Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos courtesy the studios.
Are the movies finally back? Are the movies in crisis? What do we even want from a movie right now, and what defines one’s success? There’s much to think about as we head into a new year of post-pandemic moviegoing, with shifting expectations for streaming, the theatrical experience, and what it all means for the box office, awards season, and beyond. What hasn’t changed, however, is the excitement that comes with a fresh calendar of movies. We’ve sketched out a year’s worth of titles to look forward to, featuring coked-up bears, killer dolls, and stakes-raising new chapters in some of our best action franchises (hello, Fast X). 2023 will bring new films from storytelling greats like Mia Hansen-Løve, M. Night Shyamalan, Makoto Shinkai, and Wes Anderson. Plus, we’ll witness a soon-to-be legendary box-office standoff. Are you prepared for that fateful weekend when Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer both debut in theaters? No, of course not. No one is.
Equal parts Chucky and Ex Machina, the titular M3gan is a child-size child-care android endowed with artificial intelligence, freaky dance moves, and a boundless capacity for murder (specifically taking out those she perceives as threatening her preteen orphan ward, Cady). Produced by Saw-franchise mastermind James Wan (who also receives a “story by” credit) and distributed by Blumhouse, the killer-doll caper has already been widely memed across TikTok and Twitter thanks to a viral trailer. Expect it to make a killing at the box office. (In theaters January 6.) —Chris Lee
Although it’s not Jennifer Lopez’s first wedding rom-com, Shotgun Wedding is certainly the first to have done a last-minute casting shift owing to its lead actor writing that he was “100% a cannibal” in an Instagram DM. Now co-starring the decidedly less controversial Josh Duhamel, the movie sees Lopez as a soon-to-be bride who’s kidnapped by pirates alongside her guests at her destination wedding and who must scrappily defend everyone’s lives, hurling grenades and wielding shotguns in her increasingly frayed wedding dress. Jennifer Coolidge is here, too, as Lopez’s daffy mother-in-law, and Lenny Kravitz pops up as Lopez’s threateningly hot ex. (Streaming on Prime Video January 27.) —Rachel Handler
Nobody does character studies quite like Mia Hansen-Løve, whose latest follows Léa Seydoux as a single mother grappling with the cognitive decline of her father, raising her spunky young daughter, and falling in love with an old friend (who also happens to be married). It’s a quiet, sexy little movie, full of lust, devastation, and sweetness. It’s also a showcase for Seydoux, who is stunning in a role that’s perhaps an exact 180-degree turn from her most recent, in David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future. (In theaters January 27.) —R.H.
Alcarràs (in theaters January 6), The Old Way (in theaters January 6), True Haunting (in theaters January 6), Come Find Me (in theaters and on VOD January 13), Dog Gone (streaming on Netflix January 13), The Drop (streaming on Hulu January 13), Plane (in theaters January 13), House Party (in theaters January 13), On Sacred Ground (in theaters and on VOD January 13), Saint Omer (in theaters January 13), When You Finish Saving the World (in theaters January 20), Missing (in theaters January 20), Alice, Darling (in theaters January 20), Kids vs. Aliens (in theaters January 20), Maybe I Do (in theaters January 27), You People (streaming on Netflix January 27), Distant (in theaters January 27), Infinity Pool (in theaters January 27), Fear (in theaters January 27), Life Upside Down (in theaters January 27), Close (in theaters January 27), and Pamela: A Love Story (streaming on Netflix January 31)
Can we declare M. Night Shyamalan’s comeback campaign a resounding success yet? The box-office receipts for The Visit, Split, Glass, and Old have demonstrated his reliable ability to make hits on relatively low budgets, but Knock at the Cabin could be the real test. Based on Paul Tremblay’s novel The Cabin at the End of the World, it feels like a bridge between the films Shyamalan used to make and the ones he’s been making in more recent years. Set in a remote cabin where a couple (Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge) are vacationing with their daughter, it’s a hostage thriller about the arrival of cultists (lead by Dave Bautista) who are convinced that the apocalypse is nigh and only they know how to stop it. (In theaters February 3.) —Alison Willmore
Promises, promises! According to director Steven Soderbergh, the third and final Magic Mike movie will feature a 30-minute dance finale and is the trilogy’s answer to All That Jazz. Star Channing Tatum, whose character is now in a committed relationship with a new love interest played by Salma Hayek, compares the threequel to a role-reversed Pretty Woman. Either way, we know Magic Mike’s Last Dance will involve a fictional origin story for the very real Magic Mike Live stage show that Tatum originated, so expect backstage struggles to accompany all the sexy shenanigans in the spotlight. (In theaters February 10.) —A.W.
