The top 41 must-see movies of 2023

Montage of movies from 2023
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2023 promises to be quite the year for movies – and we’ve brought together our list of the must-see films of the next 12 months.

Ah-ha! The year 2023, a year that’s going to bring us new films from the likes of David Fincher, Greta Gerwig, Denis Villeneuve, Steven Soderbergh, and Jared Leto. In emancipation of the treats ahead, here’s our guide to our most anticipated movies of the year. Release dates are correct at the time of writing this piece, and there are films that haven’t been confirmed…

Words: Simon Brew, John Moore, Lauren Miles

41    White Bird: A Wonder Story

Let’s start here. The first Wonder movie was a genuine delight, a live action family film based on the book by R J Palacio that still warrants rewatching. The book itself had spin-off novellas, but no direct sequel. That’s reflected too by the fact that this new film – White Bird – isn’t a direct follow-up either.

It doesn’t thus follow the character of Auggie from the first story, but instead, it takes the path of its bully: Julian. It’s a pretty radical turn, as the film’s going to explore what makes a bully, but also, the difficult story of Julian’s grandmother during her time in Nazi-occupied France.

Marc Forster directs, with Bryce Gheisar and Helen Mirren leading the cast.

As it turns out, this one hasn’t materialised this year, and still doesn’t have a concrete release date. We’ll be putting it on next year’s list. – SB

Release date: TBC 2023

40    Ghostbusters: Afterlife 2

There was a lot to like in Jason Reitman’s Ghostbusters 4, but also, its adherence to the early films did feel like a double edged sword. There’s a moment near the end that still divides audiences too, and Afterlife 2’s intentions seem clear from the fact that it’ll pick up the post-credits sting of the previous movie.

This time, Gil Kenan – Monster House, A Boy Called Christmas – is jumping into the director’s chair, having co-written the last film with Reitman. McKenna Grace – the standout of the last film – is returning alongside Finn Wolfhard, Paul Rudd and Carrie Coon. Reitman and Kenan are penning the script. – SB

Release date: This was set to be released in December, but has now been delayed until March 2024. You can expect to see it in next year’s most anticipated list!

39    A Haunting In Venice

Kenneth Branagh returns for his third Poirot film, in which he remains both director and star and facial hair balancer. This time, the famed detective finds himself staying in Venice, enjoying his retirement. All of that is abruptly cut short when a guest is murdered at a seance he reluctantly attends. Oh dear. 

This may be lower down on our list, but I will be seeing it. I’ve missed his ridiculous moustache very much. – LM

Release date: 15th September

Review here.

38    Fast X

Family. – LM

Release date: 19th May

Review here.

37    Haunted Mansion

This would have been far higher up our list if, as was originally planned, it had been directed by Guillermo del Toro. As things stand, however, he dropped out of the project, to be replaced with Justin Simien. Sorry, Justin. You may be brilliant, but it cost the film some 30 places on the list.

Now, it sounds a lot like Disney has made this reboot in a similar vein to the ill-fated Eddie Murphy version of 2003, which was intended to be a comedy. Still, this time a single mother (Rosario Dawson) and her son move into a suspiciously cheap mansion that turns out to be haunted (which is kind of obvious from the fact that it was suspiciously cheap). 

They’re helped out by a group of experts played by the likes of Danny DeVito, LaKeith Stanfield, Owen Wilson and Tiffany Haddish. Together they hope to clear the house of a ghost played by… Jared Leto. 

Jared Leto.

This could go one of two ways. But still, spooky mansion!

But still, Jared Leto. – LM

Release date: 11th August

Here’s our review.

36    The Marvels

This Marvel film sees three of the franchise’s most charismatic leading women team up in their time of need. 

Brie Larson returns as the kick-ass Carol Danvers (aka Captain Marvel), who crosses paths with both Ms Marvel (the effervescent Iman Vellani) and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) when the three of them start switching places whenever they use their powers. 

