The Pamphleteer’s Comprehensive 2023 Movie Guide
What to expect and keep an eye on at the box office this year
2023 is shaping up to be a formidable year for film with the potential to spark new fandoms, spawn lively conversation, and even restore movies to the center of our cultural discourse. At a certain point, who has the time for all this TV and what new show is really more worth your time than rewatching Mad Men, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, or True Detective? Peacock’s reboot of Fresh Prince? Another The Walking Dead spinoff or zombiecentric ripoff?
Below is our curated list of everything 2023 has to offer at the multiplex and a handful of high-profile movies we’d rather see there than in our living rooms. But first...
Revisit our Top Ten Most Anticpated Films of 2023.
SUPERHERO BEST BET
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (February 17) Face it, Marvel lost its gravitas with the exits of Cap and Iron Man. Paul Rudd won’t restore the MCU to its former glory, but the ride sure will be fun, especially with the addition of Freaky’s Kathryn Newton as Ant-Man’s daughter and Devotion’s Jonathan Majors as classic Marvel villain Kang The Conquerer.
Also on Tap: Shazam!: Fury of the Gods (March 24), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (May 5), The Marvels: Captain Marvel 2 (July 28), The Flash (June 16), Blue Beetle (August 18), Kraven The Hunter (October 6), Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (December 25)
MOST WORTHWHILE SEQUELS/REMAKES
Dune: Part 2 (November 3)
Wonka (December 15th) Timothée Chalamet shows that he knows how to choose roles with this one-two franchise punch. Dune picks up right where its impressive first chapter left off. Wonka finds Gen Z’s sweetheart in a musical version of the maverick chocolatier’s early years directed by Paul King, who also brought the universally beloved Paddington films to life. Eccentric candy purveyor. Fireplace-Staring Sufjan Stevens Fan. Classic American Lit Emo Boy. Cannibal from Kentucky. Is there anything Timmy can’t do?
Superfluous, But Still Fun: Creed III (March 3), John Wick: Chapter 4 (March 24), Transformers: Rise of the Beast (June 9), Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning - Part 1 (July 14), The Expendables 4 (September 22), The Meg 2: The Trench (August 4).
Also on Tap: Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (March 31), Fast X (May 19), The Little Mermaid (May 26), Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (June 30), Haunted Mansion (August 11), The Equalizer 3 (September 1), Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (November 17), The Color Purple: The Musical (November 20).
ANIMATION FOR EVERYONE
Strays (June 9) While the movie is technically live action, it features an anthropomorphic dog voiced by Will Ferrell who is seeking revenge on his owner for abandoning him. With a plethora of CGI mutts and copious raunch, this could be the biggest faux kiddie flick since 2016’s Sausage Party.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (June 2) An animated superhero tale with as much dedication to character development as joyously reveling in the history of animation styles. There’s something for everyone in this expanded world.
Trolls 3 (November 17) That Justin Tumberlake song may have pinged around in your head longer than Trump occupied the White House, but don’t blame the best kiddie movie franchise just because Pixar has unjustly overshadowed the Trollverse despite resting on its laurels for the better part of a decade. Sweet, sly, and culturally savvy enough to tackle issues of identity and history without proselytizing,
Also on Tap: The Super Mario Bros. Movie (April 7), Pixar’s Elemental (June 16), Harold and the Purple Crayon (June 30)
Scream VI (March 10) The latest in the revived slasher series would have easily made our top ten had final girl Neve Campbell signed on for this entry. Courtney Cox and the survivors of the latest Woodsboro massacre flee to New York City as a new Ghostface enters the fray. Some quality meta commentary and nods to the original will make it worthwhile. A perfectly crafted Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan joke may just get the inevitable Scream VII to crack the top ten next year.
COULD GO EITHER WAY
Infinity Pool (January 27) Brandon Cronenberg (son of horror maestro David Cronenberg) follows his 2020 cult-hit Possessor with this rich folks in trouble neo-noir featuring Alexander Skarsgård and Mia Goth as children of entitlement who take advantage of an island paradise before learning death is the punishment for any infractions. But, not to worry, the elite can grow a clone to kill in the rich’s place or something. Possessor had some twisty moments and stunningly abject visuals, but not enough to convince the younger Cronenberg has fully transcended his nepo baby boost. While this effort looks like more of the same, it at least differentiates itself from most of the other entries at the multiplex in late January and is sure to polarize.
Knock at the Cabin (February 3) A gay couple and their Asian daughter just want a quiet weekend in the woods, but first, they must fend off a religious cult led by Dave Bautista and Rupert Grint from the Harry Potter movies in M. Night Shyamalan’s latest. Time will tell whether we’ve got another The Sixth Sense or an Old on our hands, but things don’t look good.
The Pope’s Exorcist (April 7) Russell Crowe plays a real-life exorcist who worked for the Vatican. What more do you need to know?
Renfield (April 14) Nicholas Cage transforms into Dracula in this workplace comedy starring Nicholas Hoult as The Count’s beleaguered bug-eating assistant. Let the Cageaissance continue!
