50 Most Anticipated Films of 2023

A year is a fascinating block of time to reflect upon. So much can happen inside it. Much better to measure a year than days or weeks or months. There’s always the end-of-year impetus to get our Best Of lists out shortly followed by the following idea: let’s look forward. There’s plenty of looking forward to this year. The film industry’s motor is all warmed up after a couple of years of downtime and a year to reacclimate. We expect the following year to fire on all cylinders and produce a wide breadth of content. This year, we’re refocusing on the Indies. They are our bread and butter. They are most like us. They’re the films you may not know about. And by Indie, perhaps we should define our terms: simply not the biggest blockbusters. Let’s hit the road, it’s gonna be a beautiful year of cinema.

Enys Men

Enys Men. Dir. Mark Jenkin.

Cornish director Mark Jenkin is one to watch. Shot on 16mm, Enys Men will produce a stylized ’70s-flavored effect. The film follows a wildlife volunteer who comes to an island off the British Coast to study the plants but undergoes a total ecological nightmare of her own. Our expectations are high: 2019’s Bait is a recent masterpiece and the first trailer is note-perfect.

Infinity Pool

Infinity Pool. Dir. Brandon Cronenberg.

It’s the most unlikely thing: a father and son are the two most important directors of body horror in the world and they are working contemporaneously, with Brandon Cronenberg not just living up to the family name but even overcoming the comparison. His work is so good it must be taken on its own merit. The pairing of Mia Goth and Cronenberg makes this a hot ticket at Sundance.

How to Blow Up a Pipeline

How to Blow Up a Pipeline. Dir. Daniel Goldhaber.

After a warmly reviewed festival run, Neon has picked up this ecological heist thriller about a troop of climate activists who take direct and radical action by sabotaging an oil pipeline. Daniel Goldhaber emerges as a must-see directing talent following his fascinating prior film Cam (2018) and the hottest pickup of last fall’s festival season. We’re ready to help blow it all up.

Showing Up

Showing Up. Dir. Kelly Reichardt.

Kelly Reichardt is building a filmography that poetically expresses the inner turmoil of the American conscience. Her characters come from the depth of her compassion and empathy for them. It’s not just one film we’re invested in, the entire project of Reichardt is essential to the future of our cinema. See the perfect First Cow (2020).

Strange Way of Life (Extraña forma de vida)

Image from Ethan Hawke’s Instagram.

Pedro Almodóvar is making a queer short cowboy film starring Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal. Any words you write after a sentence like that are utterly redundant. It ought to be a good thing. We’re all for prestigious directors dipping back into short films but also the increasingly progressive Western defined by the last decade. Just re-read the first sentence.


Liarmouth. Dir. John Waters.

18 whole years since his last movie (A Dirty Shame, ‘04), John Waters has a new currency to his name, an installed audience, and a new novel he has written which he’s set to adapt, about a family of three generations of women who conspire to kill each other. Yes, it will be a beautiful return.

Motern Media: Boston Johnny & An Untitled Sequel Project

Magic Spot. Dir. Charles Roxburgh.

Our dear filmmaker friends Matt Farley and Charles Roxburgh comprise the regional filmmaking collective Motern Media. Matt Farley is a prolific composer and often the star of their films. Charles is a brilliant backyard director. With their friends, they make many of our favorite movies (see: Local Legends (2013), and Magic Spot (2022)) and continue to surprise and delight.


Skinamarink. Dir. Kyle Edward Ball.

If you’re the audience for Skinamarink, maybe you’ve heard about it. It’s already in a class of viral horror that spells good news for initial viewership. A hit at festival and widely pirated, the lo-fi horror film will expand to Shudder early next year. It’s about two boys being put in front of a fuzzy tv screen and in the ambiance of the room, horror seeps through the room from the tv.


Close. Dir. Lukas Dhont.

Two 13-year-old boys spend their time in the innocent, compassionate embrace of their friendship. It is the most natural thing in the world… until the other kids start to notice, and it tears their friendship apart, creating a divide between the innocence of youth and the ugly cynical lack of compassion that comes with early adulthood. Real A24 vibes coming in ’23.

The People’s Joker

The People’s Joker. Dir. Vera Drew.

