After Parasite won the Palme d’Or in Cannes, topped countless critics’ best-of-2019 lists, and then won four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, Bong Joon Ho’s follow-up would become—practically by default—the most-anticipated film of any year in which he chose to release it. No pressure, Director Bong, but that year is here. Starring Robert Pattinson and featuring Steven Yeun, Naomi Ackie, Toni Collette, and Mark Ruffalo, Mickey 17, based on Edward Ashton’s 2022 novel Mickey7, will open on March 29.
Ashton conjures a future in which humans have abandoned their home planet to colonize extrasolar worlds. On the spaceship Drakkar, Mickey Barnes is the Expendable, the crew member assigned all the necessary but life-threatening tasks. If the job does indeed kill him, the other crew members can simply decant into a clone the latest batch of memories Mickey periodically uploads. A new Mickey with a new number becomes the new Expendable. Writing for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Gerry Canavan suggests that “the cruel metaphor of the Expendable as a figure for the way our toxic moment of hypercapitalism deforms and abuses its workers could produce in Bong’s hands cinematic moods ranging from slapstick comedy to deeply disturbing dread, to say nothing of the possibility of just careening back and forth between the two the way Parasite did.”
This year will likely see the return of two major Chinese filmmakers six years after their last fictional features. Jia Zhangke (Ash Is Purest White) has been working on We Shall Be All, which he calls a “dismantling of dystopia,” since 2001. Zhao Tao stars as a woman living on her own through the first two decades of the twenty-first century. Bi Gan (Long Day’s Journey into Night) has cast Jackson Yee and Shu Qi in Resurrection, the story of a woman whose consciousness falls into an “eternal time zone” while undergoing surgery. In her dreams, she finds and begins to reanimate an android’s corpse.
While he’s made several short films, Qiu Sheng, too, hasn’t completed a feature since 2018, when Suburban Birds screened in Locarno and then as part of that year’s New Directors/New Films. In 2019, he told Daniel Eagan at Filmmaker that he’d written the screenplay for My Father’s Son, in which a young man wanders a city after his father dies. Last summer, Qiu was finally able to wrap the shoot. “It has an interesting structure,” Qiu told Eagan, “maybe more daring than Suburban Birds.”
We’ll probably see two features from Kiyoshi Kurosawa this year. With Chime, starring Mutsuo Yoshioka as a schoolteacher woken by a sound that fills him with dread, Kurosawa aims to “shock the viewer and leave them with a strong sense of fear after watching it,” he says. “Also, it doesn’t fit into genres like horror or suspense. That’s the aim of this work: a crazy movie, a movie that’s out of this world.” Last fall, Kurosawa wrapped production on Le chemin du serpent, an adaptation of his 1998 thriller, The Serpent’s Path, in which a man teams up with a mysterious woman to exact revenge for the killing of his daughter. Starring Ko Shibasaki, Damien Bonnard, and Mathieu Amalric, the new version was shot in France.
France Out Front
With new films on the way from Leos Carax, Audrey Diwan, and Olivier Assayas, 2024 could well turn out to be a banner year for French cinema. For It’s Not Me, Carax reteams with Denis Levant, who reprises his role as the id-driven, sewer-dwelling Monsieur Merde—first introduced in Tokyo! (2008) and revived in Holy Motors (2012)—as well as with cinematographer Caroline Champetier and production designer Florian Sanson, both of whom worked on Holy Motors and Annette (2021). Carax will look back on his four-decade-long career in what’s been described as a “cut-up” and a “free-form film.”
Diwan, who won the Golden Lion in Venice for Happening (2021), has been working on a new adaptation of Emmanuelle Arsan’s 1967 erotic novel Emmanuelle, the book that launched a trilogy of soft-core movies in the 1970s starring Sylvia Kristel. Diwan’s version is cowritten with Rebecca Zlotowski (Other People’s Children) and stars Noémie Merlant—who has just shot her second feature, The Balconettes, a horror comedy cowritten with Céline Sciamma, who directed Merlant in Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019). In The Balconettes, Merlant directs herself, Souheila Yacoub, and Sanda Codreanu as three roommates who ingratiate themselves into the lives of their neighbors during a heat wave in Marseille.
