Here Are the Most Anticipated Films of the Holiday Season


The leaves are falling, and at least one of the strikes looming over the film season has been resolved. From Wiseman to Wonka, Beyoncé to Ferrari, here is a select list of the films you need to know about this winter. Release dates and platforms are subject to change.

DREAM SCENARIO An evolutionary biologist (Nicolas Cage) begins turning up in random people’s dreams, an inexplicable phenomenon that first intrigues the dreamers, then freaks them out. Julianne Nicholson also stars. Kristoffer Borgli wrote, directed and edited. (Nov. 10 in theaters)

THE KILLER Michael Fassbender plays a hyper-punctilious hit man who is forever checking his pulse and who soothes his nerves by listening to the Smiths. But his careful plans are upended when a job goes awry. The film reunites the director David Fincher and the screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker, who together gave us “Seven” (1995), and here adapt the graphic-novel series by Matz and Luc Jacamon. (Nov. 10 on Netflix)

THE MARVELS Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani) and Captain Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) join forces to take down whoever is threatening the Marvel Cinematic Universe these days. Nia DaCosta (the 2021 “Candyman” remake) directed. (Nov. 10 in theaters)

ORLANDO, MY POLITICAL BIOGRAPHY In this nonfiction feature, the philosopher Paul B. Preciado uses Virginia Woolf’s “Orlando” as a lens for exploring issues of gender identity, enlisting transgender and nonbinary people to play the character and reflect on their lives. (Nov. 10 in theaters)

STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING The academic and activist Ibram X. Kendi’s 2016 book, “Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” becomes a documentary film with commentary from Kendi and others, including Angela Davis and the poet Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. Roger Ross Williams directed. (Nov. 10 in theaters, Nov. 20 on Netflix)

A STILL SMALL VOICE A nonfiction highlight at Sundance, this documentary from Luke Lorentzen (“Midnight Family”) follows a hospital chaplain during a residency as she discovers whether she has the fortitude for the job. (Nov. 10 in theaters)

YOUTH (SPRING) Known for documentaries with lengthy running times and an unobtrusive style, the acclaimed Chinese filmmaker Wang Bing (“Dead Souls”) chronicles the lives of migrants toiling in the textile workshops of Zhili, China. (Nov. 10 in theaters)

THE LADY BIRD DIARIES The latest nonfiction feature from Dawn Porter (“John Lewis: Good Trouble”) draws on archival audio of the first lady Lady Bird Johnson and assesses the part she played in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration. (Nov. 13 on Hulu)

BEST. CHRISTMAS. EVER! Mary Lambert (the original “Pet Sematary”) directed this holiday movie about a woman who tries to puncture her friend’s carefully cultivated aura of good cheer. Heather Graham and Brandy star. (Nov. 16 on Netflix)

DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW Magic helps restore the Yuletide spirit for a social worker (Chris Bridges, a.k.a. Ludacris) and his 9-year-old (Madison Skye). Lil Rel Howery and Teyonah Parris also star; Tim Story directed. (Nov. 17 on Disney+)

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF SHERE HITE Nicole Newnham (a director of “Crip Camp”) made this documentary on the work of Shere Hite, who in 1976 published “The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality,” which advanced the then-radical notion that women could achieve sexual satisfaction without intercourse. (Nov. 17 in theaters)

FALLEN LEAVES The latest from the Finnish treasure Aki Kaurismaki won the jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival; the award scanned as an affectionate third place. It’s a love story — in an unusually bittersweet and low-key register — between lonesome members of the working class (Alma Poysti and Jussi Vatanen), and between Kaurismaki and cinema. (Nov. 17 in theaters)

THE HUNGER GAMES: THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS & SNAKES Set before the events of the Jennifer Lawrence films, this screen installment from Suzanne Collins’s books casts Tom Blyth as a teenage tyrant in the making and Rachel Zegler as the tribute he tries to prepare for the deadly games. Francis Lawrence returns to direct. (Nov. 17 in theaters)

MAXINE’S BABY: THE TYLER PERRY STORY Normally, Perry projects begin with “Tyler Perry’s” this or that in their titles. But this biographical documentary bears his mother’s name, and traces how Perry built his universe of film and TV shows. Gelila Bekele and Armani Ortiz directed. (Nov. 17 on Amazon Prime Video)

