james debate
james debate

Sunday 5 March 2023

Hello and welcome back to 2023's final post from the Hot List. This week we will be looking at the most exciting new movies set to hit the big screen in 2023 from March onwards, after the cutoff point for this year's awards season.

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2023 is so far shaping up to be a strange year for film. Usually, even at this early stage, you can get a pretty good idea of what films are coming out when, and which are likely to be the big contenders come awards season the following year. I don't know if it's from the disruption to film scheduling that has come about from all these online streaming production companies, but there seems to be a lot more ambiguity this year. A lot of films that are supposed to come out, but not set in stone, a lot of films supposedly close to completion, but without even a film trailer or poster to look at. It's odd this year. 

That said, there is still a lot of exciting stuff on offer, including a few tantalising debut filmmakers, as well as several of the old favourites like Fincher and Scorsese. If I have one observation from this year's selection, it's that there are a lot of biographical films and films based on real events. There's space there for something to come out of left field and really take the industry by surprise, much in the same way that Everything Everywhere All At Once did this year.

So without further delay, the key films to keep an eye on in the coming year (trailers linked in the title where available), starting with number 15:

15. You Hurt My Feelings

you hurt my feelings julia louise dreyfus holofcener best most anticipated film movie 2023Julia Louis Dreyfus became a household name in the 1990s for Seinfeld, and more recently established herself as an awards calibre actress in Armando Iannucci's Veep. 2023 will see Dreyfus in her most significant starring role to date in a Hollywood film, with You Hurt My Feelings.

This is the latest film from writer/director Nicole Holfcener, herself a previous Academy Award nominee for Can You Ever Forgive Me?. This latest, which co-stars Tobias Menzies, sees Dreyfus play a struggling novelist, whose marriage is suddenly upended when she overhears her husband giving his honest reaction to her latest book.

You Hurt My Feelings had its world premiere at Sundance this past January to strong critical acclaim, and is expected to be a fixture when it releases later in 2023, perhaps even with a 2024 Oscar nod for Dreyfus?

Release Date: TBA 2023

14. Dune: Part Two

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The sprawling literary series of Dune has long held a reputation as unfilmable, at least over the duration of a film (a miniseries came pretty close). So when Legendary Studios committed the cash for a big budget, multi-part epic adaptation that may never have even seen completion had the first installment not been a success, it was one heck of a gamble.

Yet, against the odds and under the expert stewardship of Denis Villeneuve, Dune: Part One was a critical and commercial success. Its success means that we will get that second half to the story, with Dune: Part Two

Dune: Part Two will feature the same creative team and cast of the first film, following Timothée Chalamet's Atreides' thirst for revenge against the conspirators who destroyed his family, and a greater focus on Zendaya's Chani, seen only briefly in the first film, as her group of Fremen collaborate with Atreides in this quest

The first film was an epic adventure that I can't wait to see concluded. Who knows where the series will go from there. There have been rumours of a third film and Legendary is said to be working on a TV spin off.

Release Date: November 2023

13. Asteroid City

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Depending on your tastes, the occasion of a new Wes Anderson film may evoke excitement or tedium. Since striking gold with his award winning The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson's last few films have been met with decidedly more muted response. His next project, Asteroid City is said to hold loftier ambitions.

Co-written with Roman Coppola, Asteroid City is a period film set at a 1950s junior stargazing convention in the American midwest. The cast will, once again, feature a lengthy ensemble of big names, including many frequent Anderson collaborators such as Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman, as well as big name newcomers Tom Hanks, Margot Robbie, Scarlett Johansson, Bryan Cranston, Jeff Goldblum, Liev Schreiber, Rupert Friend and many, many others.

Will Asteroid City break the Wes Anderson mould, or prove to be another exercise in cinematic excess? We will see when it releases this summer.

Release Date: June 2023

12. A Good Person

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Twenty years ago, then TV star Zach Braff released his directorial debut, Garden State. This was met with critical acclaim, with Braff being dubbed a filmmaker to watch, compared favourably by many with a young Woody Allen. It didn't quite pan out that way and his work since has been sporadic, but solid, if unable to evoke the same response.

His latest film, A Good Person, sees Braff step behind the camera completely. The rising Florence Pugh starts alongside Morgan Freeman in a tale about a young woman bonding with her would-be father in law, after a fatal accident. 

