- Best of the Year
The best movies of 2022
Here’s what excited us the most on screen this year
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From big theatrical events like Top Gun: Maverick to a shockingly good year in horror , it’s been a memorable year at the movies.
What makes a movie worth including as one of Polygon’s best? We like many different types of movies here, from genre fare to the kind of stuff that makes you think. If it made us laugh, made us cry, made us ponder, or made us squeal in excitement, it’s probably here.
We asked Polygon’s staffers to submit their favorite movies of the year. Some ranked theirs, some didn’t. Some included 25, some included five. We were able to take that data and translate it into this extremely scientific*, definitive** list of the best movies of the year.
Nobody has had a chance to see everything — we’re publishing this in early December, which meant collecting ballots in November. That means only a select few have seen The Way of Water , and very few people have seen Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio , The Fabelmans, or Glass Onion , to name a few examples. But that’s why we’re a team! With our powers combined, we’ve seen nearly all of the relevant 2022 releases, and we’ve sorted through our feelings to determine which ones are the best — just for you.
Below are Polygon’s top 10 movies of the year, as voted on by our staffers. We’ll also have movies that didn’t make the cut but were worth mentioning, as well as our staffers’ top 10 ballots for your perusal. Just don’t be a jerk about it.
And if you like lists, we’ve got more lists — specifically lists of the best TV , games , anime , and books of the year.
* There was barely any science involved. ** There’s no such thing as a definitive list of the best movies. That’s, like, your opinion.
The top 10 movies of 2022
10. everything everywhere all at once.
Genre: Sci-fi action Run time: 2h 19m Directors: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Jamie Lee Curtis
People who only know filmmakers Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert from their tongue-in-cheek 2016 indie-movie parody Swiss Army Man — yes, that’s the one where Daniel Radcliffe spends the whole movie as a vomiting, farting corpse — may be surprised at the sheer scope, scale, and ambition of the writer-directors’ movie Everything Everywhere All at Once , which absolutely lives up to its name. It’s a wild, winning multiverse comedy slash kung-fu epic about a depressed laundromat owner ( Michelle Yeoh ) who’s called on to save billions of alternate universes from evil, but that only scratches the surface of what the Daniels are out to achieve.
Part metaphorical attempt to reckon with the chaos of the internet age, part life-affirming argument against despair, and part reckless absurdist action movie, it’s simultaneously hilarious and touching, an impressive special-effects experiment and a tremendous mental reboot on the order of The Matrix . This is the only movie you’ll see this year (or probably ever) where one man gets beaten to death with oversized floppy dildos, while another changes the world with the Kurt Vonnegut-derived message “Be kinder to each other.” — Tasha Robinson
Everything Everywhere All at Once is available to watch on Showtime, or for digital rental or purchase on Amazon , Apple TV , and Google Play.
Genre: Action thriller Run time: 2h 16m Director: Michael Bay Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eiza González
Ambulance follows two brothers who steal an ambulance after a botched bank heist and lead the Los Angeles Police Department on a chase across the city, all with a couple of accidental hostages in the back. The robbers are played by Yahya Abdul Mateen II, who brings a sympathetic presence to the high-stakes chase, and Jake Gyllenhaal at his unhinged best. But it’s action director extraordinaire Michael Bay who is the real star of the show.
After 10 years in the dark dungeons of Transformers sequels, Ambulance is the best version of Michael Bay. The movie has all the hallmarks of Bay’s best work, like The Rock and Bad Boys , mixed with the mastery of new technologies that he’s shown in more recent works like 13 Hours . Drone cameras soar through car chases, handheld shots give us an up-close view of panicked amateur surgery, and every explosion looks incredible. Does every ounce of the story make perfect sense and conform to the laws of reality? No, it absolutely does not. But it is a tremendously fun two-hour-long car chase, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. It feels good to have Bay back at the top of his game. — Austen Goslin
Ambulance is available to watch on Prime Video , or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon , Apple TV , Google Play, and Vudu .
Genre: Drama Run time: 1h 42m Director: Charlotte Wells Cast: Paul Mescal, Frankie Corio, Celia Rowlson-Hall
The human memory is, famously, unreliable — faulty to the point of being thrown out even when it’s your sworn testimony. Childhood memories are perhaps the best example of this: Even a small, isolated memory can completely change tone later when seen with the full spectrum of adulthood, filtered through the prism of concern and care that comes with it. It’s a tough concept to wrap your brain around at times. And so Aftersun feels like a small miracle in the ways it not only captures that scope but manages to frame the whole concept with grace.
Young father Calum (Paul Mescal) and his 11-year-old daughter Sophie (Frankie Corio) are on a rare resort vacation, a fading moment captured by her on a clunky camcorder (at least partially; you know what it’s like to hand a kid a video camera). While that plot is simple in construction, the execution of it is far more profound, capturing the wistful vantage points of both Calum’s and Sophie’s experiences on holiday with equal, vivid clarity. In Aftersun ’s hands, memory is just as slippery as it’s always been. Sometimes conversations wash over Sophie and threaten to drown Calum; growing up is seeing the full picture of their trip, and Aftersun is quietly devastating in its ability to capture that. It’s a testament to the performances at the center of it (Mescal’s compassionate weariness most of all) that the film manages to suggest so much without overstating its point. After all, memory may be unreliable, but sometimes memory — echoed in a grainy camcorder or the recollection of a warm embrace — is all we have. — Zosha Millman
Aftersun is available for digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, and Google Play.
Genre: Action horror Run time: 1h 24m Director: Jean Luc Herbulot Cast: Yann Gael, Mentor Ba, Roger Sallah
I don’t want to say too much about Saloum , because part of the joy of the movie is the way it dramatically unfurls in surprising directions. A charming group of mercenaries escorting a drug lord from Guinea-Bissau to Senegal have to land their plane unexpectedly early, and then things spiral from there. But I will say this: It’s a joyous genre mashup with gorgeous characterization, terrific lead actors, and a jaw-dropping third act. You won’t regret it.— Pete Volk
Saloum is available to stream on Shudder and AMC Plus through Prime Video , or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon, Google Play, and Vudu .
Genre: Drama Run time: 2h 38m Director: Todd Field Cast: Cate Blanchett, Nina Hoss, Noémie Merlant
Todd Field’s first film in nearly two decades stars Cate Blanchett as the eponymous Lydia Tár, a globally renowned (and entirely fictitious) composer-conductor who is faced with a professional and personal reckoning brought upon by her many transgressions and infidelities. Exquisitely well paced, scrupulously detailed, and impeccably performed, Tár marks the return of a director whose small body of work belies a mastery and vision seldom seen in all but the greatest of his contemporaries in their prime.
Field’s film is more ambitious and interesting than any simple screed either against or on behalf of so-called cancel culture. Over the course of its run time, Tár reveals itself as something far more complex and harder to nail down: an incisive exploration of the myriad ways in which the abuse of power, both institutional and personal, manifests, while also a story that attempts to dispel the myth of “genius” and the aura of exonerating virtue in which it is imbued, to probe at the ugly, complicated, and incontrovertibly human truth at its center.
The film accomplishes this by centering on a character who embodies a multitude of contradictions: a woman who is at once unquestionably gifted, indisputably reprehensible, and so coercively charismatic as to nearly, if not outright, elicit reluctant sympathy even when viewed at her worst. Blanchett so thoroughly inhabits the role of Lydia Tár that it feels impossible to even imagine this film existing without her, affording a performance befitting one of the greatest actors of their time. There is more to be said and written about Tár than can comfortably fit in the space of a paragraph, let alone a sentence, but the bottom line is this: Tár is one of the best films of the year, if not the best. — Toussaint Egan
Tár is available to stream on Peacock, or for rent or purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, and Google Play.
Genre: Horror comedy Run time: 1h 43m Director: Zach Cregger Cast: Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård, Justin Long
Perhaps the ultimate “don’t go into the basement” movie, Barbarian follows Tess, a young woman who has the unfortunate fate of getting double-booked at an Airbnb with a strange man in a less-than-ideal part of town. And then things get way worse. And then things get way worse again .
Barbarian is the rare horror movie that manages to keep upping the ante with new and bigger surprises every few minutes, without ever feeling like it’s holding anything back. Just when you think the creepy guy Tess has to stay the night with is going to be trouble, the movie opens up a whole subterranean basement of horrible twists and shocking grossness.
Maybe the most surprising of these twists is how frequently the movie jumps between its gruesomely violent moments and funny jokes, without ever letting either feel out of place and making the whole movie a shockingly fun time. — AG
Barbarian is available to stream on HBO Max , or for digital rental or purchase on Amazon , Google Play, and Vudu .
Genre: Sci-fi horror Run time: 2h 10m Director: Jordan Peele Cast: Keke Palmer, Daniel Kaluuya, Steven Yeun
Nope is yet another thoughtful and fun sci-fi horror from one of the best filmmakers currently working.
Ostensibly a movie about trying to prove the existence of a UFO, Nope is a profound meditation on the role of cameras and filmmaking not only in our society, but also in the struggle against oppression and racism toward Black people in America. Two siblings on the outskirts of the filmmaking industry (but with deep ties to the history of cinema’s formation) use all the tools at their disposal (and their wits) to capture proof of something they know is true but others will not believe. It is not a big leap to connect their quest to that of the many brave Black Americans who have attempted to document injustices against them on camera, something Peele himself has talked about in the context of this movie. And Peele’s movie goes further, pulling in deeper themes about who gets access to the tools needed to document their stories, what support looks like in times of crisis, Cosmicism, and animal actors , all wrapped within a story of pursuing that one perfect shot.
Nope is also anchored by one of the best sibling relationships I’ve ever seen. Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer have an electric chemistry that leaps off the screen, and you instantly believe they’d do anything for each other. It is also Jordan Peele’s ode to the filmmaking style of Steven Spielberg, and thus the most blockbuster-y of his oeuvre to date (with great monster design to boot).
Nope has only grown in my estimation since watching it, as my brain constantly finds itself returning to its powerful images and ideas. Nope serves as further proof of Peele’s mastery of both unforgettable ideas and arresting images, and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us next. — PV
Nope is available to watch on Peacock, or for digital rental or purchase on Amazon , Apple TV , and Google Play.
3. The Banshees of Inisherin
Genre: Dramedy Run time: 1h 54m Director: Martin McDonagh Cast: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Barry Keoghan
The Banshees of Inisherin is a bit of a miracle. Writer and director Martin McDonagh’s previous film, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri , received many Oscar nominations and took home two acting awards, most memorably for Frances McDormand. It’s an ugly film with a misguided interpretation of bigotry in America, but so was Crash , and that didn’t stop its creator from landing a Bond movie. That’s how things work: When an artist gets this much attention, they usually make the most of producers hoping to re-create similar success. Instead, McDonagh took the longest creative break of his career.
Four years later, McDonagh returns with a film that doubles as a conclusion to a loose trilogy of plays he’d abandoned in the mid-2000s. (Don’t worry, you needn’t have seen off-Broadway favorites like The Lieutenant of Inishmore to appreciate this movie.) The Banshees of Inisherin has a cinematic grace, the camera floating through the hills of a small Irish island. But the story has the premise of a killer play: an older artist (Brendan Gleeson) calls off a lifelong friendship with a farmer (Colin Farrell) with no warning and little explanation. The harder the farmer fights to reunite, the more extreme the artist’s efforts to break ties.
It doesn’t take a close inspection to spot McDonagh’s own questions about the prioritization of art and the artist. But McDonagh is too clever a writer to frame the farmer as some pure, noble good. He can be downright annoying. A troupe of characters fill out the spectrum of views between the farmer and the artist, and by the end, McDonagh has seemingly juiced this scenario for every philosophical and existential question it contains — never taking too clear a stance on any answer.
Banshees is the opposite of Three Billboards : vulnerable, beautiful, and utterly obsessed with the aching complexity of even the most banal life. McDonagh could have made a lot of money or a vanity project. Instead he took a beat, then made this quiet masterpiece. — Chris Plante
The Banshees of Inisherin is available to stream on HBO Max, or for digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu.
2. Decision to Leave
Genre: Mystery romance Run time: 2h 18m Director: Park Chan-wook Cast: Park Hae-il, Tang Wei
Park Chan-wook’s follow-up to The Handmaiden is a completely different kind of love story: a police procedural about a detective, Hae-jun (Park Hae-il) falling for an insightful, soft-spoken woman he’s investigating for murder. This slow-burn story crosses through so many genres that it may leave viewers a bit baffled about what they’re watching, until, with a series of almost audible clicks, each segment of the puzzle-piece narrative falls together, building to an unforgettable conclusion. It’s the kind of immaculately crafted experience that may leave people wanting to watch it again immediately, just to appreciate the eventual impact of all the tiny details that didn’t add up the first time around. But by the end , it comes into focus as a portrait of obsession, devotion, division, and some very clever scheming. — TR
Decision to Leave is available to stream on Mubi, or for digital rental or purchase on Apple and Amazon.
