The best new films coming out in 2024

From Dune: Part Two and The Taste of Things to Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse and Beetlejuice 2

Zendaya in Dune: Part Two
Zendaya, Timothee Chalamet and a star-studded cast feature in the second instalment of the sci-fi classic
(Image credit: FlixPix / Alamy Stock Photo)

Dune: Part Two

About an hour into Dune: Part Two, Denis Villeneuve's "epic science-fiction sequel", it becomes clear that its makers have totally "abandoned logic and clarity", said Nicholas Barber on BBC Culture. But if you just "go with it", you'll be able to revel in one of the most "jaw-droppingly weird pieces of arthouse psychedelia ever to come from a major studio". Adapted from the second half of Frank Herbert's 1965 novel, the film picks up where part one left off: in the desert. Timothée Chalamet is back as Paul Atreides, "an interstellar aristocrat whose family has just been massacred by the evil Harkonnens". He and his mother (Rebecca Ferguson) are hiding out with the Fremen, the tribespeople of the planet Arrakis. "There is a good chance that the Fremen will help Paul fight back against the Harkonnens, but first he has to win their trust", which involves him learning to ride on a gargantuan desert worm, like some "illegal train surfer". The characters aren't given "enough interesting things to say", and Paul's romance with Fremen warrior Chani (Zendaya) isn't especially involving; but Austin Butler is superb as a sadistic new "Harkonnen baddie", and the film's "powerfully doom-laden atmosphere" alone "more than justifies the price of a cinema ticket".

I'm afraid I found it all rather empty, said Kevin Maher in The Times. "It looks fabulous", but also slightly ridiculous. Desert capes are shown "fluttering in slow-mo" and "moody faces" are presented "half-hidden by shadow", until – "braaaaam!" – Hans Zimmer's "overblown score" kicks in. The ending does not deliver the "closure to which we all might, maybe naively, consider ourselves entitled" after nearly three hours, said Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian. But it's undoubtedly a "sternum-juddering" spectacle, and it's "exhilarating to find a filmmaker thinking as big as this". 

The Taste of Things

"The Taste of Things, which is this year's French entry for best international film at the Oscars, is a gastro-film, but it is not of the 'Angry Male Chef' genre," said Deborah Ross in The Spectator. It is not stressful. No one screams "Yes, chef!" Instead, it is sensuous and soothing, and may also force a reappraisal of vols-au-vent, after their long exile in Britain's culinary wilderness. Written and directed by Tran Anh Hung, it is set in a country house in the 1880s, and stars Benoît Magimel as Dodin, a "famous gourmet" who is in love with his cook of 20 years, Eugénie (Juliette Binoche, Magimel's ex in real life). Every so often, he asks her to marry him; every time, she declines. "The film breaks the rules of storytelling": there are no "obstacles to overcome, and every character is kind". It is, perhaps, "narratively underpowered", but if it's "about anything, it's about pleasure: how to give it, how to receive it, how love can be communicated through the deep passions you might have".

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At first glance, The Taste of Things "looks like just another decorous prestige period drama", said Wendy Ide in The Observer. "But in its elegantly restrained way", it is really rather daring. The 35-minute-long opening sequence, for instance, is given over to the near-silent preparation and consumption of a meal. There is also something "refreshingly unconventional" about the film's depiction of the "well-worn love" between a couple in the "autumn of their lives". This is "a love letter to classic French cuisine, to French cinema, and, it has to be said, to beautiful French women of a certain age", said Matthew Bond in The Mail on Sunday. A word of warning, however: be sure to eat before going to see it. If you don't, you may find yourself "gnawing hungrily at your knuckles".