The People’s Joker is the most important film that didn’t happen last year. It’s important because Vera Drew’s unauthorized use of DC characters was flagged by a legal team and removed from the festival circuit. Unreleased, it is now an essential work of commentary on the nature of IP handlers and whether art belongs to companies or to the public. Even better if we get to see it.


Barbie. Dir. Greta Gerwig.

When we say no Mega Blockbusters are going on the list, we simply don’t mean a new Greta Gerwig movie. That will always place. You’ve seen or heard about the fun teaser that evokes nothing less than Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and earns it. There’s nothing to worry about here. This is likely going to be a total knockout critically and at the box office.

The Zone of Interest

Under the Skin. Dir. Jonathan Glazer.

Every year we put this on our list. Because one year, Jonathan Glazer is going to put out his new film and the list would become invalid without it. So it has to be here. Last we heard, he’s considering multiple director’s cuts that tell the story from different perspectives; perhaps this stage means it’s coming this year, or possibly in ten years. I’ll personally self-combust soon.


Can You Ever Forgive Me? Dir. Marielle Heller.

Between Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019), Marielle Heller’s filmmaking bonafides are now well-established with two of the strongest recent biopics. So, it’s the perfect time to go make a magical realist genre picture wherein Amy Adams plays a stay-at-home mom who is slowly turning into a dog.

Cocaine Bear

Cocaine Bear. Dir. Elizabeth Banks.

OK, I’ll bite: I don’t get it. Beyond what it expressed in the title, I have no idea why this is an exciting prospect. The extent of the journey begins and ends with the title. What else is there really to do? Pitched as a dark comedy, to me, it looks more like a darkly unfunny movie. Didn’t this trend wear itself out a couple of decades ago? Old hat to me. Prove me wrong, Cocaine Bear.

Stone Mattress

You Were Never Really Here. Dir. Lynne Ramsay.

Beloved filmmaker Lynne Ramsay has had about as many stops and starts as finished projects. We’re awfully hungry for more after the phenomenal You Were Never Really Here. Next, she will be adapting a timely Margaret Atwood short story written for the New Yorker. As the main character tells herself, “though much has been taken, much remains.”

I Saw the TV Glow

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair. Dir. Jane Schoenbrun.

Whether you love it or feel challenged by it, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (2021) established Jane Schoenbrun as an immediate talent. The boldness and passion of their ideas were self-evident. Continuing the meta-screen layer, their next film is about two teenagers who bond over a scary television show that gets canceled. Pheobe Bridgers and Fred Durst are in the cast list?


Shiva Baby. Dir. Emma Seligman.

“Follows two unpopular queer girls who start a fight club to have sex before their high school graduation,” goes the synopsis. We have no idea what “start a fight club to have sex” means but this is probably important. Emma Seligman reteams with Rachel Sennott, star of her excellent prior film, Shiva Baby (2020).


Man Push Cart. Dir. Ramin Bahrani.

Ramin Bahrani has an insightful vision. Chop Shop (2007) & Man Push Cart (2009) utilize a unified sort of language about what New York stories can be. Bahrani also made that short film where Werner Herzog narrates the travels of a plastic bag. Here he adapts a book about a house cleaner who learns more than they bargained to about their employer, which puts them in danger.

Silent Night

A Better Tomorrow. Dir. John Woo.

We need John Woo more than ever. In a crowded field of John Wick movies, nothing feels as essential as a return to genuine action know-how from one of the premier masters of the craft. While Silent Night stars a Western cast, as tipped off by the title, the revenge film features no dialogue at all. There are also a hundred films with this title but only one of them will be by John Woo.

Bitter Root

Regina King adapts the highly-praised comic book series from Image Comics.

1920s Harlem: Supernatural forces of prejudice turn humans into monsters. The Sangerye Family have long fought the demons but now find themselves up against a greater force of evil amidst the colorful backdrop of the Harlem Renaissance. Following Regina King’s debut, One Night in Miami (2020), her sophomore feature could securely embolden her place as a director to watch.

The Iron Claw

The Iron Claw. Dir. Sean Durkin.

