10 films definitely worth leaving the house for in 2023

Dollies and mermaids and whales, oh my! Counting down the movie magic we’re most excited about this year.


Doll parts, part #1: meet Model 3 Generative Android, or M3GAN for short. She’s a robot dolly, developed to stop any kid ever feeling lonely or sad. But what about making them feel utterly petrified? This camp-tastic horror from the fine minds at Blumhouse and the filmmaker behind the Saw franchise is another take on the murderous toy genre. You’ll cry real tears as an orphaned eight-year-old’s android bestie goes rogue on any humans who get too close. Watch out, too, for M3GAN’s killer dance moves. Say hello to my little friend… then run for your life. 13th January

The Fabelmans

This time it’s personal: after inventing the summer blockbuster, mainstreaming aliens, reimagining the war epic and, most recently, brilliantly rebooting the (discuss) greatest ever movie musical, Stephen Spielberg goes home. Spurred on by the shrinking of the world during Covid and the death of his 103-year-old dad at the height of the pandemic, the director tells the story of his own childhood, and the seeds of his future as a filmmaker. Michelle Williams knocks it out of the picturehouse as his free-spirited mum, but all eyes are on 20-year-old Gabriel LaBelle. Playing the teenage incarnation of cinema’s most commercially successful director, for said director? No fear for the soulful Canadian newcomer. The kid should stay in the pictures. 27th January

The Whale

An arthouse weepie that’s been dividing critics since its premiere at Venice Film Festival in September, Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale was nonetheless an audience favourite at London Film Festival the following month. Here’s why: Brendan Fraser. Thank God the part didn’t go to one early try-out for the role. Where James Corden would have brought cheesy gimmickry to the role of Charlie, an obesely overweight academic shut-in, the back-from-oblivion Fraser quietly and subtly feeds in the rheumy-eyed pathos as the character crumbles under the crushing weight of a tragically lost love. There’s no getting away from the staginess (to be fair, it started as a play), as characters like Charlie’s daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink) and caregiver/​friend Liz (Hong Chau) enter and exit stage left. But there’s also no getting away from the heartbreak, literal and actual, of a lonely man eating himself to death. 3rd February

Blue Jean

This powerful British indie won four times over at last month’s British Independent Film Awards: Best Debut Screenwriter for Georgia Oakley, Best Lead Performance for Rosy McEwen, Best Supporting Performance for Kerrie Hayes and Best Casting for Shaheen Baig. In the fine words of Riley Wade, THE FACE’s LFF critics’ mentorship programme mentee: Blue Jean is exactly the kind of film we need right now: a direct confrontation with Britain’s bigoted past. A kitchen-sink drama about a lesbian school teacher, set in 1988, in the wake of Section 28 (the bill that banned discussion of homosexuality in schools), Blue Jean is a reminder that beneath nostalgia is a truth composed of pain and rage – and, given today’s moral panic over trans identity, a poignant tale on the power of cultural intolerance.” 10th February


One of the below-the-radar hits of last year’s LFF, this Pakistani-made and-set film is the country’s first to make the shortlist for Best International Feature at the Oscars. Riley again: Saim Sadiq’s debut is a beautiful, queer film aching with the scars of social repression. A devastating drama set in Lahore, Pakistan, that follows a young backup dancer as he falls for a transgender musician, in the face of his conservative father. The rare film that respects its trans protagonist unconditionally, granting her joy, without skimping on the harsh reality of discrimination. Joyland is brilliant.” 24th February

Scream VI

Proving that even the dead-est horror franchise can be successfully reanimated with enough winking cleverness (not to mention savvy casting), last year’s fifth Scream movie was an unexpected hit. Fifteen quick months later (long enough for the characters to, you know, start relaxing and stuff), Ghostface killah is back – and this time he’s a bad seed in the Big Apple. The official poster is a scarily brilliant play on the New York subway map, with the station names replaced by those of the killers’ victims over the course of the franchise. Volume six also promises the return of some living stars, too. Like many of the plot points in the 26-year-old series’ history, this is just a wild stab in the dark: the presence of Jenna Ortega will surely make Scream VI to die for. 10th March

The Little Mermaid

We’re stupidly excited for this live action Disney fairytale, not least because it’ll be two fingers in the eyes of the racist goons who lost their already feeble minds at the casting of the lead role. As FACE Features Editor Olive Pometsey wrote in a withering takedown: Ariel is played by Halle Bailey, who is one half of Chloe x Halle and – uh oh! – a Black woman. Obviously she has the talent to back up the casting choice, which is made abundantly clear as her angelic voice sings Part of Your World in the film’s teaser trailer. And, as a mythical aquatic creature with a scaly tail and the uncanny ability to belt underwater, there’s not a wealth of historical resources from which to determine what a photo-realistic mermaid should look like. But the racists are still livid… [And] when the only thing racists have to be mad about is the colour of a mermaid’s skin, it simply pulls back the curtain to reveal how absurd it all is.” Now, let’s get on with the fun. 26th May


Doll parts, part #2. For its teaser trailer alone – a pitch-perfect piss-take of the opening scenes of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space OdysseyBarbie deserves the accolade of Film of the Summer. Director Greta Gerwig follows Little Women (2019) with another adaptation of a beloved and storied childhood IP. In this live action, candy-coloured comedy romp, Margot Robbie is our titular heroine, thrown out of Barbieland (AKA film studios near Watford) for being a less than perfect-looking doll”. Hard to spot in the teaser any flaws in Robbie’s portrayal of Mattel’s 60-year-old ideal of American girlhood, but no matter: it’s doubtful the plot needs to detain us much. Ryan Gosling as Ken, song’n’dance spectaculars and meta jokes galore: there’s something here for everyone. Even if you’re an Action Man, er, man. 21st July


After We Are Who We Are and that delicious film about the teenage cannibal lovers, Luca Guadagnino gives us balls and all. Challengers is a love triangle starring Zendaya, Josh O’Connor and West Side Story stand-out Mike Faist, set in the world of competitive tennis. To quote il maestro himself: I can tell you that it is the most kinetic movie I have made. And I can tell you that it’s going to be like going to a rave party. Set in America. The actors became excellent tennis players – they are impressively great as such on screen. We have a great soundtrack that Trent [Reznor] and Atticus [Ross] are creating.” Having been played one of those compositions, a banging Italo-house track, by the director, we can confirm that Challengers will bring new meaning to tennis clubhouse”. Autumn


The suspense is terrible, I hope it will last…” With those nine words on an Instagram post in October 2021, so began a whole new chapter of Chalamania. Here was the first peek at Holiday Season 2023’s cinematic golden ticket: the blessed Timothée as Willie Wonka. Wonka is an origins movie about Roald Dahl’s chocolatier-in-chief, directed by Paul King (of the surprisingly ace Paddington movies). With the actor channelling Gene Wilder (who, as Wonka, uttered the aforesaid line in 1971’s classic Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory), while definitely sending Johnny Depp’s Wonka (in Tim Burton’s 2005 remake) up that plastic tube after Augustus Gloop, the film documents the young candyman’s pre-factory adventures. To hang with that terrible suspense, Christmas can’t come soon enough. 15th December

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