The Iron Claw

"The tragicomic spectacle of American wrestling, with all its poignant pantomime machismo and showbiz fury", is the subject of Sean Durkin's "deeply sad" drama The Iron Claw, said Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian. Set mainly in the 1980s, it tells the true story of the Von Erichs, a family of professional wrestlers from Texas who suffered so many "heartbreaking calamities", they were rumoured to be cursed. At the centre of the film is Zac Efron, who has "bulked up to a staggering degree" to play Kevin Von Erich, the oldest of four wrestling brothers and the one most anxious to please their tyrannical "patriarch-manager" father (Holt McCallany). In part it's a sports movie, but it's also an "odd true-life drama", like the Von Trapp family but with a "'roid rage death wish". Durkin does not shy away from the "very real agony of the Von Erichs' experience" – the "punishing training", the "injuries and the fatalities", and you wonder whether their sacrifices were ever worth it; but the film has real "force", and an "inspired", if sentimental, ending.

I'm not sure that the film quite earns its plunge "into full-throated tragedy", said Tom Shone in The Sunday Times. But for "moviegoers whose most fervent wish is to see the buff, nut-brown body" of Efron bulging out of Lycra hot pants, it should hit the spot; and the performances (from Jeremy Allen White, Lily James and others) are "deeply affecting". If you ask me, "The Iron Claw" is "a knockout", said Dulcie Pearce in The Sun. The wrestling scenes are "fast, fierce and fascinating", and the camaraderie between the brothers is so tenderly portrayed, you feel "you are peeping through the curtains of a family home".

The Zone of Interest

"The director Jonathan Glazer is best known for big, glossy films such as 'Sexy Beast' and 'Under the Skin'," said Matthew Bond in The Mail on Sunday. "His latest, 'The Zone of Interest', could not be more different." Shot in a "low-key, fly-on-the-wall style", the drama (in subtitled German) unfolds in the "meticulously run house and well-tended gardens" occupied by Rudolf Höss, the notorious commandant of Auschwitz, and his family. We know that in the concentration camp – which is "literally next door" and within earshot – "hell" is unfolding. But in the Höss household, "it is very much suburban life as normal". Höss is brilliantly underplayed by Christian Friedel; "even better" is Sandra Hüller as his wife Hedwig, "a woman as happy to describe herself as 'the Queen of Auschwitz' as she is to preen and pose in a freshly stolen fur coat". 

Nominated for five Oscars and nine Baftas, this is an "unmissable" film, with "much of its power coming from its meticulous sound design". The film is loosely based on Martin Amis's 2014 novel of the same name, but what inspired Glazer to make it was visiting Auschwitz and noticing that Höss's house "was so near to the death camp that the two places even shared a wall", said Deborah Ross in The Spectator. His film "will haunt you today, tomorrow and maybe for all your days to come". At one point, Hedwig's mother, a cleaner, "smirks with Schadenfreude" when she considers that her former boss, a Jewish intellectual, might be "over there", said Kevin Maher in The Times. "It's a chilling moment that boldly illuminates the deep-seated cultural prejudices of the time. And, like every other highly considered frame here, it articulates a landmark movie, hugely important, that's unafraid of difficult ideas." Out now

All of Us Strangers

"Some films you love for their finely wrought performances," said Tom Shone in The Sunday Times. "Others sneak up on you. Few break you wide open, play you like a piccolo and send you out into the world feeling exalted, drained and pleasurably weak, as if you just had deep-tissue body work." But that's what Andrew Haigh's All of Us Strangers does. Andrew Scott stars as Adam, a screenwriter who lives in one of those high-rise blocks in London that no one seems to go in or out of. One night, his neighbour (Paul Mescal) knocks on his door, and the pair begin a relationship. Meanwhile, Adam is trying to write a script inspired by his life. On a research trip to his childhood home in Croydon, he finds his mother (Claire Foy) and father (Jamie Bell) alive and well – and still the same age as they were when they died in a car crash when he was 11. The film is a reflection on "the connections we all know exist between our childhood histories and our adult relationships", and it is "magnificent". 

