Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is that time of year again to do my annual countdown streak, and this year is going to be a little bit different. In 2021, I did a most anticipated movies list for that year’s slate. I did not do one last year, but as you can see, it has been brought back this year. We are starting off the countdowns with my top 10 most MOST ANTICIPATED movies of 2023. Yes, the best and worst are coming, there will be more info on that later. Before we start, here are some ground rules. First off, much like my usual best and worst lists, these are completely subjective picks. I am not saying you have to agree with me on these picks, but these are recommendations for movies to check out this year, mostly as a to do list for myself. I do not know how these movies will turn out. In fact, many of you reading this probably are in the same boat. These are just my opinions, just a fair warning. Also, these movies have to be on the verge of a theatrical release. If a project will not be playing in theaters, I will not count it, as I technically call that television. With that said, I am going to list one honorable mention because I like the people behind the film, but I do not know much about it and I think if I knew more, I could potentially put it in my top 10.
Honorable Mention: True Love
While doing research for this list, one project I found is “True Love,” a science fiction film from Gareth Edwards (above). The track record for Gareth Edwards in regards to what I think about his resume is in a word “positive.” Although he directed “Rogue One,” which is one of the best things to have come out of the Disney “Star Wars” era. He knows how to make a film. Plus, not only his he directing “True Love,” he is also writing it. In addition, the cast includes notable names like John David Washington (Tenet, Amsterdam), Gemma Chan (Eternals, Crazy Rich Asians), and Allison Janney (I, Tonya, Mom). This movie has some promise, I just hope to know more about it soon. The film releases this October, so hopefully we get a trailer around the halfway point of the year.
With that out of the way, it is time to count down my top 10 MOST ANTICIPATED movies of 2023!
Starting off this list is a film that I almost forgot was coming out, “Wonka!” I love “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” and say what you want about the 2005 “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” I genuinely think it is a great film. I cannot wait to return to the world of Willy Wonka. But this time around we are not seeing another redo of the classic story by Roald Dahl and instead, getting a prequel as to how Wonka got his start. I have no idea what vibe they are going to go for with this. Supposedly this story is about Wonka’s days before he creates his own chocolate factory, which we have seen on screen before, but perhaps not in this much detail. I imagine this will be a magical story for the whole family, but I also wonder if they could go in a darker direction with this story too. After all, if you remember the other stories in this property, children, who to be fair, are kind of rotten, face various near death experiences because of how Wonka sets up his factory. I know this sounds dark, but I want to know if Wonka is setting up certain aspects of his factory on purpose. Remember the boat from “Willy Wonka?” If Augustus did not get sucked in the tube, he and his mother would not have even had a seat on the boat for themselves, it would have exceeded full capacity. Maybe I am overthinking things, but I am sure that whatever kind of story they tell, it has the potential to have the same awe and wonder I had when I read “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” in elementary school. Also, Timothee Chalamet will be playing Willy Wonka this time around, and I do not know how his performance will be, but I have never seen him choose a questionable project, so this must be something special.
#9. John Wick: Chapter 4
Coming in at #9 is “John Wick: Chapter 4!” I have always loved the “John Wick” franchise. While I have not gone back to watch the films a whole ton over the years, I will say that this franchise manages to do something that people often say franchises fail to do, make a sequel that surpasses the original. I think it is fair to say I liked “John Wick: Chapter 2” more than its predecessor. Also, did I like “John Wick: Chapter 3” even more? Dang right, I like it more! Bring on the assassin dogs! I almost do not even care what the plot is at this point. I mean, maybe a little. This time around, John Wick has to trot the globe to defeat a new enemy. The concept does not seem to break new ground, but if you deliver action that is as killer and thriller as the previous installments, this could be worth watching. While I love “The Matrix,” I think Keanu Reeves is better suited to play John Wick than Neo, and I have always loved his portrayal of this character. I’m thinkin’ he is back and better than ever! I have no idea if this film is going to be good. For all I know it could suck. But if we are going by statistics, I think “John Wick: Chapter 4” could end up being a great time.
Speaking of statistics, Pixar has yet to make a bad movie. Even recent outings like “Luca” and “Lightyear,” while they are lower tier projects, I will still give them credit for entertaining me. That said, I am very curious about Pixar’s next project, “Elemental.” Pixar over the years has popped the question about what happens if certain things had emotions. What if toys had emotions? What if cars had emotions? What if emotions had emotions like in “Inside Out?” I do not know much about this movie so far. All I know is that the story is likely going to focus on a water being named Wade and fire being named Ember. The two meet unexpectedly and this seems to throttle the story going forward. But the thing is that given how these are different elements, Wade and Ember cannot touch each other. Given how there is an entire story between these two, something seismic is bound to happen. Perhaps a romance plot? That seems very likely. Plus, Peter Sohn, the director behind the project, notes that the movie traces elements of his experience growing up, and I imagine that could add some personality to the table. Here is hoping the movie is yet another win for Pixar.
