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Never mind the blockbusters: 8 alternative films to get excited about in 2024

From Deadpool to Mad Max, the coming year is going to be a big one for cinematic franchises – but there will be smarter offerings too.




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Less than 1 minute Minutes

UPDATED: 27 Jan 2024, 11:53 am

Last year proved to be a memorable one for cinema, with the dual release of Barbie and Oppenheimer sparking the cultural phenomenon that was Barbenheimer. The year saw the return of auteurs such as Hayao Miyazaki, Martin Scorsese and Yorgos Lanthimos whose respective films reaffirmed their position as masters of the craft. There were also surprise hits, including first-time director Celine Song’s transnational indie flick, Past Lives, which mesmerised audience members and appeared in many best-of-2023 film lists.

In 2024, sequel and franchise films will still very much dominate the cinematic landscape, with a stream of follow-ups such as Beetlejuice 2, Deadpool 3, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga and Inside Out 2 all due for release. With so many Hollywood sequels, reboots and remakes saturating the market, it is easy to forget that there are many other independent and world movies that are worth watching. Here’s a list of 8 thoughtful, high-brow or alternative releases in 2024 to get excited about. 

Paolo Sorrentino’s as yet untitled film 

Country: Italy/France
Release Date: TBD (Sometime in 2024)
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Starring: Gary Oldman, Celeste Dalla Porta, Silva Degrandi

The film: Sorrentino’s new film will be another tribute to his hometown of Naples, following the release of his semi-autobiographical The Hand of God (2021), which won four awards at the Venice Film Festival. The currently untitled work began filming late last year, with the Italian auteur revealing in a statement to Variety that it will be a decades-long story focusing on the life of a woman named Partenope, from her birth in 1950 until the present day. 

According to Sorrentino, the protagonist’s “long life embodies the full repertoire of human existence” and is “accompanied by the passage of time…[and] Naples, who charms and enchants, who shouts and laughs, and who knows just how to hurt you.” The name Partenope is a reference to a Greek siren whose legend is closely associated with the history of Naples. 

For this new film, The Young Pope (2016) TV series director has gathered an all-star cast featuring heavyweights such as Gary Oldman, Silvio Orlando, Stefania Sandrelli, as well as new actress Celeste Dalla Porta. 

A trailer has yet to be released, although some black and white stills for the film, shot in Naples and Capri, are available via Deadline

Kalki 2898 AD

Country: India
Release Date: 12 January 2024 (India)
Director: Nag Ashwin
Starring: Prabhas, Amitabh Bachchan, Kamal Haasan

The film: The most expensive film in Indian cinematic history is set to hit theatres in 2024. Costing a total of US$75 million, Kalki 2898 AD’s budget exceeds that of the reigning champion, the US$73 million historic epic RRR (2022), which is currently India’s third highest-grossing movie of all time. 

Not much information has been released about the upcoming film’s storyline, but if the trailer is any indication, audiences can expect a desert-set space opera deeply rooted in Indian culture and mythology, with plenty of grand battles and futuristic technology. The film’s title also hints at the movie’s mythological elements, with the director explaining in an interview that “Kalki is the final avatar of Vishnu.” 

Although Kalki 2898 AD has been likened to India’s version of the long-running Star Wars series, the director has denied this by claiming that “it’s one film.” Reportedly, over a quarter of the film’s budget was allocated towards its special effects. 

Directed by Nag Ashwin, best known for the critically acclaimed biopic, Mahanati (2018), the new movie will bring together some of Hindi and Telugu cinema’s biggest names, including Prabhas and Deepika Padukone, who are among India’s highest paid actors. 

We Shall Be All

Country: China
Release Date: TBD (Sometime in 2024)
Director: Jia Zhangke
Starring: Zhao Tao

The film: This year marks the return of acclaimed director, Jia Zhengke – part of the so-called “Sixth Generation” of Chinese filmmakers – who will be releasing his first narrative film in five years, after busying himself over the past several years with the making of a documentary, short films, as well as work as a voice actor and producer.

At this point, not much is known about We Shall Be All, although a filing notice for the film’s approved screenplay states that the story is set between 2001 and 2022, focusing on the on-and-off relationship between Qiao Qiao and Guo Bin, two lovers from a Northern Chinese city. According to the notice, the film will portray and describe the lives of an entire generation of Chinese people, set against a backdrop of societal changes. Much like the bulk of Jia’s body of work, the movie will revolve around the theme of a modernising China and the impact that it has on the characters.

The names of the two characters in the upcoming movie are especially worthy of mention, as they are the same as the protagonists in Jia’s previous fictional feature, Ash Is the Purest White (2018), an underworld drama whose story also spanned over a decade between 2001 to 2017. However, it is unknown at this point whether or not the new film will be a sequel. 

For this film, Jia’s wife and muse, award-winning actress, Zhao Tao, will once again take up acting duty. Unlike the filmmaker’s previous efforts, however, We Shall Be All, has had a much longer gestation period, with the director having filmed parts of the film back in 2001. 


Country: United Kingdom/United States of America
Release Date: TBD (Sometime in 2024)
Director: Steve McQueen
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Leigh Gill, Harris Dickinson

The film: The title of British director Steve McQueen’s new feature refers to “The Blitz ” or more specifically, the bombing of the United Kingdom by Nazi Germany between 1940 and 1941. Based on an original screenplay by McQueen, the film will focus on a group of Londoners who find themselves caught up in the deadly bombing campaign that racked up 43,000 civilian fatalities. 