It’s an intriguing premise, and it’ll be a real treat to see these three talented performers on-screen together. Behind the camera is Candyman’s Nia DaCosta, tackling a completely new genre for her. No hooks in this one. 

Samuel L Jackson is also in this as Nick Fury. 12A though. No cussing. – LM

Release date: 10th November

35    Knock At The Cabin

A modern master of surprise is at it again. As an M Night Shyamalan film, Knock At The Cabin could go either way really. This time, a family is taken hostage when on holiday in a remote cabin, this movie sets up a premise that will keep us guessing all the way through. 

The group of armed strangers responsible for the hostage situation believe the apocalypse is imminent, and only if the family make an impossibly hard choice can it be prevented. They must decide what they really believe. 

In the cast are David Bautista, Rupert Grint, Nikki Amuka-Bird and Jonathan Groff. As always with Shyamalan, I’m more than sufficiently intrigued. If I wasn’t, that’d be a bit of a twist at the end of this entry, wouldn’t it? – LM

Release date: 3rd February

Review here.

34    Magic Mike’s Last Dance

Steven Soderbergh and Channing Tatum team up again to round off a Magic Mike trilogy that, probably, very few people saw coming when the original was released in 2012. 

What began as a story inspired by Tatum’s life as a stripper in his pre-fame years, has become a completely, utterly and impeccably review-proof cultural phenomenon for its fans, so what we think of this movie will matter not a jot. Indeed, Soderbergh has said the franchise will continue beyond this, telling stories in the same universe but without Mike at their heart. 

Good job then, that Tatum’s final outing will probably be just as funny and earnest as the others, though will probably continue to tone down the heavy pathos of the first film in the same way its sequel did as it visits London and ropes Salma Hayek into the cast. 

It was originally planned for streaming this, until Warner Bros encouraged us all to see it in cinemas instead. Clothes optional, natch. – JM

Release date: 10th February

33    Plane

An early 2023 treat, this. There is a plane. Gerard Butler and his facial hair are on it. He is piloting said aircraft. Lightning hits the plane. Butler lands the thing. Phew! That’s enough action for one film. Perfect.

But wait! Rebels then surround the plane and take lots of passengers hostage! Hurray! Butler has to growl and save the day, accompanied in this case by an accused murderer who happened to be on the plane, thinking it was the Con Air audition. Mike Colter co-stars, and I will be watching this. 33rd place? Pah. – SB

Release date: 27th January

Review here.

32    Evil Dead Rise 

Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead franchise is being rebooted once again. While unfortunately everyone’s beloved protagonist, Ash Williams, won’t be making a comeback, Bruce Campbell is executive producing Evil Dead Rise alongside long-time collaborator Raimi. 

In a twist on the Evil Dead formula, we’re saying goodbye to the creepy cabin in the woods and hello to a modern apartment block in LA, where protagonist Beth (Lily Sullivan) will find the Necronomicon. Director Lee Cronin has promised that the film will strap you onto “a rocket fuelled by blood.” Sounds messy. 

Still, no Bruce Campbell. That’s not so groovy. But there will be evil things, and some things will be dead. – LM

Release date: 21st April

Review here.

31  Rebel Moon

Zack Snyder has teamed up with Netflix for ambitious space opera Rebel Moon. It centres on a peaceful colony that’s threatened by the armies of a tyrannical regent. As a result, they assemble a cracking ensemble cast to fight some glorious battles. We’re getting at least two films in this series, which has the feel of Snyder’s consolation prize for not getting to make a Star Wars movie.

Anyway: they’ve got Sofia Boutella; they’ve got Charlie Hunnam; they’ve got Ray Fisher, Djimon Hounsou and Corey Stoll. Not to mention Cary Elwes and the one and only Sir Anthony Hopkins. Just from that you can tell the scale that this is aiming for, and it’s exciting. And expensive.

