It’s been another busy year for film and television as the industry bounces back from the pandemic.
Blockbusting franchises returned to the big screen, we had more than one multiverse of madness, a unique restaurant experience, and even a pretty weird musical biopic.
To close out the year, the team behind Backstage – Sky News’ TV and movie podcast – have spent the past 12 months voting, debating, discussing and deciding what they think are the best things to get on screens.
The Batman (Sky and NOW)
It seems like less than five minutes since we last saw our hooded crusader battling bad guys in Gotham, but this year it was Robert Pattinson’s turn to step into the Batsuit and protect his hometown.
Pattinson, perhaps best known to many as Edward Cullen in the Twilight movies, plays a brooding, haunted Bruce Wayne in the latest comic book adaptation, alongside Zoe Kravitz’s vengeful Catwoman, bent on stopping a series of brutal murders and on to solve. .
It has some great villains in Colin Farrell’s Penguin, as well as Paul Dano’s (fantastic) Riddler.
Weird: Al Yankovic’s Weird Story (The Roku Channel)
When this movie was announced by the relatively unknown streaming service Roku, no one expected it to become this big.
Everyone knows Weird Al Yankovic – the king of polka parody songs – and his movie is a piece of cake through his life, with some bits perhaps more exaggerated than others… (I’m not sure if he’s *actually*) a drug gang in South America!)
Daniel Radcliffe plays the titular character in this one, alongside Evan Rachel Wood’s Madonna. We also get performances from Rainn Wilson, Jack Black, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Will Forte.
Everything everywhere at once (Prime Video)
Mark our words – this is Oscars tipped and could do the business!
After Marvel seemingly made the multiverse its latest big thing, the team at A24 decided to make the concept their own – with incredible results.
It sees Michelle Yeoh battling multiple different versions of herself to avoid a massive disaster, all while being monitored by the IRS.
Jamie Lee Curtis stars, as does Harry Shum Jr, Jenny Slate, James Hong and Stephanie Hsu. It really lives up to its rave reviews.
After sun (in cinemas)
Another potential trophy winner, having won this year’s British Independent Film Awards.
Paul Mescal plays a father who takes his daughter on vacation, but both feel disconnected. Mescal’s character is clearly depressed and battles emotional and financial demons – but tries to hide from his reasonably observant 11-year-old (played by Frankie Corio).
It’s a beautiful film (mostly produced by the BBC), with many critics saying it was incredibly moving.
The Woman King (digital and DVD)
Viola Davis told Sky News that this film was her magnus opus this year – and we agree.
This sensational, action-packed drama was first conceived in 2015 and only got the green light five years later in 2020. It follows the Agojie, the all-female warriors who protected the West African kingdom of Dahomey during the 17th to 19th centuries.
Set in the 1820s, Davis’s character trains the next generation of warriors, and stars alongside Lashana Lynch, John Boyega, and Thuso Mbedu.
The Bear (Disney+)
This kitchen drama has made a household name for Jeremy Allen White, who plays Carmen, a gourmet chef who must return to Chicago under tragic circumstances to manage the family’s deli.
He’s obviously going to make sweeping changes to the store – but the staff are resisting and don’t really want him around.
This one jumped to Disney+ with little fanfare, but became a hugely popular show both here and in the US – so much so that a new season is already in the works.
Severance pay (Apple TV+)
From the mind of Ben Stiller, this is a psychological thriller about work-life balance.
Starring Adam Scott and Christopher Walken, it sees a group of employees of a mysterious company who have a chip implanted in their brains meaning they don’t remember their jobs when they get home, and vice versa – they become two different people who don’t know each other.
It’s fast paced and full of twists, and also has a HUGE cliffhanger at the end of the first season. You literally scream for more.
Bluey (Disney+ and BBC iPlayer)
Switching things up a bit, but all the parents on the team said it was one of their favorite shows of the year.
Bluey is an animated dog and the show follows the ups and downs of her family (consisting of Mum Chilli, Dad Bandit and sister Bingo), and has been widely praised for its positive approach to parenting and play.