Loosely based on a 1987 novel by Taichi Yamada, All of Us Strangers is essentially a "ghost story", said Deborah Ross in The Spectator – but if you don't like films about the supernatural, "don't let that put you off". The ghosts here are not the "walking-through-walls" kind. Foy and Bell bring a "strange, eerie, everydayness to their roles". As for Scott, he "infuses his character with such vulnerability that you'll want to reach into the screen and comfort him". It's an "aching tale of grief, loss and loneliness" that had me mesmerised. 

The acting is "immaculate", agreed Brian Viner in the Daily Mail. And the film is "thought-provoking". But I am afraid "I watched in admiration rather than adoration, tremendously engaged – but not enormously moved". 

The Holdovers

Twenty years after the success of Sideways, the comedy-drama about two men on a wine tour, The Holdovers reunites director Alexander Payne with actor Paul Giamatti, and the result is a "great big warm hug of a movie", said Kevin Maher in The Times. Giamatti plays Paul, a "misanthropic" classics teacher at a New England boys’ boarding school in the 1970s that serves as an Ivy League feeder. Paul is contemptuous of his pupils, whom he dismisses as "vulgar little philistines" and "foetid layabouts"; so he is annoyed when he is asked to babysit "the holdovers" – a handful of boys who are not going home for Christmas. Initially there are five, but four of them find somewhere to go, leaving just one, the recalcitrant Angus (Dominic Sessa). Also marooned at the school over the holidays is kitchen manager Mary (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), whose son – a former scholarship student at the school – has just been killed in Vietnam. Payne has had a run of disappointing films of late, but this is terrific: "the softest and sweetest of his career so far".

Somewhat surprisingly, The Holdovers turns out to be "the ideal Christmas film, not only set at Christmas but featuring carols, a tree and the obligatory ice-skating scene", said Matthew Bond in The Mail on Sunday. So its release in January feels a bit odd. Still, we should welcome what is "a proper grown-up film" – one that calls to mind Goodbye, Mr. Chips and The History Boys. It brilliantly evokes its early 1970s setting, said Robbie Collin in The Daily Telegraph. It is also "impeccably acted" and often hilarious; but it’s the quieter shared moments between the characters that give the film its "lingering glow of wisdom and warmth". Out now.

Society of the Snow

"There is no shortage of books, films, documentaries and TV series" about the plane carrying a Uruguayan rugby team that crashed in the Andes in 1972, said Maria Delgado in Sight and Sound. As detailed most famously in the 1993 film "Alive", based on Piers Paul Read's book, "the survivors endured the 72-day ordeal by consuming the remains of those who had perished". In "Society of the Snow", Spanish director J.A. Bayona retells the story, drawing on Uruguayan journalist Pablo Vierci's 2009 book and featuring a cast of "largely unknown Uruguayan and Argentinian" actors (in "Alive", the stars were mainly American). The film's strengths lie in balancing "breathtaking moments" such as the plane crash with the "tedium and desperation" of the weeks the survivors spent waiting and hoping, sometimes chewing on shoelaces in an effort to tamp down their "escalating hunger".

"Shot at altitude in the icy Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain", this gripping film "plonks you right in the middle of that frostbitten hell and leaves you feeling not just for its victims", but for its cast and crew too, said Phil de Semlyen in Time Out. "You hope they had thermals on." The characters, from "optimistic Marcelo (Diego Vegezzi) to genial outsider Numa (Enzo Vogrincic Roldán)", are enterprising and lacking in self-pity; and though it's tricky to "keep track of who's who", it's "never hard to feel for them". A wrenching, harrowing film, "Society of the Snow" dispenses with the usual "sappy takeaways about the triumph of the human spirit", said Tim Robey in The Daily Telegraph. You'll be left amazed that "even a third of them made it out". Available now on Netflix

Joker: Folie à Deux

The "Joker" sequel is "shaping up to be the biggest film of 2024", said GQ, and Lady Gaga and Joaquin Phoenix are "coming for their second Oscars". Gaga will take on the "next iteration" of Harley Quinn in "Joker: Folie à Deux", which "somehow" is a musical. "This isn't a joke, if you pardon the pun." Release date: 4 October 2024 