Despite being a Netflix release we bet this’ll be getting some time in cinemas, and it sounds like a film that’s worth seeing on the big screen. – LM

Release date: December 22nd

30   Shin Kamen Rider 

This new version of the classic 70s Japanese ‘Tokusatsu’ series makes an appearance on this list because it is being put together by Hideaki Anno; he was half of the directorial force behind 2016’s excellently unsettling, weird and mega-successful (at least in his native Japan) Shin Godzilla, and the writer of last year’s Shin Ultraman (which gets a very limited mid-January cinema release in the UK following its Far East debut last spring). 

Anno’s third reimagining of a classic Japanese TV show will apparently stick to the original’s premise, which sees student Takeshi Hongo abducted by a secretive organisation and augmented to be a super soldier, before escaping and using his powers to battle against it as a masked motorbike rider. However, like his other recent efforts, Anno will no doubt bring to this outré premise his signature introspection, flair for action, musings on the nature of humanity and observations of Japanese cultural quirks. 

Anno is best known as mercurial and reclusive creator of perpetual anime classic Evangelion, which he finally drew a veil over with 2021’s Evangelion: 3.0+1.01 Thrice Upon a Time before picking up this project, which was originally intended to coincide with the show’s 50th anniversary but delayed by the Covid pandemic. Whether the UK will get a release this year is very much in the air at the moment, but we await news eagerly. – JM 

Release date: This is another one that’s not made it into cinemas in 2023, but we’re still excited to see it.

29    Napoleon

Bring on the press tour! Oh, the film first though. Ridley Scott has made one of his long-cherished projects, the story of Napoleon. He’s spent Apple’s money on it, and Joaquin Phoenix is in the title role for the film.

Not only then do we get Scott in his happy place, with another historical drama, but hopefully he’ll be very beardy and grumpy when he gets to the promotional work for the film as well. It’s honestly half of the joy of his films at the moment, and that’s no slight on the movies themselves. – SB

Release date: 22nd November 2023

28    Poolman

Chris Pine’s directorial debut Poolman is one that intrigues me. It’s always interesting to see someone who’s primarily worked in front of the camera try something completely new. Especially when they’ve captained a starship before. 

The premise for Poolman also sounds promising, with a guy who looks after swimming pools (Pine takes on the lead role here, too) uncovering a huge water heist – a plotline that’s been rightfully compared to neo-noir classic Chinatown. 

Pine’s got an impressive cast together, as he’s joined by Annette Bening, Danny DeVito, Ariana DeBose and Jennifer Jason Leigh. 

Looking forward to seeing how this turns out. Wonder if he’ll kill off anyone in a red shirt? – LM

Release date: TBC 2023 

27    Operation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre

This gets on the list in the hope that the long-completed film might actually appear. It helps that it’s a further reunion of Guy Ritchie and Jason Statham – following the middling Wrath Of Man – and it also helps that The Statham is playing a character called Orson Fortune in this. 

Then there’s Aubrey Plaza as well, co-starring in this particular spy action thriller, set in the world of Hollywood movie stars. Its UK delay has in part been down to parent studio STX shutting up shop. May a new home for the film be swiftly found. Primarily because I want to watch it. – SB

Release date: April 7th.

Review here.

26    Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

A little bit off most people’s radar, this. There’s not an awful lot of author Judy Blume’s work that’s made it to the screen, and this adaptation of her 1970 stands out firstly for that reason.

What also knocks this right up our watchlist though is the presence behind the camera of Kelly Fremon Craig. She’s adapted the book and directed the film, having previously brought to the hugely, hugely underrated The Edge Of Seventeen. A genuinely superb teen movie that, and here she’s working with a cast that includes Rachel McAdams, Abby Ryder Fortson and Kathy Bates. Blume is amongst the producers. – SB

Release date: 28th April

25    Guardians Of The Galaxy: Volume III

With James Gunn’s high profile fence-hop to take control of the DC Extended Universe, it’s a pretty sure bet that this will be the final standalone get together for his iteration of the Guardians. To be fair, it was a pretty good bet anyway, given the extended hoo-haa that saw the film delayed after Disney sacked Gunn – in the wake of totally not bad faith interventions by The Best People on The Internet, who took it upon themselves to dredge up a bunch of dodgy old jokes he’d already apologised for making – only to reinstate him in the face of what amounted to a high-profile rebuke from cast members. 

