The New Year means resolutions we’ll quickly break, two more months of winter, and the start of the 2024 presidential campaign.
Who wouldn’t want an escape from all of the above?
Hollywood hopes it can help. The following projects, from TV shows to films coming next year, promise to distract us from the year’s problems. Let’s hope they’re as woke-free as possible, keeping the emphasis on laughs, danger, and excitement.
“That ‘90s Show” (Netflix, January 19)
American culture gorges on nostalgia, and no decade inspires that better than the 1980s — “Stranger Things,” “The Wedding Singer,” “The Goldbergs,” “Hot Tub Time Machine” — to name just a few projects that evoke the Reagan era.
What about the ‘90s? The decade is much harder to capture than most periods. The fashions weren’t exaggerated (no shoulder pads or mullets), the music was grungy but powered by pop essentials and the combination of cable TV and the internet’s rise splintered the culture in a million different directions.
That makes the decade much harder to nail in a single show or series.
This TV reboot wants it both ways. The story picks up where “That ‘70s Show” left off, including cast members from the old Fox series. Plus, it’ll try to spark a ‘90s renaissance all by itself. Good luck, but we can’t say we’re not curious.
“You” (Netflix, February 10)
It might be the guiltiest pleasure around, the tale of an obsessed romantic (memorably played by Penn Badgley) who will do anything for true love … even killing those who get in the way.
The show has grown more outlandish since it’s over-the-top first season, but Badgley’s droll narration, and the fiendish twists, keep us coming back for more.
“Party Down” (Starz, February 24)
The cult 2009 comedy featured a who’s who of comic actors who deserved to be bigger stars, like Ken Marino, Jane Lynch, and Adam Scott. The hip, “Office”-like look at a catering company never scored huge ratings, but fans became passionate about the show’s sly humor.
Now, Starz is bringing most of the original cast (minus Lizzy Caplan) back for six new episodes.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” (In Theaters, February 17)
The Marvel Cinematic Universe needs a boost, even from the tiniest of heroes. The end of the MCU’s Phase IV couldn’t come quickly enough, following disappointing films like “Black Widow,” “The Eternals” and “Thor: Love and Thunder.”
The 2015 “Ant Man” film proved a tonal change of place, while the sequel (2018) delivered big laughs along with the usual comic book action. Can a third film keep that MCU spirit alive, or will the MCU’s turn to identity politics drag this franchise-within-a-franchise down, too?
“The Mandalorian” (Disney+, March 1)
No Cara Dune … big problem? The loss of Gina Carano’s beloved character isn’t the only stumbling block for the rare “Star Wars” off-shoot that didn’t make longtime fans wince. The second season seemed to cap the Baby Yoda storyline, for starters. That final episode also delivered a fun, and shocking Luke Skywalker cameo (courtesy of CGI).
What can Team “Mandalorian” do to top that? And will the show stick to the woke-free trail that worked so well up until now, or will Disney’s cultural influence rear its ugly head?
“John Wick: Chapter 4” (In Theaters, March 24)
Keanu Reeves is one of the few movie stars who fully earns the title. He’s versatile, ageless and his off-screen kindness makes as many headlines as his movies. This franchise, not for the squeamish, delivers bone-crunching action with attitude.
The saga consistently scores with its balletic mayhem and dry sense of humor. This rampage all began, in case some forgot, because someone killed John Wick’s dog. Bet they regret that now.
“Shazam! Fury of the Gods” (In Theaters, March 17)
Remember films like “Superman: The Movie”? That 1978 classic didn’t lecture us about climate change or explore the geopolitical ramifications of super-powered beings. It was pure, unadulterated fun.
The first “Shazam!” (2019) didn’t equal the Man of Steel’s big screen adventure, but it brought that zippy spirit back to theaters. It helped that star Zachary Levi added his goofy charm to the role, and that his off-screen messaging is both positive and kind.
The obligatory sequel promises more of the same, according to the trailer, plus Helen Mirren as the villain.
“Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One” (In Theaters, July 14)
This spy saga just keeps getting better. Star Tom Cruise, coming off the biggest hit of his decades-long career with “Top Gun: Maverick,” returns as superspy Ethan Hunt. The film offers the saga’s first two-part adventure, with the second installment coming in 2024.
Once again, Ethan gets a hand from his faithful partners played by Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ving Rhames, but the franchise’s jaw-dropping action remains the prime attraction.
“Oppenheimer” (In Theaters, July 21)
Let’s hope director Christopher Nolan’s latest isn’t as mind-twisting as either “Inception” or “Tenet.” The star-studded project (Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey, Jr., Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh, Matt Damon) charts the Manhattan Project and its key figure, J. Robert Oppenheimer (Murphy).
“Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple TV+/Theaters, Date TBD)
Directorial legend Martin Scorsese just turned 80, but the mind behind “Goodfellas,” “Raging Bull,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” shows no sign of slowing down. Every new Scorsese project is an event, a chance to see the master at work.
“Flower Moon” reteams the director with his muse, Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio. The film, based on the book by journalist David Grann, recalls the serial killings in 1920s Oklahoma later dubbed the Reign of Terror.
Scorsese regular Robert De Niro joins DiCaprio, as do comeback actor Brendan Fraser and “Breaking Bad” alum Jesse Plemons.
“The Nightingale” (In Theaters, TBD)
Siblings Dakota and Elle Fanning star as sisters who, at the onset of World War II, stand tall against the German occupation of France.
Based on Kristin Hannah’s international bestseller, the film has been bumped around the release schedule and is tentative for the new year.
The story was inspired by women who not only came to the rescue of downed Allied pilots but hid Jews from the Nazis.
Disclosure: The Daily Wire has announced plans for kids’ entertainment content.
Christian Toto is an award-winning journalist, movie critic and editor of HollywoodInToto.com. He previously served as associate editor with Breitbart News’ Big Hollywood. Follow him at @HollywoodInToto.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.