Film Critic Joel Bishton outlines the most anticipated films of the year ahead, promising an exciting twelve months for cinema
2023 was a bumper year for movies. While ‘Barbenheimer’ dominated the dialogue (and seems set to dominate the awards), there were so many interesting films: Bottoms, Saltburn, Past Lives, Across the Spider-Verse, Wonka. I could go on. But, however big 2023 seemed, this year seems even bigger. This article runs down just a selection of the films to be excited for in 2024.
Challengers, 16th April
If there are two words I don’t imagine together, it’s ‘sexy’ and ‘tennis movie’. And yet that’s what Luca Guadagnino (of Call Me By Your Name fame) has seemingly made with his upcoming movie Challengers. Starring Zendaya (who will feature again in this article), Josh O’Connor (from The Crown) and Mike Faist (one of the stars of 2021’s West Side Story), it is about the wife and coach (Zendaya) of a tennis player (Faist), who ends up playing her former lover (O’Connor). If that combination of people hasn’t got you on board, you clearly just don’t understand how sexy tennis can be.
Inside Out 2, 14th June
Inside Out is a cornerstone of many people’s (including my) childhoods. So, when they announced a sequel, the response of most of the internet was a variation on ‘please don’t ruin this’. This was a logical reaction. Pixar have been in a slump arguably since Inside Out was released in 2015 and definitely since Coco in 2017 (this isn’t the article to talk about the enjoyment I got from Lightyear). They’ve also got a poor track record for sequels (for every Toy Story 2, there’s a Cars 2) and it has been criticised as a desperate cash grab. However, the teaser, featuring Maya Hawke as Anxiety and showing the movie will explore Riley going through puberty, pulled me back to a tentative excitement.
Joker: Folie à Deux, 4th October
No one expected there to be a sequel to 2019’s Joker. The movie, about Arthur Fleck’s (Joaquin Phoenix) descent into becoming the Joker that we know (and kind of love) from Batman films, was critically divisive but made over one billion dollars at the box office. If a film makes that much money, a sequel is almost inevitable. However, it seems to be significantly different to the first. It is apparently a musical, called Joker: Folie à Deux, with Phoenix reprising his role and Lady Gaga apparently appearing as Harleen Quinzel (Harley Quin for the non-DC fans). It certainly is a contender for the most off-the-wall film of this year.
Paddington in Peru, 8th November
I love Paddington and Paddington 2 unreservedly. It feels weird to say they formed the backbone of my childhood, considering Paddington feels like it just came out. But it was 2014. It’s ten years old. And it’s been long enough that Paddington in Peru is being made, without the director Paul King (replaced by Dougal Wilson, making his feature film debut). Cue panic. However, I would advise optimism. Not only does it feature Antonio Banderas and Olivia Colman joining the original cast, the Paddington franchise has been underestimated before. The previous films were both assumed to be terrible before they came out and they were, well, Paddington and Paddington 2.
Dune: Part Two, 1st March
This will be a big year for cinematic sci-fi. We have Bong Joon-Ho’s Mickey 17, the second part of Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon on Netflix and a currently untitled Alien movie all coming. But the big hitter of the year is obviously Dune: Part Two. Not only does it boast a cast on a level with last year’s ‘Barbenheimer’ (Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya returning, Florence Pugh, Christopher Walken and Austin Butler joining, among others), it also allows the fans of the first another opportunity to return to Arrakis, whilst allowing those who weren’t as keen (I’m in this category) more of the action and spectacle they were promised with Part One.
Deadpool 3, 26th July
There is only one MCU film this year (there are technically three other Marvel films, but they’re from Sony. It’s complicated) but it is a big one. Deadpool 3 will have to juggle potentially finishing the trilogy of films starring Ryan Reynold’s foul-mouthed Deadpool, with bringing in the Fox stable of characters into the MCU (Marvel characters that were reacquired by Disney when it bought the studio which include the X-Men). This can be best seen with Hugh Jackman making his first appearance as Wolverine since 2017’s Logan. The MCU is going through a rough patch right now, with declining box office receipts and accusations of ‘superhero fatigue’. If this won’t solve it, it will certainly be one of the most
talked about films of the summer.
Wicked: Part One, 24th November
As a big musicals fan, I had largely positive feelings when I heard they were making a Wicked film (for those not in the know, it’s based on the musical of the same name, inspired by The Wizard of Oz). The cast is a plus (Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba, Ariana Grande as Galinda, Jonathan Bailey, Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Yeoh filling out the supporting roles) and it’s directed by Crazy Rich Asians’ and In the Heights’ Jon M. Chu. It’s slightly concerning that the musical has been split into two films but, apart from that, it is extremely exciting.
Drive-Away Dolls, 15th March
There’s been a growing sub-genre of teen movies centred around female friendships (and increasingly) queerness. Lady Bird, Booksmart, and last year’s Bottoms are part of it and Drive-Away Dolls seems to fit the bill. It focuses on Jamie (Margaret Qualley) and Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan) who go on a road trip and encounter increasing problems. It is directed by Ethan Coen (of the Coen Brothers fame) and written by his partner Tricia Cooke. It’s one to look out for.
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