The whole debacle saw the director stick a metaphorical two fingers up to the Mouse and head off to make The Suicide Squad at Warner Bros instead.

The story picks up in the wake of the team’s first act appearance in Thor: Love And Thunder and, presumably, the familial revelations that came in the recent Guardians Of The Galaxy Christmas Special and will no doubt see Quill and Co. continue their search for alt-Gamora, while avoiding Elizabeth Debicki’s Ayesha, and encountering Marvel’s Lore-heavy Adam Warlock, played by Will Poulter. 

Gunn’s singular vision for these second-string Marvel heroes undeniably re-shaped the MCU, for better or worse. Nobody else who has used these characters thus far, certainly not the Russo’s, have managed to quite squeeze the same emotional range out of them he has – so expect all the feels and a big finish. – JM

Release date: 5th May

Review here.

24    Unwelcome

If you’ve not had the pleasure – and it really is a pleasure – there’s a horror film from director Jon Wright called Grabbers. It involves fairly conventional stuff, such as creatures invading, and people hiding in the pub. The twist was that the invading creatures – the Grabbers – were poisoned by booze, so the best way people could keep safe was to get sloshed. It’s brilliant.

Wright has now teamed up with writer Mark Stay for his fresh venture into horror, the pair previously uniting on Robot Overlords. Set – as Grabbers was – in Ireland, there are fresh monsters awaiting in Unwelcome, and a wide release coming from Warner Bros too. All very promising. Yes please. – SB

Release date: 27th January

23    John Wick: Chapter 4

If you thought that John Wick’s dog dying was high stakes, somehow each passing film has managed to raise that bar higher. Keanu Reeves’ deadly assassin now has to face off against an entire organisation of assassins in order to win his own freedom, and you can bet he’ll be taking them out in increasingly inventive and well choreographed ways. 

These films have an all-around excellent supporting cast, too, and they’ll be returning for Chapter 4. Lance Reddick will put in an appearance as the likeable concierge of The Continental, and Ian McShane and Lawrence Fishburne are back as Winston and The Bowery King, respectively. 

This was originally due to hit theatres in May 2021, so we’ve had quite the wait. Thankfully that’s only heightened our anticipation. All hail Keanu. – LM

Release date: 24th March

Review here.

22    The Meg 2: The Trench

Well, frankly, The Meg 2 would be higher up the list if it hadn’t felt as though The Meg 1 had hit the post rather than tapping the ball into the wide open goal is set up. Honestly: Jason Statham sea-wrestling a giant sea creature should have been mandatory on the NHS, but somehow it got sucked into a pit of 12A/PG-13 that’ll-do-ness. 

But wait? Who’s this to the rescue? That’d be Ben Wheatley, finally – after many years – making the leap into blockbuster film directing. 

He’s got Statham back, another massive sea beast presumably, and a lust for a bit more of a seascrap (we hope). There also appears to be a trench in it, so that’s this.

Make this at least 15-rated, you cowards, and throw in a scene where Statham has to fight his way out of a Megalodon from the inside. 

Or save that for the third film. Just write it down somewhere. – SB

Release date: 4th August

Review here.

21    Wonka

While another trip back into the life and times of Roald Dahl’s problematic sweetmaking genius may seem superfluous, there’s enough about Wonka to have placed it higher on the list than it actually is. 

