With the New Year upon us, it’s time for our annual tradition of looking at the cinematic horizon. Having highlighted 30 films we guarantee are worth seeing this year and those we hope get U.S. distribution, we now venture into the unknown. We dug deep to chart the 100 films we’re most looking forward to, from debuts to documentaries to the return of some of our most-beloved auteurs, along with a small batch of studio films worth giving attention.
Though the majority lack a set release––let alone a confirmed festival premiere––most have wrapped production and will likely debut at some point in 2024. Be sure to check back for updates over the next twelve months (and beyond).
100. Civil War (Alex Garland; April 12)
A storm brewed across social media with the trailer for Alex Garland’s Civil War. Garland, who last invigorated and disgusted audiences with Men, still boasts an impressive track record with his previous hits Annihilation and Ex Machina, not to mention his screenwriting CV. A sci-fi savant with big ideas and an ability to almost slow down time, he returns with an ensemble film seemingly leaning towards action, attempting to visualize America’s collective growing division. With a stellar cast including Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons, Civil War should, at a minimum, keep everyone entertained. – Mike F.
99. Nutcrackers (David Gordon Green)
With a six-year-long stint in horror recently culminating in one of the very worst films of this century, David Gordon Green’s recent creative stretch has left those who appreciated his more character-driven work of George Washington, All the Real Girls, Snow Angels, Joe, and even Pineapple Express more than a bit disappointed (though his work on The Righteous Gemstones certainly deserves praise). The director is now finally returning to his dramatic roots with a Ben Stiller-led feature about an uncle who heads to rural Ohio to look after his four nephews after their parents die in a car accident. – Jordan R.
98. Wizards! (David Michôd)
This A24 film test-screened throughout 2023, and––should you be curious––reactions are public. The general takeaway is a narrative that, at one point, becomes very scatalogical in nature. The comedy follows Pete Davidson and Franz Rogowski as two beach resort stoners deciding what to do with the stolen loot they unwittingly discover. This looks somewhat akin to No Country for Old Men by way of The Beach Bum. Cinephiles should be intrigued to see Rogowski display his comedic chops after break-dancing onto the scene in Michael Haneke’s Happy End in 2017. As for Davidson: I recall the zoomer-filled screening of Bodies Bodies Bodies laughing at every one of his line readings, so he has pull in a demo firmly outside of my own. Michôd is an intense filmmaker who always leaves room for pitch-black humor, and this one could lean more into his outright goofy side. – Caleb H.
97. The Front Room (The Eggers Brothers)
You’ve heard of Robert Eggers, director of The Witch, The Lighthouse, and The Northman, but did you know he’s got twin brothers who are also filmmakers? That’s right: it’s time for Max and Sam’s crack at horror. The Front Room follows a young couple (Brandy Norwood and Andrew Burnap) who are forced to take in an ailing, estranged stepmother (Kathryn Hunter) soon after the wife learns she is pregnant. Neal Huff also stars. Between Brandy, every millennial’s favorite Cinderella, and theater stars Burnap, Hunter, and Huff, this cast is fascinating. Fingers crossed for a pregnancy horror win after A24’s bizarre last attempt. – Lena W.
96. Maria (Pablo Larraín)
Maria covers the life of opera legend Maria Callas (played by Angelina Jolie) from the 1950s to her death in 1977. Reteaming after last year’s El Conde, director Pablo Larraín and DP Ed Lachman worked on locations in Budapest, Paris, Milan, and Greece. Lachman shot on film in part “because that’s the way she would have been seen at the time,” and praised the processing work by the NFI Filmlab in Budapest. – Daniel E.
95. Made In England: The Films of Powell and Pressburger (David Hinton)
Following the best movie of last year, 2024 brings a lesson in cinema history from Martin Scorsese. He’s narrating a new documentary on two of the greatest directors of all time, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, the duo responsible for The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, A Matter of Life and Death, and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. Considering Scorsese’s close connection to their work, from being captivated at a young age and much later becoming friends with Michael Powell (who was married to Scorsese’s long-time editor Thelma Schoonmaker), we expect more wisdom on their peerless oeuvre. – Jordan R.