MAY DECEMBER Todd Haynes investigates what constitutes realistic acting — and what attracts viewers to tabloid sensationalism — in this drama, which casts Natalie Portman as a TV star shadowing her latest role’s infamous real-life inspiration (Julianne Moore), a woman whose past is not dissimilar from Mary Kay Letourneau’s. With Charles Melton. (Nov. 17 in theaters, Dec. 1 on Netflix)

NEXT GOAL WINS Smarting from a record-breaking loss, American Samoa’s soccer team braces for another try at the World Cup qualifying matches, this time with a new, curmudgeonly coach (Michael Fassbender). Taika Waititi directed. The team’s story was also told in a documentary with the same title. (Nov. 17 in theaters)

RUSTIN Colman Domingo plays the civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, who was a principal organizer of the 1963 March on Washington and whose legacy has received renewed attention. (In 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California granted him a posthumous pardon for a 1953 conviction on a charge that had been used to criminalize homosexual activity.) George C. Wolfe directed. Chris Rock, Glynn Turman and Audra McDonald co-star. (Nov. 17 on Netflix)

SALTBURN The writer-director Emerald Fennell’s first feature behind the camera since “Promising Young Woman” centers on a student at Oxford (Barry Keoghan) who becomes taken with the lifestyle of a classmate (Jacob Elordi) and accepts an invitation to his lavish home. (Nov. 17 in theaters)

THANKSGIVING Sixteen years is a long time from trailer to release. But the tongue-in-cheek coming attraction that Eli Roth made for the midpoint of “Grindhouse” (2007) is now a feature film in its own right. Patrick Dempsey stars. (Nov. 17 in theaters)

TROLLS BAND TOGETHER The Troll universe expands again as Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake) seek out Branch’s brothers, with whom he previously formed a boy band. Who knew the Trolls universe had one? (Nov. 17 in theaters)

LEO Adam Sandler lends his inimitable vocal stylings to a lizard in an elementary school classroom; it only has a year to live. Bill Burr and Cecily Strong also star. (Nov. 21 on Netflix)

THE BOY AND THE HERON Ten years after “The Wind Rises,” which had been billed as a final feature, the master animator Hayao Miyazaki gives us this story of a boy who moves from Tokyo after his mother’s death during World War II. An enigmatic tower that stands near his new home becomes a gateway to a parallel world — a quintessentially Miyazakian realm. (Nov. 22 in theaters)

LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND Julia Roberts plays a misanthropic New Yorker who ropes her husband (Ethan Hawke) and children into an impromptu getaway on Long Island. But after strange things start to happen, and the family who owns the rental house (Mahershala Ali and Myha’la play father and daughter) turns up, the atmosphere gets tense. Barack and Michelle Obama are among the executive producers. Sam Esmail directed. (Nov. 22 in theaters, Dec. 8 on Netflix)

MAESTRO In the director’s chair again after “A Star Is Born” (2018), Bradley Cooper also stars as the legendary conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein, in a biopic that focuses in particular on his marriage. A top-billed Carey Mulligan plays the actress Felicia Montealegre Bernstein, his wife for nearly three decades until her death. (Nov. 22 in theaters, Dec. 20 on Netflix)

MENUS-PLAISIRS — LES TROISGROS The 93-year-old Frederick Wiseman has made more than 40 feature documentaries, but never one as culinarily tantalizing as this four-hour look at a three-star restaurant (per Michelin) in France. You’ll see how the food is sourced, how dishes are devised, how patrons react and much more. (Nov. 22 in theaters)

NAPOLEON Stanley Kubrick’s Bonaparte biography will, alas, always be one of cinema’s great what-ifs. But we are getting Ridley Scott’s version of the life of the French military leader, with Joaquin Phoenix donning the bicorn. Vanessa Kirby also stars. (Nov. 22 in theaters)

WISH Will Ariana DeBose belt out a hit as big as “Let It Go”? Disney’s latest animated offering, advertising its affinities with “Frozen,” among other movies, casts the “West Side Story” Oscar winner as a heroine who takes on a king with the help of a cosmic force and a goat. Alan Tudyk and Chris Pine lend their voices as well. (Nov. 22 in theaters)