At the moment, all we know about Hors du temps is that Olivier Assayas was shooting it in April with cinematographer Eric Gautier and Vincent Macaigne, who played the anxiety-ridden director in Irma Vep (2022). We know much more about Spectateurs, in which Arnaud Desplechin returns to the childhood of his alter ego, Paul Dédalus, to tell the story of how a young cinephile became a director. A blend of fiction and nonfiction, Spectateurs will feature Mathieu Amalric, Françoise Lebrun, Micha Lescot, Salif Cissé, Olga Milshtein, and Milo Machado Graner, the young actor who played Daniel, the son of Sandra and Samuel in Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall.
Here’s another eye-catching cast: Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Melvil Poupaud, Nicole Garcia, Fabrice Luchini, and Benjamin Biolay. Christophe Honoré’s French-Italian production has two titles, Près des yeux, près du coeur and O sole mio. Mastroianni decides to revive the memory of her father by dressing like him and insisting on being called Marcello. Even after everyone around her has had a good laugh and is ready to move on, Mastroianni sticks to her new identity.
Isabelle Huppert plays Lucie, a cop on the verge of retirement, in My New Friends, the twenty-eighth feature from André Téchiné. When Lucie befriends a family that moves in next door, she struggles with her conscience when she learns that the father is an anti-police activist with a criminal record. Marion Cotillard, in the meantime, stars in Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s La tour de glace as an actress playing the Snow Queen in a major production. She meets a fifteen-year-old orphan and takes her under her wing.
Bruno Dumont directs Virginie Efira, Lily-Rose Depp, Camille Cottin, Lyna Khoudri, Anamaria Vartolomei, and Fabrice Luchini in The Empire, which distributor ARP Selection calls a “caustic, cruel, and crazy vision of Star Wars.” Aliens land on the Opal Coast in northern France and disrupt the lives of characters Dumont introduced in his 2014 miniseries P’tit Quinquin.
Sandrine Kiberlain leads the cast of Julie Delpy’s seventh feature, Les barbares, the story of a tiny town in Brittany preparing to welcome refugees from Ukraine. Turns out, the refugees arrive from Syria. Returning to his village in south-central France to attend an old friend’s funeral, Jérémie (Félix Kysyl) becomes a target of rumor and suspicion in Alain Guiraudie’s Miséricorde. In Dao, the sixth feature from Alain Gomis (Rewind & Play), a woman who has just seen her father consecrated as an ancestor in Guinea-Bissau attends her daughter’s wedding in Paris.
Richard Linklater has vague plans to shoot a feature at some point in Paris—and in French—while Jim Jarmusch’s Parisian project is already underway. Father Mother Sister Brother, starring Cate Blanchett, quietly began shooting in New Jersey last fall and will move to the French capital early this year. Jarmusch calls it “a funny and sad film.”
Elsewhere in Europe
With The Sparrow in the Chimney, Swiss twins Ramon and Silvan Zürcher will complete the loose trilogy of chamber pieces begun with The Strange Little Cat (2013) and The Girl and the Spider (2021). Starring Maren Eggert, a frequent collaborator with Angela Schanelec, the new film is anchored in a house in the country where two families collide.
The hit series Babylon Berlin has kept Tom Tykwer away from directing features for several years, but he’ll be back in October with The Light, a portrait of a family whose world is turned upside down when they take in a Syrian maid (Tala al Deen). Lars Eidinger and Nicolette Krebitz lead the cast.
Other German features on the way include Thomas Arslan’s Verbrannte Erde, in which Trojan (Mišel Matičević), the gangster first seen in Im Schatten (2010), returns to Berlin; Natja Brunckhorst’s comedy Zwei zu eins, starring Sandra Hüller (Anatomy of a Fall), Max Riemelt (Sense8), and Ronald Zehrfeld (Phoenix) as friends who discover a stash of East German marks in 1990; Christoph Hochhäusler’s La mort viendra, featuring Sophie Verbeeck as a hired killer who becomes a target herself; and Pia Marais’s Transamazonia, in which a young miracle healer and her missionary father are drawn into the escalating conflict between an indigenous tribe and illegal loggers.