94. Relay (David Mackenzie)
David Mackenzie––who you call an artier or more left-field Stephen Frears, with that particularly British filmmaking versatility of his––was on a fine little run until Hell or High Water heavily over-performed in 2016, with it boasting a pre-Yellowstone Taylor Sheridan on script duties. This finance-world thriller will see Riz Ahmed as a Michael Clayton-like fixer protecting corrupt firms from ruin. We hope for something “termitic,” to use that word from old-school auteurist criticism. – David K.
93. Handling the Undead (Thea Hvistendahl)
Worst Person in the World duo Renate Reinsve and Anders Danielsen Lie are back together for Handling the Undead, the first feature from Norwegian director Thea Hvistendahl. This horror-drama, based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist (Let the Right One In and Border), follows three Oslo families whose lives are thrown into chaos when the dead come back to life. With a screenplay co-written by Hvistendahl and Lindqvist, this is already one of Sundance’s buzziest premieres. No wonder Neon’s already called dibs. – Lena W.
92. My First Film (Zia Anger)
How to anticipate something you’re not sure of? Is the word always “anxiety”? What room exists for the unknown to be experienced without ever being known, to feel something like “good,” even when prodding the failure to be known? Or: if you’ve made My First Film (2019) after My Last Film (2015), isn’t it time to make My First Film (2024) again? Zia Anger, one of our most turbulent / turbulently joyous prodders of the moving image, returns to excavating abandonment, this time (?) with the veneer of fiction (?) wrap-warped around Odessa Clark in front of the camera and Ashley Connor behind it. I don’t know what it will be. I’ll be there––isn’t “anticipating” a movie just sitting in the dark, and then light? – Frank F.
91. Love Lies Bleeding (Rose Glass; March 8)
Rose Glass’ debut feature Saint Maud was for weird girls with God complexes and psychosexual mommy issues. Her new film is seemingly for those of us who love muscular women, mullets, and Kristen Stewart. Love Lies Bleeding, which stars Katy O’Brian as Stewart’s ripped love interest, is a romantic Western thriller with a predictably great trailer. (Extra points for using Bronski Beat’s gay ‘80s bop “Smalltown Boy.”) It will premiere shortly as part of Sundance’s Midnight section, and it’s already set for a wide release on March 8. Thank goddess. – Lena W.
90. Paddington in Peru (Dougal Wilson; Nov. 8 (UK) and Jan. 17, 2025 (US))
Very few blockbuster trilogies are able to stick the landing, which only heightens the stakes for Paddington Bear’s long-awaited third outing. With Paul King replaced by music video auteur Dougal Wilson––making his feature debut––there’s understandable cause for concern that Paddington in Peru won’t live up to the beloved first two films. However, Paddington would likely give me a hard stare for even the slightest bit of cynicism, and after six years since the second film, some new scenery and behind-the-camera changing of the guard could be exactly what this franchise needs to engage a new generation of audiences. – Alistair R.
89. In the Blink of an Eye (Andrew Stanton)
In 2016, Pixar giant Andrew Stanton mentioned his desire to make more live-action films. After developing Chairman Spaceman and Revolver, he’s now shot In the Blink of an Eye, making the WALL-E director’s wish rapidly come true. In the Blink of an Eye, a Searchlight Pictures feature, is no small project: it apparently recounts “the history of the universe and human life as told through three intertwined stories.” With Kate McKinnon, Rashida Jones, and Daveed Diggs in starring roles, I think we’re all interested to see where this one is headed. – Lena W.
88. Power (Yance Ford)
Oscar-nominated Strong Island director Yance Ford is returning to Sundance Film Festival this year with one of the most-anticipated documentaries in the lineup. Power is an essay film that takes a deep look at the history of policing in the United States and the unceasing expansion of its scope and scale much to the detriment of marginalized communities. It looks to be another powerful, informative inquiry from the filmmaker, one which hopefully will arrive soon after its premiere. – Jordan R.
87. Matt and Mara (Kazik Radwanski)
Over three features, Toronto-based director Kazik Radwanski has created a body of work that’s not only helped revitalize his city’s independent filmmaking scene, but maybe that of arthouse Canadian cinema on the whole. While few plot details are known, his new film Matt & Mara, re-teaming the duo (indie stalwart Deragh Campbell and BlackBerry’s Matt Johnson) behind his previous film Anne at 13,000 Feet should promise another piercing, claustrophobic (in a good way) look at modern living and the pains of being alive. – Ethan V.
