While 2023 looks like a return to the Hollywood we took for granted just three years ago, it could also be the last year of its kind if moviegoers don’t get back out there and support the films that spark deep conversations and emotional investment. The following is a countdown of the ten titles we are most excited about in the new year.
We’ve linked to trailers when available, but most of our assessments rest on director reputation and sheer speculation. Be on the lookout for our full preview of the year in movies in a future issue.
10) Plane (January 13)
What the world needs now is Gerard Butler playing a commercial pilot forced to land his plane behind enemy lines in the Philippines who teams up with a wrongfully accused murderer (Mike Colter) he’s begrudgingly transporting when a warlord takes passengers hostages. Tom Cruise proved 80s action is evergreen last summer. It’s Butler’s turn to make the genre great again.
9) Poor Things (TBD)
In Yorgos Lanthimos’s follow up to 2018’s deadpan period comedy-of-no-manners The Favourite, the madman of Greek cinema reteams with Emma Stone for a Victorian tale with some serious Mary Shelley vibes as a scientist brings a woman back to life. Lathinmos’s gift for brutal absurdity makes this film also starring Mark Ruffalo, Margaret Qualley, and Willem Dafoe a sure bet for one of the year’s best.
8) Priscilla (TBD)
Sofia Coppola offers another take on the Elvis mythos with this biopic starring Cailee Spaeny and based on Priscilla Presley’s 1985 memoir. From The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation to Marie Antoinette and The Beguiled, Coppola has never made a misstep—arguably amassing a better track record than her The Godfather-directing dad. Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis may still be running strong into awards season, but we’re confident Coppola will more than hold her own this time next year.
7) The Exorcist (October 13)
Fresh from his inspired work revitalizing the Halloween franchise, David Gordon Green takes on another iconic horror property with this direct sequel to the 1973 classic. Original star and American treasure Ellen Burstyn reprises her role from the original with new additions Leslie Odom Jr. and Ann Dowd by her side. Few films examine contemporary America with the gusto and nuance of Green’s Halloween trilogy. It’s time for him to bring that singular vision to another legendary horror story before getting back to his indie roots.
6) Oppenheimer (July 21)
Christopher Nolan sacrificed his two-decade relationship with Warner Bros. to make sure Tenet stayed in theatres at the height of the pandemic even though he knew less-than-stellar box office was a given.The world’s biggest advocate for moviegoing returns this summer with this biopic of J. Robert Oppenheimer starring Cillian Murphy as the conflicted scientific mind who brought about the nuclear age. A physics lesson may seem a bit academic for the dog days of popcorn movie season, but only James Cameron rivals Nolan’s ability to anticipate what audiences want. A stacked cast featuring Robert Downey Jr., Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh, Matt Damon, and Gary Oldman can’t hurt either.
5) Asteroid City / The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar (June 13, TBD)
Wes Anderson has earned a reputation for the meticulous, but he’s also managed to complete two new films since the release of The French Dispatch in late 2021. In Asteroid City, a Junior Stargazer Convention in 1955 is interrupted by world events as a cast ranging from megastars Scarlett Johannson, Margot Robbie, Steve Carell, and Tom Hanks to Anderson regulars Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, and Jason Schwartzman deal with the fallout.
Henry Sugar finds Anderson taking on his second Roald Dahl adaptation after 2009’s stop-motion cult classic, The Fantastic Mr. Fox. This new trip to the classic children’s author’s well eschews animation and features Benedict Cumberbatch, Dev Patel, and Ben Kingsley. Given how long it took for Fox to find its audience, Anderson’s dalliance with Netflix is forgivable–especially since Asteroid City is slated for a wide summer release. Plus, no director working today combines whimsy and darkness like Anderson regardless of who is writing the checks.
4) Barbie (July 21)
No, Greta Gerwig didn’t sell out by following up her glorious 2019 adaptation of Little Women with a live-action movie featuring Mattel’s most famous toy; she’s just cast Margot Robbie as the titular doll and Ryan Gosling as bubbleheaded bro Ken in what looks to be the most clever blockbuster satire since 2014’s The Lego Movie. Gerwig is easily the most original and generous filmmaker of her generation, which means no one is more primed to make something special out of this material–especially since she co-wrote the script with her frequent collaborator and husband Noah Baumbach (White Noise, Marriage Story, The Squid and the Whale).
3) Beau is Afraid (April 24)
Beyond a poster featuring four Joaquin Phoenixes at various life stages and its description as a surrealist horror comedy about an entrepreneur, the latest A24 film from Ari Aster remains shrouded in mystery. But knowing nothing is the best way to go into a new movie by the guy who brought 2018’s Hereditary and 2019’s Midsommar into the world and kept them firmly wedged into our nightmares ever since.
2) May December (TBD)
American master Todd Haynes (Far from Heaven, I’m Not There, Carol) reteams with muse Julianne Moore for this Savannah-set story about a famous couple who barely weathered a tabloid storm twenty years ago facing new pressures when an actress (Natalie Portman) arrives to research a film about them. Haynes has a knack for the type of gorgeous genre exercises that studio filmmakers haven’t attempted since the early 60s. Expect his latest to be yet another awards frontrunner remembered for years to come.
1) Magic Mike’s Last Dance (February 10)
Despite its gargantuan grosses and raucous audiences back in 2012, an air of melancholy shrouds Channing Tatum’s stalwart beefcake ladies’ night flick thanks to director Steven Soderbergh. After all, nothing captures Obama’s declining American Empire better than that garish 4th of July montage featuring Tatum and Matthew McConaughey’s bodies hurtling toward the oblivion of age and anonymity while middle-aged women pelt them with bills. As he’s demonstrated in everything from Erin Brockovich and Traffic to Contagion, Out of Sight, and The Ocean’s movies, Soderbergh is a career-long chronicler of the dark side of the American dream and the role institutions play in thwarting it.
In his purported final outing as Tampa’s sexiest male exotic dancer, Tatum travels to Europe to put on an epic show for new benefactor Salma Hayek. Mike may finally get his happy ending, but Soderbergh has death on his mind. Of the movie star? Of moviegoing? Of the movies’ cultural dominance? Thankfully, we’ll know in less than a month.
Cocaine Bear (February 24) A movie set in the South and loosely based on a true story of a bear that ate pounds of cocaine should probably be an official entry on our most-anticipated list, but actress Elizabeth Banks in the director’s chair gives us pause. Yankees firmly entrenched in Hollywood’s bubble have made some great movies about the South (the Coen Brothers and Rob Zombie come to mind), but none of them have blamed the epic failure of an ill-conceived reboot like 2019’s Charlie’s Angels on misogyny like Banks did or spent their off hours shilling for politics antithetical to most in the region. Still, the trailer shows some promise even if it’s too early to tell if the movie is laughing at us or with us.