The post-lockdown movie business is recovering slowly but surely, and this year has marked a swift step forward, with Top Gun: Maverick, the year’s biggest box office hit by a long shot, being a great indication that moviegoers are ready to head back to the multiplex.
Opening nearly three years later than originally scheduled. Maverick had been deemed doomed by experts who wondered why Paramount and Tom Cruise didn’t just release the thing on streaming already.
Now, $700 million later, Cruise looks like a genius — not a fool — for believing he had a flick that moviegoers would leave their homes to see.
But the real game-changing hit of the year so far, Everything Everywhere All at Once, was a wildly inventive, dimension-hopping indie, showcasing the golden talents of an action star who’s been stunting and serving onscreen for decades.
At last, it was Michelle Yeoh’s time as a kickass lead, and so too do the list of heavy hitters previewed here believe the season for their potential home run is at hand, either at the box office or at awards podiums.
Comedian Billy Eichner will look like a visionary if Bros, the gay romantic-comedy he co-wrote, executive produced, and stars in with an almost entirely LGBTQ cast, becomes the studio-released box office hit that no such film was ever allowed to be.
This might be the season for visionaries, from Bowie to Babylon, Ryan Coogler to Steven Spielberg. New reveries and rich mysteries await in this trove of upcoming films.
Hocus Pocus 2 — We have the audience of Millennials who grew up convinced the 1993 box-office flop Hocus Pocus was some sort of classic to blame (or thank) for this followup, once again starring Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker as a cackling, comic trio of sister witches soaring around Salem. Disney’s hedging its bets on the scheming Sanderson sisters this time, sending them to streaming on Disney+. (9/30)
Bros — Comedian Billy Eichner stars as a commitment-shy New Yorker who falls for Luke Macfarlane’s hunky lawyer in this boldly gay throwback to Hollywood rom-coms like When Harry Met Sally. Eichner’s been hilarious on the street, on three seasons of Hulu’s Difficult People, and as himself in countless late-night TV appearances — he even added a fresh, funny spark to the picturesque but stale live-action remake of The Lion King. So it’s a good sign for this groundbreaking gay rom-com he co-wrote with director Nicholas Stoller (Neighbors). They filled the cast with top-flight queer comedic talents like Bowen Yang, Guillermo Diaz, TS Madison, Jim Rash, Dot-Marie Jones, Harvey Fierstein, and Drag Race winner Symone. (9/30)
The Swimmer — The physiques are as taut as the competition in this Israeli drama about elite swimmer Erez (Omer Perelman), whose intense focus on training is thrown off by the arrival of alluring swimmer Nevo (Asaf Jonas), competing for the same spot on the Olympic team. Slow-burning hot-gay-athlete-falls-for-his-competition romances are a sub-genre unto themselves, full of forgettable track stars and soccer bros, and lingering glances across low-budget locker rooms. So let’s hope writer-director Adam Kalderon grabs the gold, and does something distinctive with this speedo-clad duo. (10/7)
Amsterdam — Mercurial director David O. Russell’s first film since the award-winning 2015 biopic Joy, this period caper boasts an eclectic all-star cast — Christian Bale, John David Washington, Margot Robbie, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rami Malek, Zoe Saldaña, Mike Myers, Robert De Niro, and Taylor Swift. A mysterious murder plot lands the central trio of Bale, Washington, and Robbie in zany hijinks that somehow “alter the course of American history.” (10/7)
Lyle, Lyle Crocodile — Sony’s hybrid live-action/animated musical about a singing crocodile who lives in the attic of a New York family’s brownstone really just prompts questions about another singing cartoon creature who couldn’t talk, Michigan J. Frog. Where’d he hop off to, and where’s his musical? Lyle the Crocodile might sing with the voice of pop star Shawn Mendes, but does the soundtrack of new tunes by The Greatest Showman songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul boast any bops as irresistible as “Hello! Ma Baby?” That’s a tall order. (10/7)
Tár — Cate Blanchett wields a mean baton portraying world-renowned (fictional) composer-conductor Lydia Tár in writer-director Todd Field’s daring character study of a powerful queer woman accused of sexual misconduct. Blanchett took home the prize for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival, certainly not to be the last awards-giving body to recognize the star’s coolly tense turn. (10/14)
