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10 MOVIES I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE IN 2023

BY EMILY NIGHMAN | JAN 12, 2023

It’s been a difficult few years for Hollywood. From productions delayed by the pandemic to the complicated landscape of direct-to-streaming releases, the movie industry giant has been visibly struggling. Last year saw a resurgence in film production and cinema attendance, however, that brings with it a sigh of relief for filmmakers and filmgoers alike.

Much of this success is due to big-budget blockbusters and action flicks like ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ and the latest Marvel instalments, but we were also treated to a number of popular artistic films like ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ that stunned critics and audiences starved for challenging entertainment. Only a couple weeks into the new year, there are already several trailers generating buzz for exciting upcoming releases. If you need ideas for your next trip to the cinema, keep reading to learn about the 10 movies I can’t wait to see in 2023.

1. Chevalier - Apr. 7

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Kelvin Harrison Jr. in 'Chevalier.' Photo: Searchlight Pictures

I'm Emily Nighman, an arts and culture writer, digital content creator, and founder and editor of this website. I set out to discover everything I can about movies, TV shows, music, books, food, travel, design, and more. Then I bring it all together and share it right here with you.

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The musical biopic genre has ballooned over the past few years and between ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ ‘Rocketman,’ and ‘Elvis,’ it seems that there are more and more films vying for media attention and awards. This latest biopic, however, sends the glamour, rebellion, and drama of these modern rock stars back to the 1700s.

Promising passion, heroism, and a remarkable score, ‘Chevalier’ is inspired by the life of virtuosic violinist Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Born on the Caribbean island of Basse-Terre to an enslaved Senegalese woman and a French plantation owner, Saint-Georges is taken to France where he is lauded as a musical prodigy. He wins the favour of the queen, Marie Antoinette, and becomes a fixture of the royal court. However, as racism and harassment mount against him and political unrest brews in the streets of Paris, he joins the revolution to topple the oppressive, colonialist monarchy. (Check out the official trailer from Searchlight Pictures here.)

This entry in my list is a bit of a stretch since the film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2022 (and I’m still kicking myself that I missed seeing it while I was volunteering there this past year). Directed by Canadian filmmaker Stephen Williams, the film stars Kelvin Harrison Jr., who recently played B.B. King in ‘Elvis’ and won a SAG Award for his performance as activist Fred Hampton in ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7.’ He appears alongside an all-star cast of Samara Weaving, Minnie Driver, and Lucy Boynton as Marie Antoinette.

2. The Little Mermaid - May 26

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Halle Bailey in 'The Little Mermaid' (2023). Photo: Disney

I don’t know about you, but I have mixed feelings about Disney’s past attempts to reboot their classic animated films into live-action remakes. While some provide a fresh spin on an outdated character like ‘Cruella’ or reimagine a prejudiced perspective for modern, more culturally sensitive audiences like ‘Aladdin,’ others have been controversial, panned by critics, or downright boring — I’m looking at you, ‘The Lion King.’ So when I heard that the House of Mouse was planning to revisit ‘The Little Mermaid,’ I was skeptical.

That is, until I caught a glimpse of the teaser trailer, which premiered at the studio’s D23 Expo in September. In it, we plunge into Ariel’s underwater world with immersive cinematography by Dion Beebe and stunning computer-generated corals and marine life. Alan Menken returns with a rousing orchestration of his and the late Howard Ashman’s score, and singer/actress Halle Bailey looks and sounds enchanting as the mythical mermaid. (Check out the official teaser trailer from Walt Disney Studios here.)

The film is directed by Rob Marshall, the award-winning filmmaker behind ‘Chicago’ and ‘Memoirs of a Geisha,’ and co-produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Marc Platt, and Marshall’s longtime collaborator, John DeLuca. Bailey rose to prominence alongside her older sister as part of the pop duo Chloe x Halle. Outrageously, she initially faced a barrage of racially charged criticisms over her casting as the red-haired mermaid. However, the young actress has projected both strength and poise as Disney’s first live-action Black princess and received a wave of support from notables like Trevor Noah and Kerry Washington. She is joined onscreen by buzz-worthy co-stars including Jonah Hauer-King, Melissa McCarthy, Javier Bardem, Simone Ashley, Daveed Diggs, Jacob Tremblay, and Awkwafina.

