This year audiences can look forward to the last installments in the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, ‘Aquaman’ and ‘Ant-Man’ franchises, but there are also other equally exciting Hollywood and Asian movies you should put on your to-watch list

Marvel isn’t the only studio delivering exciting films with beloved characters to cinephiles this year. Disney, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros are all bringing back some of our favourite characters in their new projects. Grammy nominee Halle Bailey makes a splash as Ariel in Little Mermaid; Bones and All heartthrob Timothée Chalamet takes on Roald Dahl’s eccentric chocolatier in Wonka; and Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling bring two of the most iconic toys to life in live-action Barbie.

Meanwhile, in Asia, Donnie Yen is set to play Qiao Feng, one of the most famous wuxia legends; and Hong Kong fashion model Louise Wong—who won Best New Performer at the Hong Kong Film Awards for her portrayal of Canto-pop diva Anita Mui—stars in a comedy slated for Chinese New Year.

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1. Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody

The late American singer Whitney Houston’s legacy was cemented by timeless classics such as I Will Always Love You, The Greatest Love of All and When You Believe. Kasi Lemmons’ biopic of this the 20th-century icon, starring English actress Naomi Ackie, details the singer’s incredible yet tragic life, portraying key moments such as when she was discovered by record executive Clive Davis and her rise to international fame in the 1980s.

Release date: January 5, 2023

2. A Man Called Otto

Two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks plays a grumpy widower in this heart-warming comedy adaption of New York Times bestselling novel A Man Called Ove by Swedish author Fredrik Backman. Otto shuts himself off from the world after his wife dies of cancer, until a young family next door turns his life upside down and so begins an unexpected friendship.

Release date: January 5, 2023

3. The Son

Written and directed by Florian Zeller, this film is based on Zeller’s 2018 stage play of the same name and stars Hugh Jackman as a successful lawyer with complicated family relationships. Peter (Jackman) struggles to juggle his new marriage to Beth (Vanessa Kirby) while trying to help his teenage son Nicholas (Zen McGrath) come to terms with his parents’ divorce. He also attempts to mend his relationship with his own father, played by Anthony Hopkins. The Son is part of the stage trilogy that includes The Mother and The Father; the latter was adapted into a 2020 film starring Olivia Colman and Hopkins.

Release date: January 12, 2023

4. Sakra

How about some action? Hong Kong martial artist and veteran actor Donnie Yen directs, produces and plays the lead role in Sakra, a film adapted from Jin Yong’s novel Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils, one of the most well-known wuxia works of all time. Yen’s character Qiao Feng, a martial arts hero, sets out to get medical help for his intended A’zhu—who is suffering from a fatal illness—only to be met by kung fu clans seeking revenge for a wrong accusation. The film also stars Cya Liu, Best Actress winner at last year’s Hong Kong Film Awards, and wuxia film veteran Kara Wai.

Release date: January 19, 2023

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5. A Guilty Conscience

Hong Kong comedian Dayo Wong gets serious in his latest film, which revolves around a sharp-tongued barrister (played by Wong) who, in a moment of negligence, mishandles a child abuse case. To redeem himself, he vows to help set free the wrongfully sentenced mother (played by Hong Kong model Louise Wong), but in doing so risks upsetting the system and exposing his own mistake. Does he have what it takes to bring the true culprit to justice?

Release date: January 21, 2023

6. Little Mermaid

Directed by Rob Marshall—best known for directing the film version of the Broadway musical Chicago as well as Memoirs of a Geisha—this live-action remake of the 1989 Disney animation inspired by Hans Andersen’s fairy tale of the same name will hit Disney+ this May. African American singer and Gen Z fashion icon Halle Bailey, who is best known as one half of the musical duo Chlöe x Halle along with her sister, plays the titular role. The siblings have together earnt five Grammy Award nominations since 2018.

There is also much hype around the new songs written for the film and produced by songwriter and filmmaker Lin-Manuel Miranda, who created the Broadway phenomena Hamilton and In the Heights. This is expected to be quite a musical sensation, with such major creatives being “part of that world”.

Release date: May 26, 2023

7. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Get ready for more swashbuckling adventures in the fifth installment of the Indiana Jones franchise. Harrison Ford puts on the brown fedora for one final mission to battle an old rival and make sure a powerful artefact doesn’t fall into the enemy’s hands.

Release date: June 30, 2023

8. Barbie

Other toys such as Lego, Transformers and GI Joe have had their film treatments, and now it’s the Mattel icon’s turn. The film was announced way back in 2009 but filming only started in 2022 when Warner Bros acquired the rights to the script, and Lady Bird and Little Women director Greta Gerwig was brought in to helm this project. Margot Robbie, who plays the world’s most famous doll, teased in a 2020 interview with The Hollywood Reporter that the live-action film will “give you something totally different—the thing you didn’t know you wanted”. The suspense is nerve-racking, but one thing is certain: we’re all eager to see a blond Ryan Gosling play Ken.

Release date: July 20, 2023

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9. Oppenheimer

This war drama, which details the work of American physicist J Robert Oppenheimer (often referred to as the “father of the atomic bomb”) is Christopher Nolan’s first movie since Tenet in 2020. Cillian Murphy, who starred in Nolan’s Inception and the Netflix series Peaky Blinders, plays Oppenheimer and is joined by an A-list cast: Robert Downey Jr, Florence Pugh, Gary Oldman, Casey Affleck, Emily Blunt, Rami Malek and Matt Damon.

Nolan teased in a 2022 interview with Games Radar, an entertainment website, that he has developed a new type of Imax film for this work, a quarter of which will be in black and white. If his past films are any indication, we can expect some cinematic surprises.

Release date: July 21, 2023

10. Wonka

We all know the story Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, but how much do you know about Wonka’s history with the Oompa-Loompas, the tiny workers at his curious factory? Paul King’s Wonka serves as the prequel to the 1964 children’s novel, and stars Call Me By Your Name actor Timothée Chalamet as Wonka. The film will also see Jim Cartier, Keegan-Michael Key and Olivia Colman in supporting roles.

Release date: December 15, 2023

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