86. Babygirl (Halina Reijn)
It feels like we’ve been anticipating the return of the Hollywood erotic thriller for years now––instead, all we’ve got is endless social media discourse about the few sex scenes still intact in movies. Halina Reijn’s Bodies Bodies Bodies follow-up is 2024’s best hope to finally usher in a new age of the delightfully schlocky genre, with Nicole Kidman and Harrison Dickinson as the boss and employee whose affair threatens the company they work for. It’s a loaded premise, but has potential to marry genre thrills with a thoughtful probe of workplace sexism to more powerful effect than last year’s almost-great Fair Play. – Alistair R.
85. Carry On (Jaume Collet-Serra)
After helming Disney’s Jungle Cruise and then DCEU’s Black Adam, Jaume Collet-Serra is refreshingly pausing big-budget franchise work and returning to his sweet spot: a transportation-based thriller. Carry On, written by T.J. Fixman and Michael Green, follows Ethan Kopek, a TSA agent who gets blackmailed by a passenger to let a dangerous package slide by security and onto a Christmas Day flight. Like Collet-Serra’s best work, The Commuter and Non-Stop, its high-flying, no-frills setup seems poised to give star Taron Egerton his own Liam Neeson lane to navigate. – Jake K-S.
84. Longlegs (Oz Perkins)
After three features, including 2020’s underrated Gretel & Hansel, Oz Perkins should be a household name among horror fans. Yet it seems his films fly under the radar. With this year’s Longlegs he enlists Nicolas Cage and Maika Monroe in a thriller about the occult. Cage has been experiencing something of a renaissance recently, and Monroe hasn’t missed yet with her choices in horror, so expectations are high. Hopefully this will be the one to break Perkins into the mainstream. – Christian G.
83. Queen at Sea (Lance Hammer)
It’s been 15 years since Lance Hammer burst onto the scene with his impressive, impressionistic Ballast. That film garnered critical acclaim and a breakthrough director award for Hammer at the Gothams. He’s essentially been MIA since. While details are scarce about his second feature, we do know it features Juliette Binoche, Tom Courtenay, and Florence Hunt and concerns a woman (Binoche) who moves back to London to care for her elderly mother. If it’s anything like Ballast it’ll be a complex, humanistic exploration of family dynamics. – Christian G.
82. The Order (Justin Kurzel)
Justin Kurzel continues exploring true crime and white male rage in The Order, which deals with the Neo-Nazi terrorist organization that tried to start a white supremacist revolution in the US in the early ’80s. Jude Law stars as an FBI agent who realizes domestic terrorists might be after a series of armed robberies, while Nicholas Hoult stars as leader Robert Jay Mathews. Based on Kurzel’s previous works expect nuanced psychological portraits and operatic thrills. – Jose S.
81. Those Who Find Me (Dea Kulumbegashvili)
Following her haunting, acclaimed debut feature Beginning, Georgian director Dea Kulumbegashvili will return with Those Who Find Me. Here’s the logline: “Nina, an obstetrician-gynecologist working in the only hospital of a provincial town in Georgia, is unconditionally devoted to her patients, even if that means crossing the line legally or socially. But after she is accused of negligence, during the internal investigation that follows, Nina’s personal and professional life will be scrutinized, and she will be forced to question her choices.” With production already completed, we won’t be surprised to see this show up at Cannes. – Jordan R.
80. Hope (Na Hong-jin)
The Wailing director Na Hong-jin is set to direct Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Cameron Britton, and Taylor Russell in the upcoming Hope, a thriller set in a remote harbor town where the residents must fight to survive. This is still a Korean film, though the English-speaking actors will reportedly speak English. Hwang Jung-min (The Wailing) and Zo In-sung (The King) also star alongside Hoyeon, who will make her feature film debut after a star turn as Player 067 in Squid Game. Throw in Parasite cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo to make it a 2024 priority. – Lena W.
79. They Follow (David Robert Mitchell)
It Follows boasted the most simple-but-effective elevator pitch of any horror movie from the last decade, and part of me doesn’t want the unnerving ambiguity of that film’s closing shot ruined with a sequel. But with David Robert Mitchell long saying that any sequel would be an excuse to explore the wider mythology of the sexually transmitted curse, I can’t help being intrigued––especially as that vague premise suggests the potential for They Follow to transform into a nutty, labyrinthine mystery far closer to his unfairly maligned follow-up Under the Silver Lake. – Alistair R.
