The 14 movies we're most excited for in 2024
New year, new watch list…
We had some huge box office bangers in 2023. There was the Barbenheimer face-off, another Scorcese x Di Caprio collab, the critically acclaimed French courtroom drama – Anatomy of a Fall, GOTG 3 (Marvel at its best), Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse (Marvel-partnered animation at its best), and I haven’t seen it – but everybody I know that deeply loves cinema has told me I’m an idiot for having skipped – Past Lives. With the extended writer’s and actor’s strikes, that stretched over a decent chunk of the year’s creative window, it’s natural to assume 2024’s flick pickings would be slim by comparison. Fortunately for film fans, there’s a twist…
Before Kingsman (2014), ‘comedy-action spy drama’ wasn’t really a distinct genre (do not Johnny English me), but then Matthew Vaughn came along and changed all that with a ‘manner of filmmaking that maketh big bucks’ at the box office. His latest work, Argylle has an obnoxiously talented cast – Henry Cavill, Sam Rockwell, Bryce Dallas Howard, Bryan Cranston, Catherine O’Hara, Dua Lipa (yep, that Doo-la-pee), John Cena, and Samuel L. Jackson. It’s the story of an espionage novelist (Howard) whose work seems to eerily parallel the activities of a nefarious organised crime network. Now in the crosshairs of the cabal, an IRL spy (Rockwell) is sent to protect her. And her cat. There’s an obvious blonde Bond femme fatale reference there, but I’m going to let you do the footwork. Also if you’re watching it at Vox, Mall of the Emirates – there’s an interactive mock-up of the cat’s backpack called Alfie’s Corner. Feline lucky? Tag your social media posts there with the accounts @UniversalPicturesME and @MalloftheEmirates for a chance to win your own itteh, bitteh, Argylle-knitteh, kitteh carrier.
Book tickets: Now
It’s been four long years since we last saw directorial work from Oscar-winning Bong Joon-ho and this next notch on his filmography (starring Robert Pattinson, Naomi Ackie, Toni Collette, Mark Ruffalo, Steven Yeun) IMDB post already feels destined for celluloidal immortality. It’s the adaptation of a highly praised 2022 sci-fi book, Mickey7 – which syncs its cybernetic teeth into the subject of uploaded consciousness. Mickey is on a one-way trip to colonise a distant ice world, a mission fraught with inter-planetary peril. But it’s ok, each time he dies, a new clone is spawned complete with the prior incarnation’s memories. Synthesised immortality in purgatory, sweet.
Dune: Part 2
Postponed from its October 2023 scheduled release, the majority of the exterior shots of this second part of this saga based on the Frank Herbert novel, and directed by visionary helmsman Denis Villeneuve, was filmed right here in the Liwa desert. And the end of part one left us on a pretty precarious Arrakian ridge — with betrayal, subterfuge and ambush leading to the decimation of House Atreides. The sole surviving heir, Paul Atreides (played by Timothée Chalamet) had to escape to the barren wastelands of the desert planet under protective escort of its resident eco warriors, The Fremen (one of whom, Chani played by Zendaya, has caught Paul’s cyanosising eye). Will he be able to evade capture and restore glory to the House Atreides name? Will there be an alternate route to glory? You’ll have to wait until at least March to find out. Or you could read the book, but we’ve heard it contains spoilers.
The Fall Guy
There’s a place for complicated, cerebral, abstract, arthouse concepts in cinema. There’s also a place for handing former stuntman David ‘John Wick’ Leitch a ton of cash and saying “do some Jason Bourne stuff”. This movie (based on a 1980s TV series) is firmly of the latter designation, starring Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt. It’s about a stuntman (Gosling, and presumably vicariously Leitch – see, action can have art too) who’s tasked with diving into the criminal underworld to track down the movie star he’s been taking falls for. There’s a little romance in there, some comedy, a dog (obviously), and a whole lotta Wick-esque violent schtick.
Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
A prequel to Mad Max: Fury Road and now the fifth film in the extended Mad Max-verse (Miller-verse?), Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is the origin story to Fury Road‘s lead female character. Life isn’t great in a post-apocalyptic hellscape, it’s out with the Palm West sundowners and Netflix bingeing; in with questionable (occasionally a bit humany) shawarma, gangs of ruthless bikers that form the basis of the dominant political hierarchies (make your own mind up on where that sits), and people who are prepared commit atrocities over the most trivial quantities of resources. The Miller formula will likely mean we get to see Imperator Furiosa (this time played by Anya Taylor-Joy) making her way through a bold and beautifully bleak world, taking scalps, getting temporarily captured and possibly even meeting Max for the first time.
Written, directed, and co-produced by Jim from The Office (John Krasinski) this part-live action, part-animated movie explores the world of ‘imaginary friends’. Where the ‘I’ and the ‘F’ of If is for the ‘I’ and the ‘F’ of ‘Imaginary Friends’ and the what ‘if’ they were real? The cast is led by Ryan Reynolds, includes Krasinski, Cailey Fleming, and Fiona Shaw, Alan Kim, and features voice support from Michael from The Office (Steve Carell), Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Sam Rockwell, Matt Damon, John Stewart, Louis Gossett Jr., Emily Blunt, and Maya Rudolph. The core part of the story seems to lift off when a young girl, who is able to see these ‘IFs’, notices that her neighbour, The Man Upstairs (Reynolds) is also able to interact with them. The pair then embark on a mission to bring the IFs back into the lives of the children they once were so bonded to. In addition to the wonderful prospect of a Dunder Mifflin creative reunion, we’re also expecting to see that Peter Pan-genre reverence for the imagination of children (and why we should work to retain that awe for life in adult years).