3. Asteroid City - Jun. 16

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Maya Hawke on the set of 'Asteroid City.' Photo: IMDb

We don’t know much yet about auteur-director Wes Anderson’s next feature, but if ‘Asteroid City’ is anything like his extensive body of work, then it promises to be quirky, heartwarming, and … symmetrical. According to Focus Features for Variety, the film is set in the 1950s American desert during a Junior Stargazer/Space Cadet convention. Although the conference is meant to bring students and parents together for a friendly competition, their worlds are turned upside-down by shocking global events. The studio describes it as a ‘poetic meditation on the meaning of life.’

Anderson’s work is a personal favourite of mine and has garnered a devoted cult following among fellow movie lovers for his artistic and intelligent films such as ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel,’ ‘Moonrise Kingdom,’ and ‘The French Dispatch’ (his most recent release in 2021 and the first movie I saw in theatres after the pandemic began!) His latest film calls on his usual cast of players, as well as some fresh faces, including Tom Hanks, Margot Robbie, Tilda Swinton, Ed Norton, Adrien Brody, Maya Hawke, Steve Carell, Matt Dillon, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Rita Wilson, and many more.

4, Elemental - Jun. 16

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'Elemental.' Photo: Disney/Pixar

My love of Pixar films runs deep. Not only do they consistently tell heartwarming stories that capture what it means to be human, but they also build dazzling, intricate worlds illustrated by their impressive, increasingly hyper-real animation style. Whether transporting us to a real-world time and place, like the highly competitive Parisian restaurant industry in ‘Ratatouille,’ or creating fantastical environments we can only dream of, like the illuminated Land of the Dead in ‘Coco,’ Pixar movies spark our imaginations.

After helping us fall in love and empathize with toys, robots, and even monsters, the studio has started to experiment with more abstract concepts like our emotions in ‘Inside Out’ and our spirits in ‘Soul.’ Their next upcoming film, ‘Elemental,’ introduces us to Ember, a fire-resident of the bustling, futuristic Element City where fire, water, air, and earth live side-by-side. When she meets the watery Wade, she begins to reevaluate their world and, as the film promises, she finds out that ‘opposites react.’ (You can see the official teaser trailer from Pixar here.)

Pixar has drawn the short stick repeatedly throughout the pandemic with the majority of their releases sent directly to streaming, including the funny, upbeat coming-of-age film ‘Turning Red,’ directed by Toronto-raised animator Domee Shi. But according to Bryanna Ehli at Collider, ‘Elemental’ is slated for a theatrical release. Directed by longtime member of the Pixar senior creative team Peter Sohn, the film is inspired by his formative years while growing up in the Bronx. Ember is played by Leah Lewis, who stars as ‘George' Fan in the new ‘Nancy Drew’ series for The CW, and Wade is voiced by Mamoudou Athie, who appeared in ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ last year.

5. Barbie - Jul. 21

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Margot Robbie in 'Barbie.' Photo: Warner Bros.

If there’s one upcoming movie that has sent critics and audiences into an online frenzy, it’s the new ‘Barbie’ movie starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. Ever since beloved filmmaker Greta Gerwig signed on to direct in 2021, we’ve watched closely as the studio released photos taken on set and the actors revealed snippets about the film’s production. Then in June of last year, a photo of Gosling as Barbie’s love interest, Ken, complete with an open cut-off jean vest and Calvin Klein-inspired briefs, just about broke the internet.

With the lead actors’ bleach blond hair and bright neon costumes—think the Hot Skatin’ Barbie athleisure wear from 1994—the film guarantees to be whimsical, satirical, and campy. This was confirmed when Warner Bros. released the teaser trailer to much media excitement. The promotion is a shot-for-shot homage to the opening of Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi masterpiece, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ replacing early humans smashing bones with little girls destroying baby dolls in favour of the glamorous, curvy Barbie doll. While it reveals nothing about the film’s plot, we know that it won’t take itself too seriously and should be wildly fun. (Find the official teaser trailer from Warner Bros. Pictures here.)