Genre: Historical action epic Run time: 3h 7m Director: S.S. Rajamouli Cast: N.T. Rama Rao Jr., Ram Charan
Every cinematic possibility explodes across the screen in S.S. Rajamouli’s three-hour historical action epic. Too much hype? There is no overselling the spectacle of RRR , which reimagines the real-life Indian revolutionaries Alluri Sitarama Raju and Komaram Bheem as superheroic protectors capable of outmaneuvering ferocious beasts, battling battalions of men into submission, and slapping imperialist assholes with motorcycles like Jet Li in The One . Rajamouli, seemingly fueled by 100 years of Eastern and Western classics, drops the film’s thunderous-applause-worthy moments with the precision of the jokes in Airplane ; just when you think dopamine levels might drop after a physics-defying rescue sequence, Rama (Ram Charan) and Bheem (Jr. NTR) hit the dance floor, snap their suspenders, and fight colonialism through the power of footwork. “Dance like a scorpion has bitten you!” they proclaim in Telugu, though their moves speak even louder than words. Every second of RRR is like this.
This may sound familiar in Hollywood’s mega-scale era, and RRR ’s bombast would be fluff if not for its human, melodramatic core. Charan and Jr. NTR, bona fide movie stars, balance ferocity with chumminess as they carry the life-or-death weight of a nation on their backs and ward off a violent British officer (played with mustache-twirling despicableness by Ray Stevenson). The way Rajamouli rewires the past has been rightfully interrogated for riding a fine line between patriotism and propaganda (in a way similar to Top Gun: Maverick ’s military sales pitch), but the director’s tight grasp on emotionality feels like the antidote. Bheem, a hero of India’s Gond tribe in search of an abducted girl, is a vulnerable man, even as he unleashes a wave of wild animals on his Western adversaries. Rama, the rare Indian member of the Imperial police who unknowingly hunts Bheem while also befriending him, is the definition of a compassionate Best Bud, though we know he’s sold his soul. All the complications and self-actualizing make RRR a dimensional work of pop fiction — and the kind you never see at this scale. — Matt Patches
RRR is available to watch on Zee5 , and the Hindi dub is available to watch on Netflix .
The best of the rest
The movies that just missed the cut (or had dedicated fans on staff who made damn sure they were included).
- We’re All Going to the World’s Fair
Genre: Horror Run time: 1h 26m Director: Jane Schoenbrun Cast: Anna Cobb
Writer-director Jane Schoenbrun has created something truly special: a coming-of-age horror film for the generation that grew up too online. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair communicates the excitement and fear that accompany creating a new self on the internet, as well as the excitement and fear of encountering others online who think they know you.
Casey, an internet-obsessed lonely teenager (Anna Cobb, in an unforgettable feature film debut), stumbles across The World’s Fair Challenge, a horror-themed online challenge that promises physical changes to those who take part. Casey begins to create videos of her participation in the challenge, opening the door to new experiences (and spectators) in her physical and virtual lives.
With effective use of creepypasta aesthetics (including striking collaborations with real YouTube creators), We’re All Going to the World’s Fair is an unsettling, immersive internet horror experience that is at once new and familiar to those who have visited these remote corners of the internet. Schoenbrun’s feature debut is one to remember, and they’re a filmmaker to keep an eye on as new projects emerge. — PV
We’re All Going to the World’s Fair is available to stream on HBO Max , for free with a library card on Hoopla, or for digital rental on Amazon and Apple .
Genre: Thriller Run time: 1h 39m Director: Romain Gavras Cast: Sami Slimane, Dali Benssalah, Ouassini Embarek
A pure adrenaline shot in cinematic form, celebrated music video director Romain Gavras’ feature debut is an unforgettable concoction of escalating tensions in a small French village. After a young boy is murdered, a community is thrown into turmoil and conflict with the police. Featuring some of the most stunning one-take sequences you’ll ever see, incredible leading performances, and the best title drop of the year, Athena is not one to be missed. Just watch the opening scene — you won’t regret it, and you’ll likely just keep going from there. It’s a shame the movie is exactly one scene too long, but even a bad ending can’t take away the power of this one. — PV
Athena is available to watch on Netflix.
Genre: Sci-fi Run time: 1h 36m Director: Kogonada Cast: Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Justin H. Min
The latest from Columbus director Kogonada, After Yang is a melancholy science fiction movie that balances the question of how we should think about artificial life with the more intriguing question about how it should think about us. Colin Farrell and Jodie Turner-Smith star as adoptive parents raising a young Chinese girl, with the help of a “technosapien” — an android programmed as her language tutor, cultural advisor, and big brother. When his systems fail, the family goes through exactly what they’d experience at the death of any family member, with the added question of what his death tells them about their lives and relationships. It’s a small, quiet, meditative film, but it’s visually rich and packed with ideas about prejudice and assumptions, cultural assimilation, and the way everyone is navigating an inner life that would astonish everyone around them . — TR
After Yang is available to watch on Showtime , or for digital rental on Amazon , Apple TV , and Google Play.
- Catherine Called Birdy
Genre: Comedy Run time: 1h 48m Director: Lena Dunham Cast: Bella Ramsey, Andrew Scott, Billie Piper
Lena Dunham’s adaptation of middle-grade historical novel Catherine, Called Birdy is the rare film version that strays from the book in a good way. Bella Ramsey stars as headstrong Catherine, a teenage girl in the Middle Ages who is frustrated with her limited options in life. While she wants to enjoy her girlhood and stomp around the mud with the goat boys, as the daughter of the village’s lord, she’s expected to be married off to whoever pays most handsomely for her hand. The book was a diary, focused on Catherine’s spunky voice and sharp observations, and while the movie keeps Catherine’s narration, it also offers a more nuanced look at the world around her. Catherine’s father, Lord Rollo (Andrew Scott), for instance, isn’t a greedy and lazy man who treats his daughter and wife as pawns, but a flawed person trying to rectify his mistakes and provide for his family and village. It’s a lovely little look into the daily life of a medieval lady, but also with a more overarching plot throughline than the book. — Petrana Radulovic
Catherine Called Birdy is available to watch on Prime Video.
Genre: Thriller Run time: 2h 7m Director: Asghar Farhadi Cast: Amir Jadidi, Sahar Goldust, Mohsen Tanabandeh
[ Ed. note: Farhadi has been accused of plagiarizing the idea of A Hero by a former student.]
Oscar-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi returns with another stunner, painting a beautiful, nuanced picture of a man in crisis. Amir Jadidi is phenomenal as Rahim, a charming man who simply can not get his life together, no matter how much his friends and family love him. When his girlfriend finds an abandoned handbag with gold coins inside, Rahim considers using the money to pay off his debt while out on a brief furlough from debtor’s prison. But after a series of events leads him to return the bag and money to a woman who says she’s the original owner, he becomes the subject of a local media frenzy for his charitable act.
A moving, challenging story about the difficulties of trying to do the right thing in an unjust world, A Hero is also a study of how difficult it is to pin down clear motives or objective truth, especially when facing a story filtered through layers of personal and organizational agendas. Even the truth about your own actions and motivations can be difficult to sort through. And if you do actually find it, is it actually for navigating the world? A Hero is a stirring, unforgettable work that should not be missed. — PV
A Hero is available to watch on Prime Video .
- The Woman King
Genre: Historical action drama Run time: 2h 14m Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood Cast: Viola Davis, Lashana Lynch, John Boyega
Gina Prince-Bythewood takes the next step onward from her pivot to superhero action, Netflix’s The Old Guard , and lays out a historical epic that’s rousing, thrilling, and fierce as hell. Viola Davis stars in The Woman King as General Nanisca, leader of the Agojie, an all-female band of elite warriors charged with protecting the West African kingdom of Dahomey in the 1820s, as a larger and more powerful neighboring tribe begins kidnapping Dahomey citizens to sell to European slave traders. The Agojie were real — they’re the inspiration for Black Panther ’s Dora Milaje — and Prince-Bythewood drew heavily from their real-life art, music, fashion, weaponry, language, culture, and fighting styles to give the film texture, though in other ways it’s as fictionalized as Braveheart , Gandhi , or any other Hollywood historical epic. The result is a rich and thrilling underdog story with Prince-Bythewood’s usual attention to character-building, relationship-building, and steeping all the big plot beats in believable human emotion. It’s a familiar good-versus-evil story with familiar beats, but told in a way that’s rare for American screens, and with a level of detail, energy, and verve that keeps it engaging and personal through every epic battle. — TR
The Woman King is available to watch on Netflix, or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu.
- Crimes of the Future
Genre: Science fiction Run time: 1h 47m Director: David Cronenberg Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart
The master of body horror returns with a shockingly prescient script written nearly 30 years ago, tackling subjects as varied as art and the creative process, our relationships to our bodies and governments’ relationships to them, disability and aging, and (as often is the case with his movies) queerness and sexuality at an angle. There’s a lot going on in Crimes of the Future , and it’s all contained within a fascinating sci-fi tale with efficient and evocative world-building, incredible production design (the chairs in this movie!!! Viggo’s coat!!!), and some of the best performances of the year. — PV
Crimes of the Future is available to watch on Hulu.
- The Northman
Genre: Historical epic Run time: 2h 17m Director: Robert Eggers Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicole Kidman
Few things go better together than Vikings and revenge, and The Northman is the perfect proof. Drawing inspiration from the same Norse myth that inspired Shakespeare’s Hamlet , director Robert Eggers ( The VVitch , T he Lighthouse ) has created a historical epic of the sort we rarely get to see anymore. The story follows Amleth (Alexander Skarsgaard) as he seeks revenge against his Uncle, who murdered his father and usurped his throne.
The Northman is a brutal movie, but among Amleth’s epic battles and lava-soaked duals, there’s a surprising heart and humanity, giving the character more compelling motivation than most revenge movies manage. Eggers brings this balance to every aspect of the movie, whether it’s the beauty and harshness of the Icelandic landscape, or combining incredibly detailed realism with the more operatic side of Norse cosmology. With this careful symmetry of real and surreal, The Northman is about as close as any movie has come to bringing the fantasy of myths to a live-action film. — AG
The Northman is available to stream on Prime Video , or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon , Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu .
- Top Gun: Maverick
Genre: Action Run time: 2h 11m Director: Joseph Kosinski Cast: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Glen Powell
“The sequel was so much better than the original” isn’t something movie fans say or hear often, but it’s true in the case of Top Gun: Maverick , a 36-years-later check-in on the high-flying 1986 action movie that gave Tom Cruise the need for speed. Cruise is back as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, the Navy test pilot who continually lives up to his name by breaking rules, flouting superiors, and charting his own course.
But Top Gun: Maverick walks far enough away from Top Gun ’s testosterone-scented smugness to consider the cost of the Maverick life: namely, reaching a point where a fed-up military is ready to put Mav out to pasture, and he has to settle for teaching a class of up-and-coming fliers, some of whom as are as cocky and off-putting as he used to be. Maverick is an intense action movie where the actors really are flying planes and filming themselves in the cockpits , and even though the ending is a foregone conclusion, director Joe Kosinski pulls off plenty of breathless “Is this where they all die?” action. But the film is more interesting and more satisfying for its emotional elements, which include a tearjerking salute to (and premature goodbye to) visibly ailing Top Gun star Val Kilmer, and Maverick making it clear that he still keenly feels the loss of his wingman Goose more than 30 years later. — TR
Top Gun: Maverick is available on Paramount Plus, or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon , Apple , and Google Play.
Genre: Action comedy Run time: 1h 35m Director: Yugo Sakamoto Cast: Akari Takaishi, Saori Izawa
A rare action comedy that is equal parts funny and kick-ass, Baby Assassins is an eccentric slice-of-life story about two (extremely) teenage girls who happen to kill people for a living.
Chisato and Mahiro would like nothing more than to perform their killer duties and then just laze around their apartment all day. When they’re asked by their boss to get part-time jobs in an effort to better integrate into society, the two girls struggle to find an alternative means to conflict resolution… outside of murder.
More a fish-out-of-water comedy than pure action movie, the fight choreography in Baby Assassins is nonetheless great. It features exciting hand-to-hand combat and gunplay that works well with the comedy, with many physical punchlines. Gamers, take note: Action director Kensuke Sonomura is a celebrated video game fight choreographer who has done extensive work on the Devil May Cry and Resident Evil series, as well as Vanquish and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots . — PV
Baby Assassins is available to watch on Hi-Yah!, or for digital rental or purchase on Amazon , Apple TV , and Google Play.
