Movies are back, from the biggest names in directing to a feature debut, and this is the summer for them. Pandemic delays on film releases have begun to lift, meaning there is a glut of movies coming out in cinemas over the next few months. Whether you are in dire need of a blockbuster, or searching for something worth high critical acclaim, you’ll find plenty on offer in Australian theatres.
Avatar: The Way of Water
Director: James Cameron (Titanic, Avatar)
Release date: In cinemas now
Synopsis: Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Ney’tiri (Zoe Saldana) have formed a family and are doing everything to stay together. However, they must leave their home and explore the regions of Pandora. When an ancient threat resurfaces, Jake must fight a difficult war against the humans.
The sequel to the highest-grossing film of all time is finally out, almost five years after shooting began. Avatar 2 is an epic in the truest sense, with a run time of over 3 hours, and screenings in both 2D and 3D. For fans who have been waiting over a decade for the second instalment of this five-movie franchise, this is the cinematic event of the year, set to dazzle with technological marvels that are almost 30 years in the making.
Director: Steven Spielberg (West Side Story, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park)
Release date: January 5, 2023
Synopsis: Young Sammy Fabelman falls in love with movies after his parents take him to see The Greatest Show on Earth. Armed with a camera, Sammy starts to make his own films at home, much to the delight of his supportive mother.
This semi-autobiographical film promises to be Spielberg’s most personal yet, telling the story of the director’s childhood and introduction to filmmaking through the fictionalised Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle). As with most of Spielberg’s ventures, The Fabelmans has already gathered five Golden Globe nominations, with Michelle Williams’ performance as matriarch Mitzi being noted as a standout in what is already a strong ensemble cast.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Director: Rian Johnson (Knives Out, Brick, Star Wars: The Last Jedi)
Release date: December 23, 2022 (streaming on Netflix)
Synopsis: Tech billionaire Miles Bron invites his friends for a getaway on his private Greek island. When someone turns up dead, Detective Benoit Blanc is put on the case.
For those in a White Lotus comedown, this Knives Out sequel will be a perfect fix. The theatrical run has ended, but there is plenty still to enjoy on a small(er) screen, and a stacked ensemble including the return of Daniel Craig complete with delightful little neckerchief, Edward Norton as a deliciously poisonous tech bro, and Kate Hudson in one of her best comedic performances to date.
Matilda the Musical
Director: Matthew Warchus (Pride, Simpatico
Release date: In cinemas now, streaming on Netflix from December 25, 2022
Synopsis: Matilda, an extraordinary girl armed with a sharp mind and a vivid imagination, dares to take a stand against her oppressive parents and head teacher to change her story with miraculous results.
The screen adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical from Roald Dahl’s beloved story features new songs from comedian/composer Tim Minchin, as well as the now TikTok viral ‘Revolting Dance’ (if you don’t know what that is, ask your kid). If you’re looking for family-friendly fare that appeals to all ages, it’s hard to find better than Matilda the Musical.
Banshees of Inisherin
Director: Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Release date: December 26, 2022
Synopsis: On a remote island off the coast of Ireland, Pádraic (Colin Farrell) is devastated when his buddy Colm (Brendan Gleeson) suddenly puts an end to their lifelong friendship. With help from his sister and a troubled young islander, Pádraic sets out to repair the damaged relationship by any means necessary. However, as Colm’s resolve only strengthens, he soon delivers an ultimatum that leads to shocking consequences.
The winning recipe of McDonagh, Farrell and Gleeson made In Bruges into one of the most beloved films of the last 20 years, and this reunion seems to be headed in the same direction. Inisherin enters awards season with Best Screenplay and Best Actor wins at the Venice Film Festival earlier this year, and eight Golden Globe nominations.
Director: Todd Field (Little Children)
Release Date: January 26, 2023
Synopsis: Set in the international world of Western classical music, the film centers on Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett), widely considered one of the greatest living composer-conductors and the first-ever female music director of a major German orchestra.
Despite being released in the USA months ago, Australians will have to wait until next year to see Our Cate™ in Todd Field’s latest uneasy take on post-MeToo discourse. The wait should be worth it, as Tár has so far earned Blanchett nods for her performance at the Venice Film Festival, Gotham, Independent Spirit and Golden Globe awards.
Director: Sarah Polley (Take This Waltz)
Release date: February 16, 2023
Synopsis: Do nothing. Stay and fight. Or leave. In 2010, the women of an isolated religious community grapple with reconciling a brutal reality with their faith.
Based on a true story, Frances McDormand, Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy, Michelle McLeod and Judith Ivey play the women of an ultra-conservative and insulated Mennonite community dealing with the fallout of sexual abuse. Polley’s script has picked up best screenplay nominations at both the Gotham Awards and Golden Globes.
Director: Charlotte Wells (debut feature)
Release Date: January 26, 2023
Synopsis: Twenty years after their last holiday at a fading vacation resort, Sophie reflects on the rare time spent with her loving and idealistic father Calum (Paul Mescal).
There’s much here to be excited for: A24’s signature desaturated social media-friendly aesthetic, the internet’s boyfriend Paul Mescal, and a first feature-length outing for writer/director Charlotte Wells, who has consistently been singled out as an exciting new talent on the festival circuit this year.
Director: Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, La La Land, First Man)
Release date: 12 January 2023
Synopsis: Decadence, depravity, and outrageous excess lead to the rise and fall of several ambitious dreamers in 1920s Hollywood.
At the tender age of 37, Damien Chazelle has already created a body of work that looks at the history of America through the impact of its pop cultural products – Jazz (Whiplash), the blockbuster movie musical (La La Land), and the Space Race (First Man). In Babylon, he charts the rise of cinema and the arrival of the talkies, and this seems to have hit the right note with critics, gaining five Golden Globe nominations so far. Perhaps he’ll finally get the Best Film Oscar he came uncomfortably close to winning back in 2017?
Find out the next TV, streaming series and movies to add to your must-sees. Get The Watchlist delivered every Thursday.
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