Gladiator 2

It's been more than 20 years since Russell Crowe "wowed audiences" as Maximus in the original "Gladiator", said Angel Shaw on ScreenRant, and it's "taken this long for a sequel to become a reality". "Gladiator 2" will feature a brand new gladiator, with Paul Mescal as a "grown-up Lucius", and a "star-studded cast" including Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal and Joseph Quinn. Release date: 22 November 2024 

Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse

"After leaving off from 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse', the story continues," said IMDb. This animation is expected to "tie up the cliffhanger" left for Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) and his crew in the previous film, said MovieWeb.com. And "most of the voice cast" from the franchise's second instalment, including Oscar Isaac and Hailee Steinfeld, will be appearing again. Release date: TBC

Dune: Part Two

Directed by Denis Villeneuve, the "highly anticipated" sequel to the "sci-fi hit" will see Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson and Javier Bardem return for part two, said Today. Florence Pugh and Austin Butler also co-star. Release date: 1 March 2024

Beetlejuice 2

Say "Beetlejuice" three times and (Michael Keaton will be freed from the shackles of nostalgia driven franchise retreads) "you get a new sequel", said GQ. Almost 40 years later, the "spooky-kooky gang" is reassembling for another seance. Keaton returns "front and centre" as the "chequer-suited ghoul compère" and he is joined by "a handful of the O.G.'s" – Winona Ryder as Lydia and Catherine O'Hara as her mum, Delia – and a "hot set of newbies", including Jenna Ortega and Willem Dafoe. Release date: 6 September 2024 

Mufasa: The Lion King

"Lion King" fans will have to wait until the end of 2024 to see the Mufasa spin-off. Serving as a prequel to Disney's 2019 live-action remake, said Kevin McCall on Collider, it will explore Mufasa's backstory and "his rise to be the king of Pride Rock". Aaron Pierre will voice a younger Mufasa, with Kelvin Harrison Jr set to star alongside him as Scar. The film will also feature Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner and John Kani, who "reprise their roles" as Pumbaa, Timon and Rafiki, respectively. Release date: 20 December 2024 

The Fall Guy

"We've got a good feeling" about "The Fall Guy", said Fiona Ward in Glamour, the new action-comedy movie starring "fan favourites" Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt. Described as a "love letter to action movies and the hard-working and under-appreciated crew of people who make them", the film is based on the 1980s TV show of the same name and combines "action, comedy and romance in one seamless blend". Release date: 3 May 2024 

Alien: Romulus

This "blood-soaked space horror series" has had "quite a journey" since visionary filmmaker Ridley Scott first "snuck it aboard pop culture back in 1979", said Simon Bland on Yahoo! Movies. Fede Álvarez's "Alien: Romulus" will be the seventh feature film in the primary "Alien" storyline and the ninth feature overall to feature the "Xenomorph". Release date: 16 August 2024 

The Garfield Movie

A "pretty memorable orange tabby" with a "penchant for lasagna" is set to hit the big screen, said USA Today. In the upcoming animated comedy, Garfield, voiced by Chris Pratt, and his "loyal and silent canine companion" Odie will leave their "perfectly pampered life" to participate in a "high-stakes heist" with Garfield's long-lost father, a scruffy street cat named Vic, voiced by Samuel L. Jackson. Release date: 24 May 2024 

IF

John Krasinski's "IF" promises to be a "star-studded affair", said Dalton Norman on ScreenRant, and features a cast of "notable names in its gigantic ensemble", most of which are voice roles. A story about a child who "can see and talk to people's imaginary friends", said Movie Insider, "IF" is written and directed by Krasinski, who will also be in the film. He will be joined in the cast by the likes of Ryan Reynolds, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fiona Shaw, Steve Carell, Matt Damon, Jon Stewart and Emily Blunt. Release date: 17 May 2024 

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