Tis the season to draw up a list of 2023 movie releases that I want to catch-up with before embarking upon the traditional Kaedrin Movie Awards, Top 10, and other year ending nonsense. Of course, the professionals are releasing their Top 10s and year end summaries right now, but for us normals who don’t go to Sundance and Cannes or get screeners and other opportunities, it takes a bit longer. So the Awards happen in January and the Top 10 usually in February (hey, at least we’re faster than The Oscars!)
As of this moment, I’ve seen 67 movies that could be considered a 2023 release. This is actually a significant drop from the last few years, even though my overall movie watching numbers have not declined too much. Part of the decline may be the focus on 50 from 50, but I think at least some of it has to do with the industry’s return to theatrical releases and floundering streaming channels. Obviously streaming exclusives are still a thing, I’m still seeing plenty of streaming slop, and while the theatrical windows for a lot of movies are returning to pre-pandemic levels, many are still available pretty quickly. I haven’t actually done a deep dive on this to see if it’s true, but it does feel like a heartening trend. Movies are back, nature is healing, etc…
Anywho, it’s traditional around here to take stock of the year so far and take a look at what I missed as well as what’s coming soon. The end of the year usually results in a deluge of prestige pictures looking for Oscar nominations. The pandemic threw a bit of a wrench into that pattern for sure, but it does seem as if this December is jam packed (and January will no doubt see some stragglers in theaters as well). Standard disclaimers apply: I consider some 2022 movies a 2023 release if it didn’t get distributed in the US until 2023. This list is not comprehensive. I probably won’t watch everything on this list. I will probably watch things not on this list. I started compiling this post a couple weeks ago and have already seen some of the movies on it. And so on. Let’s get to it:
Napoleon – A Ridley Scott historical epic always piques interest, especially after the underrated/underseen The Last Duel, and the subject matter hasn’t been overdone (despite being of interest to lots of famous auteurs, notably Kubrick).
Update: I have seen seen this movie! It’s very messy and glosses over too many events in an attempt to cram in everything it can, but Joiquin Phoenix’s Napoleon is an astounding buffoon, the battles are epic, the pace never falters, and while it’s not entirely my thing, I’m glad I caught up with it. Curious about the rumored 4 hour cut, though I doubt it would change my feelings too much
Ferrari – Michael Mann’s passion project has been a long time coming, and it’s been quite a while since his last film (the disappointing Blackhat), but I’m always curious to see what Mann’s got cooking.
The Creator – This low(ish) budget came and went without much fanfare and I never caught up with it (such is the fate of movies that are released during the 6 weeks of Halloween). I’m not expecting much given what I’ve heard, but it looks visually spectacular and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it well enough.
Dumb Money – The story of the Gamestop stock craze is a fascinating one, so even though I tend to prefer a documentary over dramatizations, I’ll certainly give this one a look.
Next Goal Wins – It’s become fashionable to hate on Taika Waititi and the guy has mostly brought that upon himself (plus, the last Thor movie wasn’t very good), but I’m always curious to see what he’s got up his sleeve. This seems a bit derivative, but it could be fun. Alas, I appear to have missed out on the theatrical release, and you never know when things will show up on streaming/rental these days, so who knows if I’ll actually get to this.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem – I’ve heard good things about this and the animation style looks interesting, but there are some hesitations as well. Will definitely check it out at some point.
Elemental – Disney has trained us all to wait for streaming, so that’s what I’ve done. Pixar’s star has fallen a bit of late, but they can still put out great stuff, so this is certainly worth a look.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie – Not expecting a whole lot, but it’s the second most successful movie of the year and it’s quite possible this will tickle some nostalgia in my bones, so I should probably take a gander.
Maestro (Netflix) – Bradley Cooper’s directorial biopic has lots of Oscar buzz and it’s interesting that Cooper has become something of an event filmmaker (in a way), so I’ll certainly check this out.
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, Poison, The Swan, and The Rat Catcher (Netflix) – Wes Anderson made this series of short films based on Roald Dahl stories earlier this year, and they sorta just came and went in the way Netflix exclusives do, but I definitely want to catch up with them. Come to think of it, Asteroid City didn’t make too many waves either, but I enjoyed it well enough, and Anderson is always up to something interesting.
Candy Cane Lane (Prime Video) – Eddie Murphy Christmas movie jam that could be fun, I guess. Update: I’ve seen this. There are a couple of fun things about it and at least it doesn’t follow the Hallmark formula, but it’s maybe only a hair above Hallmark in terms of quality. Jillian Bell is great though, and this is fine low-stakes fodder, I guess.
BS High (Max) – Sports documentary about a sorta fake high school football team? Sounds interesting. Update: I’ve seen this, and it’s an absolutely bonkers story with some crazy twists and turns and a charismatic con-man villain who just gets worse and worse as the story unfolds. Stylistically straightforward, but worth a look even if you’re not a sports person.
Reality (Max) – An intriguing concept: the script for this movie is simply an FBI transcript of an interrogation into an intelligence worker who is alleged to have leaked classified information. Again, I may prefer a documentary over the dramatization (and there actually is such a documentary), but the gimmick here certainly seems worth a look.
