10 British films to look forward to in 2023

Get your watchlists ready – Rory Doherty previews a big year to come in British film.

Musicals, weepy dramas, crisply shot period pieces—2022 delivered the range we usually expect from British cinema but ensured the quality was that much higher. Looking forward, there are all sorts of unreleased and exciting projects that already make 2023 an all-timer year for British film.

The Eternal Daughter

Arthouse director Joanna Hogg didn’t spend too long basking in the rapturous acclaim for the autobiographical The Souvenir Part II in 2021, as within 14 months she had already premiered a tangential follow-up. Before, the upper-class mother-and-filmmaker-daughter duo in the Souvenir films was played by Tilda Swinton and her daughter Honor Swinton-Byrne, here they’re both played by Tilda. Set in an austere, remote English manor hotel on a trip for the elderly mother’s birthday, the film mimics in visuals and atmosphere old BBC made-for-TV ghost stories, an aesthetical choice that makes more sense as the story slowly moves towards its emotional resolution.


Have we graduated from the school of elevated, metaphorical horror? With the success of 2022’s unapologetic X, Smile, and Barbarian and the flop of Alex Garland’s Men, it looks like a return to the gnarly and grisly is on the cards, meaning the Irish-British co-production Unwelcome is arriving right on cue. After a couple moves to rural Ireland, they’re continuously warned of dangerous woodland creatures by locals (Colm Meaney, Kristain Nairn, Jamie-Lee O’Donnell, amongst others). The critters are fear dearg, or redcaps, and they’re not interested in causing anarchic mischief like Gremlins—they’re out for blood. Folk horror has neglected little goblins for a while now, and Unwelcome looks like a welcome return to pulpy roots.

Enys Men

Sometimes, it’s completely fine to make a wildly inaccessible, glorified student film. Mark Jenkin’s pandemic-shot follow-up to his acclaimed Bait is a very different kind of folk horror; set on a desolate Cornish island with little dialogue, a secluded wildlife volunteer, and one big haunted standing stone. Audience reactions have been polarised: some could not get into the headspace the film demands of its viewers; others have more readily submitted themselves to the vibe. With scratchy, technicolour visuals and a growing sense of dread, Enys Men is a refreshingly uncompromising release.

Blue Jean

With such a dense history of discrimination and trauma, there’s no shortage of dark time periods to set British dramas in. Blue Jean, a story of a lesbian PE teacher in the time of Thatcher’s Section 28 clause, explores in depth how dangerous laws are accepted and proliferated, especially by British youth. But it also illustrates the powerful queer communities that showed resolve in uncertain and upsetting times. Led by a standout Rosy McEwen (who just won a BIFA award in a competitive lead performance category), Blue Jean is a powerful drama about overcoming internalised homophobia.

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget

They’re back! Aardman Animation clearly got the memo about how adored the original Chicken Run was to a generation, and are bringing all our feathered friends back for a sequel that’s about 20 years overdue. The original film riffed on The Great Escape, and after a successful getaway, our chickens are all living free-range on an isolated island. But the mechanisms of carnivorous capitalism keep on churning, and our heroes decide to break back into the mainland to save their fellow chicken-kind. Aardman is a staple of British animation and a return to their most enduring story will be most welcome.


After the biggest acclaim any director could ever receive for Paddington 2, British comedy director Paul King jumped ship to work on this original musical Timothée Chalamet-starring origin story for Willy Wonka. Part of the appeal of the original book and the Gene Wilder renditions of the character was the mystery around his backstory and behaviour, so Wonka already has a massive task convincing audiences to check their expectations at the door. But the assembled team is just too appealing to deny, and after a lengthy wait, next December we’ll find out what all the fuss is about.


BOOM. It’s been ages since Christopher Nolan has attempted anything solely resembling a drama, let alone a biopic (this is his first film focusing on a real person, Dunkirk drawing from history and David Bowie as Tesla in The Prestige a fictionalised portrayal). With its ominous trailer and expansive cast, whatever Nolan’s hiding up his sleeve seeks to revolutionise a stuffy genre, and turning his eye for scale and scope on a great modern man-made horror will prove a rewarding and eye-opening watch. Cillian Murphy leads an ensemble made up of Brits and Americans, and for now, we’re all waiting in anticipation for the “Now I have become death, the destroyer of worlds” trailer drop.

Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre

Hopefully we’ll start seeing more of this type of mid-budget film from British crime guru Guy Ritchie, and less of whatever Aladdin was. In the same spirit of The Man From U.N.C.L.E, Operation Fortune seeks to kick off a new mini-franchise with Jason Statham starring as a secret agent who must execute a convoluted plot with an international cast of people having a good laugh. To that, I say: let him. For the last few years, Ritchie has been enjoying a more solid output, now he’s focusing on his rough-and-tumble roots, and the trailer makes Operation Fortune look flashy and silly enough to warrant as many sequels as he wants.

Love Lies Bleeding

After the lengthy gap between Saint Maud’s first premiere and general release, let’s hope we can get director Rose Glass’ follow-up a lot quicker—not least because of how exciting it looks. A heavy romantic thriller starring Kristen Stewart as the protective lover of a gay body-builder, there’s plenty ego, desire and misplaced ideology to go around in the upcoming A24 film. Glass has proven her ability to sketch out thorny relationships and a decent amount of dread, which all bodes well for Love Lies Bleeding taking the indie market by storm in 2023.


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Did you see all that stuff about Tom Hardy making a surprise entry in a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competition in Milton-Keynes earlier this year? He even won! Hopefully we’ll be seeing some of those impressive hand-to-hand combat skills in next year’s Havoc from Welsh action pioneer Gareth Evans. The director behind The Raid teamed with Hardy for a film about a cop having to fight his way out of a dense, bloody criminal underworld… Sounds familiar! Shooting primarily took place in Wales, in what was called the biggest production ever based in the country, one that will leave “a lasting legacy” for future shoots. Petition to make Wales the new hub for violent martial art films?