The best movies still to come in 2023
We’ve already been treated to plenty of great viewing. And despite strikes against Hollywood studios playing havoc with some releases, some of the best movies of 2023 might still be ahead of us… Steve Newall takes us through some of the many upcoming highlights.
If you haven’t watched the 2014 doco of the same name, adapted into this feature film by Taika Waititi then seek it out (at the risk of spoilers). From the trailer alone, I’m expecting plenty of entertainment seeing Michael Fassbender step into the shoes of real-life Dutch football coach Thomas Rongen, brought to American Samoa to elevate them off the bottom of world rankings (at one point before Rongen’s arrival, the team set a world record by losing 31-0 to Australia). But you certainly won’t need to be familiar with facts to enjoy this ultimate underdog story—which feels like a great fit for Waititi’s awkward comic flourishes, brought to life by Fassbender and the likes of Elisabeth Moss, Oscar Kightley, Uli Latukefu, Rachel House, Kaimana, David Fane, Will Arnett, and Rhys Darby.
Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail adapts the novel of the same name, the chilling tale of a family (Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke & co.) on holiday when the systems we rely on begin to fail around them. The unexpected arrival of strangers (Mahershala Ali and Myha’la) only adds to the uncertainty—as does their news of a blackout that’s crippled the region… Is the crisis real? And if it is, how do they survive it—and who can they trust?
You’ll probably have figured out from the title that the first movie musical from A24 is not kid-friendly either… Dicks: The Musical promises songs like Gay Old Life, All Love is Love, Out-Alpha the Alpha, The Sewer Song and more—and delivers on the title with a cock joke in the opening few seconds of the trailer, as well as plenty of other NSFW language. Larry Charles (Borat) directs, bringing writers/stars Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp’s off-Broadway musical Fucking Identical Twins to the screen—with help from castmates Nathan Lane, Megan Mullally, Bowen Yang, and Megan Thee Stallion.
Paddington director Paul King jumps from one beloved piece of British storytelling to another here, with Timothée Chalamet playing a youthful version of Roald Dahl’s confectioner Willy Wonka, in a prequel to Dahl’s novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The film’s said to chronicle Wonka’s journey to become the consummate chocolatier, and also depict his first meeting with the Oompa Loompas (one of whom is played by a knee-high Hugh Grant). Rowan Atkinson, Olivia Colman, Sally Hawkins and Matt Lucas are among the familiar British faces in the extended cast, and Wonka also promises plenty of musical numbers to keep your toes tappin’ mid-sugar high.
23 years on from Aardman Animation’s first feature film, Chicken Run, a new nugget is dawning. Where the original was a 1940s-set pic, riffing on WWII prison camp classic The Great Escape, Dawn of the Nugget jumps ahead to the 1960s and picks up with the chickens living on the island sanctuary they escaped to at the end of the prior film. But just beside their idyllic paradise is a factory farm called Happy Land—a complex said to be inspired by the lairs of 1960s Bond villains (an aesthetic that may have gone on influence the plot, which sees the chooks aiming to break into this secure compound). Speaking of villains—there’s no Mel Gibson in the voice cast (nor, controversially, Julia Sawalha), led this time by Thandiwe Newton and Zachary Levi.
Initially envisaged by Zack Snyder as a “more mature” Star Wars film, Rebel Moon is now a standalone property for Netflix—but you’d be forgiven for thinking it sounds a bit familiar. In a quiet corner of the galaxy, a peaceful colony is threatened by the armies of the Regent Balisarius, and a young woman is tasked with assembling a group of warriors to fight back. You might even say ‘rebel’ (hey, it’s right there in the title). Climax‘s Sofia Boutella stars, alongside Ed Skrein, Djimon Hounsou, Charlie Hunnam, Cleopatra Coleman, Michiel Huisman, Jena Malone and Cary Elwes. Plus, Oscar-winner Sir Anthony Hopkins… voicing a robot.
2018’s Aquaman was an unexpectedly entertaining superhero pic that came just as the super-seriousness seen elsewhere was really starting to bore. Thankfully, James Wan is back to direct, the horror-meister telling Total Film this sequel is “very heavily inspired by [Mario Bava’s 1965 sci-fi/horror] Planet of the Vampires”. With a story idea originally pitched by Jason Momoa, the movie’s been said to also have a buddy-comedy vibe, honing in on the relationship between Aquaman and Patrick Wilson’s character Orm. Like Wilson, most of the original cast getting back in the water for The Lost Kingdom—including Amber Heard, whose casting had to withstand public pressure from Johnny Depp fans in the wake of well-documented legal entanglements.
Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell playing exes who can’t stand each other, but for some reason pretend to be dating, when they both attend a wedding in Australia. It may be a ruse, but the pair’s chem is real (as earlier seen in their gossip-fuelling appearances together while the movie was in production). The intro to the trailer above was parodied in record time by Nathan Fielder and Emma Stone to promote their show The Curse, with Anyone But You good-naturedly returning fire with their own reworking of the poster for The Curse.
Disney’s latest gets literal with When You Wish Upon a Star—turning the subject of 1940’s song from Pinocchio into an anthropomorphic ball of light. Descending from the heavens to aid a young woman’s plea for help in exposing the evil intentions of King Magnifico (Chris Pine), the star is promptly named “Wish” by the grateful Asha (Ariana DeBose). Together they work to liberate the wishes of everyday folk from the clutches of Magnifico—who has the power to grant them, but prefers to hoard them and control his citizens instead.
The Oscar-nominated director of Ernest & Celestine and the Emmy-winning writer of The White Lotus team up for this family film from Illumination (Minions). A family of mallards try to convince their overprotective father to go on the vacation of a lifetime, heading from New England, through New York City, and on to Jamaica. Voices are provided by the likes of Kumail Nanjiani, Elizabeth Banks, Awkwafina, Keegan-Michael Key, David Mitchell, Carol Kane and Danny DeVito.