78. The Killer (John Woo)
I find myself lonely for more or less loving Silent Night, a gonzo rejuvenation in John Woo’s long and legendary career. I can only hope for similar spark from The Killer, despite it remaking arguably his greatest film and having been in development hell a number of years. With bigger-budget support from Universal and Peacock, we can at least anticipate greater resources for a director who hasn’t quite had his final say. – Nick N.
77. Between the Temples (Nathan Silver)
After working at a prolific pace throughout his early career, it’s been a few years since we last heard from Nathan Silver: The Great Pretender debuted in 2018; Cutting My Mother, 2019. Thankfully that changes in a few weeks when Between the Temples premieres at Sundance. Lensed on 16mm by frequent collaborator Sean Price Williams (who’s said he’s most proud of his Silver work), the comedy will be a look at the Jewish faith, with a logline nodding to Jason Schwartzman’s past as Max Fischer. Rounding out the cast is Robert Smigel as the temple Rabbi, Madeline Weinstein (Beach Rats) as his daughter, and Triangle of Sadness breakout Dolly De Leon as one of Schwartzman’s two mothers. The return of one of low-budget American cinema’s most-distinct voices is a great way to kick off 2024, and should lend some indie cred to a festival that’s been lacking such for a while now. – Caleb H.
76. On Becoming a Guinea Fowl (Rungano Nyoni)
Guineafowls are gallinaceous (heavy-bodied, ground-feeding) birds endemic to Africa. Rungano Nyoni’s new film will explore them, somehow––literally or most likely metaphorically. There is no plot information currently for this anticipated film from the Zambian-Welsh director, a follow-up to the BAFTA-winning I Am Not a Witch. That imaginative title is all there is to go on from this equally imaginative filmmaker. – David K.
75. Opus 28 (Sofia Bohdanowicz)
Violinist Kathleen Parlow has been in the mind of Sofia Bohdanowicz’s onscreen emblem Audrey Benac (Deragh Campbell) since the 2018 short Veslemøy’s Song. Benac continues to search for Partlow’s compositions and recordings and connect with her familial lineage in Opus 28. After Bohdanowicz conducted one of her final shoots, where they filmed the live performance of Parlow’s eponymous concerto, we anticipate Bohdanowicz taking her unorthodox melding of fact and fiction to new levels. – Edward F.
74. Rebel Ridge (Jeremy Saulnier)
Nine years later, Jeremy Saulnier, writer and director of Green Room, is finally helming his own script again. Rebel Ridge is billed as “a high-velocity thriller that explores systemic American injustices through bone-breaking action sequences, suspense and dark humor.” Sounds about right! It stars Aaron Pierre, Don Johnson, James Badge Dale, AnnaSophia Robb, and David Denman. The Netflix project has been in production hell for all kinds of reasons, but we hope this is the year it finally sees the light of day. – Lena W.
73. Faces of Death (Daniel Goldhaber)
If you love internet horror, the names “Daniel Goldhaber” and “Issa Mazzei” should make your heart skip a beat. The Cam team is back for more digital devilry, this time with a super-buzzy young cast. Fresh from the explosive success of How to Blow Up a Pipeline, Goldhaber is returning to his roots for Faces of Death. The script, co-written with Mazzei, follows a content moderator who comes across violent videos recreating cinematic death scenes. If that premise isn’t enough to have you on the edge of your seat, the cast includes Barbie Ferreira, Dacre Montgomery, Jermaine Fowler, Aaron Holliday, and––wait for it––Charli XCX. – Lena W.
72. The Governesses (Joe Talbot)
Joe Talbot has only made one feature, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, an aesthetically stunning ode to his native city. He’s finally returning, five years later, with A24’s The Governesses, an adaptation of the novel by Anne Serre. The key to his second film might be its eclectic cast of Renate Reinsve, Lily-Rose Depp, and Jung Ho-yeon, three actresses known for varying roles and genres. Talbot takes on a story concerning governesses who “ignite rebellion in their household to the delight of their employers.” Here’s hoping it’s just as moving and gorgeous as his debut. – Mike F.
