It’s the most wonderful time of the year! For some, it’s thinly-plotted holiday romances (of which there are plenty on Netflix and one on Amazon). For me, it’s when the studios and streaming platforms (Netflix, mostly) push their Oscar contenders. See all the previews for this month’s movies below.
Now Playing in Theaters:
Spoiler Alert stars Jim Parsons, Ben Aldridge, and Sally Field. Inspired by a true story, Parsons stars as Entertainment Weekly reporter Michael Ausiello. Aldridge stars as his partner of 13 years, Kit Cowan, and the film examines the last year of Cowan’s life.
The Eternal Daughter is a gothic thriller directed by Joanna Hogg. It stars Tilda Swinton as the middle-aged daughter of an elderly woman; they must confront their family’s dark past together in a dilapidated manor.
Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power is a documentary. Using archival footage and interviews, it chronicle the fight to vote in Lowndes County, Alabama, a rural, impoverished county with a vicious history of racist terrorism and no Black voters despite a significant Black population.
Four Samosas, a heist-comedy, follows an underachieving aspiring rapper as he and a crew of first-time thieves try to steal his favorite ex-girlfriend’s dowry. Hey, maybe we shouldn’t have dowries!
The Quintessential Quintuplets Movie is an animated (and anime!) romantic comedy. A sequel to the series, the movie is about a family of quintuplets in Japan.
Women Talking is a drama from Sarah Polley, adapted from the 2018 novel by Miriam Toews. A group of Mennonite women meet in secret to discuss if they should stay, fight, or flee from the men in their community who have been drugging and assaulting them in the night. The novel was inspired by similar events in the Manitoba Community in Bolivia in 2010. This film is currently playing in a limited release and will expand in markets throughout the month.
Reflections of a Broken Memory is a drama-mystery about a young man whose therapist helps him uncover his family’s mysterious past.
Violent Night is a holiday thriller starring David Harbour as Santa Clause, and unlike the 1980s Santa of my childhood, this one fights back! In this case, when a family is taken hostage, he fights fire with fire. I usually hate rated-R Christmas movies (as much as I loathe a Hallmark movie) but this looks like it’s actually fun and funny.
Streaming on Netflix:
Qala, from Netflix India, “chronicles the complicated relationship between a young singer and her mother,” in 1940s Kolkata. This looks great!
Troll, a Norwegian action film, follows a small village who must confront a recently awakened, presumably evil, troll.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover, an adaptation of the 1928 novel by D. H. Lawrence, stars Emma Corrin as an unhappily married noble woman who falls in love with her estate’s gamekeeper, played by Jack O’Connell.
Scrooge: A Christmas Carol is a “supernatural, time-travelling, musical adaptation” of A Christmas Carol.
Warriors of Future is a Hong Kong science action film. Set in 2025, a survivng soldier must battle robots, alien, and human conspiracy.
Delivery by Christmas, a Polish romcom, follows a dedicated courier who must deliver her parcels before Christmas. A trailer for this film was not available at press time.
Burning Patience, a Spanish-language film, follows an aspiring poet who delivers mail to Pablo Neurda. The film is an adaptation of a book by Antonio Skármeta.
The Marriage App, an Argentinian comedy, follows a couple who descend into madness when their therapist signs them up for a point system to keep their marriage viable.
In Theaters today, December 9, 2022
To the End is a documentary from Rachel Lears about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, activist Varshini Prakash, climate policy writer Rhiana Gunn-Wright, and political strategist Alexandra Rojas and their efforts to fight climate change.
Empire of Light, directed by Sam Mendes and starring Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward, Tom Brooke, Tanya Moodie, Hannah Onslow, Crystal Clarke, Toby Jones, and Colin Firth, is a drama set in 1980s England. (Colin Firth and Olivia Colman in a drama during Oscar Season? Yes please.) Colman and Ward fall in love while working? at a coastal cinema.
The Whale, an extremely controversial movie from Darren Aronofsky, stars Brendan Fraser as a 600-lb man trying to reconnect with his teenage daughter. The cast includes Sadie Sink and Hong Chau. It is written by Samuel D. Hunter and adapted from his own play.
Loudmouth is a documentary about the Reverend Al Sharpton.
Streaming today on AppleTV+:
Emancipation, directed by Antoine Fuqua, stars Will Smith as “Peter,” an enslaved person whose extensive keloid scarring of his back inspired members of the abolitionist movement.
Streaming today on Hulu:
It’s A Wonderful Binge, directed by Jordan VanDina, is set a year after the first Binge (it’s like the Purge, kind of?) and set on Christmas Eve. Look: this was my pick today. It looks weird and silly and stupid, which sounds absolutely wonderful right now, doesn’t it?
Streaming today on Netflix:
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is a stop-motion adaptation of the famed fairy tale. This looks great. Gregory Mann voices Pinocchio, David Bradley is Geppetto, Ewan McGregor is Sebastian J. Cricket, Christoph Waltz is Count Volpe, and Tilda Swinton voices the Wood Sprite (and Death). Depending on your region, this may be playing in theaters.
Streaming today on AmazonPrime:
Something From Tiffany’s, a romantic comedy, stars Zoey Deutch as a Manhattan bakery owner (LOL) who mistakenly receives another woman’s engagement ring and sets off not to return it, but to snag that woman’s man. This looks cute, even though it was written by people who never lived in New York City. And how is that love? What’s wrong with Vanessa! At least the hot guy wants to live in New York?