In some ways, Blitz can be described as a direct companion piece to McQueen’s latest World War II documentary, Occupied City (2023). That feature took an avant garde approach to documenting the atrocities of the war by having a voiceover describe the crimes committed against modern day footage of the places where they were committed. 

Filming for Blitz began in London in November 2022, with the shoot taking place across various parts of the city, including the River Thames. 

The new film is currently in post-production and will be headlined by Saorise Ronan and Harris Dickinson, with reports of a possible screening at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. 

[See more: In conversation with Marco Müller: Fostering new talent at Macao’s film festival]

Mickey 17

Country: United States of America
Release Date: 29 March 2024
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Steven Yeun, Naomi Ackie

The film: After a five year hiatus, South Korean director Bong Joon-ho is set to follow up his acclaimed, Oscar-winning film Parasite (2019) with his eighth production and second English language feature, Mickey 17

Much like his first English film, Snowpiercer (2013), Mickey 17 will be a dystopian sci-fi movie that will most likely weave together some level of social commentary and satire, in keeping with the director’s style. 

The plot is very much under wraps, although the book that it is based on, Mickey7, revolves around Mickey Barnes, a man who finds himself perpetually killed and cloned, as he is tasked with the job of risking his life to help humanity establish a colony on a new ice planet. 

Bong’s movie is expected to be a loose adaptation of its source material, as the different title suggests. In fact, the author of the novel, Edward Ashton, admitted this would be the case in a 2022 interview, noting that “Director Bong is going to change a lot about the book.” However, the writer was not worried, as he believed the adaptation was in safe hands, praising the director as “a genius” who has never “made a bad film.” 

Kind of Kindness

Country: United Kingdom, Ireland, United States 
Release Date: TBD (Sometime in 2024)
Director: Yorogos Lanthimos 
Starring: Emma Stone, Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe

The film: This is the fourth collaboration between Greek director Yorogos Lanthimos and American actress Emma Stone. The partnership has so far yielded great success, with their most recent work Poor Things (2023) garnering critical acclaim for its surreal gothic story of a resurrected Victorian woman. 

Unlike that film, however, Kind of Kindness will be a contemporary piece set against an American backdrop. According to Lanthimos in an interview with The Guardian, it will consist of “three different stories, with four or five actors who play one part in each story.” 

Not much else is currently known about the plot, although the cinematographer of Poor Things, Robbie Ryan said in an interview with Brazilian media that tonally the work is “still Yorgos, but there’s a different sensitivity to it.” In other words, expect a fair amount of absurdity and black comedy. 

Shooting began in New Orleans in October 2022, and the film is currently in its editing stage. 

Evil Does Not Exist

Country: Japan
Release Date: 1 March 2024 (UK), 26 April 2024 (Japan)
Director: Ryusuke Hamaguchi
Starring: Hitoshi Omika, Ryo Nishikawa, Ryuji Kosaka

The film: Hamaguchi’s first feature film since Drive My Car (2021) was originally conceived as a 30 minute music video, however, as filming proceeded, Hamaguchi decided to expand it into a full-length work. 

The result is a ponderous movie that delves into themes of environmentalism and the ambiguity of good and evil. Set in a small Japanese village not far from Tokyo, the film follows the ordeal of a single father, Takumi, and his daughter, Hana, after their idyllic life is disrupted when a company decides to set up a glamping site around the area, polluting the village’s water supply. 

Evil Does Not Exist has already been doing the rounds in the festival circuit, after holding its first worldwide screening at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize in September. 

A wide release is scheduled later this year, although you can catch the film in Macao at 7 pm on 9 January through Marco Müller’s new Asia-Europe Youth Film Exhibition, which will hold a public screening at the Lisboeta Macau. 


Country: United States of America
Release Date: TBD (Sometime in 2024)
Director: Francis Ford Coppola 
Starring: Adam Driver, Forest Whitaker, Nathalie Emmanuel

The film: Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, the man responsible for some of cinema’s finest works, including The Godfather trilogy (1972-1990), Megalopolis is the legendary 83-year-old auteur’s passion project, taking over 40 years to get off the ground. The film promises to be epic in scale, with a budget of US$120 million, which the director funded out of his own pocket. 

Plot details are scarce and unclear at this point, although in a 2023 interview with Deadline, Coppola likened the project to “a Roman epic, in the traditional Cecile B. DeMille or Ben-Hur way, but told as a modern counterpart focusing on America.” In another interview with GQ, the director said it was “a love story” about a woman “divided between loyalties to two men…[each] with a philosophical principle.” 

Principal photography for Megalopolis wrapped up earlier this year amid rumours of pandemonium on set, with claims that Cappola had fired the entire visual effects team. The reports were later denounced by the director and the film’s male lead, Adam Driver, although Coppola is known to have a long history of troubled productions, with the most famous one recorded by his wife in the documentary, Heart of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991). 

Expectations for the new film are high, with Driver praising Coppola’s genius, and director Spike Lee, who had the opportunity to watch 30 minutes of a rough cut, calling it “amazing.” 

UPDATED: 27 Jan 2024, 11:53 am

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