Greta Gerwig—whose hit films ‘Lady Bird’ and the 2019 remake of ‘Little Women’ reveal the raw, earthy struggle of early womanhood—might initially seem like an unusual choice to direct this bubblegum pink spectacular. However, her intelligent feminism and tongue-in-cheek tone should provide an original spin on who we think Barbie is. Australian superstar actress Margot Robbie, who at this point in her career needs no introduction, is excited to helm this picture, but told Ranyechi Udemezue and Radhika Seth at British Vogue that the film will tackle valid criticisms of the toy franchise head on, including its lack of diversity. Alongside Robbie and Gosling, keep an eye out for fan-favourite co-stars Will Ferrell, America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon, Simu Liu, Issa Rae, and Ncuti Gatwa of ‘Sex Education’ fame.

6. Oppenheimer - Jul. 21

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Cillian Murphy in 'Oppenheimer.' Photo: Universal Pictures

July 21st should prove to be an exciting day for cinemas between the releases of ‘Barbie’ and the explosive biopic, ‘Oppenheimer,’ from director Christopher Nolan. This film has been on my radar for a while and I’m interested to see how the innovative director behind such mind-bending films as ‘Memento,’ ‘Inception,’ and ‘Dunkirk’ will attack this important, controversial moment in modern history.

In a sharp contrast to the ‘Barbie’ promotional materials, the official trailer for ‘Oppenheimer’ drops us in the moody and shadowy world of World War II America. The film tells the true story of theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, head of the Los Alamos Laboratory, who was hired by the U.S. military to lead the Manhattan Project. The work produced by this project would go on to assist in the development of the atomic bomb, which was devastatingly used to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, and bring the Second World War to a sudden halt. Though Oppenheimer has been labelled the ‘father of the atomic bomb,’ he spent much of his later career campaigning for control of nuclear weapons. (Check out the official trailer from Universal Pictures here.)

The trailer hints at Nolan’s signature ability to dive into the minds of men struggling with the complex interweaving of time and space through close-up shots of Oppenheimer’s tortured expressions and intercuts to gorgeous abstract illustrations of galaxies and atoms. Cillian Murphy, well-known as crime boss Tommy Shelby in the hit series ‘Peaky Blinders’ as well as one of Nolan’s frequent collaborators, stars as the morally conflicted scientist. He is joined by an all-star cast including Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Rami Malek, and Jack Quaid as fellow physicist Richard Feynman.

7. A Haunting in Venice - Sep. 15

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Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot. Photo: 20th Century Studios

I adore a good whodunit and, luckily for me, the big and small screens have been teeming with scintillating crime thrillers in the past few years. I had the immense pleasure of seeing Rian Johnson’s hit ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ in theatres at TIFF last year and it’s been an incredible surprise to see mass audiences turn out to support these witty murder mysteries with more head-scratchers and one-liners than IMAX-worthy explosions.

Starting in 2017 with a star-studded adaptation of ‘Murder on the Orient Express,’ Irish actor/director Kenneth Branagh has brought the clever writings of mystery queen, Agatha Christie, back to the silver screen. The series lapsed with bad press swirling around ‘Death on the Nile,’ between Armie Hammer’s scandalous assault investigation, public criticisms of Gal Gadot’s privileged response to the pandemic, and Letitia Wright’s controversial opinions about the Covid-19 vaccine. I admit that I, like many people, didn’t feel comfortable watching this series instalment. But this upcoming release might be able to revive audiences’ interest in Branagh’s passion project.

The actor and filmmaker, who recently won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his semi-autobiographical film, ‘Belfast,’ about The Troubles in Northern Ireland during his youth, will reprise his role as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, as well as directing. The ensemble cast also includes Camille Cottin, Jamie Dornan, Tina Fey, Kelly Reilly, Michelle Yeoh, and Jude Hill, ‘Belfast’s’ child star.

8. Dune: Part Two - Nov. 3

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Timothée Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson in 'Dune.' Photo: Warner Bros.

