The London Film Festival has come and gone in a flurry of tired journalists and people applauding after screenings. Here are the best new films coming up after the festival.
The London Film Festival is usually the highlight of any capital-based cinephile’s year, and 2023 has been no exception. With new films from Martin Scorsese, Emerald Fennel, Hayao Miyazaki and Aardman Animations, the rest of 2023 (and early 2024) is looking jam-packed with all that lovely cinematic goodness we know and love.
For 99.99% of the UK, however, the goings on at LFF will have completely passed you by. Helpfully, we’ve been eschewing sleep and overdosing on caffeine to see as many of the festival’s offerings as possible – and have found the very best bits coming to cinemas and streamers over the next few months. The sacrifices we make for this job…
Counter to last year’s festival (and much of the awards season that followed), the film industry seems to have planted its feet firmly in the feel-good camp this year. While serious dramatic fare like Killers Of The Flower Moon, One Life and All Of Us Strangers have earned some well-deserved praise, these are the exceptions rather than the rule; Richard Linklater’s Hit Man, Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers and Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things have all received rapturous receptions across the board, and none of them take themselves all that seriously. Throw the delightful Chicken Run: Dawn Of The Nugget and a wider revival of the romantic genre into the mix, and this winter is looking to be a lot more cheerful than we’ve seen for some time.
Is the wider variety of films on display the sign of a healthier cinema industry? Maybe. In a year where Barbie, Oppenheimer and The Super Mario Bros. Movie have torn up the modern blockbuster rulebook, there’s a very real sense that the adult cinema audience is up for grabs for the first time in half a decade. Though the ongoing Hollywood actors’ strike has thrown a bit of a spanner in the star-driven works, 2023 increasingly feels like it could be a turning point within the industry.
Without further ado, then, here are the best new films coming to the UK after the London Film Festival. Reckon we’ve overlooked something? Shout angrily at us in the comments (please don’t, we will cry).
Release Date: 20 October 2023
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone, Robert De Niro
First, and most urgently, we’ve got Killers of the Flower Moon. With Scorsese, there’s always a risk that we all just assume he’s made another masterpiece, but his lengthy epic on the trials of the Osage people really is something special. His angriest film since The Wolf of Wall Street reunites him with a career-best DiCaprio for a properly searing and sizzling crime drama. After some ecstatic reviews following its debut at Cannes in May, the buzz around Scorsese’s latest just refuses to die down – and with a wide cinema release this weekend, you can soon check it out in all it’s bum-numbing glory for yourself!
Release Date: 27 October 2023
Director: Christos Nikou
Starring: Riz Ahmed, Jessie Buckley, Jeremy Allen White
Sadly eschewing a wide cinema release for Apple TV+ on 3 November, Christos Nikou’s sci-fi rom-com still has a whole week for the romantically inclined cinemagoer to get their fill. When a company discovers they can scientifically measure whether or not two people are in love by putting their fingernails in a fancy microwave, Jessie Buckley and Riz Ahmed are tasked with putting a revolving series of couples through their emotional paces to strengthen their romantic bonds. Packed with knowing winks to rom-coms past and with more chemistry oozing from its central couple than a GCSE results card, Fingernails has all the makings of a romantic comedy classic. You do have to see people pull their fingernails off, though. Swings and roundabouts.
Release Date: 12 January 2024
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe
If many of the headline films at LFF this year erred on the cosy, familiar side, Yorgos Lanthimos’ follow-up to The Favourite swings the other way with a psychedelic sucker punch. “What if Frankenstein’s monster learnt about sex and feminism” might not be the sanest sounding elevator pitch (it won the very posh Golden Lion at Venice for a reason), but the director’s trademark, and completely nuts, style can’t hide a fundamentally moving story of self-discovery that just happens to include a dog with the head of a goose. Emma Stone has rarely been better, and Mark Ruffalo makes a hysterical return to non-MCU fare as a deliciously absurd polite society sex-man.
Release Date: 19 January 2024
Director: Alexander Payne
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Dominic Sessa
Lumbered with an infuriating not-in-time-for-Christmas UK release date, Alexander Payne’s festively melancholy Paul Giamatti reunion is the cinema equivalent of a roasting chestnut. A pitch-perfect tribute to the weepy 80s American boarding school movie, the 1970-set flick feels like a lost stablemate of Dead Poets Society in the best possible way. The story of a cranky history teacher bonding with a boy left at school over the holidays might not be chock-full of surprises, but that’s exactly the point. If there’s a better Christmas film released outside of the festive season next year, we’ll munch on Paul Giamatti’s hat, and throw in a couple of gone off sprouts for good measure.
Release Date: 26 January 2024
Director: Andrew Haigh
Starring: Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal
The screening we attended of All Of Us Strangers saw someone walk out, looking inconsolable, around half way through. As we left the screening, they were still in tears, so moved and taken by the 50% of the movie they saw. The other 50% they didn’t is even better. Andrew Haigh feels like the kind of talent we should be writing textbooks about in the future, a director who manages to talk about real life matters, in an accessible way. All Of Us Strangers may just be – to date anyway – his masterpiece. Hyberbole? Maybe a little. But good lord: if you ever doubt the strength of UK cinema, All Of Us Strangers is urgently prescribed.
Release Date: TBC
Director: Richard Linklater
Starring: Glen Powell, Adria Arjona
Hot off the back of last year’s rather successful Top Gun: Maverick, Glen Powell’s star continues to rise as he channels the kind of gigawatt charm he brought to 2018’s Set It Up in Richard Linklater’s much-anticipated return to the big screen. Injecting the strangely prevalent assassin-for-hire genre (see David Fincher’s The Killer for the same, if with added Smiths) with the romantic stylings of the Before trilogy and School Of Rock’s sense of fun, Hit Man is a crowd-pleasing riot that’s gone down a treat this festival season. Netflix might have picked up the distribution rights, but no release date is confirmed yet. There are rumours of a rare cinema release for the streamer, though, so fingers crossed…
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