May December (Netflix) – Lots of buzz in the film dork community around this one. I’ve never been much interested by Todd Haynes, but I’ll probably give this a look.
Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire (Netflix) – Zack Snyder’s faux Star Wars certainly looks interesting and bombastic and I’m honestly glad he’s not doing DC comic book movies anymore. Hopefully this will pay off.
Rye Lane (Hulu) – British romantic comedy with under-the-radar buzz, I’m into it.
When Evil Lurks (Shudder) – It’s always telling when a horror movie attains a reputation as being extra dark, as this one has, so I guess I should find some time for it.
Hit Man (Netflix) – Richard Linklater directed this movie starring Glen Powell that apparently did well in the festival circuit, but couldn’t secure a full release, instead going to Netflix. It’s unclear when this will actually be released, and at this point, I’m guessing it won’t be a 2023 release…
Independent, Foreign, and Art House
The Holdovers – Alexander Payne can be hit or miss for me, but this story about a grumpy prep school teacher forced to spend Christmas vacation with a student seems like it could be up my alley.
Update: I’ve seen this, and it’s a hit. I’m not as rapturous as some people are about it, but I like it quite a bit, and while it maintains an acerbic edge, it’s got some sentimentality and wit to it as well.
Poor Things – Yorgos Lanthimos is certainly a weirdo, but that often translates to interesting filmmaking. This has been getting lots of praise in the festival circuit, and I’m looking forward to catching up with it when it goes wide later this month.
Polite Society – Billed as an action comedy, this British flick sounds like an interesting and unconventional combination of elements like martial arts and a… wedding heist? This has been on my radar for a while, but it’s now on Amazon Prime, so I will definitely be catching up with it soon. Sounds like a hoot.
Sound of Freedom – The little Angel Studios thriller that could, this sucker cleaned up at the box office and garnered bizarre conspiracy theories about its support of conspiracy theories, but I will definitely catch up with it at some point.
The Boy and the Heron – Hayao Miyazaki has returned from retirement (again) and while I don’t know anything about it other than its director and the title, that’s enough to make me want to see it.
Jules – I’m going with “modern-day Cocoon” to describe this one, but it’s probably better than that sounds.
The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial – RIP William Friedkin… his final film sounds interesting enough and I definitely want to check it out.
Dream Scenario – High concept Nicolas Cage flick about a guy who starts showing up in everyone’s dreams. Sounds interesting!
Past Lives – An art house favorite that came out early in the year, but still seems to have some buzz around it.
Return to Seoul – A film that appeared on many critics best-of lists last year, but wasn’t really available to watch in the US until this year.
AKA – Alban Lenoir is a French action star that I know from the Lost Bullet movies (both of which are great fun) and this is his latest. It’s on Netflix, so why not check it out? (This approach worked well for those Lost Bullet movies, also on Netflix)
Pathaan – I saw a clip from this Indian action flick on Twitter the other day and, yes, I will watch this.
Full Time – I learned about this one from John Waters’ best of 2023 list (his lists are always edifying). He describes this as being about: “a normal single-mother hotel worker and whether she’ll get to work on time” and I’m sold.
Miscellaneous, Genre, Mutant Fam, etc…
The Toxic Avenger – Can a remake of the crude, schlocky 1984 masterpiece even begin to approach the original? I guess we’ll find out (and early indications are that it’s great). The involvement of Macon Blair and others in the production are certainly encouraging. As of yet, no idea when this will be released (it could very well be a 2024 release).
The Artifice Girl – Micro-budget SF about AI that sounds right up my alley. Whether or not I end up liking this, it’s exactly the sort of movie I write posts like this for: I never would have even known this existed if I didn’t explicitly seek out 2023 movies to catch up on…
Lola – Another Micro-budget SF movie (this one about time travel) that I never would have known about if I wasn’t going through this exercise. Looking forward to catching up with this.
The Conference – German slasher movie set at a corporate retreat? Sure, why not?
Sisu – This Finnish WWII action flick actually got a push in theaters early this year and I’m not sure how I didn’t catch up with it back then, but I didn’t, so I feel like I need to catch up with this one…
We Kill for Love – A documentary about the obscure sub-genre of the erotic thriller that had a moment in the early 90s (mostly with DTV, cable, and VHS, but which also broke into the mainstream for a bit). Discovered this when the director was interviewed on the Bulwark Goes to Hollywood podcast. Definitely an interesting interview and it makes me want to watch the movie.
Late Night with the Devil – Low budget horror movie about a TV broadcast that unleashes evil or somesuch starring David Dastmalchian. Not sure if this will come out in time for 2023, but it appears that it will be a Shudder release at some point.
Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person – Goofy sorta premise about a vampire who is too sensitive to kill running into a suicidal guy that could save her life. Could be fun! That being said, I have no idea when this is actually coming out.
Blackout – Larry Fessenden’s take on werewolves is another movie I’m not sure will come out in time for 2023, but it sounds interesting and I’ve heard good things about it, even if Fessenden is another hit-or-miss filmmaker for me…
Phew, that’s a lot of 2023 movie releases to catch-up with, though as noted, several are not likely to be released in time.