The story begins with a patriarch who plays a Nazi in the ring and forces his kids into the wrestling business. A whole generation of Von Erich brawlers become the biggest thing in the ring. But each child’s life meets a dramatic, dark end. From A24, The Iron Claw (so-named after a famous family move), tells a bleakly cursed story about wrestling history. Look at Zac Efron though.


Cassandro. Dir. Roger Ross Williams.

Oscars, 2020: Roger Ross Williams celebrates winning Best Documentary Feature and is ambushed on-stage by an estranged producer of the film. One of the Oscars’ worst moments. But now, Williams returns with another story: Gael García Bernal plays the Cassandro, “Liberace of Lucha Libre,” an openly gay wrestler shaking up the macho world of Mexican wrestling.

Bodybuilding: Loves Lies Bleeding & Magazine Dreams

Magazine Dreams. Dir. Elijah Bynum.

Get pumped. There are two body-building films arriving soon. First, we have Rose Glass’ Love Lies Bleeding about a woman who gets serious about bodybuilding until her outlook is changed by steroids, starring Katy O’Brian & Kristen Stewart. Next, is Elijah Bynum’s Magazine Dreams about celebrity, violence, and the quest for connection, starring Jonathan Majors.


Inside. Dir. Vasilis Katsoupis.

Willem Dafoe plays a thief stuck inside an art museum. The greatest elevator pitch of the year. Watch as he destroys modern art and slowly becomes demented, his freedom the only thing stolen. “Cats die, music fades, but art is for keeps,” he winces, chewing all the post-modern scenery in the promising trailer. You know if this is for you. No Bo Burnham this time.

Poor Things

The Favourite. Dir. Yorgos Lanthimos.

Following the sensational The Favourite (2018) Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos and Emma Stone return with Poor Things, a revisionist retelling of the Frankenstein story, a Victorian fable about a young woman brought back to life by an ingenious scientist. Notably, the film also stars Willem Dafoe and Margaret Qualley. Lanthimos remains of superlative interest.


Apples. Dir. Christos Nikou.

The latest purveyor of the “Greek Weird Wave,” Christos Nikou directs subversive parables with social currency in mind. In his sophomore feature, Jessie Buckley stars in a sci-fi love story about a couple who are losing their spark and the woman who seeks help from an organization that intends to reignite the flickering flames of burnt-out romantic relationships.

Beau is Afraid

Beau is Afraid. Dir. Ari Aster.

The title change from Disappointment Blvd. to Beau is Afraid, matched with the above poster concept, is perhaps the most worrying and uncanny thing known about a film from 2023. We’re terrified… please give us another title and another poster, we can’t work with any of this. Ari Aster directing Joaquin Phoenix, however, remains a juicy prospect. We’re all afraid.


Happening. Dir. Audrey Diwan.

Director Audrey Diwan takes on her first English-language project: an adaptation of the French erotic novel starring forever-rising French actress Léa Seydoux. Seydoux continues to impress and has regularly been good, even when the movies around her are not, and ought to bring something special to this story about a woman’s carnal daydreams of desire.

Asteroid City

The French Dispatch. Dir. Wes Anderson.

Love ’21’s The French Dispatch? Don’t care for it? Doesn’t matter! New Wes Anderson is on the way in Asteroid City. His next ensemble piece will bring symmetry to your 2023. The cast is stacked… seriously, we’d list the cast but we’d end up naming everyone.


House of Gucci. Dir. Ridley Scott.

Napoleon is an invigorating figure for cinema. He offers so much filmic and historic baggage. Here enters Ridley Scott featuring Joaquin Phoenix. The film will take the unique perspective of dealing with Napoleon largely on the terms of his tumultuous relationship with Josephine (Vanessa Kirby). Great approach, the right actors, and endearingly late-era Ridley Scott.

Killers of the Flower Moon

Killers of the Flower Moon. Dir. Martin Scorsese.

In the 1920s, members of the Osage Nation are murdered after rich oil deposits are found underneath their land, giving birth to the FBI and providing meaty subject matter for this long-awaited Martin Scorsese adaptation of the non-fiction David Grann book. This is a serious statement of intent for Apple, who are investing with considerable taste in all the right prestige projects.