Set in Naples, Paolo Sorrentino’s Parthenope takes its title from the woman whose story begins with her birth in 1950 and carry on to the present. In Greek mythology, Parthenope was a siren who threw herself into the sea when her song failed to entice Odysseus. Sorrentino’s Parthenope is “neither siren nor myth,” he says. “Her long life embodies the full repertoire of human existence: youth’s lightheartedness and its demise, classical beauty and its inexorable permutations, pointless and impossible loves, stale flirtations and dizzying passion, night-time kisses on Capri, flashes of joy and persistent suffering, real and invented fathers, endings, and new beginnings.”
Luca Guadagnino’s Queer, based on the 1985 novel by William S. Burroughs, stars Daniel Craig as Lee, an American who flees New Orleans in the 1940s for Mexico City, where he falls for an addict sailor (Drew Starkey). Julian Schnabel’s In the Hand of Dante, an adaptation of Nick Tosches’s 2002 novel, is an American-Italian production starring Oscar Isaac, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Gerard Butler, John Malkovich, Franco Nero, and Al Pacino. Shot in Sicily, Venice, Verona, and Rome, the film interweaves two stories. In the fourteenth century, Dante struggles to complete The Divine Comedy, and in the autumn of 2001, Tosches is called on to verify the authenticity of the original manuscript.
Two outstanding Georgian directors preparing new films have both won the FIPRESCI Prize—Dea Kulumbegashvili in Toronto for Beginning (2020) and Alexandre Koberidze in Berlin for What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? (2021). In Kulumbegashvili’s Those Who Find Me, an obstetrician-gynecologist is accused of negligence, and in Koberidze’s Dry Leaf, a photographer who shoots soccer stadiums goes missing.
Across the Channel
Mike Leigh is famously adept at keeping details about projects he’s working on secret until he’s good and ready to go public with them. The new feature he shot last summer might be called Hard Truths, and it might “explore family relationships in the post-pandemic world.”
Andrea Arnold, too, is keeping quiet. All we know about Bird is that Barry Keoghan left Ridley Scott’s Gladiator sequel to be in it and that his costar is Franz Rogowski, who tells IndieWire’s Ryan Lattanzio that “the atmosphere was quite different from what I’ve experienced so far. She would wait for the right moment to come, like a hunter, for hours and hours to wait for a bunch of kids to calm down until they could walk across a meadow and own the meadow and be in their own territory instead of being forced to pretend to do something naturally. And that’s her message.”
Saoirse Ronan and Harris Dickinson lead the ensemble cast of Steve McQueen’s Blitz, which is set during the fifty-seven days and nights of the German bombardment of London during the Second World War. “We wanted to get in the details,” McQueen told Variety’s Manori Ravindran last May. “For example, was it raining? Well, what kind of rain? Those kinds of small things that seem to be so incidental but are a huge part of how people think and act and react.”
Playwright and screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz, who worked with McQueen on the 2020 anthology series Small Axe, shot her directorial debut last summer. Hot Milk, starring Emma Mackey, Fiona Shaw, and Vicky Krieps, is an adaptation of Deborah Levy’s 2016 novel about a woman in her midtwenties who takes her ailing mother to a clinic in Spain and then drops in on her estranged father in Athens. We Live in Time, directed by John Crowley (Brooklyn) and starring Andrew Garfield and Florence Pugh, has been described as a “funny, deeply moving, and immersive love story.”
Back in August, Lynne Ramsay told Variety’s Jessica Kiang that she was working with Jennifer Lawrence on Die, My Love, an adaptation of Argentinian writer Ariana Harwicz’s 2012 novel about a woman in rural France struggling with postpartum depression. “I think it’s funny,” said Ramsay. “But I’m Glaswegian, so I’ve a really black sense of humor.”
