Film lookahead: 23 highlights to look out for in 2023

Film lookahead: 23 highlights to look out for in 2023

Image source, Warner Bros.
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Margot Robbie in the Barbie movie, directed by Greta Gerwig and set for release in July

Films such as Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World: Dominion and, more recently, Avatar: The Way of Water have seen huge box office figures in 2022.

That’s the good news for film fans and the cinema industry.

The bad news is that this year’s audience numbers still aren’t close to pre-pandemic levels.

Could 2023 be the year when the industry triumphantly declares that things are back to where they were before Covid?

Here’s a selection of 23 titles coming out in 2023 (in chronological order of release) that could be crucial in dictating how fast cinema recovers.

Film lookahead: 23 highlights to look out for in 2023

1. Till

Emmett Till and his motherImage source, Universal
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Jalyn Hall and Danielle Deadwyler as Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley

Based on true and shocking events in America’s Deep South in the 1950s, Till is the story of 14-year-old Emmett Till who was abducted and murdered after being accused of wolf whistling at a white woman.

It shows how Emmett’s mother Mamie Till-Mobley’s faced an almost impossible struggle to try and achieve justice for her dead son.

Danielle Deadwyler who plays Mamie gives a particularly powerful performance which may well receive Oscar recognition.

(Released in cinemas 6 January)

2. Empire of Light

Olivia Colman and Micheal WardImage source, Searchlight Pictures
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Olivia Colman and Micheal Ward in Empire of Light

Sir Sam Mendes’ love letter to the movies is set in small coastal cinema during the 1980s and stars Oscar winner Olivia Colman as the cinema’s manager.

When a new ticket seller played by Bafta winner Micheal Ward is hired, the two find an unlikely connection. Mendes’ story explores everything from romance to racism, misogyny to mental health.

And Colman, as ever, is being talked about as contender for acting honours in awards season.

(Released in cinemas 9 January)

3. Tár

Cate Blanchett in TárImage source, Universal Pictures
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Cate Blanchett in Tár

Cate Blanchett has been constantly winning awards and plaudits from critics for her performance as fictional composer and conductor Lydia Tár, a musician who’s reached the very pinnacle of her profession. But things change when unexpected pressures begin to affect her life and her work.

Blanchett is already a double Academy Award winner. She won her first Oscar in 2005, her second after a nine-year gap in 2014. So, mathematically at least, with 2023 being another nine years later, she’s due to win again in a few months’ time. And she probably will.

(Released in cinemas 13th January)

4. Holy Spider

Zar Emir-Ebrahimi in Holy SpiderImage source, MUBI
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Zar Emir-Ebrahimi in Holy Spider

This real-life inspired drama is based on the crimes of Saeed Hanaei, an Iranian construction worker who murdered 16 sex workers in the city of Mashad.

The film, which has fictionalised much of the story, follows a female investigative journalist Rahimi, played by Zar Emir-Ebrahimi, who plays a crucial role in pursuing the serial killer.

Emir-Ebrahimi won the best actress prize at the Cannes Film Festival for her intense, multi-layered performance.

(Released in cinemas 20 January)

5. The Fabelmans

Gabrielle LaBelle in The FabelmansImage source, Entertainment One
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Gabrielle LaBelle as the young Steven Spielberg

This is undoubtedly the most personal film of Steven Spielberg’s half-a-century long career. It’s a fictionalised version of his own childhood, growing up in a damaged family.

It shows his sometimes difficult relationship with his parents, as well as how as a young child he fell in love with cinema. And how that obsession grew into the career that’s already netted him two directing Oscars, and which could bag him a third with this.

(Released in cinemas 27 January)

6. The Whale

Brendan Fraser in The WhaleImage source, A24
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Brendan Fraser is tipped to win the best actor Oscar for The Whale

Brendan Fraser is tipped for an Oscar for his extraordinary performance in one of the year’s most unusual and moving stories. He plays a morbidly obese lecturer, living in a tiny apartment who’s desperately trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter.

The film has won acclaim at several film festivals, and it’s expected to be a serious awards contender. Strong support comes from the other members of the cast which includes Hong Chau, Sadie Sink and Samantha Morton.

