What’s Next: Movies for Fall 2023
Posted on September 1, 2023 at 10:00 am
Happy fall! The season of superheroes and car chases is over, and it’s time for some of the movies we will probably see at awards time. A few films, including “Dune 2,” have been delayed due to the continuing SAG-AFTRA/WAG strike. But there is still plenty to look forward to. Here are some of the films I’m most excited about.
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding”
The Portokalos family is back and this time they’re going to Greece to connect with their roots. Nia Vardelos wrote and directed what looks like another heartwarming comedy.
There was this company called GameStop. They were in shopping malls and they sold video games. A bunch of ultra- rich Wall Street guys shorted the stock, meaning that if the company went bankrupt, they would make more billions of dollars. Normally, that would work. But “a bunch of millennial misfits” (according to the excellent documentary, “Eat the Rich: The GameStop Saga“), with new access to both technology (an options trading app) and time (the pandemic), decided it was Opposite Day, and they would invest not because of what market indicators were pointing to, but just to mess with the billionaires. This film has a powerhouse cast, including Paul Dano, Pete Davidson, Seth Rogen, America Ferrera, Shailene Woodley, Sebastian Stan, Nick Offerman, and Vincent D’Onofrio.
“A Haunting in Venice”
Sir Kenneth Branagh is back as Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, with Oscar-winner Michelle Yeoh as a medium who Jamie Dornan and his “Belfast” co-star Jude Hill, Kelly Reilly, Camille Cottin, and Tina Fey as Adrienne Oliver, the mystery novelist character Agatha Christie based on herself.
“A Million Miles Away”
The story of NASA flight engineer José Hernández inspired this film about a family of proud migrant farm workers on a decades-long journey, from a rural village in Michoacán, Mexico, to the fields of the San Joaquin Valley, to more than 200 miles above the Earth in the International Space Station.
“She Came to Me”
Peter Dinklage stars as an opera composer struggling to create his next piece. His wife, played by Anne Hathaway, is a therapist who loves to clean. He meets a tugboat captain played by Marisa Tomei, and that gives him an idea for the opera…and a possible stalker. Plus, a new song from Bruce Springsteen!
This is a supernatural romance with Bobbi Salvör Menuez (“Euphoria”) as a secluded young woman living with an inherited curse Amandla Stenberg (“Bodies Bodies Bodies”) as the rebellious love interest who will discover how dangerous the relationship will be.
“Flora and Son”
I’m a huge fan of filmmaker John Carney (“Once,” “Begin Again,” “Sing Street”), whose movies always have a deep love for music and musicians. I am really looking forward to this one, with Eve Hewson as a young mother of a sulky teenager who find a way to connect through music. “Sing Street’s” Jack Reynor plays the boy’s father, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is her online guitar tutor. Hewson knows something about the world of musicians; her father is Bono.
“The Pigeon Tunnel”
Spy-turned spy novelist John le Carré (real name David John Moore Cornwall) is interviewed by legendary documentarian Errol Morris, a perfect fit, as they are two men who have spent their lives thinking about secrets.
Worried about AI? This will make you worry even more. In the apocalyptic future of this story, AI has gone rogue and is on the way to wiping out humanity. If anyone can save us, I’d bet on John David Washington.
“Dicks: The Musical”
Yes, that is really the title. And the director is Larry Charles, of “Seinfeld” and the Borat and Brüno movies. And it stars Nathan Lane, Megan Mullally, Megan Thee Stallion, and Bowen Yang. And it’s something about…a kind of “Parent Trap”-type story? With puppets called The Sewer Boys.
Two of the world’s most talented and charismatic performers, Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal, star in a movie about a couple who live quietly on land that has been in his father’s family for generations until a stranger arrives with a shocking offer in a “Black Mirror”-style tale of technology and identity.
Fall may be for serious movies, but hey, there’s always room for action, especially if it stars John Cena. In “Freelance” he is a divorced dad in a boring law job, but of course he’s also ex-special ops, and he agrees to keep a journalist (Alison Brie) safe on a reporting trip to interview a dictator.