- Turning Red
Genre: Family fantasy comedy Run time: 1h 40m Director: Domee Shi Cast: Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh
It’s hard to look back fondly at the painfully awkward middle-school years, but Pixar’s Turning Red considers the tumultuous ups and downs of early adolescence without flinching, and with an astonishing amount of love. Domee Shi, who directed 2018’s Pixar short Bao , makes her theatrical debut with this one-of-a-kind movie that envelopes quirky magic, cultural specificity, and most of all, an absolute love for young girlhood in all its messy glory.
Thirteen-year-old Mei discovers that she turns into a gigantic red panda when she’s overwhelmed by strong emotion — a quirk all the women of her family have been burdened with since ancient times. Mei struggles to control the panda just as other family members have, but she also starts to discover her own identity outside of her family, and to embrace that side of herself. The giant-red-panda-sized emotions she feels at the cusp of adulthood translate into giant emotions for the audience, who can look back on that pivotal time of their lives where everything felt like so much all at once. Turning Red balances those deep emotions with some charming humor and genuine sweetness, and it’s one of the best and most unique films in Pixar’s canon. — PR
Turning Red is available to watch on Disney Plus , or for digital purchase via Amazon , Apple TV , Google Play and Vudu .
- Bones and All
Genre: Romance/horror Run time: 2h 10m Director: Luca Guadagnino Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Taylor Russell, Mark Rylance
Bones and All is a beautiful little love story between two teens who just happen to be born with the affliction to crave human flesh. It may sound gross, and at times it can be, but director Luca Guadagnino is a master of using grossness as a vehicle for intimacy, and he’s never been better at it than in Bones and All .
The film follows Maren (played marvelously by Taylor Russell), who’s recently run away from home after her latest incident. After a less-than-fortunate meeting with another “eater,” Maren meets Lee (Timothée Chalamet at his most gaunt, playing a careful mix of vulnerable and defensive), and the movie’s love story gets rolling as the two travel the back roads of America’s heartland in a beat-up truck. Guadagnino shoots the Midwest as if America had never seen a building taller than two stories and turns fields of grass and grain into a massive stage to host and contrast some of Maren and Lee’s most intimate and loving moments.
Thanks to the cannibalism of it all, Bones and All is also a movie that’s almost too easy to reduce to metaphors (for growing up, for falling in love, for being an outsider), but the outstanding performances from Chalamet and Russell keep the movie’s feet planted firmly on the floor of their romance, never letting anything, real or metaphorical, get in its way. Even with the cannibalism, Guadagnino’s tender filmmaking and his two excellent performances make Bones and All one of the sweetest and warmest road trip romances in recent memory. — AG
Bones and All is available for digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple, Google Play, and Vudu.
Genre: Historical fantasy/musical Run time: 1h 38m Director: Masaaki Yuasa Cast: Avu-chan, Mirai Moriyama, Tasuku Emoto
The latest surreal anime movie from Lu Over the Wall , Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! , and Ride Your Wave director Masaaki Yuasa features all his usual elements — wildly bending rubber-band bodies that look like nothing else in anime and energetic musical sequences, both being used to underline and emphasize the powerful emotions on display. But Inu-Oh goes further than usual with both. The story of a spirit-plagued mutant and a cursed biwa-playing monk who band together to revolutionize music in 14th-century Japan is part historical epic, part rock ’n’ roll origin story. There are some deep and painful themes here, about how regimes rewrite and reshape history with no regard for those who lived it, but they’re expressed with a joyful, often manic energy that becomes visually stunning on screen, especially during the extensive concerts that tell the stories of lost battles and lost souls. It’s a unique experience, like all Yuasa’s films, which each play with the range of human emotion in different ways. And like Yuasa’s recent work in general, it stretches the boundaries of anime — of what kind of stories can be told, and how. — TR
Inu-Oh is available for digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu.
- Fire Island
Genre: Romantic comedy Run time: 1h 45m Director: Andrew Ahn Cast: Joel Kim Booster, Conrad Ricamora, Bowen Yang
This delightful adaptation of Pride and Prejudice brings Jane Austen’s classic story to the gay vacation destination Fire Island. Comedian Joel Kim Booster wrote the movie and stars as Noah, the Elizabeth Bennet of this story. Noah and his friends travel to Fire Island every year to vacation for a week, but this year appears to be the last. Noah’s best friend, Howie (Bowen Yang, playing the Jane Bennet role here), has never been in a relationship, and Noah makes it his mission to get Howie laid this week. When the pair meet a group of rich guys also on vacation, tensions flare as some hit it off and some don’t.
Fire Island is the rare straight-to-streaming movie that doesn’t look like a cheap TV show, and director Andrew Ahn relishes the beauty present in both the people and the scenery. Every member of the cast is hilarious, with Booster and Yang earning the recognition they’ve already received for their particular takes on these long-explored roles. But for me, Conrad Ricamora as the Mr. Darcy of this world steals the show. While the other characters get lines filled with jokes and gags, Ricamora has to bring out the humor and charm in his character from moments of self-seriousness. It’s an impressive feat, and one that easily could have gotten lost under some of the energetic performances he’s acting across. Instead, it’s a star-making role in a lovely 105 minutes. — PV
Fire Island is available to watch on Hulu .
Genre: “True story” thriller Run time: 2h 30min Director: Ron Howard Cast: Colin Farrell, Viggo Mortensen, Joel Edgerton
Thirteen Lives , the adaptation of the true story of the 2018 Thai cave rescue, is a perfect match of director and material. Ron Howard is a deeply sentimental filmmaker who loves inspirational stories — Apollo 13 , Cinderella Man , and his excellent sports drama Rush , for instance — and there are few more inspirational stories in recent memory than this one. It’s also one that’s quite impossible for him to overdramatize, because of how unbelievable the true story is.
An old-school tense, edge-of-your-seat thriller, Thirteen Lives avoids the pitfall of similar Hollywood adaptations by not locating the story as a journey of a singular group of outsider heroes (in this cave, the eccentric specialty cave divers portrayed by Viggo Mortensen and Colin Farrell). Instead, the movie effectively showcases how this was a group effort by volunteers from around the world. The heroics of the divers wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of local villagers and other volunteers from around the world, and the movie does not forget it. The diving scenes are electric and incredibly tense, too — Howard and the crew built a gigantic set to replicate the caves, and Mortensen and Farrell shot their own diving sequences. — PV
Thirteen Lives is available to watch on Prime Video .
I Was a Simple Man
Genre: Drama Run time: 1h 40m Director: Christopher Makoto Yogi Cast: Steve Iwamoto, Constance Wu
August at Akiko ’s Christopher Makoto Yogi turns this ghost story into a slow-burn meditation on death, memory, and what lives on after we depart. As the elderly patriarch of a fragmented family (Steve Iwamoto, excellent in his first lead feature role) nears the end of his life, he’s visited by family in the present and ghosts from the past, including his long-deceased wife (Constance Wu). Intergenerational tensions arise as the ghosts of past conflicts return, too — squabbles and fights between family members long estranged, and historical conflicts around Hawaii’s path to statehood.
I Was A Simple Man takes us on this journey across different time periods and with evocative use of surrealism and dream aesthetics. A beautiful movie filled with stunning images of Hawaii’s gorgeous landscapes and rich textures, it won the Made in Hawaii Award for Best Feature at the 2021 Hawaii International Film Festival. I Was A Simple Man is an unforgettable experience that ventures to capture the final days of one life on Earth. — PV
I Was A Simple Man is available to watch on the Criterion Channel , or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon , Apple TV , Google Play and Vudu .
- Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Genre: Mystery comedy Run time: 2h 19m Director: Rian Johnson Cast: Daniel Craig, approximately every popular actor in the world
It’s certainly true that Rian Johnson’s sequel (and franchise-confirmer) Glass Onion is broader, sillier, and shallower than the film it follows, his 2019 whodunit Knives Out . The latter is as much a commentary on classism and racism as it is a murder mystery, while Glass Onion aims at broader, lighter targets, like skewering influencers, “disruptors,” and the cults built around figures like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. But the lightness actually makes Glass Onion a more agreeably weightless enterprise, where the all-star cast has more freedom in their farcical roles. Daniel Craig seems less exaggerated this time out as world-famous detective Benoit Blanc — or maybe he just feels like a more rational character next to Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, Kathryn Hahn, and Leslie Odom Jr. as a circle of wealthy success stories full of dark secrets. The mystery itself is cunningly constructed, full of verbal and visual gags, but packed with enough twists to feel like the Agatha Christie mysteries Johnson is openly evoking. In a year with even more mocking, scabrous “eat the rich” movies than ever, this one feels like a breath of fresh air — critical but not bitter, observational but not leaden with real-life parallels, and packed with winking surprises. — TR
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is available to watch on Netflix.
Genre: Sci-fi thriller Run time: 1h 40m Director: Dan Trachtenberg Cast: Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers
A return to form for a consistently fun sci-fi franchise , Prey dropped on Hulu ( for business reasons ) and quickly became the platform’s biggest success ever. A nice respite from how other franchises have approached world-building and stakes-setting in recent years, Prey relies heavily on the star-making performances of Amber Midthunder and Dakota Beavers, who shine as Comanche siblings in the Northern Great Plains who are stalked by the Predator.
Midthunder is Naru, a young woman who wants to prove herself as a warrior, despite the mockery of many young men in her tribe. It’s the perfect conflict for the Predator to wade his way into, as a creature whose only concern is challenging himself against the mightiest foes he can find.
A tense, economical thriller from director Dan Trachtenberg ( 10 Cloverfield Lane ), Prey is light on dialogue and high on excitement. — PV
Prey is available to watch on Hulu .
- Confess, Fletch
Genre: Comedy Run time: 1h 39m Director: Greg Mottola Cast: Jon Hamm, Roy Wood Jr., Kyle MacLachlan
Buried by a bungled release this past September, the revival of author Gregory Mcdonald’s charming rabble rouser I. M. Fletcher stands out as one of the hidden gems of the year, a breezy mystery carried by actors at the top of their games. To fill the shoes of Chevy Chase, who played Fletch twice in the 1980s, writer-director Greg Motolla ( Superbad , The Daytrippers ) turned to Jon Hamm, who finds the rare role than support both his leading man swagger and weirdo comedic instincts.
Based on one of Mcdonald’s more revered stories in the character’s run, Confess, Fletch finds the investigate-reporter-turned-gun-for-hire tracking down a set of missing paintings that his Italian girlfriend Angela (Lorenza Izzo) needs to pay off the ransom for her kidnapped father. Not helping his situation: The day he arrives to Boston to track down the masterpieces, a woman is murdered in his rental home. Hamm matches the high-stakes caper like a dance, weaving in and out of police capture while setting up a series of rouses to solve the ticking-clock mystery. His low-key interrogations range from wild (Kyle MacLachlan’s as a germaphobe art dealer) to wilder (Barb & Star’s Annie Mumolo steals the show as a woman who may burn down her entire block making matzah ball soup), but Hamm and Motolla never let Confess, Fletch descend into sitcom territory. There’s a buttoned up, Negroni-sipping sense of cool from start to finish, even while provoking big laughs. The combination makes Confess, Fletch every bit as classic as Knives Out . — MP
Confess, Fletch is available to stream on Showtime Anytime and FuboTV, or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu.
Genre: Sports dramedy Run time: 1h 57m Director: Jeremiah Zagar Cast: Adam Sandler, Juancho Hernangomez, Queen Latifah
A love letter to the sport of basketball and one of the better sports movies released in years, Hustle is a terrific display for Adam Sandler’s talents and his love for the sport.
Sandler is Stanley Sugerman, a former college star who is now a veteran NBA scout for the Philadelphia 76ers. He has a close relationship with the team’s owner (Robert Duvall), a father-like figure to Sugerman who sees Stanley’s value as a basketball mind. The owner promotes Sugerman to assistant coach, a position where he can spend more time around his wife (Queen Latifah) and their young daughter. But when tragedy gets in the way of Stanley’s new job, he has to prove himself yet again and find a winning prospect for the team.
That prospect is Bo Cruz (played by real-life NBA player Juancho Hernangómez), who Sugerman spots dominating a local pickup game in Spain. The movie shines as it showcases Sugerman and Cruz’s developing relationship — the two rely on each other, and Hustle delivers a must-have for most sports movies with a terrific training montage sequence, featuring Sugerman repeatedly chasing Cruz up a hill with a car.
Hustle’s performances truly shine. Sandler’s centered, grounded portrayal of a man who loves what he does but would rather have the job he was promised is another terrific, layered role for one of our great modern actors. The cast is also filled with NBA players who deliver memorable performances, led by Hernangómez as the temperamental and talented Cruz and Minnesota Timberwolves superstar Anthony Edwards as his trash-talking rival Kermit Wilts, a terrific addition to a long line of sports movie heels.
