The holiday season usually brings with it an onslaught of serious movies – Oscar-winning prestige projects – sprinkled with a handful of just-for-fun hoopla. 2022 is no exception, and those venturing into the multiplexes this season will find everything from a Steven Spielberg origin story to a cannibal love story to a biopic about Whitney Houston — oh, and a long-awaited sequel the highest-grossing film of all time.
Here’s a guide to some of the most anticipated titles of the season, with something for everyone; Note that release dates are always subject to change.
The Fabelmans: Steven Spielberg looks back on his own youth in this family drama about a boy growing up in Arizona who dreams of becoming a filmmaker. Written with playwright Tony Kushner, with whom Spielberg previously worked on West Side Story, Lincoln and Munich, the film stars Michelle Williams and Paul Dano. (Out now)
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery: In 2019, Daniel Craig brightened up the serious movie season in Knives Out as the wonderfully sweet-voiced detective Benoit Blanc; Now he and writer/director Rian Johnson are back with a new cast (including Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kate Hudson and Leslie Odom Jr.). (In theaters now, on Netflix December 23)
Strange World: Disney pretty much always has a family movie on Thanksgiving weekend, and this year’s version is an adventure with a family of explorers voiced by Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Gabrielle Union and Lucy Liu. (Out now)
Bones and All: Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino’s latest sensual odyssey (Call Me By Your Name, Suspiria, I Am Love) is a cannibal romantic tale starring Timothée Chalamet, Taylor Russell and Mark Rylance. It was an award winner at the Venice Film Festival earlier this fall. (Out now)
Women Talking: Sarah Polley’s latest feature film (and it’s been a while; her last Stories We Tell was one of my favorites back in 2012) is an adaptation of the bestselling Miriam Toews bestseller that took place in an isolated religious community. Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley and Frances McDormand lead the ensemble cast. (Dec 2)
‘Emancipation’: Can Will Smith’s career bounce back from The Slap at the Oscars earlier this year? He stars in this historical drama from Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) about an enslaved man who escapes from the Louisiana plantation where he grew up. (Dec. 2 in theaters, on Apple TV+ on Dec. 9)
Spoiler Alert: Journalist Michael Ausiello’s memoir about the life and death of his partner Kit Cowan comes to the big screen with Jim Parsons and Ben Aldridge; Seattle writer/journalist/activist Dan Savage co-wrote the screenplay (“The Big Sick”). (9 Dec)
Empire of Light: Sam Mendes takes a break from blockbusters (Skyfall, Spectre, 1917) to tell a quiet little love story, set in an old British cinema in the 1980s by the sea . Olivia Colman, Colin Firth and Toby Jones are part of the cast and the amazing Roger Deakins is the cinematographer. (9 Dec)
The Inspection: Filmmaker/photographer Elegance Bratton, a former Marine, makes his feature film debut with this story of a young Marine (Jeremy Pope) confronted with homophobia both at boot camp and at home. (9 Dec)
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish: This animated adventure is the last gasp (maybe?) of the Shrek franchise and sees the swashbuckling title character (voiced by Antonio Banderas) who is dismayed to learn that he is on the last of his nine lives. (Dec 21)
I Wanna Dance With Somebody: British actress Naomi Ackie plays the late R&B/pop singer Whitney Houston in Kasi Lemmon’s biopic, which also stars Stanley Tucci as Clive Davis, Ashton Sanders as Bobby Brown and Houston’s legendary singing. (Dec 21)
‘The Whale’: Brendan Fraser is getting a lot of attention ahead of the Oscars for his performance in Darren Aronofsky’s latest drama about a 600-pound man who tries to bond with his teenage daughter (Sadie Sink) (Dec 21 .)
Avatar: The Way of Water: It’s been a long time coming, but James Cameron’s long-promised sequel to his 2009 megahit Avatar is finally here. The first of four planned sequels will feature 3D cinematography, special effects magic (watch out for stunning underwater scenes) and recurring appearances from Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington and Sigourney Weaver, this time alongside Michelle Yeoh, Kate Winslet and Jemaine Clement. (Dec 23)
Babylon: Damien Chazelle’s La La Land is set in contemporary Los Angeles; his new film returns to this city, but to the past. The film is set in the 1920s, when Hollywood transitioned from silent film to talkie in a decade, and has a large cast led by Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Jean Smart. (Dec 23)
The Son: A sequel to director Florian Zeller’s 2020 film The Father (which won an Oscar for Anthony Hopkins), this is a family drama starring Hugh Jackman as a father struggling to bond with his son in childhood build up teenage years. Co-stars are Laura Dern, Vanessa Kirby, Zen McGrath and Hopkins. (23rd of December).