When you’ve got Timothée Chalamet, Olivia Colman, Sally Hawkins, Keegan-Michael Key, Rowan Atkinson, Murray McArthur, Paterson Joseph and Jim Carter in front of the camera, and the Paddington pairing of Simon Farnaby and Paul King on script and direction duties, the potential for this prequel to the – frankly – batshit, child torturing, space visiting morality tales told by the books does seem to open up somewhat. 

We’re fully expecting this to be a pleasant present for the next festive season: we may even get a bit more great glass elevator than we’ve previously been allowed. And hopefully it won’t break down, as it did when one of us saw the stage show… – JM  

Release date: 8th December 

20    Godzilla Minus One

Toho looks to be heading back to the source for the latest installment in its signature franchise, as it works on what looks to be a complete reboot of Godzilla in an effort to build out a wider universe for its monsters in the way Legendary has in the US. 

The new iteration will, it’s been reported, abandon the threads left by Shin Godzilla in favour of a historical post-War origin story that, for all the world, seems to be a revisit of the classic 1954 film. Takashi Yamazaki, director of 2002’s Returner and latterly the underrated 2019 Lupin III animated movie, will helm. – JM

Release date: 3rd November

19    Elemental

What happens when a woman made of flame meets a guy comprised entirely of water? We’re about to find out, as Pixar’s Elemental puts a very literal spin on the classic tale of two people meeting who are complete opposites, and who might just have a surprising amount in common. 

The trailer promises an extremely colourful and creative setting, with a city that’s home to people made up of four elements – fire, water, land and air. Voicing our protagonists are Leah Lewis and Jurassic World: Dominion’s Mamoudou Athie.  

Once again, Pixar is daring to ask ‘what if (insert inanimate object/thing) had feelings?’ And we’re still looking forward to it. Inside Out 2 follows this one, incidentally… – LM

Release date: 16th June

Review here.

18    The Beekeeper

Jason Statham has taken on many guises in his action movie star career, but to date, he’s never portrayed on screen the person you go to when you’ve got a few hives that need tending. That will change in 2023, and it’s enough to make this turbulent times worth living through.

The Statham is a recluse in this one, hiding away with his just his hornets for company. But then action things kick in, in what’s planned to be the start of a new franchise. David Ayer, he of Suicide Squad, is steering this, but no matter. He’s made some good films as well. Let this be another  – SB

Release date: The Beekeeper was originally set for 2023, but has now been delayed until January 2024. As with anything Statham, you’ll be seeing this on next year’s list. 

17    Creed III

Sylvester Stallone seems to have little interest in watching the third Creed film, but I’m long on board. Arguably a masterclass in how to spin one franchise out of another, watching the adventures of Michael B Jordan’s Adonis Creed has been a real delight. And this time – following the path set by the now-departed Stallone – he’s directing the film as well.

Tessa Thompson co-stars, and there will be plenty of biffing in the boxing ring too. Stallone reportedly left this in part because he didn’t like how dark it was heading. But also hard cash. This, then, will be the test as to whether you can have a film in the Rocky universe without a Rocky in it. And if it works? That Ivan Drago spin-off (really!) can’t come quickly enough… – SB

Release date: 3rd March

Review here.

16    The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry

Based on the book by Rachel Joyce, this one gives starring roles to Jim Broadbent and Penelope Wilton, so that’s a very good start. It’s from director Hettie Macdonald, and you may just have seen her work with the BBC adaptation of Normal People. She helmed half of the episodes of that one.

A location shoot around the UK started in Devon in September 2022 for this one, about a sixtysomething man who walks for hundreds of miles to visit his ailing friend. It’s an independent film this, but expect it to get a decent release in 2023. – SB

Release date: 28th April

Review here.

15    Tetris

2023 is set to be a year when film reviewers wrap themselves up in shapes as they try and wring every possible pun out of a movie based on Tetris. Shapes, blocks, stuff like that: write your own, we’re good here.