Bringing in real basketball players for leading and smaller roles lends authenticity to the whole thing, but especially in the scenes where the players actually play basketball. The camera is free to roam as athletes do what they do best, with thrilling basketball sequences that far outdo most sports movies that try to re-create the kineticism of live sports with non-athlete actors. — PV
Hustle is available to watch on Netflix.
Genre: Drama Run time: 1h 29m Director: Mamoru Hosoda Cast: Kaho Nakamura, Ryô Narita, Shôta Sometani
Just when you might think Disney’s permanently locked up the coveted title of “Best Animated Musical Rendition of the Beauty and the Beast Story,” along comes Mamoru Hosada’s Belle , which gives the “tale as old as time” a thrilling futurist spin. This anime feature from the director of Summer Wars , Wolf Children , The Girl Who Leapt Through Time , and Mirai re-imagines the classic fable as a conflict in a virtual-reality wonderland, where everyone’s digital avatars reflect their innermost selves. When withdrawn, mourning high-schooler Suzu enters the VR world, she becomes a beloved pop star, center of an energetic fandom — and equally energetic dismissal and criticism. Then she becomes obsessed with a mystery user whose avatar is a powerful, monstrous beast, and she starts trying to uncover his secrets.
This is a dizzying story that sometimes overreaches — Hosada is trying to take in everything from the addictive but destructive nature of online life to the importance of individual human connection, and there are so many threads (and romances, and secrets) that they aren’t all fully fleshed out. But it’s a heartfelt film full of big emotional beats and stunning animated sequences, and even if it doesn’t answer all the questions it raises, it at least seems determined to bring a familiar story to a bolder, brighter, more ambitious stage. — TR
Belle is available to watch on HBO Max , or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon , Apple TV , Google Play, and Vudu .
Orphan: First Kill
Genre: Horror Run time: 1h 39m Director: William Brent Bell Cast: Isabelle Fuhrman, Julia Stiles
Returning to a franchise a decade later to do a prequel with the same lead actor shouldn’t just be a recipe for disaster; it should have been completely impossible. As it turns out, Orphan is a very special series and its lead character/monster, Esther, is a very special child*.
Orphan: First Kill follows a 9-year-old girl named Esther who breaks out of a hospital in Estonia, then scams her way into the good graces of a rich American family in hopes of making off in the night with whatever she can. This setup is nearly identical to the original movie, but the prequel manages to play with those expectations in some very clever ways.
The original Orphan (also great) hinged on a twist revealed late in the film, but the prequel gets the reveal out of the way early in favor of letting audiences feel like they’re in on the secret and the joke that Esther, a 9-year-old, is still played by Isabelle Fuhrman, who is now 25, which the movie uses all kinds of fun tricks to hide. Thankfully, First Kill is in on every single one of its own jokes and manages to perfectly balance its tone between silly and a gruesome, well-made slasher, along with being one of the best “rich people are weird” movies of the last few years. — AG
Orphan: First Kill is available to stream on Paramount Plus , or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon, Google Play, and Vudu.
Genre: Musical Run time: 2h 3m Director: Joe Wright Cast: Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison Jr.
Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac has been adapted for film many times in many ways, including as the modern-day Steve Martin/Daryl Hannah rom-com Roxanne in 1987, and the Toshirô Mifune action-drama Samurai Saga in 1959. As with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet , its story about unrequited love (and arguably, complete romantic cowardice) resonates in any age, and crosses cultures easily. But there’s never been a production quite like this lavish movie adaptation of Erica Schmidt’s musical version of the play. Game of Thrones ’ Peter Dinklage stars as Cyrano, a French soldier and poet in love with his childhood friend Roxanne ( Swallow star Haley Bennett), but afraid to tell her because he’s certain she’ll reject him. When she falls for Christian ( Luce ’s Kelvin Harrison Jr.), a handsome newcomer in Cyrano’s regiment, Cyrano agrees to ghost-write Christian’s love letters to her, mostly so he can finally, fully express himself, even if she doesn’t know it’s him.
Joe Wright’s production is lush and glowing, with a soft visual warmth courtesy of his longtime collaborator Seamus McGarvey, cinematographer on his Atonement and Anna Karenina , among other titles. Dinklage’s singing isn’t very strong, but he still feels like he was born to play this pained, passionate swashbuckler, and the central trio all deliver fantastic performances that make this an authentic tearjerker. It’s a big-hearted project, full of outsized emotions that hit home powerfully. Don’t watch this right after a breakup, or after someone you’ve secretly longed for marries someone else. — TR
Cyrano is available to watch on Prime Video, or for digital rental or purchase on Google Play , Amazon , Vudu , and Apple .
Genre: Superhero Run time: 2h 56m Director: Matt Reeves Cast: Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano
Matt Reeves’ reboot of the Dark Knight isn’t as bold as it might be, but it sure is stylish. A long, slow-burning mystery in the vein of David Fincher’s Seven , The Batman infuses a familiar story with darkly beautiful imagery and magnetic performances from stars Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz. When it isn’t too enamored with ideas already explored in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy , The Batman lays exciting groundwork for a richer, stranger sort of Batman movie, which will hopefully materialize as a sequel reuniting everyone who made this one such a pleasure to watch. — JR
The Batman is available to watch on HBO Max , or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon , Apple TV , Google Play, and Vudu.
Genre: Thriller Run time: 1h 29m Director: Steven Soderbergh Cast: Zoë Kravitz, Byron Bowers, Rita Wilson
The protagonist of Steven Soderbergh’s tech-crime thriller Kimi moves through the world like she’s tapped directly into a power line, and is desperate to burn off all the excess energy. The movie operates at that same level of speed and ferocity. Essentially an internet-age take on Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window by way of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation and Brian De Palma’s Blow Out (among many other cinematic touchstones), Kimi follows a Seattle tech worker who stumbles across evidence of a crime, and draws some dangerous attention when she tries to report it. Soderbergh and Panic Room screenwriter David Koepp strip that story down to its basics, jumping in and out of the action in a shockingly tight and stylish 89 minutes. The plot is simple and the ethos is go-go-go, which makes the film’s verve contagious and the action breathless. It isn’t deep, but it sure is fun. — TR
Kimi is available to watch on HBO Max , or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon , Apple TV , Google Play, and Vudu .
The Long Walk
Genre: Sci-fi Run time: 1h 56m Director: Mattie Do Cast: Yannawoutthi Chanthalungsy, Vilouna Phetmany
Laos’ first and only female film director, Mattie Do, makes ghost stories: movies where characters interact with the dead and learn from them, but pay a price for that knowledge. Some of the themes of her debut feature Chanthaly (which she’s posted on YouTube ) and her followup, Dearest Sister ( streaming on Shudder ) get fuller, richer development in The Long Walk , a genre mashup that’s part time-travel story and part serial-killer story, but still keenly involved with the spirits of the dead, and how they both express their desires and enable the desires of living people.
A Lao hermit living in a tech-oriented future periodically travels 50 years into the past and intervenes in events in his own traumatic childhood, with the help of the ghost of a woman who died in the nearby forest when he was a kid. These are bold, striking elements that don’t entirely seem to fit together, but The Long Walk is exquisitely constructed in a way that reveals its puzzlebox methods slowly, building toward an emotional end that ties all its genres, timelines, and threads together in a startling, impressive way. — TR
The Long Walk is available to watch on Shudder , AMC+ through Prime Video for free with ads on Tubi, or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon, Apple TV , Google Play, and Vudu.
Also receiving votes:
Three Thousand Years of Longing , The Menu , The Fabelmans , Petite Maman, In Front of Your Face, Honk for Jesus Save Your Soul , Resurrection, Mad God , Lost Bullet 2 , Marcel the Shell With Shoes On , Babylon , Bodies Bodies Bodies , Jackass Forever , Accident Man: Hitman’s Holiday , Memoria , Elvis , Benediction , Dual , Emily the Criminal , Fire of Love , Montana Story , Thallumaala, Beavis and Butthead Do the Universe , Black Panther: Wakanda Forever , Moonage Daydream , The Munsters , Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio , The Lost City , Goncharov (1973), The Deer King , The Innocents , The Last Thing Mary Saw , White Noise , Armageddon Time
Every staff member who submitted a ballot is listed below, in alphabetical order by last name. While some staff members submitted more than 10 movies, only the top 10 are listed here. Some ballots may change as people catch up with more new releases in December — be sure to check back!
Associate curation editor
- Decision to Leave
- The Banshees of Inisherin
- Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
- Everything Everywhere All at Once
Assignment editor, entertainment
- Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul
Deputy editor, entertainment
- The Fabelmans
- Jackass Forever
- Petite Maman
- Marcel the Shell With Shoes On
Staff writer, entertainment
- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
- Goncharov (1973) remastered
- The Lost City
- Bodies Bodies Bodies
- Three Thousand Years of Longing
Editor, film and streaming
- In Front of Your Face
- White Noise
The best one-season anime to watch in a weekend
10 surprisingly good prequel movies that help balance out all the bad ones, the best sci-fi movies to watch on netflix this november.
To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories .
The 29 Best Movies of 2022
By Taylor Antrim , Liam Hess , Chloe Schama , Radhika Seth , Marley Marius , and Lisa Wong Macabasco
Have we finally entered a post-pandemic moment in our collective movie-going history? While the studios certainly hoped so, the box office tells a different story, with some of 2022's biggest productions barely scraping by. But let that be no reflection of the eclectic, innovative, and surprising offings that came not only out of Hollywood but also Ireland, Korea, Iran and elsewhere this year. And with the ever expanding ecosystem of streaming platforms, there are more ways to watch than ever before. Here, we present the best films of 2022—roughly in order of the date they came out this year—from block-busting action flicks to cozy dramas. Go forth, and settle in for some good old-fashioned movie magic…no matter how you watch it.
The Worst Person in the World
Joachim Trier’s latest is a romantic-comedy-drama with the stunning Renate Reinsve (she took home the best actress award at Cannes) starring as Julie, a somewhat directionless young woman involved in a relationship with a more ambitious and directed man 15 years her senior. The setup becomes more complicated when she meets and begins to fall for a man closer to her age. The self-described “European art-house guy” director told the Los Angeles Times that he “went out on a limb” with this surprisingly romantic film. —Chloe Schama
How to watch: Stream on Hulu .
Kogonada, the South Korean–born American filmmaker who made the well-received 2018 indie, Columbus , returns with the quiet, patient After Yang —a cerebral adaptation of a science-fiction short story starring Colin Farrell and Jodie Turner-Smith about a household android that malfunctions. Elegant in its production design and searching in its examination of identity and humanity, this was an understated indie gem with Farrell at his understated best. — Taylor Antrim
How to watch: Stream on Showtime , Amazon , Apple TV , or YouTube .
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The opening night film at SXSW, A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once stars Michelle Yeoh as a Chinese American woman who sets off on a mundane task—finishing her taxes—and ends up…traversing the multiverse? The film is the product of the experimental directing duo known as Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) and follows their 2016 film, Swiss Army Man. —C.S.
How to watch: Stream on Amazon , Apple TV , or YouTube .
By Margaux Anbouba
By Hannah Coates
By Audrey Noble
The subject of Daniel Roher’s film, the Russian dissident and former presidential candidate Alexei Navalny, has been in a Russian prison since January 2021, after a near-fatal poisoning by Moscow security agents in 2020. Navalny is a powerful reminder that Vladimir Putin would like nothing more than to see him killed—and that only Navalny’s celebrity, his social media acumen and charisma on the world stage (which this film powerfully reaffirms), can keep him alive. Navalny is notable for its sheer entertainment value, for the suspense Roher draws from recent history—a story as gripping as a Jason Bourne sequel. —T.A.
How to watch: Stream on HBO Max .
Top Gun: Maverick
More than the movie of the summer—which it undoubtedly was— Top Gun: Maverick is now a piece of movie history, the film that got audiences back into theaters in the COVID era. It’s made more than $1 billion (the highest-grossing film of Tom Cruise’s career) and is still going strong. Have you submitted to its mix of electrifying flight sequences and utterly embarrassing human drama? What are you waiting for? —T.A.
How to watch: Stream on Amazon or Apple TV .
See Elvis for the Prada costumes and for Austin Butler ’s committed, pelvis-thrusting performance. Brace yourself for the length, the maximalism, the onslaught of Baz Luhrmann directorial excess. Elvis is a lot in every sense, but for Luhrmann fans it’s an overwhelming, glittering, rock-and-roll must. —T.A.
How to watch: Stream on HBO max .