June 2024 is shaping up to be a huge month for cinema with the John Wick spin-off Ballerina, Inside Out 2 and Bad Boys 4 all on track for their early summer release. But this one is different. Inspired by true events, based around a 1967 photo-book and starring Jodie ‘Villanelle’ Comer, Austin ‘still sounds like Elvis’ Butler, Tom ‘born in the dark’ Hardy, Michael ‘Zod’ Shannon, and Norman ‘the crossbow’ Reedus, the story shines a light on “the golden age of bikeriders”. A ride-or-die family of chopper throttling ne’er-do-wells that operate criminal rackets with a famously blood-soaked moral code. Directed by Jeff ‘Mud‘ Nichols we’re expecting to see themes of loyalty, brotherhood, and what happens to those who try to quit the gym. Sorry, gang.
Inside Out 2
Pixar’s first Inside Out was an incredibly complex movie asking big questions about the compartmentalisation of emotions, the nature of identity and the pursuit of happiness. It was also a vastly enjoyable quest movie, with tender moments, hilarious charcaterisations and an odd ethereal sense of nostalgia. Just another pearl on the string of zero miss, core Pixar memories then. The sequel will follow the same format with a now slightly older puberty-age Joy, enjoying some timely new additions to her cast of internal monologuing emotions (including Anxiety and Disgust). We’re certain it’ll tackle yet more deeply complicated developmental, adolescent urges, thoughts and dilemmas with the same trademark Disney heart, love and humour.
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This third installment of the Ryan Reynold’s driven anti-hero vehicle, will be the first time the titular character appears under the official MCU umbrella. But Disney seem to be quite happy to let much of what led to the success of the two previous movies remain. It will likely retain its R-Rating (making it the first MCU film with that classification) and so to the humour and violence that necessitate that, the writers have been kept on, as has Reynolds (which is only right, there is no ‘merc with a mouth’, without that particular ‘mouth’) and Rob Delaney as fan favourite, Peter. We also know that Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine (which if leaked photos are to be believed, will appear in yellow and blue suited homage to the classic animated X-Men series) has been unretired, leading to the prospect of an on-screen bromance of truly adamantine proportions. And if you’re hung up on the fact he *spoiler* died at the end of Logan, you’ve not been paying attention to Marvel’s timeline/multiverse jiggery-pokery.
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Of course Jenna Ortega was going to join the cast of the sequel to 1988 horror-comedy, Beetlejuice – she just screams Tim Burton. And Beetlejuice (at least three times). We wouldn’t be surprised if Burton muse Johnny Depp also gets an off-cast-list call up too. But that’s purely in the realm of conspiracy theory at this time. Michael Keaton’s back as the eponymous pin-stripe, netherworld ‘bio-exorcist’; Winona Ryder and Catherine O’Hara also return, and there are new spots for Justin Theroux, Monica Belluci and Willem Dafoe. It’s showtime.
Joker: Folie a Deux
When I first heard that the follow-up to Todd Phillips’s Batman villain origin story, so brilliantly given depth by a sparkling Joaquin Phoenix, was going to be a musical starring Lady Gaga as Harley Quinn, I thought it was an internet wind-up. An Arthur Fleck-caliber joke. But the more you think about it, the more sense it makes. Where else should you take the story of a tortured, ridiculed incel whose descent into psychopathy is counterbalanced only by his heightening obsession with performance ‘entertainment’. Surreal and macabre song and dance numbers, revelry in the pantomime of chaos – this could quite easily end up as something uniquely wonderful.
There was once a dream that was Gladiator 2. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish… it was so fragile. And I fear that, because it’s taken more than two decades to happen, we should treat the scheduled release date with some self-preserving skepticism. Be warned that whatever comes out of those gates, whenever they open, is going to be a very different cinematic beast. Returning director Ridley Scott is now 86, and crucially there’s no Maximus – Russell Crowe told journalists at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival (reported in Variety) “I don’t know anything about the cast, I don’t know anything about the plot. I am dead! But I know that if Ridley has decided to do a second part of the story, over 20 years later, he must have had very strong reasons. I can’t think of this movie being anything other than spectacular.” And that gives us hope, Russell rarely offers inauthentic (even if presumed) praise. The scant information we do have, is that the plot centres around a now-grown Lucius Verus (son of Commodus). Will he find himself in the Colosseum (the title certainly suggests that)? Will he discover he’s actually the illegitimate son of Maximus (the first movie certainly hinted at that)? Until it arrives, you’ll have to just “hold the line! Stay with me! If you find yourself alone, riding in the green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled. For you are in Elysium, and you’re already dead!”
Ok, who had a remake of a 1920s silent vampire movie on their 2024 blockbuster Bingo card? Anybody? No? If anyone can make it work, and maybe add more meat to the pallid bones of this oft-cited ‘masterpiece’ of early cinema – Robert Eggers is the man. Despite a relatively short directorial career, he’s on a rare zero-miss, three-from-three spree (The Witch, The Lighthouse, The Northman). This 2024 project will focus on our titular blood-sucker (Bill Skarsgård) falling for the charms of a young woman (Lily-Rose Depp). Team Jacob all the way.