Ten movies to watch for December 2023


The highly anticipated new Studio Ghibli film by Hayao Miyazaki is the director’s first since 2013’s THE WIND RISES. Although he always teases retirement, he’s back for what reviews say is another masterpiece. This likely won’t even be his last film, as Ghibli executive Junichi Nishioka said in an interview that he is already hard at work for his next film. When THE BOY AND THE HERON was released in Japan this past July, it was preceded without any trailers, images, synopsis, or casting details of the film, except a single poster. While I wish this was kept for its worldwide release, the trailer looks fantastic and even the English dub has a stacked cast as well, boasting the likes of Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson, Mark Hamil, and Christian Bale. This hits theaters on December 8th.


Although this is Godzilla’s 37th big screen performance to date, this new Japanese film from the popular franchise is taking most of its inspiration from the original 1954 film. Also set in postwar Japan, MINUS ONE takes the franchise back to its more serious, grounded roots (well, as grounded as a giant radioactive lizard monster can be), and critics are calling it one of the franchise’s best films. This film hits US theaters on December 1st.


Mega-famous Indian actor Shah Rukh Khan has had an incredible 2023. After a series of critical and box office disappointments in a large section of the 2010s, the actor exploded once again back on screens earlier this year with PATHAAN, and once again took the box office by storm with September’s (utterly fantastic) JAWAN. Both action epics are in the top 6 highest-grossing Indian films ever. He’s rounding out the year with DUNKI, a comedy-drama based around the lives of Indians who choose to enter countries such as the USA and Canada using illegal processes and who struggle to return home. While I usually like my Indian films more action-oriented, SRK is a phenomenal screen presence, and the director, Rajkumar Hirani, has a solid resume, including the uber-charming then highest-grossing Indian film 3 Idiots. DUNKI hits theaters on December 21st.


I have a confession to make. I do not like Yorgos Lanthimos. I found THE FAVOURITE to be bland and annoying, and THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER to be too uncomfortable and off-putting for my tastes. But, I will confess that POOR THINGS looks fantastic, and critics

across the board have universally praised it. This black comedy fantasy film stars Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, and Willem Dafoe, and carries an impressive $35 million budget. I’ll put my differences aside with Yorgos and check this out when it arrives in theaters on December 15th.


After the resounding success of such films as PARASITE and TRAIN TO BUSAN, many people clamored to watch more Korean films. Well, this is that reminder, as CONCRETE UTOPIA is a brand new disaster-thriller blockbuster that the country submitted as its entry for the best international feature film category at the Oscars. The mentioned utopia in question is an apartment complex, the only building still intact after Seoul was devastated by an earthquake caused by a major apocalyptic disaster no one quite knows the extent of its damage. Of course, turmoil and strife befall those living in the complex, under the leadership of its mysterious leader. The film will receive a limited US release on December 15th.


Kannada cinema director Prashanth Neel exploded onto the Indian cinematic market with his two K.G.F. films, with both films becoming wildly successful (I mean K.G.F.: Chapter 2 almost made as much money as RRR!). This is his first film in the Telugu language, and stars Prabhas, one of the highest-paid actors in India. If the K.G.F. franchise is any indication (search on YouTube “KGF 2 Yash entry”, my god), this film will surely be an overindulgent hero worship film for the ages, or at the very least a supremely entertaining trip to the movies. This mass-action film arrives in cinemas on December 22nd.


Noted Indie director Andrew Haigh (WEEKEND, 45 YEARS) returns for this queer romantic fantasy film, based on the 1987 novel “Strangers”. This is the second adaptation of the novel, the first was THE DISCARNATES by the Japanese director Nobuhiko Obayashi (most famous in the West for his horror comedy HOUSE). The Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott starring film arrives in limited theaters on December 22nd.


Another vulgar auteur-directed part one film releasing this month, REBEL MOON is director Zack Snyder’s ambitious take on the space opera genre. This film follows a mysterious young woman on a remote planet and her journey to recruit warriors from other planets and defeat a tyrannical ruler. Not the most original idea I know, but it’s always interesting to check out what seems to be a director’s complete creative vision, in the fact that parts one and two were shot together, and other media has already been created to branch off of what could become a major IP for Netflix. The film hits the streaming service on December 22nd.


Female directors, while uncommon in the USA, are almost non-existent in India. This is slowly changing for the better, and one of the best Indian female directors as of late is Meghan Gulzar, director of such critically acclaimed films as RAAZI and TALVAR. SAM BAHADUR follows the life and career of legendary Indian army general Sam Manekshaw. Propaganda? Maybe, but it’s always interesting seeing foreign countries take on tired American film fare, especially one directed by a woman. This film hits theaters on December 1st.


Jonathan Glazer has had an interesting career. While not directing theater or various music videos for bands such as Radiohead and Massive Attack, he is sparsely releasing transgressive, uncompromising films. Some (me) might even call him this generation’s Stanley Kubrick. This is his latest film since 2013’s abstract sci-fi UNDER THE SKIN, a film I find to be a masterpiece. This new film follows a head Nazi commandant and his wife as they strive to build a dream life, right next to the horrors of the concentration camp at Auschwitz. With arresting sound design, critics call this film two films, the one you see and the one you hear, as you never see what goes on inside the camps, just the distant sounds of them. “The idea of not showing, not reenacting, the atrocities or the violence was absolutely mandatory for me”, Glazer says. This film, while it premiered earlier this year at Cannes, will receive a limited U.S. release on December 15th.

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