For the better part of two years, as the COVID pandemic shut down theaters worldwide, cinema fans were starved of big movies. But after the fast comes the feast.
This past year has been a big screen bonanza, with everything from pure-popcorn blockbusters like "Top Gun: Maverick" and "Avatar: The Way of Water" to intimate and human-sized features, including Todd Field's classical music drama "Tar" starring Cate Blanchett and the twisty Hitchcockian thriller "Decision to Leave" from Korean director Park Chan-wook.
But it looks like 2023 will be the year film fans really fill their boots. The new year is so packed with must-see movies, some cinephiles will struggle to get out of the theaters.
Epic movies are back
In the epic category, we have three directing titans taking on big biopics of famous personalities. In "Oppenheimer," "Tenet" and "Interstellar" filmmaker Christopher Nolan turns the story of the Manhattan Project and the development of the first atomic bomb into a ticking-clock moral thriller. Cillian Murphy plays Robert Oppenheimer alongside an A-list cast including Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, and Gary Oldman.
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The directors' director, Michael Mann ("The Last of the Mohicans," "Heat") is in pole position with "Ferrari," his long-in-development movie about the life of the Italian driver and auto innovator. Adam Driver plays Enzo Ferrari —hopefully with a better Italian accent than was on display in Ridley Scott's disastrous "House of Gucci" — with Penelope Cruz as his wife Laura.
Not to be outdone, Martin Scorsese is going full epic with "Roosevelt," his take on Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt Jr, 25th President of the United States, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the big man in a story that follows Roosevelt’s transformation from a slender, pampered Harvard boy to a commanding general and political leader.
Scorsese-DiCaprio completists will get a double-dip, as Scorsese is also releasing "Killers Of The Flower Moon," a $200 million crime drama centered around the real-life murders of members of a Native American tribe in the 1920s. The killings sparked a major FBI investigation.
Big films from big directors
The big film/ big director offerings don't stop there. Denis Villeneuve returns in 2023 with "Dune: Part Two," the closing chapter in his sci-fi extravaganza, starring Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya. "Blitz" from "12 Years a Slave" filmmaker Steve McQueen explores stories of Londoners during the WWII bombings of the British capital.
Wes Anderson goes full quirky with "Asteroid City," an all-star piece starring Tilda Swinton, Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson and Bryan Cranston, centered on an astronomy convention in a desert in the 1950s.
Notably, 83-year-old "Godfather" director Francis Ford Coppola will present his two-decades-in-the-making swan song, "Megalopolis," about an architect trying to rebuild New York City after a devastating disaster. The film features Adam Driver, Forest Whitaker and Laurence Fishburne.
On the more popcorn side of the scale, Tom Cruise, after soaring to new heights of supersonic stardom with "Top Gun: Maverick," returns as IMF agent Ethan Hunt in the seventh entry of the "Mission: Impossible" action franchise. Keanu Reeves will be back, guns a-blazing, as the titular assassin in "John Wick: Chapter 4," and a de-aged Harrison Ford dons the fedora one more time for "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny."
Superheroes are back
Hollywood is dusting off quite a few old franchises for 2023. There will be new "Transformers" "Star Wars" and "Fast and the Furious" sequels and a prequel to "The Hunger Games" ("Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes"). There's also going to be a reboot of 1989's guilty pleasure "Road House" starring Jake Gyllenhaal in the Patrick Swayze role as the tough bouncer, for whom "pain don't hurt," hired to tame a notoriously dirty bar.
Meanwhile, the superhero factory continues to spit out new models. Fans of tights and VFX can look forward to a third "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Ant-Man," a second "Captain Marvel," "Aquaman" and "Shazam!," and at least one new entry to the comic-book canon, as "The Flash," featuring controversial star Ezra Miller as the fastest man on earth, finally hits theaters.
Alongside "Transformers," another feature-length film based on a toy will be making a play for cinema audiences. But "Barbie" from "Lady Bird" and "Little Women" director Greta Gerwig promises to be a smart and even feminist take on the blond plastic icon. Margot Robbie plays Barbie and Ryan Gosling as her ever-smiling beau Ken. The story has Barbie banished from the candy-colored utopia of Barbieland and thrown into our world.
Films for arthouse fans
Those who like their feminism without the sweetener can check out Sarah Polley's "Women Talking." Her adaptation of Miriam Toews' novel about women in a tight-knit religious community grappling with the fallout from a sexual abuse scandal stars Rooney Mara, Claire Foy and Frances McDormand. It wowed fans at the Toronto Film Festival this year and will hit theaters in 2023.
Specialty and arthouse film highlights for 2023 are almost too numerous to mention, but here is a sampling. One movie to look out for is Susanna Fogel’s "Cat Person," a look at modern-day relationships featuring "CODA" breakout Emilia Jones and "Succession" star Nicholas Braun.
Todd Haynes will release melodrama "May/December" with Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, and Charles Melton. "Poor Things," the latest exercise in mind-bending weirdness from the inimitable Yorgos Lanthimos, director of "The Lobster" and "The Favourite," will feature Emma Stone as a woman brought back from the dead via the brain of her unborn child.
That film might be an acquired taste, but the copious cinema buffet on offer means there truly will be something for everyone next year at the movies.
Author Scott Roxborough
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