(Released in cinemas 3 February)

7. Magic Mike’s Last Dance

Channing Tatum and Salma Hayek in Magic Mike's Last DanceImage source, Warner Bros.
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Channing Tatum and Salma Hayek in Magic Mike’s Last Dance

The first Magic Mike film released in 2012 electrified audiences with its brand of well-oiled entertainment. A sequel followed three years later.

And now this third and final is due to arrive in 2023. The stories are expanded from star Channing Tatum’s experiences as a young male stripper. This instalment will see Mike venturing into new territory by experiencing a committed relationship with Salma Hayek’s Max.

(Released in cinemas 10 February)

8. Luther

Idris Elba as LutherImage source, Netflix
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Idris Elba as DCI John Luther

After a decade on TV, the crime thriller Luther has now finally transferred to the big screen with writer Neil Cross continuing the journey he began on the BBC.

Little has been revealed about the plot, but expect chilling crimes and psychological twists and turns. Naturally, Idris Elba returns as the titular detective. Alongside him this time are Cynthia Erivo and Andy Serkis.

(Released on Netflix in March)

9. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

The cast of Guardians of the Galaxy volume 3Image source, Marvel
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This is the final Guardians of the Galaxy movie for the current team

“I am Groot.” “I am Groot.” Pause. “I am Groot.” Translation, if you need it: The galaxy’s favourite bunch of mismatched heroes return to once again try and defend the galaxy with a mission that this time, it’s strongly rumoured, will put one of the team under deadly threat.

Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Karen Gillan, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Pom Klementieff and Dave Bautista are joined by Will Poulter whose character Adam Warlock was first hinted at in a post-credits sequence in Volume 2.

(Released in cinemas 5 May)

10. Fast X

This 10th and penultimate instalment in the Fast and Furious franchise is being described as one of the most expensive films ever made. Which means, we assume, even more retina-searing chases and eardrum-bursting action sequences.

Filming took place in locations including London, Rome and Lisbon. As ever Vin Diesel appears alongside Jason Statham and Michelle Rodriguez. But sadly for fans, this time there’s no Dwayne Johnson.

(Released in cinemas 19th May)

11. Killers of the Flower Moon

This long-gestating project has on paper, perhaps, the strongest pedigree of any film of 2023.

The Oscar-winning Martin Scorsese directing Oscar winners Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. Plus the (very probably) soon to be Oscar winning Brendan Fraser.

It’s a 1920s drama that follows the investigation into the murders of a number of wealthy individuals in Osage County, Oklahoma, following the discovery of large oil deposits there.

(Released in cinemas in May)

12. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

This computer-animated sequel to 2018’s Into the Spider-Verse once more sees Miles Morales travelling between different alternative universes.

As well as developing his relationship with Gwen Stacy’s Spider-Woman, he also comes into contact with a wider group of Spider-People including an older Spider-Man, a British Spider-Man and a pregnant Spider-Woman.

Shameik Moore again provides the voice of Miles. Joining him are Hailee Steinfeld, Issa Rae and Daniel Kaluuya.

(Released in cinemas 2 June)

13. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Harrison Ford as Indiana JonesImage source, Lucasfilm
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Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones

While the films in the original Indiana Jones trilogy are regarded by many as classics, the fourth, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, is widely considered a hideous misfire.

And that movie’s presumed plan to hand the baton to Indy’s rediscovered son, Shia LaBoeuf’s Mutt, appears to have been wisely abandoned.

This time around, Harrison Ford as Indy is joined by newcomers including Toby Jones, Antonio Banderas and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. As well as the return of John Rhys-Davies.

(Released in cinemas 30 June)

14. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

The seventh instalment in the Mission: Impossible franchise promises the usual blend of extravagant set pieces, high-octane chases and sphincter-tightening stunts.

We assume Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt will once again battle to save the world from some kind of nefarious global plot.

The first trailers show the expected globe-trotting locations. And support from a roster of returning characters.

(Released in cinemas 14 July)

15. Barbie

Ryan Gosling as KenImage source, Warner Bros.
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Ryan Gosling plays Barbie’s love interest Ken

The first pictures from the Barbie movie almost broke the internet. And it’s hard to think of more perfect casting than Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as the fashion dolls who have been the stars of the Mattel line for decades – Barbie and Ken.