The logline for this Elizabeth Banks–directed, ripped-from-the-headlines feature says it all: After a failed drug-smuggling operation, a black bear ingests a large amount of cocaine and goes on a drug-fueled rampage. The ’80s-set thriller’s ensemble cast includes Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and the late Ray Liotta. But like Snakes on a Plane before it, just look at the title. What else do you need to know? (In theaters February 24.) —C.L.
80 for Brady (in theaters February 3), Godland (in theaters February 3), True Spirit (streaming on Netflix February 3), The Locksmith (in theaters and on VOD February 3), Baby Ruby (in theaters February 10), Of an Age (in theaters February 10), Your Place or Mine (streaming on Netflix February 10), Sharper (in theaters February 10 and streaming on Apple TV+ February 17), Marlowe (in theaters February 15), Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey (in theaters February 15), Emily (in theaters February 17), Pacification (in theaters February 17), What Comes Around (in theaters February 17), Return to Seoul (in theaters February 17), Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (in theaters February 17), Jesus Revolution (in theaters February 24), Mummies (in theaters February 24), Ambush (in theaters February 24), Linoleum (in theaters February 24), and God’s Time (in theaters February 24)
The John Wick series is shaping up to be one of Hollywood’s “good” franchises, providing wildly creative action sequences, amazing stunts, solid villains, and a rousing star turn from Keanu Reeves. Fatigue has, thankfully, not set in, and the third entry might even have been the best one yet. So why shouldn’t part four continue the trend? (In theaters March 24.) —Bilge Ebiri
Creed III (in theaters March 3), La Civil (in theaters March 3), Transfusion (in theaters March 3), The Forger (in theaters March 3), Inside (in theaters March 10), 65 (in theaters March 10), Scream 6 (in theaters March 10), Golda (in theaters March 10), Bunker (in theaters March 10), Confession (in theaters March 10), The Origin of Evil (in theaters March 17), Moving On (in theaters March 17), Shazam! Fury of the Gods (in theaters March 17), A Snowy Day in Oakland (in theaters March 17), Champions (in theaters March 24), The Lost King (in theaters March 24), A Good Person (in theaters March 24), The Worst Ones (in theaters March 24), A Thousand and One (in theaters March 31), Rye Lane (in theaters March 31), Heart of a Lion (in theaters March 31), Spinning Gold (in theaters March 31), Assassin (in theaters March 31), and Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (in theaters March 31)
Exhibit A for why we need to reform the Oscars’ Best International Film category: Cristian Mungiu’s pitch-black social satire played well at Cannes, but one reason it’s coming out in the spring instead of the fall is because Romania decided not to choose it as the nation’s official submission — and one possible reason for that is because the film is a merciless skewering of every element of Romanian society. Although it’s grimly funny, R.M.N. doesn’t let the western viewer off the hook: The bigotry and small-mindedness may display a uniquely Romanian flavor, yes, but the base ingredients will be familiar to anyone who has caught a whiff of Fox News recently. (In theaters April 7.) —Nate Jones
Your Name. director Makoto Shinkai, master of ecstatic-weepy romantic anime spectacles, is back with a new fantasy romance about a teenage girl living in a town on the coast of Miyazaki. One day Suzume encounters a mysterious young man named Sōta on the road and soon is swept up on a quest to find and close a series of magical doors that appear in abandoned locations and invite disaster into the world. Count on big skies and even bigger emotions in this one. (In theaters April 14.) —A.W.
Everyone knows all the terrible things Dracula got up to in Transylvania and, eventually, England. But what about all the other blood-sucking he got up to? Oddly enough, Universal is releasing two very different spins on Bram Stoker’s classic this year: April brings Renfield, a comedy about the count’s human sidekick, played by Nicholas Hoult. (Nic Cage plays the vamp.) And August brings André Øvredal’s adaptation of a single chapter in Stoker’s novel, the one in which Dracula stows away on a cargo ship, then murders everybody onboard. (In theaters April 14.) —N.J.