AMERICAN SYMPHONY While the musician Jon Batiste is planning a symphony, his partner, the writer Suleika Jaouad, has a recurrence of cancer. Matthew Heineman (“Cartel Land”) documented their experiences. (Jaouad had previously written for The New York Times about having cancer in her 20s.) (Nov. 24 in theaters, Nov. 29 on Netflix)

SMOKE SAUNA SISTERHOOD The director Anna Hints documents the lives of women sweating things out in an Estonian sauna. The movie won a directing prize at Sundance. (Nov. 24 in theaters)

THEY SHOT THE PIANO PLAYER Jeff Goldblum provides the voice of a journalist investigating the disappearance of a Brazilian pianist in this animated documentary. Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal directed. (Nov. 24 in theaters)

SOUTH TO BLACK POWER In his book “The Devil You Know,” the New York Times Opinion columnist Charles M. Blow argued that Black Americans should reverse-migrate to the South. This documentary, directed by Sam Pollard (“MLK/FBI”) and Llewellyn M. Smith, explores that idea. (Nov. 28 on Max)

FAMILY SWITCH In the tradition of “Freaky Friday” and “Vice Versa,” this movie casts Jennifer Garner and Ed Helms as parents in a family that gets scrambled in a body swap before a big day. McG directed. (Nov. 30 on Netflix)

BAD PRESS In 2018, officials in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation repealed an act guaranteeing freedom of the press. This documentary concerns a reporter’s efforts to fight back. (Dec. 1 in theaters and on demand)

CANDY CANE LANE A spell cast by an elf (Jillian Bell) causes Christmastime trouble for a man (Eddie Murphy) and his family. With Tracee Ellis Ross. Reginald Hudlin directed. (Dec. 1 on Amazon Prime Video)

EILEEN A sophisticated new counselor at a Massachusetts prison (Anne Hathaway) piques the curiosity of a younger woman who works there (Thomasin McKenzie). William Oldroyd (“Lady Macbeth”) directed this adaptation of Ottessa Moshfegh’s novel. (Dec. 1 in theaters)

IN WATER It’s not uncommon for the prolific South Korean director Hong Sangsoo to turn out two films per year, with a high consistency of style and subject. The gimmick in this one is that, for most of the movie, the picture is out of focus. (Dec. 1 in theaters)

LA SYNDICALISTE Isabelle Huppert plays a whistleblower who reveals secrets about France’s nuclear sector. But when she is sexually assaulted, the investigation calls into question her veracity. (Dec. 1 in theaters)

RENAISSANCE: A FILM BY BEYONCÉ Last month, Taylor Swift conquered theaters with a cinematic document of her Eras Tour. Now it’s Beyoncé’s turn, in a movie that goes behind the scenes of the artist’s Renaissance World Tour, which ended Oct. 1. (Dec. 1 in theaters)

SHAYDA Zar Amir Ebrahimi plays a woman from Iran residing in a shelter in Australia who is desperate to prevent her estranged husband from taking their child back with him. Noora Niasari wrote and directed. (Dec. 1 in theaters)

SILENT NIGHT A father (Joel Kinnaman) seeks revenge for the Christmas Eve killing of his son. No, it’s not another “Death Wish” reboot — the director, in fact, is John Woo. (Dec. 1 in theaters)

THE SWEET EAST After getting away from an attack by a PizzaGate-style conspiracy theorist, a high schooler (Talia Ryder) has a series of outlandish adventures as she travels from place to place. Ayo Edebiri, Jeremy O. Harris and Simon Rex also star. The cinematographer Sean Price Williams directed from a script by the film critic Nick Pinkerton. (Dec. 1 in theaters)

THE APOCALYPTIC IS THE MOTHER OF ALL CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY The experimental filmmaker Jim Finn examines the ideas of the apostle Paul using oddball cultural detritus, including board games and sponsored films. (Dec. 6 in theaters)

WAITRESS: THE MUSICAL Sara Bareilles plays the lead role in the movie version of the stage musical for which she wrote the music and lyrics. The show was itself adapted from Adrienne Shelly’s posthumously released 2007 film. (Dec. 7 in theaters)

ANSELM Similarly to what he did in “Pina,” his 2011 documentary tribute to the choreographer Pina Bausch, Wim Wenders uses 3-D and high-resolution digital camerawork to give viewers a sense of the monumentality of Anselm Kiefer’s art. (Dec. 8 in theaters)

