Fall Film Preview 2023
As we enter the "serious film season," look for ambitious works from filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and Ridley Scott, plus some fun fare here and there.
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We’re about to enter early September or, as film critics everywhere call it, the best time of the year to take vacation. Both the quantity and quality of new movies coming out historically takes a dip during this time, and 2023 is shaping up to be no different.
Unless, that is, you’re lucky enough to attend the Toronto International Film Festival, the most important such event in North America in terms of offering a preview of the “serious film season,” as pictures with ambitions for Oscars and other awards roll out to theaters. I’ve never been, though look for some cool coverage from Team Yap.
In the meantime, here’s a snapshot of what’s coming to whet your cinematic appetite.
This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of every single movie coming out. Just a chronological rundown of the films I think are the most interesting or am personally looking forward to. Please chime in with your own picks in the comments!
Caveat: release dates are subject to change, especially in light of the ongoing Hollywood strikes. “Dune: Part 2” has already been pushed to spring and I wouldn’t be surprised to see others move.
Bottoms (Sept. 1) — Spoiler: I actually already saw this one. And was pretty disappointed. Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri play unpopular lesbian best friends who start a high school “fight club” for female empowerment but as a ruse to lure other girls into having sex. It’s just not funny, wants to be transgressive but leans on the very tropes it’s seeking to mock. Watch the trailer
A Haunting in Venice (Sept. 15) — I was among the few critics who really enjoyed “Death on the Nile” and “Murder on the Orient Express” with Kenneth Branagh’s take on international sleuth Hercule Poirot. Here’s the next chapter with a decidedly supernatural turn as the inspector is brought in to disprove a psychic (Michelle Yeoh), of course leading to a shocking murder with multiple suspects. With Tina Fey in a rare non-comedic role. Watch the trailer
Dumb Money (Sept. 22) — Paul Dano headlines a great cast in this based-on-true story of the GameStop stock phenom in which regular joe investors took on the big hedge fund gangs in a game of high finance chicken over the ubiquitous retail video game chain, briefly turning it into the hottest company on the planet. Watch the trailer
The Creator (Sept. 29) — I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic stories, and this one from director Gareth Edwards (“Monsters,” “Star Wars: Rogue One”) diverges from the usual U.S. vs Rooskies nuclear scenario and instead posits a showdown between humans and A.I. Starring John David Washington as a soldier sent to steal the ultimate weapon, which turns out not to be what he expected. Watch the trailer
Priscilla (Oct. 6) — Last year saw the big biopic of Elvis Presley, but writer/director Sophia Coppola’s picture looks at the life of his wife, Priscilla, covering their early romance while she was still a teen. It’s based on her 1985 autobiography. Watch the trailer
Foe (Oct. 6) — Two red-hot young actors, Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal, both Oscar nominees, star in this futuristic drama set in the year 2065 from director Garth Davis (“Lion”), based on the best-seller by Iain Reid. A young couple farming a secluded piece of land is challenged by the arrival of a stranger offering a tantalizing but divisive choice. Watch the trailer
The Exorcist: Believer (Oct. 13) — Why am I so excited for a horror movie that’s a sequel to a flick that’s already been imitated endlessly? Because they’re bringing back original star Ellen Burstyn, and because images of little girls with devil eyes flailing about in demonic fury never fails to creep. me. the. hell. out. And this time it’s double trouble! Watch the trailer
Killers of the Flower Moon (Oct. 20) — Martin Scorsese, who often gets the unofficial prefix “greatest living filmmaker” attached to his mentions, teams with two of his favorites, Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio, in this historical story of the FBI sent in to investigate a series of murders in the oil-rich Osage native tribe in the 1920s. Watch the trailer
Rustin (Nov. 3) — Reliable “that guy” actor Colman Domingo gets a chance in the spotlight starring in this biopic of civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, who helped plan the 1963 March on Washington and was an early “out” gay rights activist. Director George C. Wolfe’s last film was “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” my pick as the best movie of 2020. Watch the trailer
The Marvels (Nov. 10) — “Captain Marvel” is one of my favorite MCU movies, and star Brie Larson gets to assemble her own super-squad in her post-Avengers iteration, including Ms. Marvel from her titular Disney+ show (Iman Vellani) and best friend’s kid, astronaut Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris). The plot’s a little hard to track but involves her old enemies, the Kree, and the usual universe-ending odds. MCU flicks have been notably Y-chromosome heavy, so some kick-butt superladies are here to balance the scales. Watch the trailer
The Killer (Nov. 10) — Think ‘art house John Wick’ in this action/drama from director David Fincher starring Michael Fassbender as a professional assassin who takes on his employers and colleagues, resulting in a deadly international hunt. A trailer just dropped while I was writing this, and it looks like a very stylish neo-noir. Watch the trailer
The Holdovers (Nov. 10) — When I want to feel really angry at the world, I remind myself that Paul Giamatti did not get an Oscar nomination for “Sideways.” Maybe he’ll get another shot in this follow-up pairing with director Alexander Payne. He plays a circa 1970 prep school headmaster stuck with babysitting the students unable/unwanted to travel home for the holidays. Watch the trailer
Napoleon (Nov. 22) — Ridley Scott helped launch Joaquin Phoenix’s career as a serious actor with “Gladiator,” and now they re-team for another epic looking at the life of the (in)famous French leader, and especially his strange relationship with king’s consort Empress Joséphine, played by Vanessa Kirby. Could be a cinematic Waterloo, or an emperor’s trove of Oscar nominations. Scott is one of my favorite directors and at age 85 has a half-dozen upcoming projects listed on IMDb. Watch the trailer
Poor Things (Dec. 8) — I have not been high on the oeuvre of Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Lobster”), with only his last, “The Favourite,” being a film I really appreciated. His newest looks visually surrealist and stunning, with Emma Stone in a proto-feminist Frankenstein story, as an ersatz woman who runs away from her creator (an eerie Willem Dafoe) in the company of a shady lawyer (Mark Ruffalo) to experience a life of adventure and recognition. I’m probably going to love or loathe it. Watch the trailer
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (Dec. 20) — The MCU’s only significant rival in comics-to-screen filmmaking, the DC Extended Universe, appears to be kaput and this will be the last movie of the franchise. (Cyborg, we barely knew ye… no, really.) No trailer is available yet and the plot remains a bit vague, other than Jason Momoa’s Aquaman, now the king of Atlantis, must protect his realm and the Earth against devastation. Guessing/hoping that villain Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is significantly involved.
Rebel Moon (Dec. 22) — Zach Snyder’s ambitious space opera is officially subtitled “Part One — A Child of Fire,” and looks like a mashup of Star Wars, Dune and several MCU titles, including these franchises’ tendency to sequelize. Sofia Boutella plays an unlikely warrior leading a rebellion against the evil galactic overlords. I’ve been up and down on Snyder (“300”), but his visual flair is second to none. Watch the trailer
Ferrari (Dec. 25) — Pride of Mishawaka, Ind. Adam Driver is barely recognizable in this biopic of carmaking legend Enzo Ferrari. Directed by Michael Mann (“Heat”), who knows how to shoot machinery better than just about anyone. His company and marriage foundering, Ferrari bets it all on a grueling 1,000-mile race. If your appetite for Italian supercars isn’t satisfied, we also had “Lamborghini: The Man Behind the Legend” last year, in which Enzo played the heavy. Watch the trailer