If you were a teenage girl between the year 1970 and now, chances are you’ve read Judy Blume’s lovely, groundbreaking novel about a young girl named Margaret Simon, who’s trying to figure out bras, boys, the state of New Jersey, and the existence of a higher power all at once. In the decades since its publication, Blume has rejected several attempts to bring the book to the screen, likely out of a deep desire to protect what makes it so singular and special. Kelly Fremon Craig (The Edge of Seventeen) is finally adapting it in 2023, starring Abby Ryder Fortson as Margaret; Rachel McAdams as her artist mother, Barbara; and Benny Safdie as her father, Herb. “This book comes along and tells you you’re not alone,” Fremon Craig told Deadline last year. “Women remember where they were when they read it.” (In theaters April 28.) —R.H.
On a Wing and a Prayer (in theaters April 5), Chevalier (in theaters April 7), The Super Mario Bros. Movie (in theaters April 7), The Pope’s Exorcist (in theaters April 7), One True Loves (in theaters April 7), Mafia Mamma (in theaters April 14), Sweetwater (in theaters April 14), Hilma (in theaters April 14), Evil Dead Rise (in theaters April 21), The Black Demon (in theaters April 21), A Tourist’s Guide to Love (streaming on Netflix April 28), Paint (in theaters April 28), and Polite Society (in theaters April 28)
The first Book Club achieved platonic perfection by bringing together screen legends Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen. The quartet, who had somehow never worked together before in this holy combination, played a group of friends experiencing sexual reawakenings after reading Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s hard to imagine topping (pun intended) the original, but we have to hope that Book Club 2 — the premise of which is unknown but which was green-lit because, as Steenburgen put it, the first “made so much money” — will be just as surprising, weird, and horny. (In theaters May 12.) —R.H.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (in theaters May 5), LAX 2 Paris (in theaters May 12), Love Again (in theaters May 12), Fast X (in theaters May 19), About My Father (in theaters May 26), and The Little Mermaid (in theaters May 26)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was not only one of the great animated films of recent years, but it represented a high-water mark for the superhero-movie revolution in general. Is it possible that lightning can strike twice? The fact that this is one of two sequels being simultaneously produced may give one pause: The first Spider-Verse movie felt like a delightful one-off — not the start of a massive new franchise, which often calls for the kind of tiresome world-building and narrative box-checking that eventually turned the MCU into a slog. Plus, the directors are different this time. But the writer-producers are still Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the guys behind The LEGO Movie, who clearly have a knack for irreverent humor crossed with exciting action high jinks and who seem to have somehow maintained their artistic independence and soul while continuing to work in the big-studio sandbox. (In theaters June 6.) —B.E.
Pixar has always been able to simplify complex concepts into emotionally resonant fables, and its latest seems to fit into that tradition: It’s about the friendship between a fiery young woman made of flame and a “go with the flow” man made of water in a diverse city where people of different elements — fire, water, air, etc. — live together. Director Peter Sohn (who also made the underrated The Good Dinosaur) has said it’s a personal story inspired by his childhood as an immigrant in New York City. If the film can properly mix a compelling story and interesting characters with its grander themes, there’s no reason not to expect something special. (In theaters June 16.) —B.E.
Having basked in nostalgia for the golden age of magazines in his last film, The French Dispatch, Wes Anderson turns to astrological romance with Asteroid City, which is centered on a 1955 Junior Stargazer–Space Cadet convention taking place in a desert town. The ensemble cast is more sprawling than usual and will feature Hong Chau, Tom Hanks, and Margot Robbie in their first Anderson roles as well as returning collaborators such as Adrien Brody, Bryan Cranston, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson, Edward Norton, Tony Revolori, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, and Jeffrey Wright. Notably not returning is regular Bill Murray, who reportedly dropped out because of COVID, news that broke a few months after production on another film was suspended as a result of complaints made against the actor for inappropriate behavior on set. (In theaters June 16.) —A.W.
The first time I blogged about The Flash for Vulture, I was 27 years old. By the time it actually comes out, I will be 36. (In theaters June 23.) —N.J.