In November, Peter Greenaway told Screen’s Geoffrey Macnab that, after spending around two years shooting Walking to Paris, he now has a two-hour cut “of which I am completely satisfied” sitting in a lab in Rome “waiting to be post-produced.” Emun Elliott plays sculptor Constantin Brâncuși, who made the 1,500-mile journey from central Romania to Paris on foot at the dawn of the twentieth century. Last month, Greenaway shot Lucca Mortis, starring Dustin Hoffman as a writer who leaves New York after 9/11 to reconnect with his Italian roots. “The film is very much about the modern condition and notions of death and dying,” says Greenaway.
The biggest gamble of the year is undoubtedly Megalopolis, a vision of a possible future that Francis Ford Coppola has been dreaming of making for the past forty years. He’s spent $100 million of his own money making it, and the cast is led by Adam Driver and features Forest Whitaker, Jon Voight, Laurence Fishburne, Aubrey Plaza, Shia LaBeouf, Kathryn Hunter, Dustin Hoffman, Talia Shire, Jason Schwartzman, and Giancarlo Esposito. Coppola says that the story of an attempt to rebuild New York City as a fully realized utopia is inspired by the Roman Empire, and Mike Figgis, who is directing a documentary about the film’s making, describes Megalopolis as “Julius Caesar meets Blade Runner.” About a year ago, Coppola told Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. that the “look of the film is exactly what I dreamed.”
A decade after winning a string of top awards for his documentaries The Act of Killing (2012) and The Look of Silence (2014), Joshua Oppenheimer returns with his first fictional feature. Tilda Swinton, George MacKay, Moses Ingram, and Michael Shannon star in The End, a musical set in a palatial bunker where a family avoids discussing their role in bringing about the end of the world twenty years before. Swinton, by the way, has mentioned that she’s lined up projects with Pedro Almodóvar and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, though we probably won’t see either of those films until next year.
Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse) first announced that he intended to remake F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922) back in the summer of 2015. Finally set to open on Christmas Day, the new Nosferatu features Nicholas Hoult, Bill Skarsgård, Lily-Rose Depp, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Emma Corrin, Ralph Ineson, Simon McBurney, and Willem Dafoe, who recently told IndieWire’s Kate Erbland that he’d seen “some footage when we were shooting, and I can honestly say, visually, it was unlike anything I have seen.” Eggers’s brothers, Max and Sam, have shot their debut feature, The Front Room, an adaptation of Susan Hill’s short story about a Christian family who opens their home to the homeless. One guest poses a threat—even after her death. The cast features Brandy Norwood, Kathryn Hunter, and Andrew Burnap.
Nicholas Hoult is in for a busy year on the PR circuit. In Clint Eastwood’s Juror No. 2, he’ll play a man deliberating over whether or not to divulge a bit of information that could determine the outcome of a murder trial. The cast features Toni Collette as the prosecutor, Chris Messina as the public defender, Zoey Deutch as the man’s wife, and Kiefer Sutherland as his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor. Hoult will play the charismatic leader of a band of domestic terrorists in Justin Kurzel’s The Order, which is based on Kevin Flynn’s 2018 book The Silent Brotherhood: Inside America’s Racist Underground.The Order stars Jude Law as an FBI agent and also features Tye Sheridan and Marc Maron.
First announced in 2018, Brady Corbet’s The Brutalist finally wrapped production last May. Adrien Brody stars as László Tóth, a Hungarian architect and Holocaust survivor who emigrates to the U.S. with his wife (Felicity Jones) and takes a job offer from a wealthy but mysterious client (Guy Pearce). In Echo Valley, directed by Michael Pearce (Beast), Julianne Moore plays a horse trainer whose daughter (Sydney Sweeney) shows up at her Pennsylvania farm covered in someone else’s blood.
With Mother Mary, David Lowery will give us Anne Hathaway as a pop star entangled in a romantic relationship with a fashion designer played by Michaela Coel, the brilliant mind behind I May Destroy You (2020). Amy Adams stars in Nightbitch, Marielle Heller’s adaptation of Rachel Yoder’s 2021 novel about a conceptual artist forced to stay home and care for her two-year-old. After a while, she becomes convinced that she’s turning into a dog.