Till — A powerful drama, directed by Chinonye Chukwu, depicting the monumental atrocity through the eyes of Mamie Till-Mobley, a grieving mother who turned her crusade for justice on behalf of son Emmett into a cause that moved the hearts of millions. Starring as Till-Mobley, Danielle Deadwyler, a standout in the stacked cast of 2021 Western The Harder They Fall, looks poised to move audiences as well. (10/14)
Halloween Ends — The decades-spanning saga of Michael Myers versus Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, for what she insists is the very last time) finally arrives at its frightful conclusion — or does it? Writer-director David Gordon Green might wrap up his trilogy reboot of the long-running slasher franchise, but we hardly believe this will be the last big screen appearance of that silent, stab-happy serial killer Myers. (10/14)
Cat Daddies — Mye Hoang’s awww-inducing documentary exploring the love between guys and their cats follows nine very different “cat dads,” from a Hollywood stuntman to a software engineer — but somehow does not include Metro Weekly publisher and resident cat dad, Randy Shulman. Viewers might not find their favorite cat dad among Hoang’s subjects, but probably will recognize aspects of them or their feline(s) in the paws and pops who are profiled here. (10/14)
The Banshees of Inisherin — Colin Farrell won the Best Actor Prize in Venice for his dynamic portrayal of a small-town Irishman who can’t let it go after he’s dumped by his lifelong best friend with no explanation. The comedy reunites Farrell with In Bruges director Martin McDonagh and co-star Brendan Gleeson, who, critics report, delivers a fine, subtle turn as the bestie who turns his back on his dearest mate. (10/21)
Black Adam — DC and Warner Bros. originally intended to introduce this comic book super-villain onscreen opposite the hero in Shazam!, but star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had other plans, holding out for a solo Black Adam movie, now the 11th film in DC’s extended universe — not that we care to count DCEU entries. The Rock and the studio are counting on this action-packed sci-fi fantasy, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, to break big at the box office, and revitalize the DCEU franchise in time for upcoming sequels Shazam! Fury of the Gods and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, both scheduled for release in 2023. (10/21)
Ticket to Paradise — Silver screen sweethearts Julia Roberts and George Clooney dust off their rom-com dancing shoes to play warring exes who call an uneasy truce for the purpose of sabotaging daughter Kaitlyn Dever’s Bali wedding — for her own good, or so they’ll believe, right up until they finally see the light. Fans should delight at seeing the erstwhile Tess and Danny Ocean grinning their way through a cutesy comedy after all these years, but the pair perhaps should have dusted off a script with a less cheesy premise than this predictable-looking affair directed and co-written by Ol Parker (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again). (10/21)
My Policeman — That saucy Harry Styles has been practically inescapable this summer, with chart-topping album Harry’s House and a string of hit singles, his international Love On Tour, a tabloid-ready romance, and two high-profile fall film releases, including this impassioned ’50s-set romantic melodrama. Styles stars as a gay Brighton policeman who marries Emma Corrin’s schoolteacher, despite being in love with a museum curator (David Dawson). Those of us who did somehow escape Styles’ summer pop culture onslaught might give in to this adaptation of Bethan Roberts’ 2012 novel, directed by Michael Grandage, written by Philadelphia Oscar winner Ron Nyswaner, and featuring Linus Roache, Gina McKee, and Rupert Everett as the older, hopefully wiser versions of the threesome years after their secrets have been spilled. (10/21; 11/4 on Prime Video)
Armageddon Time — This ’80s-set drama from filmmaker James Gray (Ad Astra) looks period-perfect in its depiction of the Reagan years from the perspective of a dreamy-eyed Jewish kid, inspired by Gray himself, growing up in a tight-knit family in New Jersey. Tackling class, race, and the pursuit of the American dream, the film’s powered by an exceptional cast featuring Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong, Banks Repeta, Jessica Chastain, and reigning Best Actor Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins. (10/28)
Wendell & Wild — From film eccentrics Henry Selick and Jordan Peele comes this kooky, creepy stop-motion animated Halloween treat about troubled teen Kat (Lyric Ross) hounded by inner demons Wendell (Keegan Michael-Key) and Wild (Peele), a devilishly fun premise for reuniting one of the best comedy teams of this century. (10/28 on Netflix)
