From Luca Guadagnino’s Challengers and Dune: Part Two to Gladiator 2 and Joker: Folie à Deux… will next year just hurry up already?
It’s that time of the year for movie lovers again, the quiet lull between the summer blockbuster season and the oncoming storm of awards films. It’s as good a moment as any to take stock. And all told, 2023 has been pretty astounding for movie lovers — this has been the year, after all, of Barbenheimer.
And an abundance of surefire hits are yet to come, too, from Martin Scorsese’s newest super-long crime epic Killers of the Flower Moon, to Bradley Cooper’s sophomore venture in nose fetishism, Maestro, with the likes of Saltburn, Wonka and Ferrari all to land before the new year.
But with the months dwindling, we’re already starting to look ahead to next year. Can 2024 match up to the vast collection of cinematic treats we’ve wolfed down over the last ten months?
The answer… maybe, just maybe. There are some big blockbusters on the docket, after all: Ridley Scott’s Gladiator sequel starring an ascendant Paul Mescal, the delayed Dune: Part II, and another (final?) foray into death-courting stuntdom with Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part II.
We’re gonna be eating well, guys.
All of Us Strangers
Britain’s great cinematic translator of the modern queer experience, Andrew Haigh (Weekend, 45 Years, the TV show Longing) returns with a Rizla-paper-delicate rumination on gay loneliness, love, and how grief lingers like a spectre in the corner of the room.
It’s part ghost story, part nocturnal romance, part late-stage coming-of-ager. Andrew Scott stars as Adam, a depressed screenwriter working on a new script inspired by the death of his parents. For research, he visits his childhood home on the outskirts of London, only to find his mum and dad — Claire Foy and Jamie Bell, respectively — are seemingly alive and well, looking exactly as they did thirty years ago. Meanwhile, a steamy tryst blossoms with a stranger (Paul Mescal) in Adam’s empty apartment complex.
It’s stirring, and achingly felt. One of those movies not to see with your dad (or anyone else who you’re embarrassed to watch unflinching gay sex scenes with, or endlessly cry in front of). And it’s sure to stand as one of the best of the year.
Dune: Part Two
Victim to the writers’ and actors’ strikes in Hollywood, Dune: Part Two was set to land in late 2023, likely following a glitzy film festival premiere (many cinephilic eyes were on Venice). Nevertheless, we don’t have to wait too long for Denis Villeneuve’s follow-up to his gargantuan sci-fi epic, with this one posed to centre on Zendaya’s Chani, the Freman warrior we glimpsed through Paul Atreides’ (Timothée Chalamet) visions in the first one. Dune MVP Jason Momoa doesn’t return for the sequel as far as we know, owing to his character being very dead — but clued-up stans of the original Frank Herbert books might just be expecting a cameo…
Bong Joon-ho’s Social satire Parasite threw off its “indie movie” shackles — Martin Scorsese would be proud — back in 2019 to become an unlikely box office behemoth, raking in $262 million worldwide, netting the first Best Picture Oscar for a film not in the English language. It’s no surprise, then, that Joon-ho’s been given a giant budget for his next film, an adaptation of Edward Ashton’s sci-fi novel about expendable clones sent to colonise distant worlds. (Hence “17,” our Mickey presumably being the seventeenth Mickey iteration.)
Director Bong’s assembled a proper cast of Film Twitter faces for this one: Robert Pattinson stars, with The Walking Dead‘s Steven Yeun, Hereditary‘s Toni Collette, I Wanna Dance With Somebody‘s Naomi Ackie and Mark “Marvel‘s Mr. Hulk” Ruffalo.
Another movie whose 2023 premiere was delayed by the actors’ strike, Challengers is an increasingly prolific Luca Guadagnino’s (best known for Call Me by Your Name) follow-up to Bones and All, trading out the star power of Timothée Chalamet for the equally strong Hollywood allure of Euphoria‘s Zendaya. This one’s also for the bisexuals: Challengers centres on a hot, feisty love-triangle-of-sorts between Zendaya’s Tashi, a one-time tennis star whose career was ended by a freak accident, and her two muses, husband/international tennis ace Art (Mike Faist) and their long-time pal/international tennis flop Patrick (Josh O’Connor). Believe us, “banger” is the appropriate adjective.
