New movies from Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, Sam Mendes, Greta Gerwig and Florian Zeller, among others, mean there’s a feast of cinema in the coming months
A Man Called Otto
A bittersweet heartwarmer remade from a Swedish film called A Man Called Ove, starring Tom Hanks as a grumpy old bore who, after his wife dies, sees no reason to carry on. His repeated attempts at taking his own life are farcically interrupted and then a new friendship looks as it if will change things.
This richly humane picture, set in Alcarrás in Catalonia, from Spanish director Carla Simón won the Golden Bear at last year’s Berlin film festival. An agricultural community and a family is set at odds when there is a plan to install solar panels on land where a peach orchard used to be.
Danielle Deadwyler (from last year’s western thriller The Harder They Fall) stars in this historical drama from Chinonye Chukwu. She plays Mamie Till, an African American woman who became acivil rights activist in 1955 after her 14-year-old son Emmett was brutally murdered by racists, supposedly for whistling at a white girl.
Empire of Light
Olivia Colman goes all out in this heartfelt movie, set in the early 1980s, written and directed by Sam Mendes. She plays Hilary, a depressed cinema manager in a seaside town who has a passionate affair with the new ticket seller, a black man played by Micheal Ward.
Cornish auteur and experimentalist Mark Jenkin has created this eerily compelling prose-poem of a film, set in 1973 on a remote island (the Cornish title means “stone island”). Mary Woodvine plays a woman whose solitude causes her to spiral downwards into dreams and memories.
This sensational and hypnotic movie stars Cate Blanchett as the fictional principal conductor of a major German orchestra: demanding, passionate, mercurial, brilliant. Rumours of affairs and exploitation follow her and the film tracks her increasingly intense state of mind as she heads for a creative breakthrough or a breakdown.
The boy wonder of modern Hollywood Damien Chazelle has never been shy of taking on the mightiest of American myths. His new film, in the spirit of Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon, is a three-hour-plus epic of semi-fictional bad behaviour in golden age Hollywood, with Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and many more.
Steven Spielberg has never been more personal than in this quasi-autobiographical film about a young Jewish kid called Sammy Fabelman, who is exploring his own childhood and young adulthood, using film to make sense of the world and his troubled family. Michelle Williams has been much praised as Sammy’s mother, Mitzi.
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
The Sackler family is America’s big pharma dynasty, who made a mega-fortune from the addictive opioid pill OxyContin, and artwashed their brand by donating to thousands of galleries. This documentary is about photographer Nan Goldin, who got hooked on the substance and then led a campaign to hold the Sacklers to account.
Veteran auteur Jerzy Skolimowski has made a heartfelt movie in homage to Robert Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar – the story of a donkey called EO (after its braying “eeeee-ohhh” sound). EO has a dizzying succession of adventures: the intimate witness of human vanity.
Brendan Fraser has been greeted with rapturous applause at festivals the world over for his performance in this movie about an English teacher who has extreme weight gain and depression, and conducts Zoom classes with his camera switched off.
French-Senegalese director Alice Diop gives us a no-frills courtroom drama. A Senegalese writer attends the trial in France of a Senegalese woman accused of murdering her 15-month-old child. She intends a kind of reportage spun around the Medea myth, but soon realises that her connection with the accused runs deeper than this.
An all-star cast including Rooney Mara, Claire Foy and Jessie Buckley feature in this searingly tough proto-#MeToo drama inspired by the story of women in a remote religious community in Bolivia who were repeatedly drugged and raped by their menfolk; they discovered the truth by talking among themselves.
First-time British director Georgia Oakley has created a much-admired movie about the homophobia of Margaret Thatcher’s Britain in the era of Section 28. Rosy McEwen plays a gay teacher who has to conceal her sexuality for fear of harassment or even dismissal – but a pupil challenges her to rethink her avoidant attitude.
Once again, The Father’s Florian Zeller directs a laceratingly painful movie, adapted by Christopher Hampton from Zeller’s own stage play. Hugh Jackman plays a high-flying lawyer with a second wife whose troubled teen son from his first marriage comes to stay with him; the situation descends into a nightmare.
This movie from Asif Kapadia is a boldly presented dance piece, inspired by Woyzeck and Frankenstein and conceived in collaboration with the English National Ballet and dancer-choreographer Akram Khan. A created being, interpreted by Jeffrey Cirio, comes to life and yearns for love.
Award-winning Japanese film-maker Hirokazu Kore-eda gives us a road-movie heartwarmer set in Korea, starring Song Kang-ho from the Oscar-winning Parasite. He is a “broker” on the adoption parallel market, stealing unwanted newborns from a church’s “baby box” and putting them up for sale.