Instead, the new film from director Jon S Baird – and starring Taron Egerton – tells the fascinating and sinister tale behind the creation of the world’s most famous puzzle videogame. Apple is backing this for a release in the spring, and hopes are high. Shapes, blocks, more gags.

Incidentally, might there be a cinematic universe in this? Imagine. Klax would be good, maybe The Candy Crush Saga Murders? Dunno. Will write some stuff down and get pitching. Fall into place, shapes, colours etc. – SB

Release date: March 2023

14    Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning – Part I

Just two more adventures for Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt lie ahead of us, and here’s one of the very last films to be delayed by the pox that hit in 2020 too. Christopher McQuarrie is back behind the camera, and Tom Cruise is hanging off things in front of it. Joyfully, this filmed in part just 20 minutes from Film Stories HQ in Birmingham, too. It’s obviously not set in Birmingham, but maybe they’re saving that for the reboot.

Dead Reckoning follows on from the superb Fallout, and begins the end of the Ethan Hunt story – with some familiar faces promised. Part 2 follows in 2024. That’s not set in Birmingham either. – SB

Release date: 14th July

Review here.

13    Next Goal Wins

Shot in 2019, then slightly reshot to replace Armie Hammer with Will Arnet, this is the film that Taika Waititi in theory had made before he picked up his camera for Thor: Love & Thunder

Based on the terrific documentary of the same name, this is the dramatised story of the story, that sees a coach by the name of Thomas Rongen – played by Michael Fassbender in the film – trying to turn around the American Samoa national football team. Problem is, the team, er, isn’t very good. 

Now due at the end of 2023, Waititi has co-written the script with The Inbetweener's co-creator Iain Morris. Expect some football in it. – SB

Release date: 26th December

12    Renfield

Nic Cage. That’s a start… That, and it’s a modern retelling of Dracula that proves to be at the very least interesting. The Cage’s first major studio film in a long time too.

The film itself will turn the focus to Dracula’s titular servant, played by Nicholas Hoult, as he becomes disillusioned with his life and wonders what else he could be doing with his time. He meets traffic cop Rebecca Quincey (Awkwafina), and becomes smitten with her. Also starring are Adrian Martinez and the always-wonderful Shoreh Aghdashloo. 

But knowing Cage, his version of the Count will be the real scene-stealer here. – LM

Release date: 14th April

Review here.

11    Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny

On the one hand: brilliant, it’s a new Indiana Jones film! On the other hand, the last time we said that, up popped Shia LaBeouf in a career-worst performance, and still wasn’t the weakest thing in it.

Indy 5 though. Not only is it Harrison Ford’s last time with a whip and hat (in public, anyway), but it’s also a changing of the guard too. No Steven Spielberg for a start – at least not directing – with James Mangold choosing this project to follow up the brilliant Le Mans 66. Let’s hope he chose wisely. George Lucas looks absent from this one too, with little sign that he had input into the story. Will pass that on without comment.

Set to be one of the blockbuster movies of the year, this. Hopefully, a fitting farewell to one of the most iconic movie characters of the last 45 years… – SB

Release date: 30th June

Review here.

10    Cocaine Bear

In her first directorial outing since 2019’s more-entertaining-than-most-people-on-the-internet-would-have-you-believe Charlie’s Angels, Elizabeth Banks has poked the internet meme machine with the promise of Cocaine Bear

Like that other arthouse classic, Snakes On A Plane, this film would appear to be exactly what it professes: a film about a Bear absolutely ripped out of his mind on illicit substances and the havoc it wreaks. 

Tik-Tok star Scott Seiss’ appearance ups the social media hype for this, but Kerri Russell and Matthew Rhys will star. It will also, somewhat fittingly perhaps, feature a posthumous starring turn from Ray Liotta. – JM

Review here.