Naturally, it’s been billed as a romantic comedy, but that aside, plot details are pretty scant. But whatever the plot, audiences are already looking forward to what promises to be a visual feast of primary coloured coolness.

(Released in cinemas 21 July)

16. Oppenheimer

Film lookahead: 23 highlights to look out for in 2023Image source, Universal Pictures
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Cillian Murphy stars as the “father of the atomic bomb”

Dark Knight trilogy and Inception director Christopher Nolan’s latest epic is the story of the physicist J Robert Oppenheimer, often dubbed the father of the atomic bomb.

Oppenheimer was one of the leading members of the Manhattan Project, which led to the creation of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

And he was among those who witnessed the first-ever atomic detonation test in New Mexico. Cillian Murphy stars as Oppenheimer, Emily Blunt plays his wife Kitty.

(Released in cinemas 21 July)

17. Next Goal Wins

Director Taika Waititi’s follow-up to his hit comedies Jojo Rabbit and Thor: Love and Thunder look to be wildly different from his previous work.

Next Goal Wins is based on the true story of the coach appointed to manage the national football team of American Samoa, ranked worst in the world, in their efforts to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. It stars Michael Fassbender as coach Thomas Rongen.

(Released in cinemas in September)

18. Dune: Part Two

The first Dune film rather ambitiously declared itself to be Dune: Part One. But that confidence was borne out when audiences flocked to what turned out to be the cinematic equivalent of the planet Arrakis’s much sought-after spice.

This film should roughly tell the story of the second half of author Frank Herbert’s original novel. Timothée Chalamet returns as Paul Atreides, as does Zendaya as Chani. Newcomers to the cast include Florence Pugh as Princess Irulan.

(Released in cinemas 3 November)

19. Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget

A scene from Chicken Run: Dawn of the NuggetImage source, Aardman/Netflix
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More than 20 years after the first film, the chickens are back

The long awaited sequel to 2000’s Chicken Run picks up the story following the chickens’ magnificent escape from Tweedy’s farm.

The chickens are now living on a peaceful island where Ginger and Rocky now have a daughter named Molly.

But, of course, things don’t stay calm for long and a new threat sees them having to do the very opposite of their break-out in the first film. This time they realise they need to pull off an audacious break-in.

(Expected to be released on Netflix in November)

20. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

The cast of the Hunger Games prequelImage source, Lionsgate
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Tom Blyth and Rachel Zegler in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

While the original Hunger Games film quartet followed the rise of Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen, this prequel set more than half a century early follows the young President Snow, long before he became a ruthless despot, although the clues are probably already there for sharp-eyed observers.

Tom Blyth plays the young Coriolanus Snow. Also appearing in the film are Rachel Zegler and Hunter Schafer.

(Released in cinemas 17 November)

21. Wonka

Timothée Chalamet as the young Willy WonkaImage source, Timothée Chalamet/Warner Bros.
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Timothée Chalamet as the young Willy Wonka

Literature’s most famous and most eccentric chocolate impresario has already been played by Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and by Johnny Depp in Charlie & the Chocolate Factory.

This time it’s Timothée Chalamet’s turn to play a much younger version of Wonka in this prequel to Roald Dahl’s original story. Sally Hawkins, Olivia Colman, Jim Carter and Matt Lucas also star.

(Released in cinemas 15 December)

22. Maestro

Bradley Cooper’s follow-up to his hugely successful directing debut A Star Is Born is Maestro, a biopic about the acclaimed West Side Story composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein. Once again, not only does Cooper direct, he also stars and has co-written the screenplay. Carey Mulligan plays Felicity Montealegre, Bernstein’s wife, and the cast also includes Jeremy Strong and Sarah Silverman.

(Released on Netflix in late 2023)

23. Napoleon

The late, great Stanley Kubrick spent many years trying and never quite managing to make a film about the life of Napoleon, leaving the plans for the movie exiled on a cinematic Elba.

Now Ridley Scott has succeeded where Kubrick failed. Scott’s take on the Emperor’s life uses Napoleon’s wife Josephine as a lens through which to view one of history’s most extraordinary characters.

Vanessa Kirby plays Josephine, while Joaquin Phoenix takes on the role of Napoleon.

(Released on Apple TV+ in late 2023 tbc)



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