OTTplay's critics discuss their most anticipated films and shows of 2023. How many of these are on your watchlist as well?
I mean, do we even need a reason? Streaming’s best show has reached the stage of biblical insight and artistic bravado. It’s the nastiest, most well-written show on TV, at least this side of the 2010s. It can’t fail. Even bad Succession episodes — which don’t exist — are the best thing out there.
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One
I’m a Tom Cruise believer. I think the lengths he goes to in order to entertain dwarf any acting, performative process-fiction that actors roll out as a matter of PR. It's ludicrous, but by god it's the real deal. It's cinema at all costs, quite literally. How can you not be curious to see what that feels like on the big screen?
Killers Of The Flower Moon
Any Scorsese film would be news at any time, but bringing together DiCaprio and De Niro? Gulp! No amount of collective Marvel pyrotechnics can outmuscle the quota of talent here.
Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani
Love is dead in our cinema. Can the man who once took it to its zenith resuscitate it? Karan Johar isn’t everyone’s idea of a great auteur, but he is a great reader of socio-cultural moments. I’m just curious about what he brings to the screens this time round.
Possibly one of my favourite filmmakers will try and bring an iconic, well-known story to screen. I’m not one for biopics, but Vicky Kaushal under Meghna Gulzar's deft direction? Sign me up.
I am a Damien Chazelle fan. I understand speaking in such absolute terms makes me look silly given the profession I have chosen, but watching Chazelle's films also reminds me why I love movies as much as I do. Granted Babylon has polarised reviewers, but that’s only made me more excited to watch his love letter to cinema.
There are several reasons why I am looking forward to Merry Christmas. This is Sriram Raghavan's first film in four years, after the brilliant Andhadhun and it marks the first time the filmmaker will be collaborating with Vijay Sethupathi. That it also stars Katrina Kaif has me all the more intrigued.
Vishal Bhardwaj being the director is reason enough to look forward to a film. After his delightful short in Modern Love: Mumbai, the filmmaker has evinced the fact that there is nothing he cannot do. Khufiya is a neo-noir spy thriller and stars Tabu. I, for one, am sold.
Spoiler alert: , sobbed sitting among strangers, and heard the thud with which my heart ruptured. Having said that, I am really excited to watch the film again and partake in the conversation once it drops on Mubi in April this year.
Few filmmakers are as versatile as Steven Spielberg. Take any two of his films and one can hardly pin down a commonality. As a storyteller, this accounts for a great skill. Another way to read this is Spielberg's deliberation to tell every story — to avoid telling his own. The Fabelmans is his autobiography of sorts, with the 76-year-old filmmaker finally giving us access to where it all began.
I’ve been waiting all my life for a Spielberg memoir. One of the greatest storytellers of all time – the master of sentiment and scale – using that trademark childlike wonder to tell his own story? What’s not to die for?
The Rocky spin-off franchise is now almost better than the Rocky franchise, whoodathunk? And the cool, charismatic Michael B Jordan himself as director, taking over from Ryan Coogler, taking forward a weirdly personal boxing drama – I’m all ready to rumble.
Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning
If *that* Norway-stunt video on Twitter wasn’t enough, I’m in a phase where I will gladly consume anything Tom Cruise before they place him in a Museum of Science. The nutty superstar is nutty for blockbuster cinema in all the right ways.
For better or worse, Christopher Nolan is Hollywood’s Roger Federer for me. He was there, through thick and thin, expanding the way I lived and thought across my formative movie-loving years. Now he’s making an “atom-bomb movie” starring Cillian Murphy. I’m ready for nuclear-age-time-loop madness.
If Sriram Raghavan makes a feature-length Instagram reel, it’ll be better than 99 percent of the Bollywood thrillers out there. I’ll take post-Andhadhun Raghavan, not least because the coupling of Vijay Sethupathi and…Katrina Kaif is mind-bending on so many levels. You’re a hater, not me.
The distance-from-SRK-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder syndrome aside, I could do with some schmaltzy Hirani preaching in this blockbuster-less post-pandemic age. There’s no way Shah Rukh Khan can screw up a Hirani movie also, right? RIGHT? Imtiaz Ali, Aanand L Rai, Rahul Dholakia – all anomalies, I’m sure.
The Zone Of Interest
We are approaching a decade since the release of Under the Skin — and Jonathan Glazer continues to keep us waiting on his fourth feature. The Zone of Interest, based on Martin Amis’ novel of the same name, is a WWII story about a romantic entanglement between a young Nazi official and the wife of a concentration camp commandant. Neither the easiest adaptation challenge nor the most suitable setting for a romance. Which is why I’m excited to see how Glazer tackles it.
So far, Kelly Reichardt is seven for seven if you ask me. She just never misses. Showing Up marks her fourth collaboration with Michelle Williams, who plays a sculptor facing personal and professional crises as an art-show deadline looms. I have next to no doubt this one will feature high on the list when we all play “best films of the year” at the end of 2023.