It’s often left on long after the kids have gone to bed – thanks to the addition of jokes for the little ones, and jokes the little ones won’t understand…
Each episode is just seven minutes long — oh, and the theme song will get stuck in your head for days.
The Crown (Netflix)
It’s always a big deal when a new season of The Crown is about to begin, but none more so than this latest season, which charts the royal family through the 1990s – including the breakdown of Charles and Diana’s marriage. .
The history we can all remember here, and many celebrities and royal commentators called on Netflix to delay its release in the wake of the Queen’s death, while others wanted the streamer to add a disclaimer to make it clear that the drama was in fact fictional.
Imelda Staunton takes over as Queen this season, alongside Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip.
The White Lotus (Air and NOW)
This show hit the scene last year, but went a bit under the radar until earlier this year when the second season came out.
It follows the vacationers (who have more money than sense) and the staff of the infamous White Lotus resorts, as each passing day becomes a darker and more complex course of events.
Both seasons feature different casts, except for Jennifer Coolidge (who bagged an Emmy for the show) — which features the newest leads Theo James, Tom Hollander, and Aubrey Plaza — who has starred in so many shows and movies over the past 12 months.
Stranger Things (Netflix)
After season three received a lukewarm reception, the latest goings-on in Hawkins more than made up for it.
In these feature-length episodes, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) must relearn her powers, while Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Hopper (David Harbour) must escape a Russian gulag. That’s while the new terror, the Vecna, is killing people in town – while the gang of teens try to find out why and take it down.
In any case, keep an eye out for the great soundtrack, which includes Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush and Master Of Puppets by Metallica.
You’ll need to carve out some time for this movie (only the last episode is longer than most movies), but it’s worth it.
What should you watch out for in 2023?
The Last Of Us – coming to Sky in January
This video game adaptation is risky.
It follows Joel (Pedro Padcal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsay), who team up during a global zombie outbreak to find answers about what’s going on – all while battling brutal monsters and even more brutal humans.
The games have been universally adored and often cited as some of the best ever made, so there are big expectations to live up to, but with HBO’s huge bank account at the helm, it looks like it could pay off.
The Fabelmans – coming soon to cinemas
This is Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical film about growing up as a filmmaker.
It has an all-star cast that includes Michelle Williams, Paul Dano and Seth Rogan, as well as a number of newcomers rising through the ranks.
Spielberg is chasing another Oscar – and this could help him get there. Early reviews say this film is technically and visually brilliant.
Cocaine Beer – coming soon to cinemas
Yes. This movie is about a bear who ingests a LOT of cocaine and then goes on a rampage.
While it’s unlikely you’ll win any awards, we predict people will be lining up to see this action comedy for this absolutely bonkers movie.
It features Star Wars actor Alden Ehrenreich and the late Ray Liotta, among a comedy ensemble cast.
Barbie – soon in cinemas
This is an odd one – because we know next to nothing about this Greta Gerwig-directed movie.
All we know is the cast – Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken, as well as Will Ferrell as the head of the Mattel toy company.
Other cast members include Emma Mackey and Connor Swindells, the duo Sex Education, and Michael Cera, Kate McKinnon and Nicola Coughlan.
Succession – coming to Sky next year
A huge HBO show with a huge following – Succession charts the rise of a media empire.
The final season left proceedings on a giant cliffhanger, with fans not having to wait long to get their questions answered.
Brian Cox (the actor, not the scientist…) stars in this one, alongside Kieran Culkin, Jeremy Strong and Matthew Macfadyen.
Doctor Who – on BBC and Disney+ next fall
And how can we end without mentioning Doctor Who?!
A new era begins in 2023, after (SPOILER) the time lord regenerates in David Tennant’s version of the character – he’s back for three episodes, before we get our brand new doctor in Ncuti Gatwa – who you know from Sex Education.
What’s more – Russell T Davies is back as showrunner and Disney+ has put money into production – expect big, big things from the Tardis in 2023.