Way back in 2008, Lance Hammer’s debut feature, Ballast, premiered at Sundance, where it won awards for Best Director and Best Cinematography. Hammer then “went quiet,” as Deadline’s Andreas Wiseman puts it, but last spring he shot Queen at Sea, starring Juliette Binoche as a woman who moves to London to care for her mother. RaMell Ross (Hale County This Morning, This Evening) wrapped production on The Nickel Boys late in 2022. Adapting Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, Ross tells the story of a young Black boy sent to a reform school in the 1960s after being falsely accused of a crime.
Alex Ross Perry (Her Smell) has been working on a documentary about video stores for ten years and seems to be in no hurry to finish it. His experimental hybrid portrait of the band Pavement, though, may find its way into theaters in one form or another this year. “We haven’t started narrativizing the ’90s yet,” said Perry recently. “We haven’t really delved into that era and asked what it was and what it meant, but it’s my time.”
M. Night Shyamalan says Trap will be a “psychological thriller set at a concert” and “very unusual and very new compared to what I’ve been trying to do.” Shyamalan is also producing The Watchers, the debut feature from his daughter, Ishana. Starring Dakota Fanning and based on A. M. Shine’s novel, The Watchers tracks an artist into an Irish forest, where she’s trapped by mysterious creatures.
In Faces of Death, directed by Daniel Goldhaber (How to Blow Up a Pipeline), a content moderator for a website comes across a series of videos reenacting the gruesome last moments seen in the original home-video hit, Faces of Death, from 1978. Other scary movies heading our way are Weapons, starring Pedro Pascal and Renate Reinsve and directed by Zach Cregger (Barbarian), and MaXXXine, which will tie up Ti West’s trilogy of slashers starring Mia Goth.
Three top-notch directors will give us films we might not have expected from them. Ethan Coen’s Drive-Away Dolls, opening next month, is a comedic road movie starring Margaret Qualley, Geraldine Viswanathan, Beanie Feldstein, Colman Domingo, Pedro Pascal, and Matt Damon. “If Joel explored the serious side of the Coens’ oeuvre in his solo joint The Tragedy of Macbeth,” writes the Los Angeles Times’s Mark Olsen, “it seems that Ethan will be leaning into the ridiculous, absurdist aspects of their work.” Barry Jenkins has directed Mufasa: The Lion King for Disney, and Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) has wrapped Twisters, a sequel to Jon de Bont’s 1996 hit, Twister.
After three Ocean’s movies, Brad Pitt and George Clooney are reteaming for Jon Watts’s Wolfs, a thriller costarring Amy Ryan in which two professional fixers are hired for the same job. “We’re already talking about a sequel,” Clooney tells Mike Fleming Jr. “It was a great shoot and Jon is an extraordinarily talented guy who’s also really joyful. He loves what he does. We had a blast doing it and we’ve seen it. It’s an off the charts great film and it’s fun to work with Brad again.”
Talking to Screen’s Wendy Mitchell last week, Celine Song warned that much of the online speculation regarding Materialists, the follow-up to her debut feature, Past Lives, is inaccurate. All that producer Christine Vachon had to say about Materialists when talking to GQ’s Raymond Ang recently was that it “feels like [Song] makes a different movie every time, that she’s going to be the kind of a filmmaker who doesn’t make the same movie twice.”
The trade-favored phrase “plot details remain under wraps” applies as well to Sean Baker’s Anora, which was shot early last year in Brooklyn and stars Mikey Madison. Another mystery film to get excited about is Me from the ingenious animator Don Hertzfeldt (It’s Such a Beautiful Day, World of Tomorrow).
North and South of the Borders
In David Cronenberg’s The Shrouds, Vincent Cassel plays a grieving widower who builds a device that helps people communicate with the dead. Diane Kruger, who plays multiple roles, recently said that The Shrouds “might be his most personal film, because it talks about him and the passing of his wife.” In 2021, Caitlin Cronenberg made a short film with her father, The Death of David Cronenberg, and we now await the release of her debut feature, Humane, in which the world’s population is to be forcibly reduced following an environmental collapse.