Behind the camera you have Lynne Ramsay who is adapting a short story written by Margaret Atwood. In front of the camera, you have Julianne Moore and Sandra Oh as leads. Just going by the names mentioned so far, this thriller should be foolproof, shouldn’t it?
I envy everyone at Sundance who will be getting a first look at Brandon Cronenberg’s latest mindfuck. Alexander Skarsgard plays a novelist on vacation who ends up committing manslaughter on foreign soil. On being arrested, he is given the option of facing the death sentence himself or letting his clone face it in his place. 2022’s horror MVP Mia Goth co-stars.
Bertrand Bonello’s sci-fi romance (starring Léa Seydoux and George MacKay) is another film that has me giddy with anticipation. Reports suggest the film is freely inspired by the Henry James novella The Beast in the Jungle, and is set in the near future where emotions have become a threat.
Nightbitch (Amy Adams as stay-at-home mom who worries she may be turning into a dog), Pablo Larrain’s El Conde (a satire imagining Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet as a 250-year-old vampire), Cocaine Bear (a wild animal jacked on uppers and who has lost his bearings so to speak? Count me in). Mission: Impossible and John Wick’s new entries, and Dune 2.
Quality Shows To Get Us Through 2023’s First Half:
The Last of Us on HBO/Disney+ Hostar and Hirokazu Koreeda’s The Makanai on Netflix. There is also Rian Johnson’s Pokerface, a Columbo-like case-of-the-week murder mystery series starring Natasha Lyonne as the detective. Among the returning series, Season 2 of Yellowjackets will have my undivided attention.
SUBHA J RAO:
Halitha Shameen is a director whose cinematic voice I deeply love. She’s always able to make the small, beautiful moments shine and make silence speak. Her anthology, Sillu Karuppatti, is precious. Minimi (Tamizh) is special because I've been hearing her speak about it for years. She shot the first half of the film in 2016 and waited till 2022 for the kids to grow up and then shot the remaining portions. That kind of diligence is endearing.
Sapta Sagaradaache Ello
Hemanth M Rao has had a stellar track record so far, and is a fabulous genre-switcher. From the family drama Godhi Banna Saadharana Mykattu and the slow-burn thriller Kavuludaari to this film that promises to be an intense romance and more, he's always attempted something interesting. His writing is top-notch and SSE (Kannada) has a very interesting cast — Rakshit Shetty and Rukmini Vasanth. Quite looking forward to the story of Manu and Priya and their promised walk on the beach.
Swathi Mutthina Male Haniye
This will be Raj B Shetty's third directorial, and if the first two are any proof, he's going to do something diametrically different from his previous works. A writer first, Raj creates very lived-in worlds that strike a chord with anyone watching the film. The film (language: Kannada) was apparently shot in just 18 days, and co-stars Siri Ravikumar, a young actor I loved in Rahul PK's Sakutumba Sametha in 2022. Raj stars in the film too, and he is the sort who can pull off any character. Plus there's Midhun Mukundan's music and Praveen Shriyan's cinematography to look forward to.
This Kannada film is doing the festival rounds and earning much praise. But I want to watch this for what Jaishankar proved he was capable of in his anthology film Lachavva (Katha Sangama, Prime Video). That film was about a rural woman confusing Banaswadi and Basavangudi localities in Bengaluru and how she finally finds her way home. Amid all this stress, Jaishankar made us smile. And Lachavva never loses her spirit. From the little I've read of Shivamma (I've stayed clear of the reviews), it is a must-watch.
Ponniyin Selvan 2
I did not particularly love PS1, but something tells me this second part is where it will all come together as a seamless whole. I'm particularly waiting to see the palace intrigue and the various love stories. Plus, the famous 'climax' scene that actor Jayaram spoke about during the audio launch of the film… Just what resulted in Prabhu Sir telling Mani Ratnam, “Mani Pasikuthu Mani (Mani, I'm hungry).”
Nag Ashwin’s sci-fi Telugu-Hindi film has Deepika Padukone opposite Prabhas. What’s not to anticipate?
Ponniyin Selvan 2
The continuation of Mani Ratnam’s epic saga is going to be one of the big movie “events” of 2023. FOMO alone will ensure we watch this.
Mammootty-Roby Varghese Raj’s Untitled Project
After a year in which Mammootty starred in not one, but three of 2022’s most impressive films (Puzhu, Bheeshma Parvam, Rorschach) the superstar has proved that . Cinematographer Roby Varghese Raj's directorial debut, a murder mystery, will reportedly have Mammootty playing a cop.
Hombale Films’ KGF: Chapter 2 and Kantara defined 2022. KGF director Prashant Neel returns this year with Salaar, with Prabhas and Prithviraj.
King Of Kotha
This Dulquer Salmaan-Aishwarya Lekshmi gangster saga may end up as one of 2023’s most intriguing films.
Even as his Mamootty-starrer Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam garnered quite the buzz after its premiere at the International Film Festival of Kerala last month, director Lijo Jose Pellissery already has another exciting project in the works: Malaikottai Vaaliban, with Mohanlal.
Hombale Films + Fahadh Faasil + Pawan Kumar = A Potential Classic.