hen live in peace on a remote farm, until their idyll is shattered by the arrival of a stranger who informs them that Junior must travel to a remote space station for two years, and is to be replaced by a biomechanical duplicate until his return. That’s the premise of Iain Reid’s novel which serves as the basis of Garth Davis’ new film, starring Paul Mescal and Saoirse Ronan as the unhappy couple. Anyone familiar with Reid’s other work – I’m Thinking of Ending Things, adapted by Charlie Kaufman in 2021 – will probably know things aren’t likely to end well for the couple in question. This is Davis’ first film in five years, and sounds like it might have more in common with his work on Top of the Lake than his other films. HS

44. Fast X (Louis Leterrier, Universal)

La Familia went to space in Fast 9 – what could possibly top that? Maybe the recruitment of Jason Momoa, who plays the villain in the next installment (whom he’s described as “very sadistic and androgynous and he’s a bit of a peacock…he’s definitely got some daddy issues”). Not enough? How about Rita Moreno as Dom Toretto’s mother? Brie Larson? Then there’s the return of Jason Statham, John Cena, Helen Mirren, Cardi B, Charlize Theron, Sung Kang – actually, just about anyone who’s ever been in a Fast and Furious film apart from The Rock is slated to return for the big 1-0. Start your engines, folks. It’s gonna be in cinemas all summer. HS

ETA: 19 May

45. Saw X (Kevin Greutert, Lionsgate) 

Series loyalists weren’t so keen on Spiral, the most recent installment of the long-running Saw torture-thon, which muddled the simple pleasures of bodily mutilation with cop-flick hokum. The reinstatement of actor Tobin Bell as puppet master Jigsaw bodes well for those eager to see a return to form in the tenth go-round, and the involvement of director Kevin Greutert (the fiendish mind behind the sixth and seventh films, as well as editor of the first five) promises another obstacle course chockablock with clever contraptions designed to flense, pierce, shred, or otherwise make lunchmeat of their unlucky victims. Strap in and try not to lose your head. CB

46. The Outrun (Nora Fingscheidt, Studiocanal)

German filmmaker Fingscheidt announced herself in impressive style with System Crasher, but her 2020 follow-up The Unforgivable was a bitter disappointment, so all bets are off with her next drama. We’re hoping for something special, and that might come in the form of Saoirse Ronan. She plays a recovering alcoholic who returns to her native Orkney to get some breathing room, and reconnects with the farmland where she grew up. Based on Amy Liptrot’s bestselling memoir of the same name, this could be another banner performance for Ronan.  HS

47. The Meg 2: The Trench (Ben Wheatley, Warner Bros)   

The fucking big shark is back! John Turtletaub’s been ditched as director and replaced by Ben Wheatley. With such black comedies as Sightseers under his belt, Wheatley might bring some much-needed gory humour to the large fish saga. Hopefully Jason Statham and co will have a bit more solid script material to work with this time when battling the massive toothy predator. A fair few of the first film’s cast are set to return to their roles, probably excluding those who got munched. Little is known about the plot but judging from a quick glance at what happens in the second Meg book in the franchise on which the films are based, the gang are back in the Trench and there might even be a baby megalodon involved. Cute. SLG

ETA: 4 August 

48. Rebel Ridge (Jeremy Saulnier, Netflix) 

Fine purveyor of miserable stories that he is, it’s no surprise that the IMDB logline for Jeremy Saulnier’s latest thriller is “​​A high-velocity thriller that explores systemic American injustices through bone-breaking action sequences, suspense and dark humor.” John Boyega was originally slated to star, but after he dropped out Aaron Pierre (best-known as Mid-Sized Sedan in M Night Shyamalan’s Old, later to be seen voicing Mufasa in Barry Jenkins’ Lion King sequel) stepped in. He stars alongside Don Johnson, James Badge Dale, AnnaSophia Robb and James Cromwell. HS

49. Eileen (William Oldroyd)

Lady Macbeth made waves and introduced the world to Florence Pugh back in 2017 – it’s been a long wait for Oldroyd’s second feature. Based on a story by bestselling Ottessa Moshfegh, Thomasin McKenzie stars in the titular role as a strange young woman who becomes attracted to the glamorous new therapist at the prison where she works (played by Anne Hathaway). Their entanglement leads to a shocking crime with lasting verberations. This one’s also headed for the snowy screening rooms of Park City as part of the Sundance line-up, and hopefully our screens later in the year. HS

50. Lee (Ellen Kuras) 

Kate Winslet will be gunning for her second Academy Award with this biopic of model-turned-war-photographer Lee Miller, who was the official correspondent for Vogue during World War Two and gained a reputation for her striking images of life during wartime. She was originally set to reunite with her The Holiday co-star Jude Law, but Alexander Skarsgård has since replaced him in the role of Miller’s husband Roland Penrose, with Josh O’Connor set to play their son (curious to see how that factors into the timeline). Most excitingly, this is Ellen Kuras’ directorial debut – best known for her cinematography work with Michel Gondry and Spike Lee – so we’re hoping for something visually arresting. HS

Published 1 Jan 2023

Tags: 2023 films

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