Elizabeth Banks directs this black comedy-thriller based on the bizarre true story of the American black bear (later dubbed the “ultimate party animal” and “Pablo Escobear”) that ate an entire duffel bag of cocaine which it found in Kentucky’s Chattahoochee national forest, dumped by a fleeing drug-runner.
Boy From Heaven
Modern Egypt is the setting for this conspiracy espionage-drama from director Tarik Saleh, who gives us intriguing hints of John le Carré. A humble fisher’s son is thrilled to get a scholarship to study Islamic thought at Cairo’s prestigious Al-Azhar University, but stumbles on corruption and murder.
The Super Mario Bros Movie
The Super Mario movie from 1993 – with Bob Hoskins tackling the uniquely challenging lead role – was widely considered to be unsatisfactory. Now we have a new big-screen adaptation of the Nintendo game with Chris Pratt as the little plumber Mario – with an accent that some have dubbed Paulie Walnuts-lite.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3
Having been forgiven and rehired after a row concerning offensive tweets – and since elevated even further to command rival superhero factory DC – James Gunn directs the third movie in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, featuring the quirky underdogs that unexpectedly became box office gold. Chris Pratt is back as Peter Quill, who must rally his pals for a new mission.
The Little Mermaid
Screenwriter Jane Goldman and director Rob Marshall have taken on a very big project: a live-action version of one of the best-loved Disney animations, The Little Mermaid. Halle Bailey is Ariel, the mermaid princess who falls in love with the human prince she rescues from a shipwreck.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
One of the superhero world’s most intriguing developments is this freakily imaginative animated offshoot from the live-action Spider-Man franchise, set in a multiverse-type Spider-Verse of alternative realities concerning the arachnid crime fighter. This second film has Oscar Isaac voicing a future-world Spidey from 2099.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
At a mere 80 years old, Harrison Ford is back as Indiana Jones, with Phoebe Waller-Bridge playing his goddaughter. Jones is now living through the space age: it is 1969 and the moon landing is imminent. Having last encountered Hitler in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, our hero little thought that nazism would yet again be a problem. But now he is deeply concerned at someone from Nazi Germany being involved in the space programme – the sinister engineer Voller, played by Mads Mikkelsen.
Cillian Murphy plays the US scientist who, in his own endlessly requoted words citing Hindu scripture, became death, the destroyer of worlds. This is J Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist who masterminded the US Manhattan Project and created nuclear weapons, in the new epic from Christopher Nolan.
Advance photos of Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in character earlier this year almost caused the internet to melt down. Robbie is the demure blond Barbie based on the Mattel toy in Greta Gerwig’s movie and Gosling is her paramour, Ken.
A Quiet Place: Day One
John Krasinski’s original movie A Quiet Place now decisively morphs into a franchise, for good or ill. We are back for a third film in a stricken future where Earth has been invaded by sinister predators which, although effectively blind, can sense the tiniest of noises.
Dune: Part Two
Here is the second half of Denis Villeneuve’s colossal adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic SF novel, with Timothée Chalamet returning as Paul Atreides, in love with Zendaya’s Chani and making common cause with the Fremen while battling the cabal who destroyed his family.
The Old Oak
British cinema grandee Ken Loach is back, his energy and anger at injustice undimmed. With screenwriter Paul Laverty, he now gives us a new drama set in a former mining community whose pub, The Old Oak, is the last community meeting place, and becomes the focus of tension when Syrian refugees arrive.
The Eternal Daughter
Here is a ghost story from Joanna Hogg whose purpose is something other than scaring you – with a doppelganger mystery to reflect on the enigma of your parents’ inner lives. Tilda Swinton gives a witty dual performance as a film-maker who brings her elderly mother to a hotel for her birthday.
This film from Paul Schrader is the third in a purported trilogy, after First Reformed and The Card Counter. It once again features a driven, haunted individual with a vocational obsession. Joel Edgerton plays a gardener with a violent past; he has a strange relationship with his employer, played by Sigourney Weaver.
Killers of the Flower Moon
A new Scorsese movie is always an event – his new one is a thriller based on the true story of how the nascent FBI in the 1920s investigated the murders of Native American Osage people in Oklahoma; they were being killed to stop them getting the oil profits to which they were entitled. It is based on the nonfiction bestseller by David Grann (whose The Lost City of Z inspired the film by James Gray). Robert De Niro plays cattle baron William Hale, Leonardo DiCaprio is his nephew Ernest Burkhart and Jesse Plemons is FBI man Tom White.
Do “junior stargazer events” exist in real life? Perhaps it took Wes Anderson to invent them. His new film is set at an astronomy convention for eager teens in a fictional US desert town in the 1950s, where something momentous and strange happens. The movie itself, co-written by Anderson with Roman Coppola, was made at a Spanish studio under Covid-bubbled conditions two years ago, with Margot Robbie, Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton and many others.