Hmm, let me just Google how long it’s been since Mad Max: Fury Road came o— Christ alive, we’re getting old. Furiosa is George Miller’s long-awaited fifth instalment in the Mad Max franchise, this one tipped to be a direct prequel to the Tom Hardy-starrer, focusing instead on the mechanically limbed bodyguard played in Fury Road by Charlise Theron. Being a prequel, Theron doesn’t return — instead Furiosa will be portrayed by Anya Taylor-Joy, hot off a string of hits in The Queen’s Gambit, Last Night in Soho and The Menu. Hilariously, Chris Hemsworth will take the skeletal Bane mask from Hugh Keays-Bryne (RIP), to portray Mr. MEDIOCRE! himself, Immortan Joe. Rumours suggest the budget is north of $150 million, at least half of which has been earmarked for Hemsworth’s digitalised dad bod.
Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Pt. 2
The second part to last year’s cautionary AI tale/Tom Cruise’s 700th attempt to kill himself comes in the summer, and this time won’t have to face down the might of Barbenheimer (nor wrestle IMAX screens from Christopher Nolan), which should grant it better legs at the box office. There’s also the draw of this feasibly being Cruise’s final run out as Ethan Hunt — not that he’s said anything but, you know, for all of Cruise’s android qualities he is 61. Whatever the case, we’ll be there day one.
Joker: Folie à Deux
In 2019, Joker — Todd Phillips’ King of Comedy-fication of the Crown Prince of Crime — chuckled its way from a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival (that festival’s award for Best Film) to a Best Actor win for Joaquin Phoenix at the Oscars, plus a swathe of other nominations. MUBI tote carrying cineastes were up in arms; we thought it was pretty good. This sequel looks to capitalise on the chaos, introducing Lady Gaga as Harley Quinn, the Joker’s love interest, in a musical aping Golden Age oldies like Singin’ in the Rain. “Send in… the clowns…”
Treat that date as a placeholder for now. Filming had moved ahead for Gladiator 2 in Malta back in June and July, but the actors’ strike forced production to a halt, with work yet to recommence. Whether it comes in November next year as presently planned (we’ll see) or later on, it’ll surely be worth the 20-odd year wait. (Though we’ve yet to find out… anything as to what it’s about.)
Paul Mescal takes the combat pit in place of Russell Crowe, whose Maximus Decimus Meridius took his revenge and subsequently died in the first one. Barry Keoghan was attached at one point, but was replaced by The White Lotus‘ Fred Hechinger. The cast also includes screen legend Denzel Washington, Hollywood’s favourite character actor Djimon Hounsou, internet daddy Pedro Pascal, Stranger Things‘ Joseph Quinn and bona fide British stage royalty Derek Jacobi.
Yet to be dated
Gothic moviemaker Robert Eggers, whose disquietingly stylish features are seeped in the uncanny, is three-for-three as far as we’re concerned — The Witch, The Lighthouse and Viking epic The Northman being some of the most unique and daring mainstream movies of recent years.
With Nosferatu he hopes to add another notch to his belt of devilish delicacies, this one being a new cinematic reworking of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, first seen on screen in copyright-breaking silent form over 100 years ago. It’s the perfect three-way marriage of filmmaker, form and content on paper; on evidence of his existing filmography, we hardly expect disappointment. Oh, and look at that cast. Willem Dafoe. Lily-Rose Depp. Emma Corrin. Nicholas Hoult. Bill Skarsgård. Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Faves abound!
Knives Out 3
The third instalment in Rian Johnson’s murder mystery revamp franchise will (probably) return everyone’s favourite neckerchief aficionado/celebrity P.I. Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) to native shores — ie. somewhere in the U.S. It’s still early doors for the third Knives Out, with production yet to commence (and casting news to be announced), and we’re yet to see whether the strikes in Hollywood could have delayed it into 2025 — but there were two years between Knives Out 1 and 2, leading us to speculate that the third will arrive in late 2024.
This was originally published on British GQ.