(Credit: Sony Pictures/ Marvel Studios)
Spider-Man: No Way Home 《蜘蛛侠：英雄无归》
Now that Marvel's superheroes have saved the Universe, their next job is obvious: they have to save the multiverse. In the third of the Spider-Man blockbusters starring Tom Holland, the teenage web-spinner accidentally opens a portal to numerous parallel realities. He finds himself up against Alfred Molina's Doctor Octopus, who fought the Tobey Maguire incarnation of Spider-Man, and Jamie Foxx's Electro, who fought the Andrew Garfield incarnation. And, who knows, he may even bump into Maguire and Garfield themselves. Sounds fun? Errr... well, apparently not. "What people will be really surprised about is that it's not fun, this film," Holland told Total Film. "It's dark and it's sad, and it's going to be really affecting. You're going to see characters that you love go through things that you would never wish for them to go through."
(Credit: Janus Films)
Drive My Car《驾驶我的车》
With a three-hour running time, Drive My Car may be one of the year's longest films, but it's also one of the most acclaimed: Ryusuke Hamaguchi's meditative drama has a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes, and it won the best screenplay award when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Adapted from a 40-page Haruki Murakami short story, Drive My Car revolves around an actor-turned director, Yusuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima), who is happily married to a screenwriter, despite her numerous infidelities. Two years after his wife's sudden death, Yusuke accepts a job at a theatre festival in Hiroshima. As he is chauffeured to and from his rented house by a quiet young woman (Toko Miura), he slowly comes to terms with betrayal and bereavement.
(Credit: Warner Bros)
Now at last we have a big-screen Dune that may actually do justice to Frank Herbert's science-fiction novel. Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049, Arrival), this is a sombre, sweeping epic which runs for 155 minutes and still only covers the first half of the book. The budget is colossal, the crew is top-notch, and the cast is packed with big names, including Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Zendaya and Dave Bautista. As space operas about psychic-powered young heroes on desert planets go, it may never be as popular as Star Wars, but, says Clarisse Loughrey in the Independent, "It is a film of such literal and emotional largeness that it overwhelms the senses [and] of such intimidating grandeur that it's hard to believe it even exists in the first place."
The French Dispatch《法兰西特派》
Wes Anderson fans rejoice: the writer-director's 10th film is his most Wes Anderson-ish ever. In The French Dispatch, he takes his meticulous style to new extremes, so barely a frame goes by that isn't ornamented with a split screen, a freeze frame, a sans serif caption, a florid voiceover, or a switch between monochrome and garish colour. Beneath all these elaborate quirks is an anthology of three whimsical short stories set in the fictional French town of Ennui-sur-Blasé, and supposedly drawn from the pages of a New Yorker-style magazine in the mid-20th Century. Timothée Chalamet, Benicio del Toro and Léa Seydoux star alongside such Anderson regulars as Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman.
(Credit: 20th-Century Studios)
Ron's Gone Wrong《天赐灵机》
The first feature-length cartoon from a new British studio, Locksmith Animation, Ron's Gone Wrong is a family comedy about the differences between social media and physical interaction. Its schoolboy hero, Barney (Jack Dylan Grazer), is given what seems to be the ideal toy, a shiny robot which is programmed to be his friend – assuming it works properly. The snag is that this particular robot, Ron (Zach Galifianakis), barely works at all. "Children want someone who agrees with them, who wants to play the same games as them… and that's the type of dream the technology world offers you," the film's co-writer and co-director, Sarah Smith, said. "And in our movie, Barney ends up with Ron, who's completely dysfunctional and broken, who doesn't agree with him and doesn't know anything about him, and they have to build this relationship from that point."
(Credit: A24 Films)
Lee Isaac Chung's autobiographical drama has had glowing reviews, but it has also been the source of controversy. Most of the dialogue is in Korean, so the organisers of the Golden Globes put it in the Foreign Language Film category. But Minari is also the tale of a US family working on a small farm in Arkansas in the 1980s, so some commentators have argued that calling its language "foreign" is outdated and insulting. Glenn Whipp in the Los Angeles Times says that the film "feels like a balm right now, a gentle, truthful and tender story of family filled with kind people trying to love one another the best they can. "
(Credit: Gareth Gatrell/Signature Entertainment)
Benedict Cumberbatch has been tipped as a potential James Bond, but in The Courier, he plays one of Bond's less glamorous real-life counterparts. In 1960, just before Sean Connery signed up to be 007, a salesman named Greville Wynne was recruited by MI6 and the CIA to carry Soviet secrets back from Moscow. In the film, his wife (Jessie Buckley) wants him to abandon this increasingly dangerous mission, but Wynne believes that only his espionage can defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis. Directed by Dominic Cooke, The Courier has a "fascinating" story, says Benjamin Lee at the Guardian, but it is Cumberbatch's performance that sells it.
(Credit: Magnet Releasing)
Riders of Justice《正义骑士》
Mads Mikkelsen plays Markus, a bearded, crewcut soldier who is shipped home from active duty after his wife is killed in a train accident. But maybe it wasn't an accident. A bunch of dysfunctional middle-aged men are convinced that a biker gang was responsible, so the unstable Markus sets about getting his revenge. Written and directed by Anders Thomas Jensen (Men & Chicken), Riders of Justice "is salty, violent, transgressive and laugh-out-loud funny," says Fionnuala Hannigan in Screen Daily.
Encanto, the 60th feature film from Walt Disney Animation Studios, is the colourful tale of a Colombian family in which everyone has superhuman powers – everyone, that is, except for one teenager, Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz). Directed by Byron Howard and Jared Bush (Zootopia, renamed Zootropolis in some countries), along with Charise Castro Smith, the film is a celebration of Colombian culture, a tribute to the literary tradition of magical realism, and a musical with songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda. But at its heart, Encanto is one girl's coming-of-age story. "I was so excited about creating this character who is flawed, awkward, and feels like a real 14-year-old struggling to figure out their identity and their self-worth,” Smith told IndieWire’s Bill Desowitz. “And it really resonated with me, having been an awkward 14-year-old with glasses and curly hair at one point in my life."
Raya and the Last Dragon《寻龙传说》
Once upon a time, being a Disney princess meant being the damsel in distress in a European fairy tale. But they're a more diverse and proactive bunch these days, as demonstrated by Raya and the Last Dragon, a cartoon fantasy adventure with a lot more martial arts than there were in Mulan. Inspired by South-East Asian mythology and culture, the film features Kelly Marie Tran from Star Wars as the voice of Raya, a brave warrior princess from the magical land of Kumandra. Five hundred years after the world's dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity, and the country was divided into five warring states, it's up to Raya to find the lone survivor: a fluffy, shape-changing water dragon voiced by Awkwafina. Joel Meares, editor of Rotten Tomatoes, calls it "a delight. Vibrant, exciting, funny action-comedy [that] hits hard with the feels."