It's a drama rather than Braff's usual blend of dramedy, borne out of personal grief in the wake of the pandemic, but one which will strive to find optimism and meaning in strife. A Good Person releases in March.

Release Date: March 2023

11. The Holdovers

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The Holdovers marks a reunion for Sideways collaborators Alexander Payne and Paul Giamatti. Payne has built an award winning career on satirical depictions of Americana, while Giamatti may well be one of the most celebrated actors not to have won an Oscar to date, although he was nominated in 2006 for Cinderella Man.

The Holdovers marks a return to smaller scale films after a few disappointing big budget turns from Payne. Giamatti plays a curmudgeonly teacher at an elite New England academy, forced to stay over the Christmas break to babysit the handful of troubled students with nowhere to go.

The film tested to enthusiastic review at the end of 2022, with a cinema release now slated for November of 2023 and potential 2024 Oscar nods in mind.

Release Date: November 2023

10. Dumb Money

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Based on the book The Antisocial Network by Ben Mezrich, Dumb Money is a dramatization of the real life GameStop short squeeze of 2021, instigated by a ragtag band of Reddit trolls, that managed to stun Wall Street.

Hollywood does these absurd finance and current events stories well (see The Big Short, Too Big To Fail) and the man bringing this one to screen is Craig Gillespie, a man with a steadily growing body of fine work. Gillespie started in the indie scene with quirky films like Lars and the Real Girl, but has more recently moved into bigger projects, most notably the Academy Award winning duo of I, Tonya and Cruella

Dumb Money features an ensemble cast including Paul Dano, Sebastian Stan, Seth Rogen, Vincent D'Onofrio, America Ferrera and Anthony Ramos. Gillespie's reputation for stylish, high-flair, high-energy productions would seem a perfect fit for this story. This could well be the film that takes his career in another big step towards stardom.

Release Date: TBA 2023
An adaptation of the French graphic novel of the same name, The Killer follows the life of an initially unnamed assassin.

This adaptation comes from screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker, best known for writing Seven, while directorial duties lie with the great David Fincher, with whom Walker collaborated on Seven. Fincher has a penchant for dark, heavily stylised filmmaking in the noir genre, The Killer would seem to be a perfect match for his style.

The title role will be filled by the always excellent Michael Fassbender, with a supporting cast that includes Charles Parnell and Tilda Swinton. The Killer will release on Netflix in November.

Release Date: November 2023

8. Rustin

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The first feature film to come out of Barack and Michelle Obama's production company, Rustin is a biopic about the life of gay civil rights icon Bayard Rustin. 

Fittingly penned by Dustin Lance Black, screenwriter of Milk. Rustin is notable as a rare film credit for director George C. Wolfe, better known as the Tony Award winning theatre director of various productions, including Angels in America.

The title role goes to Colman Domingo, another highly decorated theatre and TV actor with Tony, Olivier and Emmy awards to his name. The supporting cast includes Jeffrey Wright, Chris Rock and the up and comer Da'Vine Joy Randolph.

Rustin releases late in 2023 on Netflix.

Release Date: TBA 2023

7. Past Lives

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Past Lives marks the directorial debut of Korean-Canadian writer/director Celine Song, and may be one of the most exciting debuts in years.

A deeply personal character study of two friends reuniting after many years, told across three distinct periods of their lives. The cast is led by Greta Lee, an actress many will recognise from her TV work on Russian Doll and The Morning Show, and Teo Yoo, an actor well known in Korean cinema making his western debut.

Past Lives premiered at Sundance in January, receiving high acclaim as one of the best debut features in recent memory, as well as a likely contender for film of the year, even at this early stage. A wider release will come later in the year, but based on the buzz this could well be one of the surprise packages of 2023.

Release Date: TBA 2023

6. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

spiderman spiderverse sequel 2 spidergwen across part one spider-verse spider-man best films movies 2023 miles moralesPixar have typically been considered the animation kings in recent years, and to a lesser extent Disney. So you can imagine the surprise when this unassuming Spider-Man animation from Sony managed to beat both (and Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs to boot) to win the Best Animated Feature Oscar back in 2019. It was deserved, Into the Spider-Verse was an outstanding film. 