The Estate — This dark-humored farce about sisters Toni Colette and Anna Faris trying to scheme their way into an inheritance not only offers a welcome comic turn from Kathleen Turner, but it might also be a breakout for rising comedienne Keyla Monterroso Mejia, better known to Curb Your Enthusiasm fans as atrociously bad actress Maria Sofia, whom Larry was forced to hire for a TV pilot in the latest season. Mejia again finds herself in A-list company in writer-director Dean Craig’s New Orleans-set comedy, which looks like ridiculous fun. (11/4)
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever — Marvel’s followup to the phenomenon built on Chadwick Boseman’s embodiment of Wakandan king T’Challa carries the substantial weight of its late star’s profound absence, and the many questions surrounding how the superhero franchise should continue. But writer-director Ryan Coogler’s hand at turning high-risk propositions like Creed, or the first Black Panther, into thought-provoking popular entertainment is undeniable, and the sweeping first teaser for the film, set to a mashup of Tems and Kendrick Lamar, suggests an exciting return to Wakanda, the introduction of Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne) a.k.a. armored hero Ironheart, and an explosive conflict with Namor the Sub-Mariner (Tenoch Huerta), a true comic book superstar making his long-awaited MCU debut. Marvel’s kept a tight lid on whom, if anyone among the returning characters, might assume the mantle of Black Panther, but whoever it is, they’ll have a lofty standard to uphold. (11/11)
The Son — Florian Zeller, who adapted his breathtaking play The Father into a sparse, moving drama that garnered Oscars for him and the film’s star Anthony Hopkins, returns with this adaptation of his play The Son, part of a trilogy with, of course, The Mother. Hugh Jackman takes the lead as a driven professional whose promising, post-divorce life with new partner Vanessa Kirby is threatened by struggles with his ex-wife Laura Dern and their teenage son Zen McGrath. He hopes to avoid mistakes made by his own father, played by Anthony Hopkins in a meaningful nod to The Father, and perhaps the cycle of hope and regret that can play on a loop between generations. (11/11)
The Inspection — Jeremy Pope, a two-time Tony nominee also Emmy nominated for his turn as a gay screenwriter in the mini-series Hollywood, takes on his first leading film role portraying a determined gay Marine recruit who refuses to bow to pressure from demanding drill instructors, homophobic fellow recruits, or even his own less-than-encouraging mom, played by Gabrielle Union. Gay filmmaker Elegance Bratton based this emotional drama on his own journey from homeless teen to serving in the Marines during the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell era, and that touch of authenticity — plus Pope’s sure-to-be riveting performance — has us intrigued. (11/18)
She Said — The recent trend of topical sociopolitical dramas has slowed to a trickle, with this year’s most prominent example being director Maria Schrader’s fact-based chronicle of New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) and Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) breaking the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault story which launched the #MeToo movement. (11/18)
Strange World — Disney Animation sends moviegoers on an outer space odyssey to a mind-blowingly warped and weird world where explorer family the Clades, led by intrepid adventurer Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), encounter dangers and wonders they, and filmgoers, could never have fathomed. (11/23)
Bones and All — Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet might make the most adorable hipster cannibal couple ever depicted in Luca Guadagnino’s raw, romantic road movie, based on the novel by Camille DeAngelis, but this still sounds as gruesome as all get out. And, as with Guadagnino’s well crafted Call Me By Your Name, Suspiria, and HBO Max series We Are Who We Are, we’ll still rush to see it at the earliest opportunity. (11/25)
The Fabelmans — Steven Spielberg must have seen Roma and Belfast and said, “Not so fast, boys,” because here come the Fabelmans in the movie maestro’s paean to his own colorful upbringing as a film-obsessed youth in 1950s suburban Arizona. Spielberg’s opus joins a distinguished tradition of self-referential, cinematic odes to childhood, from Fellini’s Amarcord to Spike Lee’s Crooklyn, and, following its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, critics are raving this might be one of the best, propelled by awards-worthy performances from Judd Hirsch, Paul Dano, and four-time Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams. (11/25)