Fire of Love
Fire of Love is a surprise; a dazzling, seductive, nature-meets-romance documentary that cuts against the current grain for nonfiction films. This is not true-crime, not a deep dive into scandal, not a disposable pop-star autobiography—the three genres du jour. This 90-minute charmer, from the filmmaker Sara Dosa, is a gentle, deeply tasteful portrait of a French couple, Katia and Maurice Krafft, who were celebrity volcanologists in the 1970s and ’80s. Miranda July narrates the proceedings—partly reading from the Kraffts’ own writings, and archly commenting on the way they were aware of their own burgeoning fame (French TV ate them up)—and her casual-whimsical voice adds to the film’s transporting effect. —T.A.
How to watch: Stream on Disney+
An award-winning Cannes debut, the darkly escapist Croatian drama Murina is the first feature from writer director Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović, and it teems with menace. It dramatizes the coming-of-age of 17-year-old Julija, who lives with her parents on an insular island along the country’s Adriatic coastline. The scenery is gorgeous–all craggy rocks and cerulean blue waters and sun–but Julija’s life is frighteningly constrained by her brutal father, and the actress Gracija Filipović perfectly captures her desperate need for escape. When her father’s old friend, Javier, arrives, Julija is seduced and dangerously tempted. The underwater sequences (Julija and her father are adept at spearfishing) are glorious and the movie enthralls you with its Hitchcockian mood. —T.A.
How to watch: Stream on Amazon or Apple .
This surprise horror hit derives its percussive pleasures from the way it sneaks up on what you expect and delivers something just slightly to the left. Barbarian ’s tone is its greatest feat—writer-director Zach Cregger has made something genuinely scary but also funny, subversive, and irresistibly well-paced. Georgina Campbell plays Tess, who has flown into Detroit for a job interview and booked an inexpensive Airbnb in a dubious neighborhood. When she arrives in the middle of the night, she finds it already occupied by Keith (Bill Skarsgard), who is half friendly, half creepy. They decide, tentatively, awkwardly, to bunk together for the night. Barbarian taps into the unease of the sharing economy and the forced intimacy of Airbnb—but it doesn’t stop there. All hell breaks loose in Cregger’s movie and in ways you don’t anticipate. Justin Long is brilliantly funny in a role that shouldn't be spoiled. Suffice it to say that Barbarian goes for it, in every which direction, all the way to its gory end. —T.A.
The Woman King
Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood ( Love & Basketball ) with a cast that includes Viola Davis, Lashana Lynch, John Boyega, and Thuso Mbedu , this historical saga is set in the West African kingdom of Dahomey (part of present-day Benin), it centers on the general of an all-female military unit. The film far exceeded box office expectations and boasted m uch lauded performances from Davis and Mbedu, both expected to be Awards season contenders. —Radhika Seth
How to watch: Stream on Amazon.
Brett Morgen’s Moonage Daydream isn’t a connect-the-dots David Bowie biopic: It is, instead, a gloriously immersive, kaleidoscopic examination not so much of Bowie’s life here on earth, but of the life he lived inside his head and his heart, which led him to create his art. Instead of telling you about Bowie, it puts you in the midst of his world; instead of teaching you things, it makes you feel the world he lived in. The fact that it’s big, loud, fragmented, and occasionally chaotic (and a bit long, at two hours and 20 minutes) is even more cause for celebration. —Corey Seymour
Erudite and ferociously powerful, Tár is a conversation starter of a movie, a gripping provocation about creative brilliance, obsession and sexual manipulation. The staggering performance at its center is from Cate Blanchett as the conductor Lydia Tár, a formidable public figure who emulates Leonard Bernstein (and no other) and who is readying the Berlin Philharmonic to record Mahler’s Symphony no 5. From that high-minded premise comes a drama of jolting power. Tár is slashingly eloquent and self-possessed to everyone who stumbles into her path. She’s convinced of her genius, as are we, even as the film reveals the cruel manipulations she’s engaged in. Writer-director Todd Field—this is his third film and his first in 16 years—has meticulously built a portrait of intelligence and venality that defies our judgments and confounds our sympathies. —T.A.
How to watch: In theaters and on various streaming services like Amazon Prime .
Kathryn Ferguson’s stirring documentary Nothing Compares is an absorbing and thoughtfully constructed examination of Sinead O’Connor’s skyrocketing fame in the late 1980s and early ’90s–and a depiction of what happened at her peak: a very public fall from grace after she tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live in 1992. Ferguson, who grew up in Belfast listening to O’Connor’s 1987 debut album The Lion and Cobra in her father’s car, performed a fan’s act of reclamation–ignoring recent tabloid stories (nothing about O’Connor’s suicidal tweets, nothing about the tragic death of her son) and giving us instead a close reading of her music and the brutal Ireland that she came out of, and why she had such an electric impact on the culture. —T.A.
How to watch: Stream on Amazon or Hulu .
Anaïs in Love
You’d be forgiven for finding the premise of Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet’s Anaïs in Love almost comically French: It centers on a flighty young woman named Anaïs who, after beginning an affair with a married older man, winds up falling for his wife, a writer named Emilie. Yet the film—which somewhat calls to mind another rom-com-dram on this list, The Worst Person in the World , for its focus on the wild stabs at self-determination that tend to come with turning 30—mines more than just sexy intrigue from its unlikely love triangle. As Anaïs moves in on Emilie at a symposium in the countryside (!), and Emilie’s bewilderment relaxes into bemused consent, Anaïs is pushed to finally, finally , stake a claim on what she wants—and find the mettle to hang onto it. —Marley Marius
How to watch: Stream on Hulu.
Triangle of Sadness
Director Ruben Östlund took home the top prize at Cannes for this unabashedly over the top examination of the excesses of the .0001%. Nominally focused on influencer couple Carl (Harris Dickson) and Yaya (the late, and great, in this role, Charlbi Dean Kriek ), Triangle of Sadness follows them onto a luxury yacht where the haves and the have nots are stacked on top of one another in a not-so-subtle cross section of society, delineated by money and, in the case of Carl and Yaya, a more precarious but no less privileged influence. There is a “ship of merry fools” vibe to the gauche indulgences taking place aboard the vessel, but the party comes to a dramatic halt with a scene of excess gone awry (steer clear if you don't have a strong stomach) and then a shipwreck. Triangle of Sadness is a baggy beast, but it is a highly entertaining one nonetheless. —Chloe Schama
How to watch: Stream on various platforms, including Apple TV+ .
All That Breathes
A mesmerizing, unforgettable documentary about so many things: wildness, urban squalor, intimacy, devotion, entropy and heartbreak, All That Breathes is a film that is hard to classify and harder still to shake. Nominally the story of a small wildlife clinic in New Delhi run by two brothers and dedicated to caring for kites–the carnivorous birds of prey that wheel in the skies above the teeming city—this is more of a meditation on human persistence and the blurred lines between civilization and savagery. If that sounds heady, just plunge in, All That Breathes is visually stunning document of a megacity on the edge of chaos and a heart-rending account of two brothers persisting against the odds. Nadeem and Mohammed (and their hilarious sidekick/assistant Salik) are faced with more and more sick birds, as the air quality in Delhi is increasingly inimitable to life, boom and bust funding, and fraternal conflict. And the birds themselves are miraculously strange: bestial and vulnerable, beautiful and terrifying at once. One of the years strangest and most haunting films. —T.A.
How to watch: In select theaters now.
Aftersun brims with emotional power. Scottish filmmaker Charlotte Wells’s feature debut is the story of a young, newly single father taking his 11-year-old daughter on an inexpensive holiday in Turkey. Paul Mescal does subtle work as the outwardly genial, inwardly broken Calum, adrift between youth and responsibility, and newcomer Frankie Corio is his daughter Sophie, a brave, expressive girl who desperately needs something from her dad she’ll never get. Vibrant and melancholy, this is a lovely sunlit heartbreak of a film. —T.A.
How to watch: Stream on Amazon .
James Gray’s autobiographical film is a gorgeous, confidently made morality tale set in 1980 Queens with titanic performances from Anthony Hopkins, Anne Hathaway, and Jeremy Strong as members of a striving Jewish family confronting unpleasantness at the heart of the American dream. Paul is their sixth grader, an incandescently sensitive boy played by newcomer Banks Repeta, who finds the codes of a private school—and the naked racism of his classmates— nearly unbearable. His grandfather (Hopkins, magnificent here) counsels and comforts him as he faces impossible choices between integrity and ambition, friendship and his future. —T.A.
A reminder, as if we needed one, that Florence Pugh is our actress of the moment. This adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s 2016 novel by the Chilean director Sebastián Lelio is a quietly simmering story of religious fervor and fraudulence. Set in 19th-century Ireland it is the story of a 11-year-old girl who seems to be miraculously living without food. An English nurse Lib (Pugh) is called in by local authorities to observe the girl and solve the mystery (or prove the existence of a religious miracle). This she does in a methodical confident way even as her frailties—grief, addiction, sexual need—are revealed. The movie has a strange postmodern framing, but it looks wild and wonderful and Pugh anchors everything with her high seriousness and commitment. —T.A.
How to watch: In theaters and on Netflix .
In Maria Schrader’s rousing drama , Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan play Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, The New York Times reporters who broke the story of Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual misconduct. This awards-season front-runner asks what happens when the journalists become the story. In a feature published in Vogue the two journalists reflected on the power of the film to go beyond what their reporting had accomplished: “The film’s focus on process and on truth feels just as relevant now—and it serves as a reminder of what journalists and courageous sources can accomplish together. It also may reach people who have never heard these stories before.”
How to watch: In theaters and on Vudu , Amazon , and other platforms.
Bones and All
Some five (!) years after the sensation that was Call Me By Your Name , director Luca Guadagnino and Timothée Chalamet are back together again with Bones and All , a very different kind of queer love story. Adapted from Camille DeAngelis’s novel of the same name, it follows Maren ( Waves star Taylor Russell), a wayward young woman (and cannibal) who meets a drifter named Lee (Chalamet) and sets off with him on a road trip to find her estranged mother. For all of the film’s gore—and its powerfully unsettling supporting turns from Mark Rylance, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Chloë Sevigny—Guadagnino has insisted it’s one of the most romantic movies he’s ever made. “Of course, there’s the literal aspect of it being a movie about cannibal lovers, which is extreme in many ways,” he told Fantastic Man earlier this year, “but I think the more extreme aspect of the movie is the intensity of the feelings that these people go through—the impossibility of love.” —M.M.
How to watch: In theaters
Written and directed by the hotly tipped Sierra Leonean American filmmaker Nikyatu Jusu, Nanny is a masterful horror film that is equally unafraid to tackle weightier themes rarely seen on film—from the immigrant experience to the exploitation of women from the African diaspora in today’s America. With a star-making turn from Anna Diop as a Senegalese nanny navigating the trials of working for a dysfunctional, wealthy Manhattan family while also dealing with demons of her own (expressed through an increasingly terrifying series of nightmares, rooted in West African folklore and explored more deeply in another brilliant turn by Leslie Uggams as her boyfriend’s grandmother), Nanny is as visually striking as it is smart and subversive. —Liam Hess
How to watch: In theaters and on Amazon December 16 .
This is a haunting and upsetting crime film from Iranian director Ali Abbasi about the real-life serial killings of prostitutes in the Iranian city of Mashhad in 2000 and 2001. Depicting a side of Iranian life I’d never seen on film—drug use, homelessness, and the sex trade—it’s a bracing report from the shadows of a modern theocracy. Mashhad’s police have little interest in the death of female prostitutes so it falls to a visiting journalist Rahimi (played with ferocious intensity by Zar Amir Ebrahimi , who won Best Actress at Cannes 2022) to solve the case and bring the killer to justice (the ending is as devastating as it is believable). Holy Spider made me think of gritty crime films from the 70s, a thriller not afraid to be ugly and forceful. —T.A.
How to watch: In select theaters .
All the Beauty and Bloodshed
The 1980s fuel the triumphant documentary All the Beauty and the Bloodshed , a collaboration between the director Laura Poitras ( Citizenfour ) and artist Nan Goldin , whose life and activism against the Sackler family, the owners of Purdue Pharma, are the film’s absorbing subjects. It opens with the series of actions Goldin organized at prominent New York museums, strewing prescription slips and empty pill bottles—symbols of Purdue’s deadly opioids—to shine a hard light on the millions donated by the Sacklers. Rousing as these scenes are, it is the way Poitras burrows deeper into Goldin’s background and art that make the film so profound—charting a narrative of trauma and neglect (and drug abuse), and showing how Goldin found a community in an underground 1980s Manhattan scene that she went on to document in unforgettably gritty photographs. A poised and meticulous film that brims with humanity. —T.A.
How to watch: In theaters and, eventually, on HBO Max .