Coming to Theaters December 14, 2022
A Man Called Otto, an adaptation of the crappy yet beloved Swedish comedy (itself an adaptation of a beloved but crappy novel) stars Tom Hanks as a curmudegeonly, suicidal man who chooses to live because of the love of his neighbors. The film will have a wide release next month. Why? We didn’t need to make this in America!
That day on Netflix:
I Believe in Santa, a romcom, follows a woman who is horrified to learn after five excruciating months of dating, that her boyfriend loves Christmas. Respectfully, how did that not come up before? Christmas people do not hide that about themselves. A trailer was not available at press time.
Streaming the next day:
The Big 4, an action film from Indonesia, follows four retired assassins who take up one last job at the request of a straight-laced police officer. Looks fun!
Coming to Theaters December 16, 2022
Avatar: The Way of Water, the 3-plus-hour-long sequel to 2009’s Avatar, reunites the cast of James Cameron’s original and explores the struggles of a Na’vi family. The film is set ten years after the original and was originally set to release in 2014.
Lullaby, a horror film, asks us, what if Lilith was a demon? And an ancient lullaby summoned her? Dumb premise, yells the feminist from her laptop.
The Almond and the Seahorse stars Trine Dyrrholm, Meerea Syal, Rebel Willson, and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Adapted from the Kaite O’Reilly play, an architect and archeologist struggle to connect with their loved ones after traumatic brain injuries.
Streaming that day on Netflix:
BARDO, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths, from director Alejandro G. Iñárritu, “is an epic, visually stunning and immersive experience set against the intimate and moving journey of Silverio, a renowned Mexican journalist and documentary filmmaker living in Los Angeles, who, after being named the recipient of a prestigious international award, is compelled to return to his native country, unaware that this simple trip will push him to an existential limit.” The film was shot on 65mm, so feel free to join me at the theater for this one, as it will inevitably get a limited release for my favorite season, Awards.
Private Lesson, a Turkish romantic comedy, follows a young woman who coaches students on life, love, and education, despite her own personal failings.
And streaming December 20:
A Not So Merry Christmas, a Mexican comedy with a Groundhog Day premise, follows a cursed man who is only cognizant on Christmas. A trailer was not available at press time.
Coming to Theaters December 21, 2022
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, the second Shrek universe Puss in Boots, stars Antonio Banderas as the titular feline, who wakes to find he is on his last of nine lives. The voice cast includes Salma Hayek Pinault, Harvey Guillén, Florence Pugh, Olivia Colman, Ray Winstone, Samson Kayo, John Mulaney, Wagner Moura, and Da’Vine Joy Randolph.
Coming to Theaters December 23, 2022
Corsage, which I desperately want to see, stars Vicky Krieps as Empress Elisabeth of Austria. The drama follows a year in her life. It’s largely fictionalized, which is a bummer, because her life was fascinating. She looks miserable! Burn it down, empress!
I Wanna Dance with Somebody, which looks kind of it was destined for Lifetime, is the Whitney Houston biopic. Directed by Kasi Lemmons, it stars Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston, Stanley Tucci as Clive Davis, Ashton Sanders as Bobby Brown, Tamara Tunie as Cissy Houston, Nafessa Williams as Robyn Crawford, and Clarke Peters as John Houston. I hope this is good. Whitney deserves it.
Babylon–wow, what a way to start a preview–stars Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, and Diego Calva as Hollywood players during the production of Singing In the Rain. Directed by Damien Chazelle, the movie is apparently a huge bomb, which is a shame because Brad Pitt’s people have staked a lot on it.
Living stars Bills Nighy as a bureaucrat who is diagnosed with a fatal illness. The film is direct by Oliver Hermanus and written by Kazuo Ishiguro, who adapted the film from the 1952 Kurosawa film, which was itself adapted from Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich.
Streaming that day on Netflix:
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is a sequel to 2019’s Knives Out. Daniel Craig returns as Detective Benoit Blanc, who has been hired to determine which of a woman’s close friends killed her. The ensemble cast includes Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe (in two roles!), Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, Jessica Henwick, and Madelyn Cline. The film had a brief release in theaters, and after its success, is likely to return. Oh, and goodness, yes, of course the sequel was written and directed by Rian Johnson.
Streaming Christmas day:
Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical, an adaptation of the stage musical for film, which was itself an adaptation of the film and the book, stars Alisha Weir as the sweet, precocious girl, Lashana Lynch as her warm-hearted teacher, and Emma Thompson as Miss Trunchbull. I kind of hate it, but I think my nieces would like it.
Streaming December 28:
7 Women and a Murder, a Hindi drama: “When their family patriarch is stabbed, seven women, each with ulterior motives, become trapped together in a mansion to solve the puzzle.”
A Night at the Kindergarten, which lacked a trailer, is a Polish comedy. A man crashes an elementary school play in an effort to prevent the expulsion of his girlfriend’s son.
Stuck With You is a French comedy. An unlikely pair meet and fall in love on New Year’s Eve when they’re stuck in an elevator. The trailer was unavailable at press time.
Coming to Theaters December 30, 2022
Turn Every Page – The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb is a documentary about the friendship between writer Robert Caro, who is finishing a novel, and Robert Gottlieb, his editor, who looks forward to editing it.
Streaming on Netflix:
White Noise, an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s novel by Noah Baumbach, stars Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig. I don’t like Baumbach or DeLillo, but this is giving Vacation vibes in a pleasant way.