FAST CHARLIE Michael Fassbender’s character in “The Killer” isn’t the only assassin with a problem this season. There’s also the hit man in this movie (Pierce Brosnan), who has trouble proving that the headless person he has killed was the intended mark. James Caan, who died last year, plays the hit man’s mentor. Phillip Noyce directed. (Dec. 8 in theaters and on demand)

MERRY LITTLE BATMAN Bruce Wayne’s son has to become a mini-Batman to thwart what sound like “Home Alone”-style shenanigans in this animated feature. Luke Wilson is in the voice cast. (Dec. 8 on Amazon Prime Video)

ORIGIN Reviewing “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” the 2020 book by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson, Dwight Garner of The New York Times called it “an instant American classic and almost certainly the keynote nonfiction book of the American century thus far.” With Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor as Wilkerson, Ava DuVernay dramatizes the period of the book’s writing. (Dec. 8 in theaters)

POOR THINGS Yorgos Lanthimos combines the costume drama of “The Favourite” with the social satire of “Dogtooth” to follow the odyssey of Bella Baxter (a wildly dexterous Emma Stone), who, thanks to a Frankensteining by a mad-scientist father figure (Willem Dafoe), begins the movie as a grown woman with a child’s brain. Mark Ruffalo and Ramy Youssef also star. Based on the novel by Alasdair Gray, it won the top prize at this year’s Venice Film Festival. (Dec. 8 in theaters)

TOTAL TRUST In this documentary, the director Jialing Zhang looks at the nature of the surveillance state in China. (Dec. 8 in theaters)

THE TASTE OF THINGS Tran Anh Hung won the directing prize at Cannes for a film that, along with Frederick Wiseman’s “Menus-Plaisirs — Les Troisgros,” boasts the most mouthwatering display of cuisine in any movie this year. Inspired by the French novel known in English as “The Passionate Epicure,” it concerns the relationship between that epicure (Benoît Magimel) and his longtime cook and companion (Juliette Binoche). (Dec. 13 in theaters)

CHRISTMAS RESCUE Kidnapping the bride from a wedding in an effort to win her love sounds like a horrifying thing to do, but maybe it works out for these two crazy kids in this movie? With Robin Givens, Raven Goodwin and Mario Van Peebles. (Dec. 14 on BET+)

AMERICAN FICTION Adapting a 2001 satirical novel by Percival Everett, the TV writer and former Gawker editor Cord Jefferson directed Jeffrey Wright as a Black author who, in frustration and jest, writes a book that plays into stereotypes — and suddenly finds the success that has eluded him. Erika Alexander plays a potential love interest; Sterling K. Brown and Issa Rae also star. It won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. (Dec. 15 in theaters)

CHICKEN RUN: DAWN OF THE NUGGET To counter the existential threat posed by exceptionally delicious chicken nuggets, Ginger, Rocky and their daughter break into a poultry-processing plant. Thandiwe Newton, Zachary Levi and Bella Ramsey provide some of the voices. (Dec. 15 on Netflix)

THE FAMILY PLAN When his past catches up with him, a government assassin turned car salesman (Mark Wahlberg) tries to save his family while keeping his previous occupation secret. Michelle Monaghan also stars. (Dec. 15 on Apple TV+)

GODARD CINEMA The legacy of Jean-Luc Godard, who died last year, is impossible to distill almost by design; he reinvented film with his first feature, “Breathless,” and never stopped reinventing. Still, the documentarian Cyril Leuthy gives a survey a try, interviewing people who worked with Godard. In New York, Film Forum will show this feature with a final short Godard work, “Trailer of a Film That Will Never Exist: ‘Phony Wars.’” (Dec. 15 in theaters)

WONKA While “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” and Roald Dahl’s book left many questions, how Wonka defeated a chocolate cartel to found his factory was not exactly foremost among them. Will the movie at least explain how Timothée Chalamet, who plays Wonka in this prequel, could grow into Gene Wilder? (Dec. 15 in theaters)

THE ZONE OF INTEREST Loosely based on Martin Amis’s 2014 Holocaust novel, the director Jonathan Glazer’s first feature since “Under the Skin” a decade ago is an intensely formal exercise that tries to immerse viewers in the perspective of Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel), the commandant of Auschwitz, as he carried on with his life next to the camp. With Sandra Hüller as Höss’s wife. (Dec. 15 in theaters)

