January 15, 2024
Here we are at the top of the year with nothing to do but look ahead to what awaits us. As always, there’s so much on paper that looks appetizing, with just as many more still unknown. Some of the movies on this list should have come out last, and some of these still might not come out until 2025. The double WGA-SAG strikes have put a dent in the normal flow of business, with the only remedy being time. Everything is a guessing game, a fun one nonetheless.
This takes us to the first ground rule for this list, which is that there must be some sort of verifiable evidence that a film is going to be released this year. It either must be in production, post-production, completed, or even mentioned in a reputable article that it’s on its way. We also won’t count films that have already been seen in public, whether that’s at festivals or theatrical releases in other territories.
Join me as I delve into the most anticipated movies of 2024, each poised to leave an indelible mark on the cinematic landscape. Get ready to navigate the sea of upcoming releases that promise to redefine the art of storytelling and captivate audiences worldwide.
C’est Pas Moi (dir. Leos Carax)
Juror #2 (dir. Clint Eastwood)
In the Hands of Dante (dir. Julian Schnabel)
Civil War (dir. Alex Garland)
Wolfs (dir. Jon Watts)
Emanuelle (dir. Audrey Diwan)
24. Rebel Ridge
Writer/director Jeremy Saulnier reteams with Netflix for another tense and violent thriller. Aaron Pierre (Foe), Don Johnson, James Badge Dale, and James Cromwell lead the cast in this small-town conspiracy actioner that follows an ex-marine taking on a group of dirty cops. Saulnier’s last film was Hold the Dark in 2018, with his earlier films, Blue Ruin and Green Room, netting him some serious acclaim. Expect this to hit the fall festivals.
23. The Shrouds
Even at the age of 80, David Cronenberg hasn’t lost an ounce of energy. He’s recently finished production on his follow-up to 2022’s Crimes of the Future, with the most likely landing spot being this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Diane Kruger will feature in three roles, with Vincent Cassel starring as a wealthy widower who builds a machine to connect with the dead.
22. The Rivals of Amziah King
Writer/director Andrew Patterson made one of the best directorial debuts of the past few years with 2020’s The Vast of Night. He’s both writing and directing his follow-up, which is a crime thriller starring Matthew McConaughey as the titular character. The plot is still under wraps, with filming finishing last year in Oklahoma. Kurt Russell and Rob Morgan also star.
Andrew Garfield and Daisy Edgar-Jones reteam after Under the Banner of Heaven for this biopic directed by Sebastián Lelio (A Fantastic Woman, Gloria Bell). Garfield will play Carl Sagan, with Edgar-Jones as Cosmos filmmaker Ann Druyan. Before the pair married, they worked together on The Golden Record, the ultimate message of humanity to extraterrestrial life for the 1977 NASA interstellar probe.
Robert Zemeckis is in desperate need of a hit, and this reteaming with Forrest Gump stars Tom Hanks and Robin Wright, as well as writer Eric Roth, seems to be his best chance yet. Based on the graphic novel of the same name, this ambitious yet intimate drama “covers the events of a single room and its inhabitants spanning from the past well into the future.” And it wouldn’t be a Zemeckis film without some sort of technical wizardry, with generative A.I. providing face swap and de-aging technology for the actors.
19. Horizon: An American Saga
Kevin Costner is going the Matrix and Rebel Moon route by releasing both parts of his Western epic within the same summer. Costner co-writes, produces, directs, and stars, with Sienna Miller, Sam Worthington, Jena Malone, and many more rounding the sizable cast. It’s been 20 years since Costner last directed (2003’s Open Range), so here’s hoping he’s still got the magic from Dances with Wolves in him.
Ron Howard has assembled one of his finest casts yet for this sprawling story of several people leaving society to converge on the Galapagos Islands. Jude Law, Vanessa Kirby, Ana de Armas, Sydney Sweeney, and Felix Kammerer comprise the group, with Tetris writer Noah Pink penning the script. Distribution is still up for grabs, with the best possible scenario being that it doesn’t go to Amazon after they executed an insulting release for his excellent Thirteen Lives just a few years ago.
17. Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
My faith in George Miller is enough to overcome the lackluster trailer for this Mad Max prequel. The 77-year-old Australian director is fearless when it comes to the desert, with Anya Taylor-Joy and Chris Hemsworth venturing out with him. The film will likely repeat the path of the 2015 film, bowing at Cannes before making a scene in theaters.
16. Gladiator 2
Ridley Scott is on a bit of a period-piece hot streak (I guess it depends on who you ask) between The Last Duel, House of Gucci, and Napoleon. He’s previously done the sequels for the Alien and The Silence of the Lambs franchises, and now he’s returning to one of his most famous properties: Gladiator. Paul Mescal plays the nephew of Joaquin Phoenix’s Commodus, with Denzel Washington and Pedro Pascal lending their movie star names to the cast.
15. Untitled Mike Leigh Film
After his last two films were period pieces (Mr. Turner and Peterloo), famed British director Mike Leigh is “returning to his ongoing exploration of the contemporary world with a tragicomic study of human strengths and weaknesses.” The film was originally set to film in 2020 before being delayed by the pandemic, finally starting and wrapping this past summer. Leigh has been a Cannes staple over the past several decades, so expect him to try and make a grand return to the Croisette.
Writer/director Gareth Evans is the mastermind behind the two The Raid films, both of which have a legitimate claim to be the best action movie of the past decade. Shot in 2021 and supposedly set to come this year, his latest action feature stars Tom Hardy as a “bruised detective who must fight his way through the criminal underworld to rescue a politician's estranged son, unraveling a deep web of corruption and conspiracy that ensnares his entire city.” Evans’ latest film was 2018’s Apostle from Netflix, and he’ll team up with the streamer again for distribution.
13. Mother Mary
As one of the first films to secure a production waiver during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike, David Lowery’s Mother Mary should be all set to bow this year. Anne Hathaway stars as a musician as we follow her relationship with a fashion designer, played by Michaela Coel. Hunter Schafer also stars in this A24 epic pop melodrama, with an original score and songs by Daniel Hart and Charli XCX.
Pablo Larraín concludes his biopic trilogy consisting of Jackie and Spencer by moving further east to Paris, specifically in the 1970s. Angelina Jolie stars as Maria Callas, one of the world’s greatest opera singers, during her final days in The City of Light. Spencer scribe Steven Knight returns to pen the script, and El Conde cinematographer Ed Lachman will stay behind the camera.
11. Mickey 17
Not much explanation is needed for the reason behind the hype for Bong Joon-ho’s follow-up to Parasite. The South Korean writer/director has been patient ever since hoisting the Academy Award for Best Picture, finally returning to Hollywood for an adaptation of Edward Ashton’s sci-fi novel. Robert Pattinson, Mark Ruffalo, Toni Collette, Steven Yeun, and Naomi Ackie are the on-screen talent; with Jung Jae-il (composer), Darius Khondji (cinematographer), and Jinmo Yang (editor) headlining the crew.
10. The Order
Assassin’s Creed aside, Australian director Justin Kurzel has crafted one of the most underrated filmographies of the past fifteen years. His striking visuals and bold direction lifted both Macbeth and Nitram into my Top 10 of their respective years, and that grittiness will only continue with his newest film. Nicholas Hoult plays an FBI agent tracking down a group of domestic terrorists robbing banks in the Pacific Northwest who are led by Jude Law. Kurzel has bowed his films at both Cannes and TIFF in the past, so a glitzy premiere at either location seems to be in the cards.
