Holiday movie guide: something for everyone to watch this season

Here's the rundown on prestigious awards bait and box-office hopefuls opening over the next few weeks


Compared to last December, when studios were doing everything they could to hold back their big prestige titles for a more optimal release window – hell, Chloé Zhao’s Oscar-winning Nomadland technically didn’t open in Canada until it hit Disney+ in April of this year – there’s a full-on deluge this time around. 

Oscar hopefuls and would-be box-office champs will be flying into theatres for the rest of the month, jockeying for any screen space the Spider-Man and Matrix sequels haven’t already claimed. It’s almost like they’re trying to make up for lost time or something.

So what’s opening? We’re so glad you asked….

Denzel Washington plays the title role in The Tragedy Of Macbeth.

Masters

Bradley Cooper plays a Depression-era carny who grabs the opportunity to reinvent himself as a high-society mentalist in Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley (in theatres Friday), the director’s first film since his Oscar-winning The Shape Of Water and one that does for film noir what Crimson Peak did for Gothic romance. See review here.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza (in theatres December 24, with an exclusive 70mm engagement at TIFF Bell Lightbox) casts Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman as unlikely business partners in a sun-dappled memoir of 70s SoCal that foregoes the formalism of Phantom Thread for the energetic rush of Anderson’s earlier films.

And The Tragedy Of Macbeth (in theatres December 25 and streaming on Apple TV+ January 14, 2022), starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, marks Joel Coen’s first movie without his brother Ethan in… well, ever. 

Keanu Reeves returns in The Matrix Resurrections.

The franchises

Tom Holland’s Peter Parker meets the multiverse – and a decade’s worth of classic Spidey villains – in Spider-Man: No Way Home (in theatres Friday), but if you’re feeling a little burned-out on Marvel movies there are a few other properties you can consider.

The King’s Man (in theatres December 22) is Matthew Vaughn’s prequel to his ultra-violent, ultra-derivative Kingsmen movies, with Ralph Fiennes and Harris Dickinson dressing up and taking on Rasputin and other historical heavies.

We’re more excited about seeing what Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are up to in The Matrix Resurrections (in theatres December 22), since the original trilogy was pretty clear on Neo and Trinity dying and all. (We trust that Lana Wachowski has a plan for that.)

And if all of these seem too kicky-punchy, Garth Jennings’s Sing 2 (in theatres December 22) is here to offer another round of CG animals belting out pop hits, this time with Bono joining the menagerie. 

Courtesy of Netflix

Dakota Johnson (left) and Olivia Colman seek answers in The Lost Daughter.

Art-house hopefuls 

Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s hybrid documentary Flee (in theatres Friday) uses animation to tell the story of a refugee – identified only as Amin – who fled Afghanistan as a teenager.

Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut The Lost Daughter (in theatres Friday; on Netflix December 31) stars Olivia Colman as an English professor drawn to a younger mother (Dakota Johnson) and her extended family while on holiday in Greece.

And in Red Rocket (in theatres Friday), the latest from Tangerine and The Florida Project director Sean Baker, a former adult film star (Simon Rex) returns home to Texas for a fresh start.

Streamers

Swan Song (Friday on Apple TV+) casts two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali as a dying man offered a chance to spare his family the pain of losing him. Being The Ricardos (Amazon Prime Video Canada, December 21) finds Aaron Sorkin imagining the private and public lives of Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) over one very fraught week in 1952. Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up (in theatres now, on Netflix December 24) is an all-star doomsday comedy (Lawrence! DiCaprio! Streep! Rylance! Chalamet!) about partisanship and the end of the world.

Crowd pleasers

Denzel Washington gets back behind the camera for the first time since his Oscar-winning Fences with A Journal for Jordan (in theatres December 25), starring Michael B. Jordan and Chanté Adams in the true story of Charles Monroe King and Dana Canedy, and the book Charles left behind for their infant son.

And Zachary Levi and Anna Paquin star as another real-life couple in American Underdog (in theatres December 25), a biopic about quarterback Kurt Warner’s journey to the NFL Hall of Fame.

@normwilner

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