I was never really much of a sci-fi fan, to tell the truth—until I saw my first Denis Villeneuve, ‘Arrival.’ I was stunned that a film could combine intense beauty and pensive stillness with the genre’s pseudo-scientific conventions and still be unshakeably enthralling. It opened up a whole new world of slow-burn sci-fi movies that I’ve come to love with award-winning Canadian director Villeneuve at its centre. So when the first instalment of the ‘Dune’ series was released in 2021, I knew I had to see his thoughtful compositions and sweeping landscapes in a proper IMAX cinema. It did not disappoint, despite the film’s 2 ½-hour-long runtime.

In this sequel slated for release in November, 27-year-old megastar Timothée Chalamet returns as Paul Atreides as he joins forces with Chani and the Fremen to avenge the deaths and destruction of his family. Zendaya returns as the desert warrior and Paul’s love interest, alongside an A-list cast including Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Javier Bardem, Florence Pugh, Austin Butler, Léa Seydoux, and Christopher Walken. With Villeneuve’s distinctive visual style and a haunting score by acclaimed composer Hans Zimmer, this one will be well worth the trip to the cinema.

9. Wonka - Dec. 15

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Timothée Chalamet on the set of 'Wonka.' Photo: IMDb

Chalamet has a busy year ahead with the release of ‘Wonka’ in December shortly after the ‘Dune’ sequel. This will be the third time the mysterious chocolate factory owner is portrayed onscreen following in the footsteps of Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp. This film, however, is not a remake, but rather a prequel to the original 1964 Roald Dahl novel, ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ and the last two films. Directed by Paul King, perhaps best known for his work on the ‘Paddington’ series, the story will follow the adventures of a young Willy Wonka and his first encounter with the Oompa-Loompas.

I have to question Warner Bros.’s and production company Heyday Films’s choice to revisit the candy maker’s dark, disturbing, and highly problematic past. As Jacob Oller writes for Paste Magazine, the Oompa-Loompas’ first appearance in Dahl’s book was so racist that the author was pressured to rewrite it. They were originally smuggled from an undisclosed location in Africa and enslaved by Wonka to work at his factory. The rewrite and the 1979 film updated their birthplace as the elusive ‘Loompaland,’ but this change did little to fix the deep-seated issues with the story, not to mention the ableist humour aimed at the ensemble of little people. We’ll see how King and Chalamet handle the character’s unsettling backstory, as well as the rest of the cast including Keegan Michael-Key, Rowan Atkinson, Sally Hawkins, Jim Carter, and the talented Olivia Colman.

10. The Color Purple - Dec. 20

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The cast on the set of 'The Color Purple.' Photo: Blitz Bazawule

To wrap up this impressive year and just in time for the winter holidays, we can expect the release of the film musical version of ‘The Color Purple.’ Based on Alice Walker’s 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name, this story was first adapted for the screen by esteemed director Steven Spielberg, starring Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, and Oprah Winfrey, and then staged as a Broadway musical in 2005. After seeing the show win the Tony Award in 2016 for Best Revival of a Musical, I’m excited to see this heart-wrenching and inspiring story grace the big screen once again.

The film follows the life of Celie, a young Black woman in the early 20th-century American South, as she endures prejudice and abuse and longs to reunite with her sister in Africa. Despite rave reviews and numerous awards, the 1985 film has been criticized for relying on some stereotypes and for not being filmed by a Black director. This new iteration should hopefully correct these grievances with Beyoncé’s ‘Black Is King’ director, Ghanaian rapper and filmmaker Blitz Bazawule, at the helm. Spielberg, Winfrey, and Quincy Jones return to produce and Fantasia, who rose to prominence as the winner of ‘American Idol’ and who played the lead role in the Broadway show, stars as Celie. She is joined by a talented musical cast of Colman Domingo, Taraji P. Henson, Corey Hawkins, Danielle Brooks, H.E.R., Ciara, Halle Bailey (fresh off her appearance as the live-action Ariel),
and celebrated musician Jon Batiste.

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Did I miss anything? Connect with me on socials @emilynighman to comment on my watchlist or share the movies you can’t wait to see in 2023!

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