'Avatar,' 'Babylon' and the rest of the year's most anticipated movies
A look at what lies ahead during the holiday movie season.
The end of the year is in sight, but Hollywood still has a few tricks left up its sleeve, including the "Avatar" sequel, the Whitney Houston biopic "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" and the Hollywood bacchanal of "Babylon."
If the year's holiday offerings are a bit, well, thinner than in years past, look no further than the pandemic, which disrupted the studios' release schedules and made the end of year slate a bit less bountiful than we're used to.
In terms of awards season, the lack of heavy hitters on deck (note: the awards contender "Women Talking" will arrive locally in January) is a good sign for films from earlier in the year, including "Top Gun: Maverick" and "Everything Everywhere All at Once," which may have seemed like wildcards as Oscar contenders back in the spring and summertime, but are now looking like sure bets, and maybe even major players.
But before we get to the Oscars, we've still got some movies to get through. Here's a look at what's heading to theaters and to streaming services before the calendar turns to 2023.
Heads up: even at this late stage of the game, schedules are always subject to change.
New this week
Director Steven Spielberg looks back at his own youth, his family and his introduction to cinema in this nostalgic drama which stars Paul Dano, Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen and Gabrielle LaBelle as Sam Fabelman, the man who would be Spielberg. Now in theaters.
'Bones and All'
The holidays are a time for family and togetherness, or it's a time to get out of the house to watch a movie about young cannibals journeying across 1980s America. Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell star as a pair of young flesh eaters on the run in director Luca Guadagnino's disturbing romance, which no one should see on a full stomach. Now in theaters.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Dennis Quaid lend their voices to this inclusive animated adventure about a family of explorers who journey to an unknown world to investigate a new power source, which takes its visual cues from sci-fi serials of the 1940s and '50s. Now in theaters.
Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell star in this action-drama about aviators in the Korean War. Majors is Jesse Brown, the Navy's first African-American to complete basic training, and "Top Gun: Maverick's" Glen Powell is Tom Hudner, his wingman. Now in theaters.
'Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery'
Daniel Craig returns in the sequel to the hit 2019 mystery. This time he's investigating another whodunnit involving a cast of notable names, headed up by Edward Norton and also including Dave Bautista, Janelle Monae, Kathryn Hahn, Kate Hudson and more. In theaters now for one week only; on Netflix Dec. 23.
Don't mess with Santa. "Stranger Things'" David Harbour suits up as jolly old St. Nick in this action comedy, where he takes on Mr. Scrooge (John Leguizamo) who leads a gang of mercenaries as they lead an attack on a wealthy family. "Dead Snow's" Tommy Wirkola directs. In theaters.
Jeremy Pope stars in the story of Ellis French, a homeless man who enrolls in the Marines in an effort to win the approval of his mother (Gabrielle Union) in writer-director Elegance Bratton's boot camp drama. In theaters.
'Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams'
Luca Guadagnino has multitudes. The director follows up his cannibal romance "Bones and All" with this documentary on Salvatore Ferragamo, the Italian shoemaker and designer to the stars. Together, the two movies make a bizarre double feature. In theaters.
Who better to look at the career of Robert Downey Sr. than Robert Downey Jr.? The "Iron Man" star pays tribute to his filmmaker father, and maybe even learns a little something about himself in the process. On Netflix.
Will Smith caps a ho-hum, uneventful year with this action drama in which he plays an escaped slave who flees north. Ben Foster and Timothy Hutton co-star, Antoine Fuqua directs. On Apple TV+.
'Empire of Light'
Director Sam Mendes ("American Beauty") is the latest director to look back at his own life, following Kenneth Branagh ("Belfast"), James Gray ("Armageddon Time") and Steven Spielberg ("The Fabelmans"). With Olivia Colman and Michael Ward. In theaters.
'Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio'
Another Pinnochio? This time it's director Guillermo del Toro ("The Shape of Water") taking a crack at the classic tale about a wooden puppet who becomes a real boy. With the voices of Ewan McGregor, Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swinton and more. On Netflix.
"The Big Bang Theory's" Jim Parsons stars in this love story about a New York photographer who is diagnosed with terminal cancer and the final year of his life. Michael Showalter ("The Eyes of Tammy Faye," "The Big Sick") directs. In theaters.
'Avatar: The Way of Water'
The blue people are back. Are you going to bet against James Cameron? His last two movies, "Avatar" and "Titanic," are two of the three highest grossing movies of all time ("Avengers: Endgame" is wedged between them). Can he do it again? That's what everyone can't wait to find out. In theaters.
'Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths'
Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu (winner of back-to-back Best Director Oscars, for "Birdman" and "The Revenant") kind of looks back at his own life, but the narrative is so fractured that the movie is like a dream, a fantasy and a trip to the psychiatrist all in one. Whatever it is, it's hard to look away. On Netflix.
This Sundance horror hit (it won the fest's Grand Jury Prize) follows a nanny (Anna Diop) hired to look after the child of a well-to-do New York couple (Michelle Monaghan and Morgan Spector) who is haunted by the child she left behind in her home country of Senegal. On Amazon Prime Video.
Brendan Fraser is winning praise — he's currently the frontrunner for the Best Actor prize — for his portrayal of a 600-pound man in director Darren Aronofsky's ("mother!," "Requiem for a Dream") psychological drama. In theaters.
'Puss in Boots: The Last Wish'
Everyone talks about the long gap between "Avatar" sequels. Do you realize it's been 11 years since "Puss In Boots?" This kitty is no spring chicken; Antonio Banderas is back as his voice. In theaters.
Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie star in writer-director Damien Chazelle's ("La La Land") look at Hollywood's decadent early days and the town's rocky transition from silent films to talkies. In theaters.
'I Wanna Dance With Somebody'
The Whitney Houston story, with Naomi Ackie as the voice who sold more than 200 million records. With Stanley Tucci as Clive Davis; Kasi Lemmons ("Eve's Bayou," "Harriet") directs. In theaters.
Director Noah Baumbach ("Marriage Story") mounts his most ambitious film to date with this adaptation of Don DeLillo's 1985 book about academia, consumerism and the warming glow of fluorescent grocery store lighting in the 1980s. With Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig and Don Cheadle. On Netflix.