The End

The End. Dir. Joshua Oppenheimer.

The director of two of the most riveting, soul-wrenching documentaries — The Act of Killing (2012) & The Look of Silence (2014) — Joshua Oppenheimer returns with… a musical. Given these credentials and the foreboding title, the new film is about a family living alone in the ruins of post-apocalyptic salt mines until a girl shows up who shatters their reality. Tilda Swinton stars.

Mickey 17

Mickey 17. Dir. Bong Joon-ho.

Bong Joon-ho adapts the story of an expendable man on an unhospitable planet who keeps dying and being replaced by clones until he breaks the cycle. It’s a regular science fiction novel, falling between The Martian (2015) and the superior Dark Matter (2016). Mickey 17 comes out in ’24 but will be the talk of the town till then.

Landscape with Invisible Hand

Landscape with Invisible Hand. Dir. Cory Finley.

With the arrival of aliens, the global economy gets totally tanked. This leaves a talented artist in a predicament. After the fallout of the extraterrestrial invasion, how can they continue to create their art in a world of lopsided commerce? Cory Finley directs, following his work on Thoroughbreds (2017) and Bad Education (2019). Featuring Tiffany Hadish and Michael Gandolfini.


Joyland. Dir. Saim Sadiq.

Always nice to see progressive themes from a place like Pakistan. In Joyland, a family wants their son produce a child, but he falls in love with the trans dancer from an exotic dance company. It sounds moving, is anti-censorship, looks visually lively, stars a trans actress, and comes from director Saim Sadiq’s uniquely Pakistani background, making it something new for the culture.

The Accidental Getaway Driver

The Accidental Getaway Driver. Dir. Sing J. Lee.

Based on a true story, The Accidental Getaway Driver is a lyrical study of one man’s loneliness and journey through life. When a Vietnamese driver picks up a late-night call, he’s soon being held at gunpoint and forced to hide in a hotel with three recently escaped convicts. Early Sundance buzz surrounds this True Crime meditation on the journey of life.

Year of the Fox

I’ll Show You Mine. Dir. Megan Griffiths.

Mega Griffiths is a rising Seattle-area director who shot I’ll Show You Mine (2022), a film I watched and seemingly internalized, as my curiosity about the unflinching therapy-like intensity of the central conversation continues to light my brain. This next one is a great premise, too: a child adopted into a notable, wealthy family must deal with the fallout of her parent’s divorce.


A Fantastic Woman. Dir. Sebastián Lelio.

Next up for acclaimed Chilean director Sebastián Lelio is A24 film Bride. Scarlett Johansson stars as a woman created to be the perfect wife. She escapes her creator and must confront an unwelcoming world and learn what it means to be human. Lelio is always worth watching and this hits the same notes as my favorite performance ever, Johansson in 2014’s Under the Skin.


Before Sunrise. Dir. Richard Linklater.

Glen Powell went full Dad Mode last year. Starred in two propaganda films about airplanes. Incredible two-film streak. But now… this is something. In his next project he’ll play 12 whole characters in Richard Linklater’s Hitman. It feels like a big-scale breakout for Powell and a recentering bid for Linklater, who has lately drifted to the fringes.


Lovers Rock. Dir. Steven McQueen.

We didn’t make a big enough deal of Steve McQueen’s Small Axe project, which produced five good and disparate films about Black social issues in a single year. We also should’ve heralded Widows (2018) as one of our best modern heist films. Maybe we can give McQueen his due again with Blitz, an account of a group of Londoners during WWII bombings.

The Exorcist

Halloween Kills. Dir. David Gordon Green.

If David Gordon Green’s work on Halloween doesn’t inspire confidence that he may properly handle the different challenges of The Exorcist property, we don’t think you should worry yet. The fan demands are different, owing to the fact that there are two signature The Exorcist films allowing for a less fractured fanbase and more room for new approaches.


Pearl. Dir. Ti West.

Ti West had the most incredible year. Last year, he released the critically acclaimed X, shortly followed by the even more acclaimed prequel Pearl. What a run. This year, he looks to file his X sequel in MaXXXine, surrounding the events of Maxine Minx’s route to Hollywood. We hope this highly-charged sense of productivity is here to stay for West.