71. Stranger Eyes (Yeo Siew Hua)
Not every film (thankfully!) is about filmmaking, but to watch one is to watch watching. We survey and are surveilled by the mirror-screen. A thoughtful director of images like Singapore’s Yeo Siew Hua explores without exploiting this formal is / isn’t. Following up on his Golden Leopard-winning A Land Imagined (2018), Yeo’s Stranger Eyes is described as a “thriller with domestic surveillance at its core.” Starring as it does Wu Chien-Ho (fresh off his Golden Horse-nominated performance in Chung Mong-hong’s A Sun (2018)) and Lee Kang-Sheng (fresh off one of the most thrilling three-decade collaborations with Tsai Ming-liang) which national / emotional space Yeo locates watching from remains an anticipation to gawk at. – Frank F.
70. Freaky Tales (Anna Fleck and Ryan Boden)
After cashing their Marvel check before the machine began going up in flames, Half Nelson and Mississippi Grind duo Anna Fleck and Ryan Boden have returned to the world of indie filmmaking for their first feature in half a decade. With a cast including Pedro Pascal, Ben Mendelsohn, and the late Angus Cloud, here’s the synopsis from Sundance, where it’ll premiere shortly: “In 1987 Oakland, a mysterious force guides The Town’s underdogs in four interconnected tales: Teen punks defend their turf against Nazi skinheads, a rap duo battles for hip-hop immortality, a weary henchman gets a shot at redemption, and an NBA All-Star settles the score. Basically another day in the Bay.” – Jordan R.
69. 2073 (Asif Kapadia)
Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Asif Kapadia returns with what appears to be his most ambitious feature yet. Billed as a documentary thriller set in a dystopia 50 years into the future, 2073 borrows inspiration from Chris Marker’s La Jetée, in which a time traveler attempted to save humanity after an apocalyptic World War III. The Oscar-winning director, primarily known for capturing intimate portraits of sports and entertainment icons––Amy Winehouse and Diego Maradona––has promised an “epic about the state of the world.” For the first time, Kapadia will excavate something other than the past. – Jake K-S.
68. Sasquatch Sunset (David and Nathan Zellner)
Coming off brilliant work with Nathan Fielder and Benny Safdie directing episodes of The Curse, the Zellner brothers (Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter and Damsel) return to the world of sasquatches. Sasquatch Sunset, set to premiere at Sundance, stars Riley Keough and Jesse Eisenberg as we follow a year in the life of their family of, yes, sasquatches. Almost nothing else is known about the project and we wouldn’t want it any other way. – Jordan R.
67. Timestalker (Alice Lowe)
If Bertrand Bonello’s centuries-spanning sci-fi romance The Beast sounds too confounding, then Alice Lowe’s long-awaited sophomore feature (after the delightfully deranged horror comedy Prevenge) might be more to your tastes. Whereas that film tackled the anxieties of motherhood, Timestalker is a darkly comedic parable on modern dating, charting a woman doomed to fall in love with the same dreadful man every time she’s reincarnated. I hope the movie can live up to its Cloud Atlas-by-way-of-Albert Brooks premise. – Alistair R.
66. Harvest (Athina Rachel Tsangari)
Some deliciously weird shit’s likely to happen in a movie if Caleb Landry Jones is involved. Such is the case for Harvest, the upcoming fourth feature from Greek filmmaker Athina Rachel Tsangari. Jones joins Frank Dillane, Rose McEwen, and Harry Melling in this tale of economic turmoil and scapegoating in a remote English village. Melling, who you may know as Harry Potter’s bullying cousin Dudley, has been picking very interesting roles lately, including Edgar Allen Poe and a straight-laced hetero husband who falls for a leather daddy. Between him and Jones, this should be interesting. – Lena W.
65. Pedro Páramo (Rodrigo Prieto)
Most people don’t realize Barbie and Killers of the Flower Moon had the same cinematographer. And if they don’t know that, they probably don’t know Rodrigo Prieto is the same cinematographer who shot Brokeback Mountain, 8 Mile, Babel, Frida, and Argo. The iconic DP (and Scorsese mainstay since The Wolf of Wall Street) has worked for Iñárritu, Julie Taymor, Spike Lee, Ang Lee, Cameron Crowe, and Oliver Stone, to name a handful. He’s even responsible for three Taylor Swift music videos in 2020. The man has his fingers on the pulse of pop culture’s most cinematic imagery, and this is his directorial debut––saddle up. The promise of a “hypnotic flow of dreams, desires, and memories” set in a murderous ghost world is, to say the least, intriguing. – Luke H.