Release date: 24th February

9    Killers Of The Flower Moon

The most expensive Martin Scorsese film of all time was due out originally in 2022. Thing is, we’ve got a bit of a Gangs Of New York thing going on here, as it’s not finished, and running behind schedule. Scorsese has gladly spent some $200m of Apple’s money on the kind of film that might just be hard to get through the system going forward though, and he’s attracted quite a crowd to help him.

The cast? Well, crikey. Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brendan Fraser, Jesse Plemons, Lily Gladstone, John Lithgow, everyone els, you name ‘em. Quite an ensemble, this, and as the first Scorsese film since 2019’s The Irishman, anticipation is rather high. Can it beat The Irishman’s four hour running time though…? – SB

Release date: 20th October.

Review here. 


And so it came to pass that, in the year of our lord 2023, the universe finally answered the pleas of the Kevin Costner faithful. Why hasn’t he directed a film since the brilliant 2003 western Open Range, we asked. Come on! The skies opened and The Costner listened. More than that, like that postman in his other film, he delivered.

Not only is Kevin Costner thus directing one new western – Horizon – he’s actually making three or four of the buggers. With James Cameron watching on with awe that someone can announce such a monumental multi-film undertaking and actually have one of them shot in the same year, Costner is expected to deliver the first film at the end of 2023. By then, he’ll be deep into making the next one. For this writer at least, this is the cinematic universe the world has been crying out for. 

Horizon boasts a cast that includes Costner, Sienna Miller, Sam Worthington, Jamie Campbell Bower, Luke Wilson, Jena Malone and a ton of other people. May its path to the screen be a smooth one. – SB

Release date: The release dates have finally been announced, and there’s going to be a Costner double bill in 2024. The first film is out on 28th June and the second follows soon after on 16th August. 

   Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse

The highly anticipated sequel to a movie some – okay ‘I’ – consider the finest iteration of the webslinger to appear on screen has been put together by a different team to the groundbreaking 2018 film. 

Phil Lord returns on writing and production duties – this time with regular accomplice Chris Miller also drafted in to help hew the script – while the new directorial trio comprises of Kemp Powers, who co-helmed and co-wrote Pixar’s Soul, alongside Joaquim Dos Santos and Justin K. Thompson. They step up from production and art department credits on shows such as Legend Of Korra and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, with the latter being a longtime Lord & Miller animation collaborator on the Little Big Planet and Sackboy Playstation titles.  

It’ll be interesting to see how effectively this new group can build-out the world of Miles Morales while also capturing the lightning in a bottle of the first movie. Their efforts will be aided by the return of much of the original voice cast including Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Jake Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, and Luna Lauren Velez along with the addition of Oscar Isaac, Issa Rae, Rachel Dratch and Jason Schwarzmann. No word, as yet, on John Mulaney’s return as Peter Porker. – JM

Release date: 2nd June

Review here.

6    Dune: Part II

There’s an argument that the really tricky put of James Herbert’s novel Dune to bring to the screen is in its second half. The second half that the mighty Denis Villeneuve didn’t tackle in the rather brilliant Dune: Part I

Still, the first film was such a colossal achievement, is anyone really doubting that Villenueve can – let’s go movie website cliche for a minute – stick the landing? 

There’s not much compelling I can tell you here that you don’t know: if you’re invested in Dune, then you’ll know where the last film ended and where this one picks up. The same personnel return. And notwithstanding the bit where the studio held off giving Part II the greenlight until it was sure Part I was a success, this looks set to be one of the essential studio films of the year. With not a superhero in sight, too. That’ll tell ‘em. – SB

Release date: Due to the studios prolonging the actors and writers strike, Dune: Part II has been delayed until 15th March 2024. Warner Bros is presumable hoping to have some stars available to promote the film then.

5    The Killer

A new David Fincher film? A new David Fincher film that sees him working again with Seven scribe Andrew Kevin Walker? What, and it’s a thriller? Oh alright then. 

The Killer is based on a comic book series, telling the story of an assassin who gets a bit of a conscience. Not the best idea in that line of work.