ALL OF US STRANGERS A run-in with a neighbor (Paul Mescal) somehow causes a rupture in the life of a screenwriter (Andrew Scott), who visits the home where he grew up and encounters his parents (Claire Foy and Jamie Bell) — who died years earlier, but who now have a chance to get to know him as an adult. Andrew Haigh (“45 Years”) directed. (Dec. 22 in theaters)

ANYONE BUT YOU Advance word suggests that this film, starring Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell as two wedding guests who pretend to be together but aren’t, is unusually racy by the standards of comedies faintly inspired by “Much Ado About Nothing.” Will Gluck directed. (Dec. 22 in theaters)

AQUAMAN AND THE LOST KINGDOM Jason Momoa has to form an alliance with his brother (Patrick Wilson) to save Atlantis. Amber Heard and Nicole Kidman return for this DC sequel, along with the director James Wan. (Dec. 22 in theaters)

THE IRON CLAW Sean Durkin (“The Nest”) directed this dramatization of what happened to the real-life Von Erich brothers, who beginning in the 1970s made a name for themselves wrestling and who almost all died young. Zac Efron and Jeremy Allen White star. (Dec. 22 in theaters)

MIGRATION A family of ducks — the Mallards — do what a lot of American families do: fly south for a winter getaway. Not surprisingly, travel proves to be a hassle. Mike White, a long way from “The White Lotus,” wrote the screenplay for this animated feature, which has the voices of Kumail Nanjiani, Elizabeth Banks, Awkwafina and Keegan-Michael Key, among others. (Dec. 22 in theaters)

REBEL MOON — PART ONE: A CHILD OF FIRE Sofia Boutella bands together misfit warriors to save the galaxy. Untethered from DC Comics characters and the zombies of his “Dawn of the Dead” and “Army of the Dead,” this could be the most unfiltered dose of Zack Snyder since “Sucker Punch” (2011). This is the first of two installments, with the next one due in April. (Dec. 22 on Netflix)

THE BOYS IN THE BOAT In 1936, the United States’s eight-man rowing team bested Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy at the Berlin Olympics. How the American team did it, and how its members got to that point from the University of Washington, is chronicled in this drama, directed by George Clooney and starring Joel Edgerton and Callum Turner. (Dec. 25 in theaters)

THE COLOR PURPLE The Broadway musical version of Alice Walker’s novel, which itself was already adapted into a movie by Steven Spielberg in 1985, hits the big screen. The singer Fantasia, a.k.a. Fantasia Barrino, plays Celie, the role Whoopi Goldberg embodied in the original film. With Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, Colman Domingo and Halle Bailey. Blitz Bazawule directed. (Dec. 25 in theaters)

THE CRIME IS MINE A stage actress (Nadia Tereszkiewicz) is accused of murdering a lecherous producer in this 1930s-set film from François Ozon. It also features Rebecca Marder and, as a Sarah Bernhardt-like star, Isabelle Huppert. (Dec. 25 in theaters)

FERRARI Michael Mann and the sleek Italian auto brand go way back. (See also “Miami Vice” in its TV and movie versions.) Adam Driver plays the sports car maker Enzo Ferrari in 1957, as he grieves the death of one son, tries to keep the existence of a mistress (Shailene Woodley) and an out-of-wedlock child from his wife (Penélope Cruz) and braces for the Mille Miglia race across Italy. (Dec. 25 in theaters)

OCCUPIED CITY Working from a book by his wife, the Dutch filmmaker Bianca Stigter, the director Steve McQueen combines documentary footage from present-day Amsterdam with narration that recounts events in the city throughout World War II. “With formal rigor and adamant focus, it maps — street by street, address by address — the catastrophe that befell Amsterdam’s Jewish population,” Manohla Dargis wrote when the film played at Cannes. (Dec. 25 in theaters)

THE TEACHERS’ LOUNGE A schoolteacher (Leonie Benesch) winds up in an awkward professional position — and a deepening ethical quagmire — after leveling an accusation against one of the school’s staff members. İlker Çatak directed this festival favorite. (Dec. 25 in theaters)

GOOD GRIEF Dan Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”) casts himself — in his first directorial feature — as a man who takes a trip to Paris with two friends (Ruth Negga and Himesh Patel) while grieving his husband’s death. (Dec. 29 in theaters, Jan. 5 on Netflix)



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