The Eternal Daughter
A sophisticated gothic ghost story and family mystery from the great British director Joanna Hogg ( The Souvenir I & II), starring Tilda Swinton , who is dazzling in a double role. Julie and her mother Rosalind (both played by Swinton) travel to a grand country hotel in Wales for a getaway. Starchy members of the British upper class, these two are hilariously contained in their expressions of feeling, even as they both brim with emotion and things unsaid. The country hotel is wreathed in mist, seemingly abandoned (except for one drolly bad tempered hostess, played by Carly Sophia-Davie) and apparently haunted. Hogg’s clever use of genre tropes includes a genuinely disquieting sequence involving an apparition, and the canny reveal of the film's central, supernatural mystery.—T.A.
How to watch: Stream on various platforms, including Amazon .
Living couples South African director Oliver Hermanus with Novel Prize-winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro ( The Remains of the Day ; Never Let Me Go ) for an affecting remake of Ikiru (To Live) , the 1952 drama by Akira Kurosawa. Their version, set in mid-century London, stars Bill Nighy as Mr. Williams, a grizzled bureaucrat who, upon learning that he has only a few months left to live, is determined to make the most of them. First, that means skipping work for a grand night out with a friendly stranger ( The Souvenir ’s Tom Burke); then, spending a string of quiet afternoons with a young woman from his office (a charming Aimee Lou Wood); then using his position in the Public Works department to get a long-deferred project off the ground. Gorgeous to look at, the film proves an especially fine showpiece for Nighy, who is as quietly affecting as you’ve ever seen him. —M.M.
How to watch: In theaters .
Sarah Polley’s arresting ensemble Women Talking is an adaptation of Miriam Toews’s 2018 novel, and it plays as an extended debate by a collection of women in a deeply religious community in which sexual violence by men is the shattering norm. After one of these nighttime attacks is publicly revealed, the women gather to decide how to respond: forgive the men, fight them, or flee? Every great female actor of our moment seems to be in this movie, including Frances McDormand (command ing), Claire Foy (ferocious), Jessie Buckley (equally so), and Rooney Mara (strong and delicate at once). A thoughtful exploration of solidarity—what it means, how hard it’s won—Women Talking is a conversation piece, and one of the year’s must-see films. —T.A.
How to watch: Coming to theaters .
A lovely, intensely human film by the great Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda ( Shoplifters ). Set in modern-day Korea, this is a story about orphans and makeshift families and it begins with the unlikeliest of heroes: a mother who abandons her infant at a care center in Busan and the two men who take the baby and seek to profit from its sale. These three band together on a kind of road trip to find the baby new parents, even as police investigating a murder track their movements, and their number swells by an orphan looking for a new home. Heartbreaking in its empathy and lovely to look at, Broker is a drama that bursts with feeling and fills you with a sense of gratitude and lightness. —T.A.
How to watch: Coming to theaters .
Noah Baumbach’s boisterous, off-kilter fever dream, White Noise , a strikingly faithful adaptation of Don Delillo’s 1985 novel of consumerism, post-industrial paranoia, and fear of death, is the biggest and highest minded swing of the season. Should such a talky, slantwise book be filmed? Baumbach’s answer is a commanding yes, especially with Adam Driver as his magnetic lead. Driver plays Jack Gladney, a professor at a fictional liberal arts college, and he’s a marvel of comic energy, as personable as he is hilariously puffed-up. Greta Gerwig is his genial, slightly zoned-out wife Babette, with a perm and a secret pill habit. And their four kids are a chorus of pop-cultural erudition. When a chemical spill unleashes an “Airborne Toxic Event” on their small college town–what to call things, how words mask or amplify our anxieties, is a preoccupation of Delillo’s—the family piles into the station wagon, along with seemingly everyone else in their anesthetized college town, to escape it. An antic vision of modern anxieties run amok. —T.A.
How to watch: Stream on Netflix after December 30.
From 'Blue Beetle' to 'Good Burger 2,' here are 15 movies you need to stream right now
As you're getting that turkey dinner ready, why not think about stuffing your face (figuratively, of course) with a menu of entertaining movies ?
There's a good mix of original fare and recent theatrical releases available on streaming services to binge for Thanksgiving, Black Friday and a long holiday weekend . Netflix, Disney+, Max, Hulu, Peacock, Apple TV+ and Paramount+ have all added films for every cinematic taste, whether you're getting a jump on getting psyched for Christmas or you're all about the newest DC superhero on the block .
Here are 15 movies that you can stream from your sofa right now:
'Best. Christmas. Ever!'
This holiday comedy is for those still loving the '90s. Heather Graham stars as an inventive mom who's not loving her lot in life but gets a needed infusion of the holiday spirit when she, her husband (Jason Biggs) and their family accidentally end up spending Christmas with a highly successful old friend (Brandy Norwood).
Where to watch: Netflix
The DC movie universe gets a nice infusion of Latin culture with this adventure, which centers on new college grad Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña). He comes into contact with an alien scarab that gives him superpowers, though the snazzy bug also makes him a target for a villainous CEO (Susan Sarandon).
Where to watch: Max
Ranked: The 50 best superhero movies ever (from 'Blue Beetle' to 'Superman')
'Dashing Through the Snow'
Chris "Ludacris" Bridges stars in the holiday comedy as a crisis counselor who dislikes Christmas and considers it "the chicken wing of holidays." So he's reluctant to help when a guy in a red suit named Nick (Lil Rel Howery) says he's Santa and his naughty-and-nice list gets mixed up with a crooked congressman's bribery record.
Where to watch: Disney+
Best Christmas movies ever: The top 20 holiday films, ranked (from 'Love Actually' to 'Die Hard')
In the sci-fi dramedy, Anna (Jessie Buckley) has tested positive for true love with her boring boyfriend Ryan (Jeremy Allen White). Still a little skeptical, she ends up taking a job at the institute touting the new soulmate-finding technology, and a friendship with co-worker Amir (Riz Ahmed) leads to reconsidering her romantic options.
Where to watch: Apple TV+
'Good Burger 2'
In the sequel to the 1997 teen comedy, fast-food best friends are together again when Ed (Kel Mitchell) gets buddy Dex (Kenan Thompson) his job back at Good Burger. The pals need all the hands they can get from the eatery's new crew when their corporate owner decides to replace them with robots.
Where to watch: Paramount+
'Insidious: The Red Door'
Patrick Wilson rounds up his fellow stars from the original 2010 "Insidious" and directs the fifth installment, which finds haunted dad Josh (Wilson) and his college-age son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) venturing back into the frightening realm of The Further nine years after being hypnotized to forget their experiences there.
More fun than a lot of director David Fincher outings, the action thriller stars Michael Fassbender as an enjoyably droll assassin weathering an existential crisis after he botches a hit. The killer's usually methodical life turns chaotic when he embarks on a quest for bloody revenge after a loved one is put in the hospital.
Sam Pollard's baseball documentary is a captivating chronicle of Negro Leagues set against the backdrop of a changing America amid segregation and the Great Depression. "The League" informs and entertains with tales of storied squads (including the Homestead Grays) and greats like Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige.
Where to watch: Hulu
The delightfully weird animated musical comedy features Adam Sandler voicing 74-year-old fifth grade pet lizard Leo. Learning that his life expectancy gives him only one year left, the wise little dude plots an escape but changes his mind when kids bring him home for the weekend and start taking his sage advice to heart.
Annette Bening walks a fine line between narcissism and determination as Diana Nyad in this rousing true-life drama . With the help of her coach (Jodie Foster), Diana defies age and the odds to revisit a dream from three decades ago and complete a marathon swim from Cuba to Florida in her 60s.
'Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie'
The 2021 “Paw Patrol” film was decent for a kids movie, and the follow-up’s not too shabby, either. Chase, Marshall and the rest of the rescue-ready pooches get superpowers thanks to pieces of a crashed meteorite, and they run afoul of a mad scientist (voiced by Taraji P. Henson) who wants those precious gems for herself.
'Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain'
Dig those quirky "Please Don't Destroy" videos on "Saturday Night Live"? Martin Herlihy, Ben Marshall and John Higgins make their feature-film debut with this comedy, starring the trio as co-workers seeking a prized bust of Marie Antoinette. Come for the over-the-top absurdity, stay for appearances by Conan O'Brien and Bowen Yang.
Where to watch: Peacock
Heartfelt hilarity ensues in this comedy starring Awkwafina as Anne, a loyally devoted fan of a "Jeopardy!"-style TV game show. Her AWOL mom has racked up serious debt, and when goons take her dog so she'll pay up, Anne partners with her untrustworthy sister Jenny (Sandra Oh) on a mission to get on the show and win some cash.
Colman Domingo dazzles in this engaging true-life tale of a civil rights leader perhaps unknown to many . A key aide to Martin Luther King Jr., Bayard Rustin (Domingo) overcomes internal politics and homophobia, working tirelessly to organize the 1963 March on Washington.
This documentary is a must-watch for all Rocky and Rambo devotees. Sylvester Stallone takes audiences through his personal and professional lives, focusing on how he found his artistic voice through screenwriting and navigated hardships and obstacles in pursuit of his creative dreams.
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‘Thanksgiving’ Review: Eli Roth Turns His Slasher-Movie Trailer From ‘Grindhouse’ Into a Real Slasher Movie, and It’s Mostly Slashing Good Fun
The holiday horror film is so out it's in. What was once a satire of it now plays like hip trash.
By Owen Gleiberman
Chief Film Critic
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“ Thanksgiving ,” a cheerfully debased — or maybe I should say de-basted — slasher film directed by Eli Roth , marks the third time that one of the luscious mock trailers from Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s “ Grindhouse ” has been spun into a feature film. The first such movie, Rodriguez’s “Machete,” worked better than anyone might have expected; it gave Danny Trejo perhaps the best lead role of his career, and it was tasty enough in its high-zooming vengeful action hyperbole to spawn a sequel.
It turns out that “Thanksgiving” has been perfectly timed — and I don’t just mean because it’s coming out on the eve of Thanksgiving weekend (though I suspect it will generate some box-office gravy). The movie reconnects us with a genre that is so out it’s in. Holiday horror movies may now seem as corny as a bowl of creamed corn, but David Gordon Green’s rebooted “Halloween” trilogy helped revive interest in them. And “Thanksgiving,” I’d say, is juicier fun than they were, because it’s so brazenly up front about embracing how everything in the “Grindhouse” trailer — the way it walked the line between gruesome and preposterous — is, in fact, exactly what audiences have loved about these movies for 40 years.
In the ’70s, when the slasher film was coming into its own, with movies like “Last House on the Left” and “The Hills Have Eyes” and the “Citizen Kane” of the genre, “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” they were true nightmares on film (or trying to be). But by the ’80s, with the rise of the “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” series, as well as holiday slasher junk like “Christmas Evil” and “Bloody New Year,” they’d become something else: sick-joke comedies with jump scares. They’d completely dispensed with the idea that we cared about who lived or died, and characters like Jason and Freddy were now showbiz heroes of cheeky terror — ringleaders that the audience cheered on.
It’s set in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where a group of high-school friends (and a handful of adults who turn into collateral damage) are stalked over the Thanksgiving holiday by a maniac named John Carver, who wears the tacky plastic mask of a kitsch Plymouth Rock pilgrim (in the “Grindhouse” trailer his face was just buried in shadow), as well as a pilgrim’s hat and uniform. He looks creepy enough to be a cosplay mascot of death.
Before it gets to Carver’s rampage, though, the film kicks off on Thanksgiving the year before, when the local Right Mart big-box store is about to open its doors for Black Friday, which now starts on Thursday night. The overflow crowd that has lined up in the parking lot is so hyped it looks like it’s waiting for a glimpse of Taylor Swift; the prospect of buying a waffle iron for 50 percent off is enough to provoke mass hysteria. The Black Friday-as-riot sequence that follows is an acidly funny piece of social satire. There’s already a killer onscreen, and it’s the consumer culture.
After several people emerge injured or dead, the stage is set for a small-town soap opera of guilt and recrimination. Which, of course, is what every slasher movie is really about. Roth, working from a script he wrote with Jeff Rendell, lines up the usual array of suspects and walking dead meat: the heroine, Jessica (Nell Verlaque), who’s the daughter of the geek (Rick Hoffman) who owns the store (and didn’t order enough security); her princess stepmother (Karen Cliche); her boyfriend, Bobby (Jalen Thomas Brooks), whose pitching arm was injured in the melee, and who hasn’t been heard from since; her new boyfriend, the deceptively nice overachiever Ryan (Milo Manheim); a handful of jock louts and mean girls; and Sheriff Newlon ( Patrick Dempsey ), the eager-beaver mensch law enforcer.