64. Who by Fire (Philippe Lesage)
After crafting one of the finest coming-of-age stories of the last decade with Genesis (which also served as a breakthrough for Theodore Pellerin), Canadian director Philippe Lesage finally returns this year with the Berlinale-bound Who by Fire. Clocking in at over 150 minutes, the drama follows 17-year-old Jeff, who is invited by his friend Max’s family to stay at the secluded home of film director Blake Cadieux. Not much else is known about the project, but we’re excited to see what Lesage has cooked up. – Jordan R.
63. Nightbitch (Marielle Helller)
Writer-director-actor Marielle Heller hasn’t made a bad film yet, and will look to continue that streak with her newest feature, Nightbitch, adapted from the 2021 novel of the same name. Following a stay-at-home mom (Amy Adams) who sometimes transforms into a dog once the lights go out, Heller’s fourth film might give her the opportunity to veer out of reality. After two features (Can You Ever Forgive Me? and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) based on real-life persons, Heller seems primed to play with form, genre, and a larger landscape. Throw in Adams, Scoot McNairy, and Mary Holland––Nightbitch could be the offbeat indie of the year. – Mike F.
62. La Cocina (Alonso Ruizpalacios)
After the genre-bending A Cop Movie looked at the lives of two police officers in Mexico City, Ruizpalacios takes on migrant restaurant servers in Times Square with La Cocina. Based on a play by Arnold Wesker and partly inspired by Ruizpalacios’ own experiences as a server in London, La Cocina reunites him with Cops Raúl Briones and also stars Rooney Mara, whom the director had never met when he e-mailed her his previous works and asked her to star in his next film. After watching Cop, Gueros, and Museo, how could she say no? – Jose S.
61. Holland, Michigan (Mimi Cave)
I think I was more aligned with the aggregate on Mimi Cave’s 2022 debut Fresh than the critics I keep in my purview. What was promising about the thriller was that Cave, far before the film gets into unveiling its true plot, showed off some impressive dexterity of tone. In Holland, Michigan, Cave––with a star in tow (Nicole Kidman)––is once again focusing on shaded corners of the world: this time the little WASPy Dutch-American town in West Michigan known mostly for tulips and tourists. – Shawn G.
60. The History of Sound (Oliver Hermanus)
Based on a short story by Ben Shattuck, the WWI-era Sound follows Lionel (Paul Mescal) and David (Josh O’Connor), who set out on a journey to record the folklore of the US through the music and voices of its people, many of them young men who might lose their lives in the war. Hermanus described the film as a “love story,” which is promising considering the nuance, sensitivity, and grace he gave to another queer relationship in Moffie. – Jose S.
59. Afonso’s Smile (João Pedro Rodrigues)
Hoping to be completed in time for the 50th anniversary of the 1974 Carnation Revolution, João Pedro Rodrigues’ Will-o’-the-Wisp follow-up will capture the event, in which the autocratic Estado Novo regime of Portugal was overthrown. Per a recent issue of Sight and Sound, the director notes it will be “a fictional story inspired by actual events both historical and personal,” specifically exploring the time of political upheaval through a teen’s queer sexual awakening. With Bernard Faucon’s photographs (particularly Le Bassin), which “exhale an unsettling, perverse innocence” being used as inspiration, we look forward to what one of the great contemporary directors of queer cinema has in store. – Jordan R.
58. Emilia Perez (Jacques Audiard)
Jacques Audiard’s first musical (with new songs by Clément Ducol and Camille) tells the story of a Mexican cartel leader who undergoes sex-reassignment surgery to evade the law while finally affirming her gender. Trans actor Karla Sofía Gascón (known for their work in El Señor de los Cielos) plays the lead, with Selena Gómez and Zoe Saldaña co-starring. – Jose S.
57. Horizon: An American Saga (Kevin Costner; June 28 and Aug. 16)
A natural extension of Kevin Costner’s Yellowstone residency and the possible impetus for its conclusion, Horizon: An American Saga is already aiming to be the two-pronged event of the summer. The beginning of this proposed four-part franchise will cover a 15-year-period during the American West’s settlement, sprawling multiple storylines and perspectives with an abundance of talent: Sam Worthington, Jamie Campbell Bower, Luke Wilson, Giovanni Ribisi, Sienna Miller, Jena Malone, and Thomas Haden Church. Directing his first movie since 2003’s Open Range, Costner returns to the plains where he won an Oscar for Dances with Wolves almost 35 years ago with an expansive project that promises a major Hollywood moment. – Jake K-S.
