Holly Alder presents this year’s most talked about releases and reveals how they might just be exactly what Hollywood needs right now.
2022 ought to be remembered as a fantastic year for cinema. Between the release of star studded films and the display of a wide array of genres, audiences were thrilled. While much of the publicity surrounding the releases of 2022 focuses on A-list casting and strong plotlines - such as the highly anticipated The Batman starring Robert Pattinson and Zoe Kravitz and the controversial Don’t Worry Darling starring Florence Pugh and Harry Styles - many of the films scheduled to be released in 2023 have taken a very different route.
The plot heavy, arthouse-esque film has taken a back seat for 2023, to make room for the likes of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, Elizabeth Banks’ Cocaine Bear and Gerard Johnstone’s M3GAN.
While these pictures are varying in genre, they have in common that they can and should be considered a little bit strange. The release of these films promises the exploration of new and exciting concepts. For many, these films seem to be an incohesive melting pot of exaggerated silliness. Greta Gerwig’s live action film Barbie has been highly publicized and promoted by fans on social media. As it stands, we have minimal information on the plot, an all-star cast and director who have helmed both comedies and dramas and a teaser that is so cryptic it’s basically morse code. With Margot Robbie starring as the eponymous Barbie and Ryan Gosling as her partner and acolyte Ken, the film seems to have no shortage of camp themes, over-the-top performances, and many variations of the color pink.
Critics and audiences alike anticipate that the film is not going to be breaking any new ground in terms of plot but that it will strive to offer something new in terms of aesthetics. The film is a comedy focused on a doll who tries to live out her life in the ‘real world’ after leaving Barbie Land. Although the film is not set to be released in theaters until July 2023, the publicity and general online buzz surrounding the film has not stopped growing since the first images of shooting were released in early 2022.
On the subject of dolls, producer James Wan - one of modern horror’s biggest names - promises to challenge the genre with M3GAN directed by Gerard Johnstone. The film combines science fiction with horror and allows for the reinvention of a classic. The creepy toy doll coming to life is even more terrifying with the addition of the recent idea of artificial intelligence. The plot follows Katie, a young girl who has just tragically lost her parents and is gifted an eerily realistic doll named M3GAN, created by her aunt in hopes that it would solve her childhood loneliness. As expected, M3GAN develops a mind of her own and begins to turn on those around her. A few weeks prior to its release, audiences got a glimpse of M3GAN doing a now iconic robotic dance which has since gone viral and certified the film as camp horror. This reaction appears to not have been a fluke as the stellar performance of the film attests. Indeed, as of the 10th of January 2023, M3GAN has made more than 30 million at the domestic Box-Office, an approval rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a sequel already in the works.
We all love films based on true events, however, sometimes events come along that are so absurd that they hardly sound true. A 2023 release that fits this category is Elizabeth Banks’ (Pitch Perfect 2, Charlie’s Angels) dark comedy, Cocaine Bear. The film is loosely based on a true story about a bear that consumed a duffel bag full of cocaine dropped by a smuggler into a forest before later dying in 1985. The film dramatizes and exaggerates the true story by making the bear go on a vicious rampage, destroying everyone and everything in its path after ingesting the drug.
The publicity surrounding the film has only grown since it was first announced and since the first promotional poster was revealed, most likely because of the association between a class A drug and a wild animal, and because it was labeled as “inspired by true events.” Furthermore, it is quite a significant departure from Elizabeth Bank’s directorial range and creates a stark contrast with her other directorial credits which had fans of hers stunned. The picture bears a resemblance to a dark-comedy but blends suspenseful plot and ambitious visual effects which makes it one of the most highly anticipated and downright strangest films of 2023.
While these three films may not even remotely fit into the same genre, they all share the common theme of being strange, setting 2023 up to be an interesting year for cinema.