Two-time Oscar-winner Hillary Swank plays a self-described mess who decides that she has a purpose in life — to help a family she’s never met get the transplant their little girl desperately needs.
“Killers of the Flower Moon”
One of the most eagerly anticipated films of the year is Martin Scorsese’s 3 1/2-hour epic adaptation of David Grann’s book about the real-life murder of Osage Indians in the early 1920s. No one paid much attention to the Osage until they discovered oil on their land and a lot of money was going to to to them or to anyone who got them out of the way. The cast includes Scorsese favorites Robert DeNiro and Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as John Lithgow, Yancey Red Corn, Jesse Clemons, Brendan Fraser, and Tantoo Cardinal.
“What Happens Later”
Meg Ryan directs and stars with David Duchovny in a bittersweet story of exes to find themselves stuck at the airport.
Alexander Payne reunites with his “Sideways” star Paul Giamatti for this story of an autocratic and disliked boarding school teacher stuck with the unhappy students who have nowhere else to go for the winter holidays.
Producer Barack Obama (yes, that Obama) is behind this biopic about one of the key figures of the Civil Rights Movement, Bayard Rustin, played by Colman Domingo. Rustin worked with A. Philip Randolph on the 1941 March on Washington Movement to press for an end to racial discrimination in employment. He later organized Freedom Rides, and helped to organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He advocated for civil rights, workers’ rights, gay rights, and the rights of Soviet Jews. “Rustin’s” director is George C. Wolfe (director of many Broadway plays and films including “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) and the cast includes Aml Ameen as the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., Glynn Turman as A. Philip Randolph, Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Mahalia Jackson, Jeffrey Wright (who played MLK in “Boycott”) as Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, and Chris Rock as Roy Wilkins, along with CCH Pounder and Audra McDonald. Obama posthumously awarded Bayard Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, and this movie is sure to be a meaningful tribute.
Awkwafina and Sandra Oh star as a gameshow-obsessed woman and her estranged sister, who have to work together to help cover their mother’s gambling debts. What better way to make some money than a game show? And what better actor to play a game show host than Will Ferrell?
Brie Larson is just one of the Marvels in this superhero story bringing together Carol Danvers with Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) and Kamala Khan (the adorable Iman Vellani). Of course Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and the Flerken named Goose that looks like a cat are there to provide back-up. What do I always say about the villain being the key to a good superhero movie? Well, we’ve got Zawe Ashton as Dar-Ben. Sisters are doin’ it for themselves!
Director Todd Haynes always has a provocative take on the gaps between our public and private personas. In “May/December,” Julianne Moore plays a woman who had sex with her 13-year-old student. That was years ago, they are still together, living in a lovely home financed by their appearances on tabloid news shows. Their child is about to graduate from high school as an actress (Natalie Portman) has arrived because she is going to play Moore’s character in a movie based on the story.
“Next Goal Wins”
Taika Waititi (“Thor: Ragnarock,” “Jojo Rabbit”) is not going to give us the usual underdog sports story. And it’s not “Ted Lasso.” This is based on the real-life Samoan team known for a brutal 2001 FIFA match they lost 31-0. Michael Fassbender plays the coach brought in to get them to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, or just to get one goal. To learn more, watch the documentary of the same name.
“Showdown at the Grand”
A movie theater owner (Terrence Howard) and an action star (Dolph Lundgren) join forces to save the business from developers in this commentary on and love letter to action movies.
The last time Bradley Cooper wrote, directed, and starred in a film, it was the smash remake “A Star is Born.” The triple threat is back with “Maestro,” the story of musical genius Leonard Bernstein, a brilliant conductor and composer. Carey Mulligan co-stars as his wife Felicia.
Ridley Scott directs this epic story of an epic life, with Joaquin Phoenix as the emperor turned exile and Vanessa Kirby as his wife, Josephine.
No one knows more about wishes and magic than Disney, and after a couple of less-than-great films, this one looks like a return to the classic era, with a terrific voice cast: Chris Pine as the evil king, Oscar-winner Ariana Dubs as the heroine, and Alan Tudyk, as, I’m guessing, the goat?