In 2022 2023, we will see the sequel: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. The first in a planned duo of sequels, to be followed by Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, along with an apparent Spider-Gwen spinoff that has been in development since the first film. 

This sequel will see Mile Morales traveling across the Spider-Verse, teaming up with an array of alternate Spider-Men to take on a new enemy. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller return as writers. The main cast of the original returns, Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, and Hailee Steinfeld. They will be joined by Oscar Isaac, who made a brief appearance in a post-credits scene in the first movie.

Spider-Verse 2 releases in June. 

Release Date: June 2023

5. Next Goal Wins

next goal wins taika waititi best films movies 2023 michael fassbender elisabeth mossThis one has been on my list for a few years now, but in 2023 it looks to be finally heading for a release, with a September premiere currently planned. 

Taika Waititi is having something of a moment, the New Zealand filmmaker and actor has come a long way from indie comedy hits like Flight of the Conchords and What We Do in the Shadows to running the Thor franchise for Disney and, of course, his Oscar winning success with Jojo Rabbit.

His next film, Next Goal Wins, is based on the true story of Dutch football coach Thomas Rongen and his efforts to take the American-Samoa national team, then considered the worst in the world, to the 2014 World Cup.

Michael Fassbender stars as Rongen, and he will be joined by Elisabeth MossArmie Hammer, and long-time Waititi collaborator Rhys Darby.

Release Date: September 2023

4. Maestro

maestro leonard bernstein bradley cooper best films movies 2023Making the jump from actor to director is a challenge for anyone. But when Bradley Cooper made his debut as a director in 2018 with his remake of A Star is Born, it's fair to say he made a pretty good go of it. His follow up, Maestro, releases in 2023.

An interesting choice for a second film. Maestro is a biographical drama about the life of legendary composer Leonard Bernstein, with a focus on his marriage to Felicia Montealegre.

Cooper will play Bernstein himself, with a strong supporting cast that includes Carey Mulligan, Jeremy Strong, and Maya Hawke. Maestro will release in late 2023.

Release Date: TBA 2023

3. Napoleon

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The idea of adapting the story of Napoleon into a historical epic has been bouncing around Hollywood for decades. Stanley Kubrick wanted to do it back in the day, then for years Spielberg was linking with adapting Kubrick's concept into a miniseries. But it was always just talk. Now, in 2023, Ridley Scott is finally bringing the story of Napoleon to the big screen.

The choice of casting is pretty much perfect. The diminutive demagogue himself will be played by Joaquin Phoenix, with Vanessa Kirby co-starring as Empress Joséphine.

Simply put, this is going to be one of the major players in 2023 cinema. Napoleon is expected to release through AppleTV+ by the end of the year.

Release Date: TBA 2023

2. Killers of the Flower Moon

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Martin Scorsese's long-gestating adaptation of Killers of the Flower Moon will finally see release in 2023. 

Based on the non-fiction book of David Grann, this is the story of a series of murders in 1920s Oklahoma following the discovery of oil on local tribal lands. A core cast of Leonardo DiCaprioRobert De Niro and Jesse Plemons, with smaller roles for Brendan Fraser and John Lithgow

This film has been delayed time and time again, but the quality of the creative team behind it demands attention. It's an event whenever Scorsese releases a new film, and this will be no different.

Killers of the Flower Moon is targeting a summer release date through AppleTV+.

Release Date: TBA 2023

1. Oppenheimer

best films movies 2023 oppenheimer chris christopher nolanBut my number one pick for the year sees the return of the great Christopher Nolan with his latest project, Oppenheimer.

Oppenheimer, as the name suggests, is a biographical film about scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, better known as the father of the atom bomb. Cillian Murphy stars in the title role, alongside an all star cast that includes Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr, Florence Pugh, Rami Malek, Kenneth Branagh, Gary Oldman and many others.

Intriguingly (if you're a film geek like me) Nolan will be partnering again with cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, one of the best in the business despite never having won an Academy Award. Perhaps this will be their year.

Oppenheimer releases in July and will be one of the year's biggest films.

Release Date: July 2023

So there you have it folks: The 2023 Hot List. I will be back with many more articles in due course, but for now let's make 2023 a great year together.

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