The Last Voyage of the Demeter (August 11) A retelling of the events aboard the ship that transports the Count to England in Bram Stoker’s novel. From André Øvredal, director of Trollhunter and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
Also on Tap: Evil Dead Rise (April 21), Insidious 5 (July 7), The Nun 2 (September 8), Saw 10 (October 27), Stephen King’s The Boogeyman (June 2) and Salem’s Lot (TBD)
65 (March 10) Adam Driver and a little girl fight dinosaurs after a space timewarp transports them to Earth 65 million years ago in this original film by the writers of A Quiet Place. The combo of talent and gonzo premise indicate it’s a ride worth taking.
Ferrari (TBD) Michael Mann–director of Heat, creator of Miami Vice, and multiple Oscar nominee—finally began production on his long-gestating biopic of Enzo Ferrari with Adam Driver in the title role. It only missed our Top Ten because we aren’t certain notorious perfectionist Mann will be done before the end of the year.
ODDS AND ENDS
Champions (March 24) Woody Harrelson stars as a disgraced basketball coached forced to lead a team of disabled adults preparing for the Special Olympics. With There’s Something about Mary’s Bobby Farrelly giving direction to Woody, expect a perfect balance of schmaltz and subversive humor
The Bikeriders (TBD) Jeff Nichols (Mud, Loving) returns from a seven-year hiatus with this examination of the development and descent of a 60s biker gang featuring Tom Hardy, Michael Shannon, Norman Reedus, Jodie Comer, and Elvis’s Austin Butler. Could be a low-key triumph from one of America’s most unassuming talents.
The Jesus Revolution (February 22) Kelsey Grammer plays a minister facing dwindling church attendance in the late 1960s before God calls him to witness to some hippies. It’s probably just barely slicker than the average Christian flick, but that trailer does something to us every time.
A Good Person (March 24) Scrubs star and Garden State auteur Zach Braff directs ex-girlfriend Florence Pugh in this dramedy about an opioid addict. Braff may be a pox on late Gen X, but if Pugh saved Don’t Worry Darling, she can do just about anything.
Paint (April 7) Owen Wilson plays a Bob Ross-ish host of a painting show on Vermont public access who has an existential crisis when his producer brings a rival on air. The type of role Wilson was made for.
The Iron Claw Sean Durkin follows up 2020’s outstanding but woefully underseen marital drama The Nest with this true story of the Von Erichs wrestling family that dominated the sport in the 1960s. Efron’s bulking up for the role led to a viral moment late last year, but with A24 in charge of the film’s release, perhaps he and Durkin will finally get the credit they both deserve for their artistic chops.
Next Goal Wins (September 22) Taika Waititi revisits the 2001 American Samoa football team that lost a legendary FIFA match 31-0. JoJo Rabbit and the last two Thor’s cemented Waititi as a master of dark comedy and emotional punch, so the film may have a long shelf life even in a country that hasn’t quite figured out the whole soccer thing.
Last Summer (TBD) France’s perpetual enfant terrible Catherine Breillat emerges from semi-retirement with this loose remake of the 2019 Dutch film Queen of Hearts about a woman who has an affair with her 17-year-old stepson. Expect scathing critique of the petite bourgeoisie and fourth-wave feminism.
Silent Night (TBD) Hong Kong action pioneer John Woo returns to directing with this dialogue-free revenge movie starring Joel Kinnaman (Suicide Squad). Woo has been quiet about details, but the director may have a few tricks left to reinvent the genre he’s trailblazed multiple times before.
Grand Turismo (August 11) Neil Blomkamp of District-9 fame directs a video game adaptation starring Orlando Bloom, Ginger Spice, and a David Harbour who seems hellbent on becoming an even poorer man’s Liam Neeson.
SADLY ON STREAMING
Killers of the Flower Moon (May) Martin Scorsese mines J. Edgar Hoover’s investigation of the murdered Osage tribe in the 1920s with a cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, Jesse Plemons, Brendan Fraser, and Sturgill Simspon. What better way to watch the latest from America’s greatest living filmmaker than on the Apple TV app while fiddling around with your iPad on a plane?
Napoleon (TBD) Ridley Scott teams with Joaquin Phoenix in this epic biopic of Napoleon Bonaparte for Apple TV. A great double feature with the new Scorsese on your layover in Cleveland.
Maestro (TBD) Bradley Cooper directs himself as Leonard Bernstein in this biopic that also features Carey Mulligan and Sarah Silverman for Netflux. The type of movie that should avoid the big screen and surround sound at all costs.
The Killer (TBD) David Fincher collaborates with his Seven co-writer for the first time in almost thirty years on a new serial killer neo-noir that boasts Michael Fassbender and Tilda Swinton as its leads. Premiering on Netflix next holiday season the same day as some baking shows and bad teen soaps.
Blitz (TBD) Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) makes his first foray into the war epic with Saorise Ronan and Harris Dickinson. This Apple TV release is tailor made for consumption while spending the holidays alone in your childhood bedroom or through AirPods during Thanksgiving dinner.