Cast? As you asked. Michael Fassbender, Tilda Swinton and Charles Parnell lead the ensemble. Netflix picked the project up from Paramount, but hopefully this will get more than a quick excursion into cinemas. And then hopefully Fincher will crack on with another film straight afterwards. – SB

Release date: 10th November.

4    Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

There’s a lot of things that excite me about Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves – firstly, it’s helmed by Game Night directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. Second, there’s a lot for a D&D fan to love. Just from the trailer, you can see they’ve got some of the fine details right – we can expect black dragons that actually breathe acid. 

Also, the playful and chaotic relationship between the main party members (and the fact that they stumble upon the main plot by accident) emulates perfectly what goes on on an average D&D night. I’m waiting impatiently for this one to roll into cinemas, and for the characters to have to roll initiative… – LM

Release date: 30th March

Review here.

3    Oppenheimer

Certainly following Tenet, there seems to be something of a Christopher Nolan backlash with a bit of a head of steam to it. But heck: who’s even attempting half of the things he’s doing with big, mainstream cinema? Case in point: Oppenheimer. The man so badly wants you to see his film, he’s generated a nuclear explosion for it (this actually isn’t far from the truth). 

Oppenheimer tells the story of the father of the atomic bomb, played by Cillian Murphy. It’s also Nolan’s first film since his high-profile departure from Warner Bros after two fruitful decades there. At the time of writing it’s opening the same day as Barbie too, which is one hell of a double bill.

Talking of which…. – SB

Release date: 21st July

Review here.

2    Barbie

In what promises to be one of the weirdest stylistic switch-ups of the year – if not all time – Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach move directly from his weird eco comedy-drama adaptation White Noise to this showcase for a child’s toy. 

Gerwig jumps into the director’s chair for the first time since Little Women to realise the Marriage Stories director’s script, with Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as the titular star and her beau Ken. If the pedigree in front and behind the camera weren’t enough to hint that this may be slightly more than an excuse to sell dolls and sundry accoutrements, the 2001-riffing teaser made it more than clear that toddlers and tweens are probably not the target audience here. – JM

Release date: 21st July

Review here.

1    The Boy And The Heron

As the legendary creative force who defined the style and drove the global success of Studio Ghibli, the return of Hayao Miyazaki stands out as the cinematic event we’re most anticipating in 2023. 

He makes his curtain call with The Boy And The Heron, a coming of age story based on a 1930’s Japanese book by Genzaburo Yoshino – his first film since 2013’s The Wind Rises, due almost exactly a decade after he announced his retirement from feature filmmaking. 

While Miyazaki has retired on several occasions, at the age of 81 The Boy And The Heron may well be, as the director promises, the last time he helms a movie – some 39 years after he made Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind, his first for the studio. 

His subsequent films are almost peerless within animation and beyond it – including My Neighbour Totoro (1988), Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), Princess Mononoke (1997), Spirited Away (2001), and Ponyo (2008) – and a massive reason for the increased appreciation of his country’s animation output across the globe. – JM

Release date: 26th December

Honourable mentions: 

There are films we really wanted to include in this list, but couldn’t be certain they’re landing in 2023 – that, or they debuted at festivals in 2022. We’ll namecheck them here, as we’ll be coming back to them throughout the year in Film Stories.

Thus, Reggie Yates has Poles Apart, Ken Loach has The Old Oak, Simon Pegg takes the lead in British indie Nandor Fodor And The Talking Mongoose, Steve McQueen is making Blitz, there’s that Take That musical, and there’s these too…

Creature, from Asif Kapadia.

We got half-way through including this, before realising it’d actually debuted already. Curses. A UK cinema release is due in early 2023, though. Looking forward to it.

The new Alien

It might be heading straight to Disney+, but wanted to acknowledge that this is on its way. If we were certain it’d land in 2023, it’d be on the list. But we’re not. So it isn’t.

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