With every new year comes a new slate of movies to leave their mark on cinema, and this year is a pivotal year for Hollywood. 2023 was one of the strangest years for Hollywood in recent memory. In terms of the Box Office, it was the best year they’ve had since the start of COVID-19, grossing about nine billion dollars domestically. But we also had some of the biggest flops in cinema history with “Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny” (2023), “The Flash” (2023) and “The Marvels” (2023). What do all of these movies have in common? They all have a bloated budget that either relies on mediocre special effects, previous nostalgia or the past success of the brand they are made under. These methods aren’t enough anymore for a movie to succeed. The movies that connect with audiences and bring people to theaters are the ones that make bold choices and are in complete control of the directors and actors that make them. And these are a few of the movies I think will have these qualities this upcoming year.
“Spaceman,” March 1, 2024
Director: Johan Renck
“Spaceman” (2024) is an upcoming Netflix original centered around Jakub Procházka (Adam Sandler), who has been on a solitary space mission for six months and is worried that his wife (Carey Mulligan) won’t be there waiting for him when he returns. Desperate to fix things, he is helped by a mysterious creature from the beginning of time that he finds hiding in the bowels of his ship. The creature, Hanuš (voiced by Paul Dano), works with Jakub to make sense of what went wrong before it is too late.
Seeing Adam Sandler in dramatic roles makes me so happy. Sure he’s one of the best when it comes to comedy, but his dramatic acting skills are grossly underrated. I had the pleasure of watching “Uncut Gems” (2019) for the first time recently (I know, I’m obnoxiously late to the party), and you almost forget that you’re watching Adam Sandler. He completely transforms into the character of Howard Ratner, and brings such nuance to the role. From the trailer of “Spaceman” alone, every time you see Sandler’s face you witness the isolation his character is experiencing weighing on him. I can’t wait to see the intricacies he brings to this role.
I’m also excited to see actress Carey Mulligan. Her performance in “Maestro” (2023) instantly made her one of my favorite working actors. She brought such a focused energy to her character, and like Sandler, she transformed into the wife of Leonard Bernstein: Felicia Montealegre. The actual children of Leonard Bernstein spoke in an interview about how magnificent she was. Alexander Bernstein in particular said, “She so deeply gets the essence of Felicia, something just clicked there — it’s just astounding.” She just brings such a subtle yet powerful presence when on screen.
I think with Johan Renck at the helm, creator of the remarkable mini-series “Chernobyl” (2019), “Spaceman” looks like it’ll be a fascinating exploration of isolation in tandem with separation, and how that weighs on and strains a marriage.
“The Lord Of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim,” December 13, 2024
Director: Kenji Kamiyama
It’s been 10 years since there was a “Lord of the Rings” story on the big screen, and this story takes place hundreds of years before the original series. The movie follows the story of Helm Hammerhand (Brian Cox), and how Helms Deep became the historic site that it is in Middle Earth.
The movie is animated in an anime-style format, and I think it’s a genius move for the franchise. Anime is globally one of the biggest markets in the world, currently being valued at around 26 billion dollars according to Sky Quest. The animation style of anime allows you to be so expansive and creative.
It’s certainly a risky move that could fall flat if American actors don’t give enough in the voice-acting realm to cater to the highly emotional — and at times flamboyant — style of anime; but I have full faith in Brian Cox. He has such a thunder to him and exudes passion in every role he plays. This is actually his first time in the leading role for a movie, so you know he’s going to bring everything he has now that he finally is getting the recognition he so rightly deserves. Also featured in the movie is Miranda Otto, reprising her role as Eowyn from the original trilogy and serving as the narrator of the movie.
“Nosferatu,” December 25, 2024
Director: Robert Eggers
“Nosferatu” (2024) is Robert Eggers’ newest upcoming Gothic horror movie about a young woman (Lily Rose Depp) and the vampire (Bill Skarsgard) who is obsessed with her. This is Eggers’ fourth feature film, and is a remake of the 1922 original that was banned in many countries until 1972 due to “excessive horror.” The story of the original is actually fascinating: it was intended to be an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” (1897), but they never got Stoker’s permission. The family tried hard to get the movie banned and succeeded, but by the time it was banned, enough copies were out and it gained a cult following. It was an instant cornerstone for the horror genre.
There is one very simple reason this is probably my most anticipated movie of the year, and that reason is Robert Eggers. No one creates an eerie and haunting feel in a movie like Eggers. Whether it’s playing with the aspect ratio, creating a chilling sound design or pulling the absolute best out of his actors, he throws everything at the wall to create a unique feeling where you want to stop watching the horror and gore on the screen, but just can’t look away. Plus, I can’t wait to see Bill Skarsgard play a creepy and terrifying vampire being hunted by Willem Dafoe; what more could you ask for?
Director: Daina Oniunas-Pusic
“Tuesday” is a new A24 movie coming out this year centering around a mother-daughter relationship where the daughter has a terminal illness, and one day a mysterious talking parrot visits them to help them both move forward. This is Oniunas-Pusic’s directorial debut, and she is also the sole writer of the film.
The trailer for this movie alone nearly made me cry. Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays the mother, and from the few scenes we see of her, I can tell we’re in for a special performance. She delivers each line with such urgency and emotion that oozes off the screen. The line in the trailer that nearly broke me was when she says, “I don’t know what life means without you,” to her daughter. Louis-Dreyfus has two children of her own (both boys), so I can only imagine how close to home this role hits for her.
And the choice to use a parrot in a movie about death and moving on from it is so poetic. What makes life worth living and what makes the thought of it ending a little bit more comforting is the echo and legacy we leave behind. I just can’t wait to see how this movie tackles that idea.
What really impresses me most about this movie is the fact that A24 took such a bold swing to bring on a director who only has four short films to her name and has given her almost complete creative freedom. It is daring moves like this one that distinguishes good movie studios from great movie studios. I know that whenever I see the A24 logo pop up on the screen before a movie, I’m about to watch a movie that has something to say, and will without a doubt be saying it in style. I believe that in the next few years, A24 is going to skyrocket up the ranks when it comes to movie studios; they only make ambitious moves, and consistently place their fate in the hands of creative people who have a message to share with the world.
Nathan Castimore is a third-year Communications Studies major with minors in Media & Culture and History. NC973905@wcupa.edu