Empire of Light — Sam Mendes enlists Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward, Toby Jones, and Colin Firth in this poignant story of disparate lives brought together by the magic of cinema at the struggling movie palace in a scenic seaside English town. (12/9)
The Whale — Brendan Fraser earned a rapturous six-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival for his moving performance in Darren Aronofsky’s psychological drama, adapted by Samuel D. Hunter from his play. Former matinee idol Fraser portrays a 600-lb. gay man grieving the loss of his lover, and hoping to rekindle a relationship with his estranged daughter, played by Stranger Things starlet Sadie Sink. The role marks a welcome return to leading-man status for Fraser, and a tender complement to his part as the object of James Whale’s desire in the queer classic Gods and Monsters. (12/9)
Avatar: The Way of Water — James Cameron’s Na’vi of planet Pandora captivated audiences all over planet earth 13 years ago, grossing nearly $3 billion at the worldwide box office, ushering in a wave of visually stunning 3D blockbusters, and genuinely advancing filmmaking and performance-capture technology before being filed away in the archives of collective memory. Were moviegoers then, or since, deeply connected to the characters played by Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Stephen Lang, Joel David Moore, and Sigourney Weaver? Can moviegoers still name any of their characters? All of the main cast return for this pricey sequel, though not necessarily in the same roles, while newbies Kate Winslet, Edie Falco, Michelle Yeoh, and Vin Diesel join the mix. Cameron’s been cagey about the plot, but it’s clear that the hard-charging filmmaker, who kept the cast of The Abyss shooting underwater for months, had his Na’vi actors, including Winslet, learn to free-dive in order to capture a story that largely takes place beneath the surface. (12/16)
Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies — Just in the past few months, director Michael Showalter has stewarded Jessica Chastain to Oscar glory in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, and Amanda Seyfried to the Emmys podium for her performance in The Dropout. So expectations are high for this adaptation of Michael Ausiello’s seriocomic memoir detailing the final year in the life of Ausiello’s lover, photographer Kit Cowan, who died from cancer. Jim Parsons is Ausiello, Ben Aldridge is Cowan, Sally Field is Cowan’s mother Marilyn, and there probably won’t be a dry eye in the house. (12/16)
I Wanna Dance with Somebody — How will we know if this Clive Davis and Houston estate-approved biopic, directed by Kasi Lemmons (Harriet), does justice to the memory and once-in-a-lifetime talent of Whitney Houston, portrayed by Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker co-star Naomi Ackie? Beyond a nifty poster image of Ackie in Whitney’s “So Emotional” era jeans and MC jacket, the producers haven’t released much footage to hint whether fans will feel the greatest love of all, or instead declare that the movie’s not right, but it’s okay. Until it’s released, we have nothing but high hopes. (12/21)
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery — Yes, we’ll miss rakishly handsome Chris Evans in his chunky cable-knits, but, by all early accounts, this sequel to writer-director Rian Johnson’s hit 2019 murder-mystery Knives Out is as scintillating and tightly constructed as its Oscar-nominated predecessor, with Daniel Craig returning as twanging detective Benoit Blanc, set to scrutinize a new all-star cast of suspects played by Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Kate Hudson, and Dave Bautista, who, judging by the trailer, is packing plenty of eye candy and no chunky sweaters. (12/23)
Babylon — Writer-director Damien Chazelle just can’t quit LaLa Land, as he plunges into another lushly-produced Tinseltown tale, this time a scandal-filled drama set during Hollywood’s late-twenties shift from silent films to talkies, starring Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Tobey Maguire, Samara Weaving, Diego Calva, Jovan Adepo, Li Jun Li, and Jean Smart. (12/25)
Read André Hereford’s film reviews throughout the year. Subscribe to Metro Weekly’s online magazine and newsletter. Click here to subscribe for free.
Read the magazine version of the Fall Arts Preview here.
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