On the note of actors who always appear in projects I like such as the recently mentioned Timothee Chalamet, let’s talk about a movie featuring the great Adam Driver, “65!” Sony recently released a trailer for this film almost out of nowhere, and I am curious as to what this movie could bring to the table. As much as I love “Jurassic Park,” the franchise has lost its magic it originally had in the 1990s when it made dinosaurs terrifying. This is especially true with the recent “Jurassic World: Dominion,” which is a roaring travesty. “65” looks like it is going to bring something fresh for dinosaur movies. The concept of this movie is that a couple people, including pilot Mills (Driver), crash land on a planet, which happens to be earth from 65 million years ago. The mission is to survive this unfamiliar territory, which includes, yes, dinosaurs. While he is not directing the movie, Sam Raimi is producing it, which seems promising. In fact, Raimi mainstay Danny Elfman is doing the score, and I always enjoy his work. The other thing to keep in mind is that the duo who wrote (and directed) this film also co-wrote “A Quiet Place,” which is an incredible horror movie with some of the scariest moments the genre has delivered in recent times. Scott Beck and Bryan Woods may be delivering one of the year’s highlights this March.
#6. Cocaine Bear
Some of you might beg to ask why I am putting this movie on the list. The reason is because I have been looking forward to it ever since I first heard about the crazy, unbelievable story that inspired this project back in 2021, That movie, my friends, is “Cocaine Bear.” The name alone is worth the curiosity, but the story is worth the attention. For those who do not know, this film, as crazy as it sounds, is based on true events. There are liberties taken in this case, but it is fun to know that this absurd concept is based on something that actually happened. Essentially, millions of dollars worth of cocaine happens to be separated from a plane and a bear ends up eating it. This movie sounds delightfully over the top, and it also looks hysterical. The bear itself looks like it could be the biggest riot of the year. The movie is probably not going to win any Oscars, but this looks like a contender for the year’s most kneeslap-inducing comedy. This film is directed by Elizabeth Banks, who previously directed the 2019 “Charlie’s Angels,” which I honestly was not a fan of. Although I genuinely like her and everything else she does. If you guys are not watching the ABC reboot of “Press Your Luck,” you should. Banks is honestly the best game show host on television right now. The one other caveat that comes to mind is that the movie comes out in February, and the first couple months of the year, with a few exceptions, are usually where movies go to die. I was looking forward to “Moonfall” last year, I thought it could be stupid fun. …It was one of those things, and if you read my thoughts on the movie itself, you could probably figure out which one. All I know is that this film looks ridiculous, it sounds like a strange concept, but as the saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction. Therefore, for all I know we could have a gem on our hands.
Sometimes you have to really sell me on a movie to get me in the door, and in others, you just need to use the magic words. The magic words in this case… Christopher Nolan. Ladies and gentlemen, my #5 most anticipated film of the year is “Oppenheimer.” Christopher Nolan is my favorite director working today. With the exception of “Following,” I have seen all of his movies and enjoyed all of them. I even liked “Tenet!” I watched it twice this year when I found it playing on HBO for crying out loud! I have no idea how good “Oppenheimer” will end up being, but I know that it has the potential to be the movie of the summer. One that not only can bring in a big audience. One that not only ends up delivering a one of a kind cinematic experience. One that is not just as technically brilliant as it is solid of a story. But also one that could get people to think after they leave. After all, this movie is centered around Robert J. Oppenheimer and his involvement in developing the atomic bomb. This has the potential to be an emotional ride in more ways than one. Plus you have a stacked cast including Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., and even Kenneth Branagh is making a return to the Nolan-verse. There is massive potential with this movie, and I hope it is executed well when it comes out.
#4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
James Gunn is a solid filmmaker, especially when it comes to comic book material. That is just one of the reasons why “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is the MCU movie I am perhaps looking forward to more than any other this year. I am looking forward to “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” but I have my reservations. “The Marvels” could be good, but I need to know a little more. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” on the other hand looks like an encapsulation of why I adore these characters, these stories. This is said to be the last “Guardians of the Galaxy” installment with this crew, which could end up contributing to an emotional script and great character moments. This film looks fun, visually stunning, and hysterical. If there is one thing that Gunn does well in his movies, it is delivering a perfect balance between comedy and heart. Yes, it is strangely amusing to see a talking tree who emits one phrase walk amongst a team of heroes, but the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” also uses that tree to induce tears out of people’s eyes. I would not be surprised if we get one or two of those kinds of moments here, especially considering the conclusiveness of this particular chapter. I do want to be careful though because I had monumental expectations for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and that ended up being a disappointment for me. But Gunn’s resume also consists of the original “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which was hilarious and had a killer soundtrack. Additionally, he made “The Suicide Squad,” which is probably my favorite DC project of all time. Also, recently, he did “Peacemaker” on HBO Max, which in addition to having the greatest opening title sequence in history, is marvelously led by John Cena. Not to mention it is simply a fantastic series. Here is hoping “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is another win for James Gunn.
