After a number of live-action films, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise got an animated reboot in 2021, and this year we get its sequel, also exclusive to Disney+. Like the 2011 live-action film of the same title, Rodrick Rules is based on the second book of the eponymous series and centers on central character Greg Heffley’s relationship to his older brother.
In the midst of the US Civil War in 1863, a series of images of an escaped slave named Gordon – including one depicting his back, heavily scarred from whippings – published in Harper’s Weekly became famous as evidence of the brutality of slavery and inspired horror, sympathy, and a newfound vigor to end the war. Antoine Fuqua’s new film chronicles Gordon’s astonishing escape and his subsequent enlistment in the Union Army, calling on Will Smith to take on the central role. The film opens in limited release on December 2 before hitting Apple TV+ a week later.
Hot off last year’s The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Michael Showalter takes on another real-life story, albeit smaller in scale. The film is an adaptation of a memoir by Michael Ausiello (played here by Jim Parsons), an entertainment journalist who chronicled the final months of the life of his husband, photographer Kit Cowan (Ben Aldridge), after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
If you need a little cheeky fun this holiday season, look no further than Violent Night, which finds Santa Claus (David Harbour) unexpectedly dropping into a wealthy home whose residents are being held hostage by mercenaries looking for a big score. Of course, these baddies are all on Santa’s naughty list, so he takes it upon himself to deliver some “season’s beatings,” Die Hard style.
Writer-director Sarah Polley’s latest film is an adaptation of the 2018 novel of the same name about a group of Mennonite women who learn of the abuse the men in their community have been forcing upon them and meet secretly to discuss their options. Polley has gathered a number of powerhouse actresses to headline this mature drama, which opens in limited release on December 2 and expands on Christmas Day.
Sam Mendes directs Olivia Colman in a film about the magic of cinema, shot by the legendary Roger Deakins. If any film was tailor-made to appeal to Oscar voters, this checks all the boxes, even if early reviews have been decidedly mixed.
For a certain segment of the population, 1996’s Matilda is a childhood favorite, but there’s a new adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel looking to take its place. Based on the stage musical crafted from Dahl’s book, this version stars Alisha Weir as the titular heroine, a precocious and extraordinarily gifted girl who takes on the mean, abusive headmistress of her school, played by an unrecognizable Emma Thompson. The film opens in limited release on December 9 before streaming on Netflix on Christmas Day.
Guillermo del Toro’s latest film, which is also his first foray into stop-motion animation, is one that he’s wanted to tackle for a very long time. With the help of an all-star voice cast, he brings the classic Italian novel to life in a darker adaptation than the ones we’ve seen before.
While writer-director Darren Aronofsky has taken some heat for the premise of this film, star Brendan Fraser has heard nothing but effusive praise for his role as a severely overweight man who attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter (Sadie Sink). Reviews have been mixed as a result, but expect to hear Fraser’s name come up in awards conversations.
The first of James Cameron’s four Avatar sequels finally arrives, 13 years after the first film debuted. This time out, we’ll get to experience the aquatic side of Pandora as we catch up with Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and his family, who face threats both new and frighteningly familiar.
Following on the musical biopic trend that’s been rather popular lately, Kasi Lemmons brings us a look at the life and career of iconic pop star Whitney Houston. Naomi Ackie steps into the role of the famous singer, while Stanley Tucci plays Clive Davis, the record exec who discovered her and helped steer her to stardom.
Who would have thought that, of all the secondary characters in the Shrek films, Puss in Boots would be the one to headline a successful spin-off franchise? Sure, the first film was 11 years ago, but no other character got their own movie, let alone a sequel. Antonio Banderas returns to voice the swashbuckling feline, who learns he has used up eight of his nine lives and sets off to discover a way to restore them all.
Oscar-winning writer-director Damien Chazelle assembles an impressive ensemble cast for his look back at Old Hollywood, specifically the period during the 1920s when the silent film era began to transition to “talkies,” focusing on an ambitious Mexican-American actor who attempts to rise up through the industry.
Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread, Old) stars in Marie Kreutzer’s irreverent portrait of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, who was famous for her exercise regimen and her preoccupation with beauty. The film makes use of anachronisms and even fictional scenarios to depict how Elisabeth – or “Sissi,” as she was called in childhood – struggles to maintain her status, even as she rebels against it.
Rian Johnson’s 2019 whodunit Knives Out – and its eccentric protagonist, Daniel Craig’s detective Benoit Blanc – were a big hit, so a sequel was inevitable. What most didn’t see coming was that Netflix would snatch up the franchise. Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Leslie Odom Jr., and more make up the stacked ensemble, while the story centers on a tech billionaire’s private island retreat, where a dead body turns up during an annual gathering.
Oliver Hermanus directs this remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 masterpiece Ikiru, about a lifelong bureaucrat who learns he has a terminal illness and attempts to find meaning in his remaining days. The story is moved from Japan to 1950s London, and Hermanus relies on the talents of Bill Nighy in the central role, and so far, critics have been impressed.