Roth, working in a 50-year-old genre, incorporates elements of more contempo horror. “Thanksgiving” has the fast-break patter of the “Scream” films — not the we’re-fighting-off-a-slasher-as-if-we-were-in-a-slasher-movie meta quality (which has gotten old anyway), but the precociousness that drives it. The movie also shares the design of the recent “Saw” sequel, with John Carver targeting characters who are linked, in a culpable way, to that Black Friday riot. The film makes canny use of social media, as Carver live-streams his climactic atrocity. It has witty moments like the one where Jessica hides from the killer by blending in with a bunch of mannequin heads. Mostly, though, “Thanksgiving” is a movie about a slasher treating his victims like turkeys waiting to be slaughtered and trussed.
Reviewed at Regal E-Walk, Nov. 14, 2023. MPA Rating: R. Running time: 107 MIN.
- Production: A TriStar Pictures release of a Spyglass Media Group, Dragonfly Entertainment, Electromagnetic Productions production. Producers: Eli Roth, Roger Birnbaum, Jeff Rendell. Executive producers: Gary Barber, Greg Denny, Kate Harrison Karman, Peter Oillataguerre, Chris Stone.
- Crew: Director: Eli Roth. Screenplay: Eli Roth, Jeff Rendell. Camera: Milan Chadima. Editors: Michel Aller, Michele Conroy. Music: Brandon Roberts.
- With: Patrick Dempsey, Nelll Verlaque, Jalen Thomas Brooks, Milo Manheim, Addison Rae, Gina Gershon, Rick Hoffman, Jenna Warren, Tomaso Sanelli.
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25 best Thanksgiving movies to stream right now (November 2023)
Thanksgiving usually conjures three things for Americans: food, festivities, and football. Lots, and lots, of football. Yet for many, the holiday is also a time to park one’s rear in front of the TV set and catch up on the mountain of movies that are waiting in the streaming queue.
Amazon Prime Video
Max (formerly hbo max).
Time is precious, so Digital Trends has put together a list of the 25 best movies to watch for Thanksgiving on almost every streamer out there. (Yes, even Tubi .) From obvious classics like A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and Planes, Trains and Automobiles to films seemingly unrelated to Turkey Day like Moneyball and The Worst Person in the World , these movies will satisfy that emotional craving to have a good time while digesting all those leftovers.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
The most famous Thanksgiving movie is arguably Planes, Trains and Automobiles , John Hughes’ 1987 comedy starring Steve Martin and John Candy. If anyone has ever traveled home for the Thanksgiving holiday, you know how stressful it can be, and no matter how many times you prepare for the worst, delays always happen. This anxious feeling is perfectly captured in Planes, Trains and Automobiles .
Neal Page (Martin) is an advertising executive on a business trip in New York City. With Thanksgiving two days away, Neal plans to board a flight to Chicago to see his family. Thanks to a blizzard, Neal’s flight is rerouted to Wichita, where he is forced to bunk with Del (Candy), a clumsy and kind shower curtain ring salesman. Neal and Del form an odd couple who constantly argue after multiple mishaps. However, Neal slowly realizes that to make it home in time, he will need Del’s help. That is if Neal can find it in his heart to show kindness toward Del.
Stream Planes, Trains and Automobiles on Paramount+.
The Addams Family (1991)
Admittedly, Addams Family Values would be a better choice for Thanksgiving, especially given the scene where Wednesday Addams ( Yellowjackets ‘ Christina Ricci) stages a revolt by Native Americans against the Pilgrims during a Thanksgiving camp play. But that sequel is not on Netflix, so we’ll go with what we have, which is the original movie inspired by the TV series and Charles Addams’ New Yorker comics: The Addams Family .
It’s appropriate for the holidays because, for all of their macabre characteristics, Gomez (the late Raul Julia in a standout performance) and Morticia Addams (Anjelica Huston) are wildly in love with each other. Even their kids, Wednesday and Pugsley Addams (Jimmy Workman), genuinely love their parents. This isn’t lost on Gordon Craven (Christopher Lloyd), the man who was sent to steal the Addams’ family fortune by pretending to be Gomez’s long-lost brother, Fester. With so much love in the family, Gordon can’t stop himself from loving them too, even if it conflicts with his mission.
Watch The Addams Family on Netflix .
Paddington Bear is an incredibly popular character among children, and Paddington is the perfect example of why generations of kids find him so endearing. In this retelling, Paddington ( Passages star Ben Whishaw) is an orphaned bear who makes his way from Peru to Britain in the hope of finding a new home. Despite some initial misgivings, Henry (Hugh Bonneville) and Mary Brown (Sally Hawkins) agree to take Paddington in, much to the delight of their kids, Judy (Madeleine Harris) and Jonathan (Samuel Joslin).
But there’s one person who isn’t moved by Paddington’s infallibly polite demeanor: Millicent Clyde (Nicole Kidman). She wants to add this bear to her taxidermy collection, even though Millicent and Paddington share a connection that neither of them realizes.
Watch Paddington on Netflix .
There is no Peter Pan anymore in Steven Spielberg’s Hook . Instead, the boy who never grew up has in fact done just that. Now known as Peter Banning (Robin Williams), the former leader of the Lost Boys has lost a lot of the fire and passion that he once had. That’s one of the many reasons that Peter is unprepared when his old nemesis, Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman), kidnaps Peter’s two children, Jack (Charlie Korsmo) and Maggie Banning (Amber Scott).
With the help of a still-smitten Tinker Bell (Julia Roberts), Peter embarks on a return visit to Neverland to rescue his children and reclaim the inner child he once had.
Watch Hook on Netflix .
Stuart Little (1999)
Like Paddington , Stuart Little is also based on a popular series of children’s books The title character (as voiced by Michael J. Fox) is a talking mouse who is adopted into the Little family by Frederick (Hugh Laurie) and Eleanor (Geena Davis). This does not go over well with the Little’s human son, George (Jonathan Lipnicki), or the family cat, Snowball (voiced by Only Murders in the Building star Nathan Lane).
Although Stuart is able to form a bond with George over their shared interests, winning over Snowball proves to be more difficult. Snowball is so put off by the idea of being Stuart’s pet that he takes part in a scheme to permanently remove Stuart from his home by tricking him into believing that his real parents are still alive.
Watch Stuart Little on Netflix .
Chicken Run (2000)
There is a certain irony about eating turkey while watching a film about chickens trying to escape their eventual place on the dinner menu. But Chicken Run is a genuine animated classic, and Netflix even has a sequel, Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget , lined up to premiere next month.
On a chicken farm run by Mr. Tweedy (Tony Haygarth) and Mrs. Tweedy (Miranda Richardson), Ginger (Julia Sawalha) and the other chickens realize that their goose is cooked – figuratively speaking – if they don’t get out soon. Enter Rocky (Mel Gibson), an American rooster who crash-lands on the farm. This leads Ginger and her friends to believe that Rocky can fly, and they hide him from the Tweedys in return for his promise to teach them how to fly so they can pull off their great escape.
Watch Chicken Run on Netflix .
Home Alone (1990)
It’s never too early to watch Home Alone . With Chris Columbus’ Christmas comedy serving as a family movie, I can’t think of a better time to watch it than Thanksgiving night. Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) is an eight-year-old who constantly feels disrespected and neglected by his large family. The night before a family trip to Paris for the Christmas holiday, Kevin is forced to sleep in the attic, but not before wishing his family would disappear for good.
The next morning, Kevin wakes up to see his family has disappeared. In actuality, the McCallisters forgot Kevin and flew to Paris without him. Kevin enjoys his newfound freedom until two thieves (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) plan to rob the McCallister home. Even though he can’t reach the top shelf, Kevin builds a series of traps to thwart the robbery. Will it be enough to save his home?
Stream Home Alone on Disney+.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)
I’m fully aware that it’s cheating to put A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving , a holiday special, on a list of movies to watch for the holiday. However, it’s Charlie Brown. It’s a boy who has taught millions about the reasons why we gather at the holidays. Charlie showed us that spending time with loved ones is important, and we must appreciate what we have, not what we don’t have. If those messages don’t sit well with you, that’s even more of a reason to watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
In the 1973 special, Charlie and Sally Brown are heading to their grandma’s house for Thanksgiving dinner when Peppermint Patty invites herself and a few friends over. Before he can leave for his grandma’s house, Charlie cooks a makeshift non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner with the help of Linus, Snoopy, and Woodstock. When the meal disappoints some of the guests, it serves as a gentle reminder of the meaning behind Thanksgiving.
Stream A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on Apple TV+.
The Humans (2021)
The Humans is a chilling, frequently staggering adaptation of the play of the same name. The film follows a small family reuniting in New York City for Thanksgiving and features the highs and lows that often accompany that kind of family get-together. The Humans can, at times, play a bit like a horror movie, as it is filled with the unexplained sounds of a crumbling New York apartment.
What’s really terrifying about it, though, is the way that the family at its core seems to come at least partially unhinged. In the end, the story of The Humans is one of love, even if it’s the kind of love that almost always makes family impossible to deal with.
The Humans can be rented or purchased on Apple TV+ .
Violent Night (2022)
Who said Santa had to be nice? In Violent Night , Saint Nick (David Harbour) loses his Christmas spirit and seeks solace at the bottom of a beer glass. When Santa arrives at a wealthy estate, he learns that a team of mercenaries is holding a family hostage. The mercenaries are referred to by Christmas code names, with their leader named Mr. Scrooge (John Leguizamo). One of the hostages is Trudy (Leah Brady), a young girl who still believes in Santa.
What the hostages didn’t prepare for is Santa Claus, who fights back by any means necessary, even if it involves killing the mercenaries. Directed by Tommy Wirkola , Violent Night is an entertaining Christmas action film for an older crowd. Make sure the kids are asleep before putting this on.
Stream Violent Night on Prime Video.
One of the great sports movies ever made, Moneyball tells the story of Billy Beane’s decision to reinvent baseball by relying on analytics instead of tried and true scouting reports. While that may sound like a dry story, it turns into the ultimate underdog tale as Beane’s Oakland A’s go on a remarkable 20-game win streak in spite of the fact that they have basically no major stars.
Thanks to some sharp filmmaking, the single greatest performance of Brad Pitt ‘s career, and an Aaron Sorkin script, Moneyball is a sports movie about what it means to love baseball, and it’s a beautiful thing to behold.
Moneyball is streaming on Prime Video .
Little Women (2019)
Little Women is technically a movie that takes place at a number of different times of the year, but few movies have a more autumnal, Thanksgiving-type vibe. The 2019 adaptation of this era-defining novel follows the four March sisters as they grow up and become young adults.
In jumping around in the timeline, though, director Greta Gerwig creates some astonishing parallels that are only hinted at in most other adaptations. Thanks to a stellar ensemble cast that includes Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, and Timothée Chalamet, Gerwig’s adaptation may be the best one out there, and it will leave you feeling deeply grateful for the family you have.
Little Women is streaming on Hulu .
Theater Camp (2023)
A mockumentary about a theater camp going through a crisis, Theater Camp is a perfect combination of cynically funny and almost surprisingly heartfelt. Featuring a great cast that includes Molly Ball, Ben Platt, The Bear ‘s Ayo Edebiri, and Jimmy Tatro, Theater Camp is about the incredibly dramatic way that theater kids and theater adults behave, especially when they’re around one another.
More importantly, though, Theater Camp is about how important it is to create a space for these kids to find one another, be dramatic and loud, and sing their hearts out together.
Theatre Camp is streaming on Hulu .
Rye Lane (2023)
A sharply directed, succinct rom-com from a first-time director, Rye Lane follows a man getting over a recent breakup who meets a woman who may be a new connection. Set in contemporary London, Rye Lane has a sharp script, and two deeply compelling performances from its leads, David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah.
Of course, conflict inevitably emerges between them, but Rye Lane is smart about the real issues its two leads have, both with one another and in general, and Rye Lane manages to feel like it’s about two real people. It’s the kind of movie we don’t get enough of anymore, and that’s part of what makes it so incredibly charming.
Rye Lane is streaming on Hulu .
The Worst Person in the World (2022)
A deeply charming, slightly existential rom-com from Denmark, The Worst Person in the World follows a young woman who is just trying to navigate through life’s many challenges and decide who she is going to be. She’s not really the worst person in the world, but like many people in their late 20s, she sometimes feels like it.
The Worst Person in the World is charming, world-weary, and is anchored by a remarkable central performance from Renate Reinsve. Few movies have more immaculate vibes, and if you’re looking for an artier film that wears its heart on its sleeve, The Worst Person in the World is the perfect place to start.
The Worst Person in the World is streaming on Hulu .
Jack Frost (1998)
You’ve never seen Jack Frost like this before. Before becoming a snowman, Jack Frost ( Batman’s Michael Keaton ) was a musician and band leader for The Jack Frost Band. Jack is on the precipice of achieving stardom, but his sacrifices have led to declining relationships with his wife, Gabby (Kelly Preston), and 11-year-old son, Charlie (Joseph Cross).