Between his first three features, Robert Eggers has proved himself to be a master of gothic horror, so it makes sense for him to tackle one of the most famous gothic characters in cinema history. A great cast comprised of Emma Corrin, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nicholas Hoult, Bill Skarsgård, Lily-Rose Depp, and Willem Dafoe has already featured in some kick-ass first-look images. With a planned Christmas Day release, here’s hoping for this to become the feel-bad movie of the holidays.
8. Dune: Part Two
While I respected and appreciated the first part more than I actually liked it, there’s never a moment where I’m not excited about a new Denis Villeneuve film. It also doesn’t hurt to have new cast additions in Florence Pugh, Austin Butler, Léa Seydoux, and Christopher Walken. Will this be the conclusion of Paul’s story, or be the second chapter in a trilogy? Either way, there’s so much to look forward to here.
After detours into television (Small Axe) and documentaries (Occupied City), director Steve McQueen is returning to feature filmmaking with a drama set during The Blitz bombing campaign of London in early WWII. Saoirse Ronan, Harris Dickinson, and Stephen Graham lead the ensemble cast. Cannes boss Thierry Frémaux presumably let it slip last year that the film was going to premiere at the 2024 edition of the festival, along with the fact that Apple will be making it their top awards priority.
I only need to read the logline to know that this film will be right up my alley: “It follows Cardinal Lomeli as he oversees the group of Cardinals responsible for selecting a new Church leader while trying to uncover a secret from the late Pontiff.” Ralph Fiennes, Stanley Tucci, John Lithgow, and Isabella Rosellini pack the cast, with All Quiet on the Western Front director Edward Berger at the helm, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy scribe Peter Straughan writing the screenplay.
5. The Brutalist
Brady Corbet made one of the most divisive films of 2018 with Vox Lux, which turned out to be one of my favorite films of that year. His next feature has been stuck in development limbo for years, finally breaking last year with a cast led by Adrien Brody as an architect who moves to America after WWII to rebuild his life and career. Felicity Jones plays his wife, with Guy Pearce, Joe Alwyn, and Raffey Cassidy also part of the cast. Based on Corbet’s previous works, there will definitely be more under the surface that won’t be revealed until the projectors start churning.
4. Joker: Folie à Deux
In a similar vein to Dune, the original Joker wasn’t one of my most beloved films of 2019. And yet; bringing back Joaquin Phoenix while adding Lady Gaga, and crafting this sequel in the form of a Liza Minnelli musical is too irresistible to ignore. While the majority of comic-book movies are cookie-cutter and forgettable, here’s something that sounds like it’s going to challenge its audience.
3. The Way of the Wind
Terrence Malicks’s upcoming film about the life of Jesus Christ makes its fourth consecutive appearance on this list (They shot this movie in 2019!). And to be honest, I’d say it’s more likely than not that it’ll be here again next year. Religion has always played a large role in Malick’s filmography, so the prospect of him going straight to the source will make for an unforgettable spiritual experience.
Sure, Francis Ford Coppola hasn’t made a decent movie in over 25 years. But when you’re the director of The Godfather trilogy, The Conversation, and Apocalypse Now, you get a free pass for life. He’s poured over $100 million of his own money into his likely final film, with a script he’s been trying to film for almost four years. Adam Driver, Aubrey Plaza, Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Fishburne, Forest Whitaker, Giancarlo Esposito, and Shia LaBeouf lead the cast. Driver supposedly plays the lead, an architect looking to rebuild New York City after a disaster. For better or for worse, this will be an experiment that any self-proclaimed cinephile has to witness.
1. Kinds of Kindness
Yorgos Lanthimos and Emma Stone aren’t letting the success of Poor Things slow down their collaborative process one bit, with the pair having already shot their third feature together this past year. Poor Things cast members Willem Dafoe and Margaret Qualley star alongside Jesse Plemons, Hunter Schafer, Hong Chau, and more. Lanthimos co-wrote the screenplay with his usual partner Efthimis Filippou, their first collaboration since The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Three separate stories will be told, with the cast playing different characters in each one.