#3. Dune: Part Two
I really enjoyed the first “Dune” during my few watches. It has my favorite film score of 2021, the visual effects are outstanding, and it totally deserved its Best Picture nomination from the Academy. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I am looking forward to “Dune: Part Two.” I am not familiar with any of the other “Dune” stories or the source material. But I cannot help but look forward to what is to come. Denis Villeneuve, the director behind the first film, is coming back to helm this one. He is a master of sci-fi storytelling, and I will not be surprised if he ends up churning out a sequel that surpasses the original. Like I said in my description for “Wonka,” Timothee Chalamet is a great actor, and he chooses his films wisely. Good to see him back as Paul Atreides. Rebecca Ferguson is back, so is Stellan Skarsgard, and maybe we will get a bit more of Zendaya. At the same time, we also have newcomers like the gifted Austin Butler and the great Florence Pugh joining the cast, so here is hoping we have a movie as excellent as its talent. I am looking forward to seeing more of this journey, and if the first film showcased anything, this could be a contender for the most technically beautiful film of the year.
#2. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning – Part One
If you guys remember my 2021 most anticipated movies list, you may remember that I had “Mission: Impossible 7” on the #3 spot. Well, that movie has yet to come out, and it has been promoted to the #2 spot. This time, it has an official title, specifically “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning – Part One.” Much like “John Wick,” “Mission: Impossible,” for the most part, is a franchise that gets better with each movie. The first film was great, but I thought the second was a giant step down. The third one was better, but the quality also appeared to increase with the fourth, fifth, and sixth installments too. When I did my best movies of 2018 list, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” was my #1, and I often flip it back and forth these days with “Avengers: Infinity War,” which at the time was my #2. At the time, I did not know how Tom Cruise, arguably my favorite movie star in the business, could supposedly do a more daredevil-esque stunt than learning how to fly a helicopter just to pull off the film’s climax. Well, it appears Christopher McQuarrie, who is returning for his third “Mission: Impossible” outing, has an answer. I recently watched a behind the scenes video of how they pulled off a specific stunt where Cruise jumps off of a ramp while flying off of a motorcycle. I have no words. I cannot wait to see this on the big screen, this has the potential, like I said about “Oppenheimer,” to be the movie of the summer. “Top Gun: Maverick” made over a billion dollars at the box office last year. If this movie is masterclass material, I can honestly imagine this film outgrossing “Top Gun: Maverick.” I could change my mind, but everything that I have seen in regard to this film so far, looks incredible. This is certainly a mission I will choose to accept.
#1. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
This is a film that not only has earned my spot as my most anticipated movie of the year, it has the potential to be the greatest animated movie of all time. That film is “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.” I love “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” It is not my favorite comic book movie of 2018, but it is my favorite animated movie of that year. Miles Morales is a total delight. The film has stellar supporting characters from Peter B. Parker to Gwen Stacy to Jefferson Davis. I loved everyone in it. But that movie not only had great characters with phenomenal voice acting across the board, but some of the most unique, stunning animation in film history. I was not sold on it when I saw the marketing, but when I saw the movie, I wanted more of it. Not only are we getting more of it in this upcoming sequel, but it also appears that the film is going to have several different animation styles for various universes. How many are we talking? Two? Three? NO! TRY SIX! SIX ANIMATION STYLES! WHAT IS HAPPENING?! I was thrilled last year when “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” blended 2D and 3D animation together. “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” feels like a different kind of technical ambition. Having Oscar Isaac return to play Miguel O’Hara, otherwise known as the 2099 Spider-Man, is something I did not think would happen, but I am delighted to see him return here. I thought he was just inserted in the last film’s post-credit scene as a one-off joke, guess not. I would not say it matters though, I am happy to see him come back. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the two directors behind “The LEGO Movie,” are writing this outing, and given how much I love their previous work, including their recently produced “The Mitchells vs. the Machines,” it only ups the anticipation a bit more. I will remind everyone reading this that animation is a medium, not a genre. I admittedly have referred to it as a genre sometimes, and I feel guilty when I have. That said, this film looks it could not just define the superhero movie genre, but the animation medium. The trailer that just came out took my expectations to perhaps an unhealthy level. It is the best trailer I have seen in 2022, and for all I know we could get an even better one in 2023. Just for the record, “Spider-Man 2” from 2004 is my favorite comic book movie of all time. If “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” surpasses “Spider-Man 2,” it is a special kind of special movie. It is going to be challenging, but I love a good challenge. And if “Across the Spider-Verse” does surpass “Spider-Man 2,” I will be proud of everyone who worked on this movie for going above and beyond to deliver a great experience. It looks like we have something grand, here is hoping that this return to the Spider-Verse delivers the glory.
Thanks for reading this countdown! I hope you enjoyed reading my picks for my top 10 most anticipated movies of 2023. It is a bit unusual that I am doing this list, but I thought it could make for good material as I am waiting to see “Babylon,” which if I did not see before I did my best and worst of the year, I feel I would be doing a disservice to my audience. Speaking of the top 10 best and worst, we are going to dive into those soon, because my next countdown is going to be for my top 10 WORST movies of 2022. Yes, we are doing the worst before the best this year. The reason for that is because I want to get the bad stuff out of the way, that way I can save the best for last. And in a world where recent information is as snappy as ever, I want people to remember me for the things I love and not the things I hate. If you want to see these countdowns and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, what are the movies you are looking forward to the most in 2023? Do you think I missed anything? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!