For Christmas, Jack finally puts his family first and leaves a gig to be with his wife and son, but he crashes his car in a blizzard on the way home and dies. One year later, Jack is resurrected as a snowman after Charlie plays a magical harmonica. It’s not how he drew it up, but Jack gets a second chance to be the father his son deserves. That is if the cold weather keeps him from melting.
Watch Jack Frost on Max.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory has nothing to do with Thanksgiving. However, many of us will have dessert on Thanksgiving night, and there’s no better place to indulge our sweet tooth than Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum) is a poor boy who dreams of finding one of the five golden tickets inside a chocolate bar wrapper. A golden ticket wins a lifetime supply of chocolate and admission into Willy Wonka’s factory.
As fate would have it, Charlie finds the final ticket and heads to the factory with Grandpa Joe (Jack Albertson). Inside, Charlie meets Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) and explores his magical factory. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a delightful family movie that will bring out the dreamer inside all of us. And fans of this film should make sure to check out Timothée Chalamet as the iconic candymaker in Wonka this December.
Watch Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory on Max.
Elf remains one of the best Christmas movies of all time. There’s no better time to watch it than now as Elf celebrates its 20th anniversary. Will Ferrell stars as Buddy the Elf, a human raised by Santa’s elves in the North Pole. Now an adult, Buddy realizes he does not fit in with the other elves because of his large stature and toymaking deficiencies.
Looking for answers, Buddy heads to New York City to find his biological father, Walter Hobbs (James Caan), a selfish businessman who finds himself on the Naughty List. Upon reuniting with his father, Buddy uses unorthodox methods – making spaghetti with syrup and cutting down a tree in Central Park – to bring some holiday cheer to Walter and his family.
Watch Elf on Max.
For those looking for a heartwarming Thanksgiving story, Trey Edward Shults’ Krisha does not satisfy that criteria. If you’re willing to give Krisha a chance, you’ll be rewarded with a harrowing and effective look into how a family deals with an estranged member with a history of addiction. How much compassion should be shown before moving on?
Aunt Krisha (Krisha Fairchild) has battled drug and alcohol addiction for years, leading to a fractured relationship with her family, including her son, Trey (Trey Edward Shults). Promising she’s sober, Krisha wants to join her family on Thanksgiving and cook dinner for them. It’s an awkward reunion for Trisha upon her arrival, with many family members unsure how to act around her. Even though you can guess how the story will end for Krisha, that doesn’t make it any easier to watch a heartbreaking portrayal of a woman who can’t escape her demons.
Stream Krisha on Max.
Wonder Woman (2017)
A movie that had sky-high expectations and undoubtedly met them, Wonder Woman felt genuinely revolutionary when it was first released in 2017. The film, which is set during World War II and follows its titular character as she leaves the world of the Amazons and discovers the terrors of the real world, is buoyed in large part by the excellent chemistry between leads Gal Gadot and Chris Pine.
It may be leaden down with a fairly conventional third act, but Wonder Woman is a pretty unmitigated triumph, not just because of what it meant for little girls to get a superhero of their own, but because the movie is genuinely great. (For related content, check out who should be the next Wonder Woman? )
Wonder Woman is streaming on Max .
For the most part, Pleasantville is the only film on our list that’s suitable for family viewing. Before he went on to star in Spider-Man , Tobey Maguire headlined this film as David, with Reese Witherspoon as his sister, Jennifer. One day, the wildly different siblings find themselves transported to the world of a classic black-and-white TV sitcom, Pleasantville , where everyone thinks that they are Bud and Mary Sue, the children of George (William H. Macy) and Betty Parker (Joan Allen).
Since David was already a fan of the show, he fits right in. However, Jennifer has some very modern ideas that she introduces to the town of Pleasantville, which results in some of the residents and locations shifting from black and white to color. This brings out an uglier side of the town, as the black and white citizens turn on the colored people and the ensuing conflict threatens to tear Pleasantville apart.
Watch Pleasantville on Max .
The Ice Storm (1997)
The Ice Storm is a well-acted and beautifully shot film by director Ang Lee that may be appropriate for teenage children, but definitely not for anyone pre-teen. The story is actually set during Thanksgiving in 1973, as two families, the Hoods and the Carvers, spend the holiday weekend together. Elena Hood (Joan Allen) and Jim Carver (Jamey Sheridan) are also unaware that their respective spouses, Ben Hood (Kevin Kline) and Janey Carver (Sigourney Weaver), are having an affair.
Some of that spirit appears to have passed on to their kids, as Wendy Hood ( Wednesday ‘s Christina Ricci) seems to enjoy sexually charged games with Mikey (Elijah Wood) and Sandy Carver (Adam Hann-Byrd). Meanwhile, Wendy’s brother, Paul Hood (Tobey Maguire), is also hopelessly in love with Libbets Casey (Katie Holmes), a girl who may not reciprocate his feelings. Over the course of the weekend, both the Carver and the Hood families are forced to face some uncomfortable truths about themselves. And that’s just the beginning of their trials.
Watch The Ice Storm on Max .
In the low-budget movie ThanksKilling , a group of college friends decide to head home for Thanksgiving break. But when their car breaks down in the woods, the friends find themselves fighting for their lives against a maniacal and deadly turkey. Raunchy, perverse, and wisecracking, the killer turkey is an incredibly likable villain that you spend most of the movie rooting for.
Despite its low-budget origins, ThanksKilling was a hit at horror film festivals thanks to its absurd and campy humor. It later went on to be very successful in the DVD market and eventually spawned two sequels. In 2014, ThanksKilling was even adapted into a musical that played off-Broadway and in select cities around the country. For a tiny, low-budget horror movie, ThanksKilling has had one hell of a legacy, and it’s all thanks to its surprisingly enjoyable premise and nefariously fowl lead.
ThanksKilling is streaming on Tubi .
Pieces of April (2003)
Anyone who knows the stress of hosting one’s family for Thanksgiving, and having to cook an entire meal for them while they silently judge you, will relate a lot to April, the lead character in Peter Hedges’ modern holiday classic, Pieces of April . April has invited her suburban family over for Thanksgiving in her tiny New York City apartment, and she has to balance numerous crises — a violent ex-boyfriend, a terminally ill mother — all the while making a perfect meal to please her tough-to-please family.
Pieces of April deftly handles both comedy and drama with aplomb, with Katie Holmes giving her best performance of her career as the headstrong but vulnerable April. Equally great is Patricia Clarkson as April’s mother Joy, who doesn’t let breast cancer and a bad wig get in the way of her silent disapproval of her daughter’s life choices.
Pieces of April is streaming on Tubi .
The Firm (1993)
Featuring a non- action movie Tom Cruise at the height of his stardom, The Firm follows a young lawyer who joins a high-powered firm only to discover that most of their clients are actually in the mob. From there, an entire vast conspiracy unfolds as Cruise’s lawyer attempts to take down his employers.
It’s an over-the-top ’90s blockbuster that features a cast absolutely stuffed with great actors, including Holly Hunter, Gene Hackman, Wilford Brimley, and what feels like a dozen others. The Firm might not be the most serious movie ever made, but that’s part of the fun of watching its many twists and turns as they unfold.
The Firm is streaming for free on YouTube .
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For many of us, Thanksgiving is a time to sit down with family and friends, share a delicious meal, and reflect on the blessings in our lives. Thanksgiving serves as a bridge between Halloween and Christmas, with the holiday season ramping up after Turkey Day.
Since many of us will be gathering with others for the holiday, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to watch a movie. Max has a mix of holiday classics and family-friendly staples to stream over the long weekend. Below, check out three of the best Max movies to watch for Thanksgiving, including a magical snowman comedy, a chocolate lover's dream, and a legendary Christmas adventure. Jack Frost (1998)
If you're gathering with your loved ones for the long holiday weekend, then you may find that there are not a lot of Thanksgiving-related movies, especially on Netflix. And if you dig too deeply into holiday-related movies on rival platforms, you may find yourself trapped in a long marathon of VeggieTales direct-to-video films. And let me tell you, friends, once the VeggieTales characters start singing, there is no escape.
In the absence of films about Thanksgiving, our picks for the five best Netflix movies to watch for Thanksgiving are instead focused on the thing that the holiday season is supposed to be about: family. Anyone can make a turkey dinner, but it's the people you love who make it a special occasion. So with the spirit of the holiday in mind, enjoy these fine family-themed films this Thanksgiving. The Addams Family (1991)
Have you ever wondered what the hidden gems on Netflix are? It's simple. They are the shows that Netflix doesn't tend to put on its home page because the algorithm is suggesting that viewers want to watch something else. Netflix's entire brand is about churning out new shows, and the uncomfortable truth about that approach is that a lot of series fall by the wayside if they aren't discovered right away.
So this list of the best hidden gems on Netflix was created to throw a spotlight on shows that deserve more attention on the streamer. This month, we've chosen Blue Eye Samurai, The Pacific, Medici: The Magnificent, and Good Girls. If you're looking for something new to binge, then you've come to the right place for something great.
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The 7 best thanksgiving movies to watch this holiday.
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What to watch this Thanksgiving
There’s a great South Park episode where Santa and Jesus are singing Christmas songs at a bar, each trading off verses from various well-known little ditties, and it quickly becomes apparent that Jesus has a lot more songs about him than Santa. Santa gets a bit jealous.
I think that’s a little bit how Thanksgiving must feel when it comes to pop culture, sitting in the long shadow cast by Christmas. There aren’t really Thanksgiving songs. Fall decor is shared with Halloween for the most part, but Halloween has a whole lot more. Thanksgiving is mostly about food and gatherings with friends and family and, of course, football. There aren’t even that many movies to commemorate the holiday.
But there are a few, and I have some suggestions down below for some stuff you can watch after stuffing your face with stuffing and getting your fill of the NFL. I know for a lot of people, it’s early to bed so you can get up bright and early and head out to our most holy of national holidays, Black Friday, but if you’d rather stay up with a good movie than get up at the buttcrack of dawn to stand in a shivery line outside Walmart, here’s a list.
We’ll kick things off with . . .
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
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If you’re a fan of John Hughes—who wrote, directed and produced this film—and enjoy Steve Martin and John Candy, this one’s for you. And I mean, how could you not love that combination? This is, perhaps, the best and the most classic of all Thanksgiving movies.
The story follows Neal (Steve Martin) a high-strung, impatient marketing exec as he tries to make it home to Chicago in time for Thanksgiving. The weather is against him, and he ends up traveling with Del (John Candy) an extremely friendly, extremely irritating salesman. It’s awkward, hilarious and a nice change of pace for Hughes, who had largely made teen comedies in the past.
If by some miracle you haven’t seen this one yet, please watch it this Thanksgiving.
Watch on Amazon Prime Video
The Charlie Brown Christmas Special
While not as good or as beloved as The Charlie Brown Christmas Special, this is still a classic animated celebration of Thanksgiving and the important things it represents. It also turns 50 this year! That means it’s only 8 years older than me, which makes me feel old!
Scent Of A Woman
Al Pacino plays a blind Lt. Colonel named Frank, a curmudgeonly man who needs looking after over Thanksgiving. Chris O’Donnell plays Charlie, who he hires to look over him as they head to New York for the holiday. Pacino finally won an Academy Award for this one (Best Actor). Pacino really is terrific in the movie but it does run a bit too long at 156 minutes.
Addams Family Values
This counts as a Thanksgiving movie simply because Wednesday Addams (played wonderfully by Christina Ricci) re-enacts the Thanksgiving pageant—with a decidedly Addams Family twist. This is that rarest of sequels that’s actually, in many ways, even better than the first film. And as much as I did enjoy Netflix’s Wednesday, it really doesn’t hold a candle to these charming films.
Miracle on 34th Street
Sure, it’s a Christmas movie, but Miracle on 34th Street kicks off with the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade and a fake Santa with a very real drinking problem. So it’s kind of a perfect bridge between Thanksgiving and Christmas and, of course, one of the most heartwarming classics of all time.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
If you’re a Wes Anderson fan, there’s not a better autumnal movie out there than Fantastic Mr. Fox, the first (but far from the last) Anderson adaptation of a Roald Dahl story. While not exactly a Thanksgiving movie, it’s still the perfect time to watch this stop-motion animated caper flick.
The Ice Storm
An incredible cast makes Ang Lee’s adaptation of Ricky Moody’s novel of the same name. The story takes place in the 1970s over a messy Thanksgiving weekend between two families in an equally tumultuous time in America. A compelling character drama, though not for the whole family.
What Thanksgiving movies and specials do you watch this time of year? Let me know on Twitter or Facebook .
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