The Four Dracula Movies

Dracula. Dir. Chloé Zhao.

Let’s count these as one entry and hope any come out this year. We have: Chloé Zhao’s Sci-Fi Western simply called Dracula; Chris McKay’s Nicolas Cage and Nicolas Hoult-starring film Renfield, a modern-day interpretation from Jennifer’s Body (2009) director Karyn Kusama; and most crucially for our interests, Robert Eggers is working on his Nosferatu dream project. Whew.

Meg 2: The Trench

The Meg. Dir. Jon Turteltaub.

Sometimes my inner Dad takes over and lists things for me. I couldn’t help myself if I tried. I’ll be there whenever and wherever they want to show me Meg 2. Jason Statham and a Massive Shark. The easiest elevator pitch I’ve ever heard. This second film is also directed by Ben Wheatley, so it already has far greater critical viability and a chance to be Actually Good.

Untitled Godzilla Project: “Blockbuster Monster Movie”

Shin Godzilla. Dirs. Hideaki Anno & Shinji Higuchi.

There are more monsters to rank. With Toho returning for Godzilla’s 69th year, this marks the first new Japanese entry since the animalistic turn of Shin Godzilla (2016). Takashi Yamazaki is set to direct, causing moderate concern for the fan base, as his family-friendly films tend to put visuals before nuance. I don’t mind and recommend Yamazaki’s good Lupin revival.

Shin Kamiya Rider

Shin Kamen Rider. Dir. Hideaki Anno.

Like last year’s remarkably fun Shin Ultraman, I expect knowing very little about Kamen Rider will allow me to become a bigger proponent of the work than its target fanbase. They have the heavy weight of expectations, I just have a total love for Hideaki Anno’s Evangelion franchise and just enough unknowable enthusiasm to be dangerous and put this on a list.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie

The Super Mario Bros. Movie. Dir. Aaron Horvath & Michael Jelenik.

Voted most likely to overcome expectations, nothing sounded more cynical than Illumination making a videogame movie starring Chris Pratt… but you know what? It could be fun. Peppered with a plethora of inventive level mechanics, suits, and expressive side characters, it even seems to have the Nintendo Seal of Quality. We’re basically in.

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget. Dir. Sam Fell.

They’ve broken out. Now, they live on a peaceful island. But back on the mainland, there is a threat to chickens everywhere. Now they must break back in. Easy sell here, as the warmth of Aardman illuminates another stop-animated Chicken Run with much of the cast returning 23 years after the last film. The original is such a kind, pro-livestock film and the sequel ought to be the same.

How Do You Live?

How Do You Live? Dir. Hayao Miyazaki.

Said to be the swan song of Hayao Miyazaki, How Do You Live? is pitched as a parting gift to the auteur’s grandson. Under the Ghibli label, Miyazaki has already accumulated perhaps the finest animation resume ever assembled. This parting gesture feels like not only the likely end to an incredible career but also a final chapter of a certain kind of film only Studio Ghibli can make.


You’re either in or out on Makoto Shinkai’s films. Whether or not you cared about The Garden of Words (2013), Your Name (2016), or Weathering with You (2019) determines whether or not you care about Suzume. Shinkai continues his series of bold metaphors with Suzume, the story of a girl and the magical door she can open to various areas of disaster-wrecked Japan. Are you in?

The Peasants

The Peasants. Dir. Dorota Kobiela.

Dorota Kobiela is an inspiring Polish artist, who created the fully-painted animated film Loving Vincent (2017) and is now applying a similar technique to her next project. Her treatment of film as a canvas to paint on is one of the most exciting things happening in animation and this follow-up looks like an absolutely staggering work of art already. Can you frame a movie?


Wildwood. Dir. Travis Knight.

The oldest ways of animating are the best ways. Hand drawn. Stop animation. LAIKA are kings of the latter, returning with their sixth example in Wildwood, wherein a Portland teen is abducted by a murder of crows and is left adrift in an Impassible Forest. Based on the children’s folk novel written by Colin Meloy, the frontman of Portland’s own The Decemberists.

2 thoughts on “50 Most Anticipated Films of 2023

Leave a Reply