56. Gladiator 2 (Ridley Scott; Nov. 22)
The hype surrounding Gladiator 2 has been hanging in the air like a thick, distracting fog of well-deserved IP lust since it was revealed Nick Cave wrote a follow-up that saw Maximus Aurelius surfing and morphing across millennia à la Sally Potter’s Orlando. (Russell Crowe reportedly hated it with a passion.) But it’s finally coming, albeit not Cave’s way. It’s been long enough since the first news that Paul Mescal was cast as Lucius that it’s as if he’s aged in real time since. Few of the main characters are returning, but Connie Nielsen and Djimon Hounsou are back, while Pedro Pascal and Barry Keoghan have arrived. But most importantly: Denzel Washington. – Luke H.
55. Christmas Eve In Miller’s Point (Tyler Taormina)
Like Ham on Rye and Happer’s Comet, Tyler Taormina’s third feature, Christmas Eve in Miller’s Point, takes place over one night. We are embedded with the Balsanos, a rowdy East Coast family gathered to spend one last holiday in the family home. Those who found Ham on Rye a breath of fresh air in the American indie space should find much to love in Christmas Eve: earnest emotion, teens seeking an escape from the suburbs, great needle drops, and plenty of silly humor. Gregg Turkington and Michael Cera co-star as the town’s cops to assist in that final category. Taormina’s first two features premiered at Locarno and Berlin, respectively, so expect Christmas Eve to score a prominent festival slot sometime in 2024. – Caleb H.
54. Challengers and Queer (Luca Guadagnino; April 26 and TBD)
Is 2024 already the year of Luca Guadagnino? Thanks to studio scheduling changes, the Italian director will have two new movies out this year, both of which continue to fulfill his interest in messy romantic portraits. Challengers drops Zendaya into a professional tennis love triangle with Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor that will surely use its sport’s metaphorical potential. Then he returns with Queer, a William S. Burroughs adaptation pitting Daniel Craig and Outer Banks’ Drew Starkey into a 1940s-set Mexico City drama about an unrequited and obsessive relationship. They look like a pair of aces. – Jake K-S.
53. The Rivals of Amziah King (Andrew Patterson)
Premiering in 2019 on the festival circuit but released during the early days of the pandemic, Andrew Patterson’s The Vast of Night was one of the most impressive indie sci-fi films of recent years and quite a calling card for the director. He’s now leveled up his scope with The Rivals of Amziah King, which stars Matthew McConaughey and Kurt Russell; plot details are slim, only described as a “deeply atmospheric, character-focused crime thriller set against the unique backdrop of remote Oklahoma.” Production wrapped this past summer, and we imagine a fall-festival debut is in the cards. – Jordan R.
52. A Different Man (Aaron Schimberg)
Aaron Schimberg’s criminally underseen Chained for Life was a scorched-Earth satire about the cruel ways disabled people have historically been depicted in cinema. His A24-produced follow-up, set to premiere at Sundance later this month, looks set to twist the knife further, as a man who has undergone facial reconstruction surgery (Sebastian Stan) becomes obsessed with the actor playing him, pre-surgery, in a stage play. The only downside to this getting a wider audience than Schimberg’s prior feature? It will likely be greeted by some of the year’s worst discourse. – Alistair R.
51. Drive-Away Dolls (Ethan Coen; Feb. 23)
After the balk that was Jerry Lee Lewis: Trouble in Mind, Ethan Coen is due for a real debut apart from his brother Joel. The two are developing projects together, and thus haven’t separated, but they’ve diversified their output by exploring individual interests. For Ethan, it’s meant bringing to life the first of a spiritual trilogy of lesbian B-movies that he co-wrote and produced with longtime Coen bros. editor (and wife of more than 30 years) Tricia Cooke. The star-studded (Margaret Qualley, Colman Domingo, Pedro Pascal, Matt Damon, etc.), self-identified “comedy caper” follows two down-on-their-luck lesbian friends on a road trip beleaguered by criminals. And it looks more Coen-quality than his first attempt. – Luke H.