It should be thrilling enough that Harrison Ford is returning as Indiana Jones, but believe it or not, one of the main reasons to be excited about this movie is its director. No, it’s not the great Steven Spielberg, who helmed all four previous Indy entries. Instead, it’s James Mangold, who has been on a tear for the past decade, having directed The Wolverine, Logan, and Ford v Ferrari, and who seems likely to bring an edge to this material that the previous entry, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, notably lacked. Also, check out that cast: Phoebe Waller-Bridge! Thomas Kretschmann! Mads! Banderas! (In theaters June 30.) —B.E.
Strays (in theaters June 9), Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (in theaters June 9), The Blackening (in theaters June 16), No Hard Feelings (in theaters June 23), and Harold and the Purple Crayon (in theaters June 30)
Hot off his Top Gun: Maverick return to the top of the Hollywood heap, Tom Cruise reprises his role as superspy Ethan Hunt in this seventh edition of Paramount’s multibillion-dollar-grossing M:I series. Director Christopher McQuarrie has described Part One as an “installment that swallows the rest of the franchise whole,” though plot details remain under wraps. (Part Two drops in June 2024.) But expect at least one scene featuring Cruise’s Impossible Missions agent flying a motorcycle off a cliff, a Lawrence of Arabia–esque horseback battle sequence, and a car chase through the narrow streets of Italy in a canary-yellow Fiat 500. (In theaters July 14.) —C.L.
On the one hand, Barbie is a movie about a doll — one that has for decades represented the conflicting ideals facing its target audience: girls. On the other hand, Barbie is directed by Greta Gerwig, one of the most gifted filmmakers working today and someone adept at delving into womanhood and gendered expectations. Barbie, which stars Margot Robbie as the eponymous character and Ryan Gosling as her trusty love interest, Ken, remains the biggest question mark on the 2023 calendar. But given all the talent involved in front of and behind the camera, it’s at least going to be interesting. (In theaters July 21.) —A.W.
Irish Peaky Blinders actor Cillian Murphy stars as J. Robert Oppenheimer, a.k.a. the “father of the atomic bomb,” in this prestige biopic from writer-director Christopher Nolan. Based on the Pulitzer Prize–winning biography American Prometheus (and featuring a supporting cast that includes Florence Pugh, Robert Downey Jr., Emily Blunt, and Matt Damon), the film follows the brilliant but conflicted theoretical physicist who headed the Manhattan Project, responsible for producing the world’s first nuclear weapons that effectively ended World War II. (In theaters July 21.) —C.L.
Insidious 5 (in theaters July 7) and The Marvels (in theaters July 28)
Luca Guadagnino’s last few films have included a queer coming-of-age story taking place during a lush Italian summer (Call Me by Your Name), a Berlin-set remake of a horror classic about a coven of ballerina witches (Suspiria), and a cannibal romance that road-trips across Middle America (Bones and All). Naturally, for his next trick, he’s making a tennis rom-com. Challengers, written by playwright-novelist-YouTuber Justin Kuritzkes, stars Mike Faist as a famous but struggling player, Zendaya as his wife and coach, and Josh O’Connor as her former lover and his upcoming opponent. Given Guadagnino’s tendencies to indulge in sensuality, it’s entirely possible that this isn’t about a love triangle so much as how they all end up in bed together. (In theaters August 11.) —A.W.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (in theaters August 4), The Meg 2: The Trench (in theaters August 4), Gran Turismo (in theaters August 11), The Haunted Mansion (in theaters August 11), The Last Voyage of the Demeter (in theaters August 11), Blue Beetle (in theaters August 18), and They Listen (in theaters August 25)
Which volume of liquid is greater: enough Champagne to fill the Nile or enough grappa to fill the Grand Canal? Kenneth Branagh’s latest Hercule Poirot mystery adapts one of Agatha Christie’s lesser-known works, 1969’s Hallowe’en Party, and ports the action (a murder at a séance) from a small English village to Venice. Michelle Yeoh, Tina Fey, and Branagh’s Belfast boys Jamie Dornan and Jude Hill are among the suspects — or, perhaps, the victims. (In theaters September 15.) —N.J.