Guy Maddin and Evan and Galen Johnson shot Rumors with Cate Blanchett in October, and so far, that’s all we know. Unlike Maddin and Cronenberg, Paul Schrader is not Canadian, but in Oh, Canada, an adaptation of Russell Banks’s 2021 novel Foregone, Richard Gere plays an American who has started a new life in Montreal. Known for his left-leaning documentaries, Gere’s Leonard Fife, dying of cancer, aims to confess to a lifetime’s worth of lies.
Mexican filmmaker Alonso Ruizpalacios (A Cop Story) directs Rooney Mara in La cocina, which captures the rush of working in the kitchen of a New York restaurant. In August, Karim Aïnouz returned to Brazil to shoot Motel Destino, which he says is the story of “the love between a peripheral young man who lives against a system that wants him dead and a woman who resists the attacks of patriarchy against her own life.”
The team behind Poor Things—director Yorgos Lanthimos and actors Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe, and Margaret Qualley—shot the anthology film Kinds of Kindness in New Orleans at the end of 2022. Cowritten with frequent collaborator Efthymis Filippou, the film also features Joe Alwyn, Jesse Plemons, Hong Chau, and Hunter Schafer. Lanthimos’s partner, Ariane Labed, is currently editing her first feature, an adaptation of Daisy Johnson’s 2021 novel, Sisters. “It’s a story about two sisters who have a kind of toxic relationship,” Labed tells Vince Medeiros at Little White Lies. “The novel is a bit gothic as well . . . it starts as a teenage coming of age kind of film—and then it goes somewhere else.”
Two Chilean directors have been working abroad on their latest projects. Sebastián Lelio directs Andrew Garfield and Daisy Edgar-Jones in Voyagers, the story of astronomer Carl Sagan and documentarian Ann Druyan, who fell in love while working on NASA’s Golden Record project in 1977. Pablo Larraín shot Maria in Paris, Greece, Budapest, and Milan. Angelina Jolie portrays legendary soprano Maria Callas as she lives out her final years in the 1970s.
Since 2022, when Russia lifted the travel ban imposed on him, Kirill Serebrennikov has been staging operas and plays in various European capitals and shooting Disappearance in Latvia and Uruguay. August Diehl stars as the notorious Nazi doctor Josef Mengele during his years on the run from Paraguay to the jungles of Brazil. In the spring, Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev (Leviathan) will shoot Jupiter in Spain and France. Centering on a Russian oligarch, the film will explore “the nature of absolute power,” says Zvyagintsev.
Miguel Gomes’s Grand Tour opens in Burma in 1917 and will follow Edward, a civil servant for the British Empire, as he travels all across Asia, fleeing his fiancée. In Abderrahmane Sissako’s The Perfumed Hill, it’s the woman who ditches her prospective spouse on their wedding day. Joice leaves the Ivory Coast for China, where she takes a job in a tea boutique and finds herself warming up to the owner.
And then, of course, there’s the latest installment in the ultimate road movie series launched forty-five years ago with Mad Max. In George Miller’s Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, a prequel to Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), Anya Taylor-Joy plays the future warrior Imperator Furiosa, who is snatched from her family by a marauding gang of bikers led by Warlord Dementus (Chris Hemsworth). “The question is,” says the Warlord in the trailer, speaking for all of us: “Do you have it in you to make it epic?”
Sundance, Berlin, and Beyond
In just over two weeks, Sundance will host the premieres of films by Steven Soderbergh, Jane Schoenbrun, Rose Glass, Nathan Silver, Jesse Eisenberg, and dozens of other directors. By January 22, we can expect the lineup for the Berlinale to be complete. When the festival’s seventy-fourth edition wraps on February 25, Paul Thomas Anderson will have begun shooting his next feature, which we likely won’t see before 2025.
Next year may also finally bring us Terrence Malick’s biblical epic—according to Little White Lies, the title has changed from The Way of the Wind to The Last Planet—but who knows? Claire Denis is presumably still preparing to shoot in Cameroon, and Todd Haynes has been talking about working with Joaquin Phoenix on a story set in the 1930s as well as an adaptation of Sarah Waters’s 2014 novel The Paying Guests.