Seasons, as Joni Mitchell tells us, they come round and round, but one thing has remained constant for six decades:
A Steven Spielberg film has a good chance of being listed among the most anticipated movies of any season in any given year.
If we were previewing a summer 1975 movie, “Jaws” would be on the list.
A spring 1982 preview? Can’t wait to see “ET”!
Any list of the most anticipated holiday movies of 1993 would have included “Schindler’s List.”
If we are talking about the summer of 2002, “Minority Report” will be on the list.
Fall movies of 2012? Let’s start with “Lincoln”.
Here we are at the comp of the 2022 holiday movie season, and 75-year-old Spielberg remains as dominant as ever. A year after Spielberg’s triumphant and brilliant remake of “West Side Story,” he delivers one of his most personal films yet: “Fabelmans” (premiering Nov. 23), a semi-autobiographical story based on Spielberg’s childhood. Co-written with the great Tony Kushner (“Angels in America”), it’s the story of Sammy Fabelman, who grows up in post-World War II Arizona and discovers the magical powers of film.
“The Fabelmans” kicks off our Holiday Movie Preview 2022. Here’s the rest of the lineup, in chronological order.
‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ (November 23)
Coming at a time when we all need some good old-fashioned and wickedly clever entertainment, Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out” was one of the funniest movies of 2019 — and we’re getting two sequels, starting with “Glass Onion.” Set on a Greek island and featuring the return of Daniel Craig as detective Benoit Blanc, and an excellent ensemble including Kathryn Hahn, Edward Norton, Dave Bautista, Janelle Monae, Jada Pickett Smith, Leslie Odom Jr., Ethan Hawke. How can this not be entertaining as hell?
‘Strange World’ (November 23)
Disney’s 61st animated film features the voices of Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Zabouki Young-White, Gabrielle Union and Lucy Liu and follows the adventures of the Clydes, a legendary family of explorers who must put aside their internal differences and band together (perfect material. for Thanksgiving!) as they As he embarks on his most ambitious and dangerous journey yet.
‘Women Talking’ (December 2)
Sarah Polley directs Frances McDormand, Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley and Ben Whis in an adaptation of Miriam Toews’ 2018 novel of the same name, which centers on a group of eight Mennonite women who secretly meet after dozens of girls. The colony is drugged and raped by men. With the talented and empathetic Polly directing and that wonderful cast tackling difficult material, it promises to be intense and potentially unforgettable.
‘Violent Night’ (December 2)
Yes yes oh! David Harbor from “Stranger Things” seems perfectly cast as Santa Claus — not the Claus of “Miracle on 34th Street” or “Bad Santa,” but a Claus who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. Saving a family whose house is invaded by a group of mercenaries. You better be careful! It is better not to cry! Looks like this Nick is no saint.
‘Liberation’ (December 2)
Will Smith is still dealing with the fallout from his attack on Chris Rock at the Oscars and has had some career struggles, but he’s back as the star of the iconic project “Redemption,” in which he plays a slave who is whipped. Within an inch of his life, Louisiana escapes the plantation and makes his way north to join the Union Army. Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day,” “The Equalizer”) directs, so we can expect intense action with historical gravitas.
‘White Noise’ (December 2)
Director Noah Baumbach tackles Don LeLillo’s dense and complex and brilliant 1985 postmodern classic about the life and times of a college professor (Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” star Adam Driver) who has been married five times to four women and has numerous children and stepchildren. And lives in a town that is literally under a noxious cloud after a chemical spill from a train car. You know, that old story.
‘Avatar: Path of Water’ (Dec. 16)
A mere 157 years (or so it seems) since James Cameron rocked the cinema world with one of the most visually stunning and financially lucrative cinematic adventures of all time in “Avatar” (well, it actually came out in 2009). finally arrives, and given Cameron’s track record, it’s sure to be a flashy, made-for-the-biggest-screen-possible.
‘The Sun’ (December 16)
When we think of sequels and prequels and spinoffs, it’s usually superhero or action movie franchises, but “The Son” is a prequel to one of the most acclaimed and memorable serious dramas of 2020: “The Father,” won by Anthony Hopkins. A Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of the title character, who is losing his grip on reality as he slips into dementia. Florian Zeller’s prequel, based on his stage play of the same name, sees Hopkins reprise his role, alongside Hugh Jackman and Laura Dern as the divorced parents of a troubled 17-year-old (Jane McGraw). Film festival reviews have been mixed, but Jackman has been praised for delivering some of the best work of his career.
‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ (December 21)
In recent years we’ve seen biopics of musical legends from Billie Holiday to Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin to Freddie Mercury — and now comes the first Whitney Houston biopic authorized by Houston’s estate. Directed by the versatile and talented Kasey Lemons, Naomi Aki stars as Whitney and a supporting cast including Stanley Tucci as Clive Davis, Ashton Sanders as Bobby Brown and Nafessa Williams as Houston’s longtime assistant and confidant Robin Crawford. It will be fascinating to see if Ackie is up to the task of matching Houston’s indelible presence and incredible voice, which remains vivid and fresh in our memories through all those music videos and, of course, Houston’s performance in a semi-autobiographical role. In “The Bodyguard”. That is no small challenge.
‘The Pale Blue Eye’ (December 23)
I love these stories where a real-life historical figure is immersed in a fictional situation – in this case, one Edgar Allan Poe (Harry Melling from “The Queen’s Gambit”), a young cadet at West Point Academy circa 1830 who helps the veteran. Detective August Lander (Christian Bale) investigates a series of murders at the academy. Based on the 2006 novel of the same name, “The Pale Blue Eye” is directed by Scott Cooper, whose credits include “Out of the Furnace” (2013), one of the most underrated movies of 2010. Memorable horror films in recent years include “Antlers” (2021).
‘Babylon’ (December 23)
For those who make it a tradition to go to the movies on Christmas Day, checking out this sprawling tale set in 1920s Hollywood during the transition from silent to sound seems a sure bet. Damian Chazelle (“La La Land”) directs, and the cast includes Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Diego Calva, Jean Smart, Tobey Maguire, Olivia Wilde, Lee Joon Lee, Jovan Adepo, Max Minghella and Catherine Waterston. (The trailer above contains adult content.)