Despite many others’ claims to doing so, Taika Waititi appears to be one of the very few franchise directors actively pursuing a one-for-them, one-for-me strategy. He followed up Thor: Ragnarok with the Oscar-winning Jojo Rabbit (which was great — shut up). And now he’s following up Thor: Love and Thunder with this based-on-fact comedy about Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender), the down-on-his-luck former footballer who was hired to coach American Samoa’s moribund national soccer team in 2011. Should we be concerned that it didn’t open in time for World Cup fever? Perhaps. The film did have its share of production delays, most notably when co-star Armie Hammer got canceled and his scenes were reshot with Will Arnett. That’s kind of funny already. (In theaters September 22.) —B.E.
The Equalizer 3 (in theaters September 1), The Nun 2 (in theaters September 8), and The Expendables 4 (in theaters September 22)
Fresh off the success of Venom, and the something-less-than-success of Morbius, Sony is going back to the Spider-baddie well with Kraven the Hunter, a stand-alone movie about the big-game hunter who’s always trying to shoot Spidey. Aaron Taylor-Johnson stars for director J.C. Chandor, a man who knows something about great coats. (In theaters October 6.) —N.J.
True Love (in theaters October 6), PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie (in theaters October 13), untitled Exorcist film (in theaters October 13), and untitled Saw movie (in theaters October 27)
Remember how Denis Villeneuve’s Dune just kind of … ended? Well, good news: That wasn’t because the entire cast and crew suddenly dropped dead in the middle of filming. The plan all along had been to adapt only the first half of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic, and since that worked pretty well for everyone involved, Denis & Co. are coming back to finish the job. Timothée Chalamet will become Muad’Dib by nature, and Zendaya will hopefully get more than two lines. Plus Austin Butler, Christopher Walken, Léa Seydoux, and Florence Pugh — as you might have heard — have joined the cast. (In theaters November 3.) —N.J.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (in theaters November 17), Trolls 3 (in theaters November 17), and Wish (in theaters November 22)
Much of the intel we have about this Roald Dahl prequel comes courtesy of a young Timothée Chalamet fan who lived in the vicinity of Lyme Regis and livetweeted his view of the Wonka set in the fall of 2021. Here’s what we learned. (1) Chalamet’s Willy Wonka yearns to show the world his candy recipes, (2) there is at least one song about Wonka having “12 silver sovereigns in [his] pocket and a hat full of dreams,” and (3) he’s canonically twink Wonka (or Twonka). “The joie de vivre from the walk and the way he’s just bouncing along with a little top hat and tails — it’s just twinky behavior,” the fan, Art Doherty, told Vulture. “There’s no other way to put it. I’m sorry.” (In theaters December 15.) —N.J.
The Color Purple (in theaters December 20), Migration (in theaters December 22), Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (in theaters December 25), and Praise This (in theaters December 31)
We don’t know much about this new Kevin Costner western. But it’s his first time behind the camera since Open Range, which was, at the time, a magnificent return to form for the man who had wound up in director jail after the legendary failure of The Postman. As a star, Costner has been in a bit of a resurgence in recent years thanks to turns in shows such as Yellowstone and movies like Let Him Go. Could this be a return to his 1980s–’90s heyday, to the glory days of stuff like Dances With Wolves, A Perfect World, and The Untouchables? —B.E.
Those of us who saw Paul Schrader’s latest God’s Lonely Man opus during its festival run are both anticipating and dreading the discourse that will erupt over this one. Joel Edgerton is the melancholy, journal-writing, cool-as-a-cucumber professional with a past (and boy, what a past), Sigourney Weaver is the wealthy matron taking advantage of him, and Quintessa Swindell is the young woman who may or may not redeem him. Schematic in description, perhaps, but this is mesmerizing, prime Schrader, whose late-style period is emerging as one of the more vital in American cinema. —B.E.
Legally Blonde 3, Salem’s Lot, Coyote vs. Acme, The Nightingale, Influx, Night Terror, Beau Is Afraid, Cuckoo, What’s Going On, Faultline, Unwelcome, Sesame Street, and Retribution, We Have a Ghost, Luther: The Fallen Sun, Murder Mystery 2, The Magician’s Elephant, The Mother, Extraction 2, Heart of Stone