Babylon new movies December

New movies to watch in December

Christmas movie alternatives include winter blockbusters, awards bait, music biopics and even some Xmas slasher horror.

Nearly a decade after smashing every box-office record with the first Avatar, James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water (Dec. 16) finally hits screens this holiday season. With some not-too-covert ecological themes, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) now lives with his family on the planet of Pandora. With the island in peril, Jake must work with Neytiri and the army of the Na’vi race to protect their planet. If the relatively sparse December release schedule is any indication, people are expecting this film to be as big a dominating force as the original.

The Whale new movies to watch in December
The Whale (new movies to watch in December)

One of the year’s most controversial films, Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale (Dec. 23), hits screens just in time for Christmas. Based on a play of the same name, the film is about an obese English teacher and his attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter. The film has been accused of being miserabilist and fat-phobic by its detractors and embraced as transcendent by its fans. Everyone seems to agree, though, that Brendan Fraser gives one of the best performances of the year. 

The other big auteur vision hitting screens this month is Damien Chazelle’s Babylon (Dec. 23), starring Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt and Tobey Maguire (among others). Set amid the excess of 1920s Hollywood, before the stock-market crash, and built around vignettes following multiple characters, the film portrays Hollywood as a land of drugs, ambition and unbridled decadence.

For those who look to December for some holiday carnage, Violent Night (Dec. 2) is just for you. David Harbour stars as Santa Claus in this bloody action-comedy. When a group of mercenaries attack the estate of a wealthy family, Santa Claus must step in to save the day (and Christmas).

If ultraviolent Christmas movies aren’t your thing and you want something the whole family can enjoy, there’s Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (Dec. 21). With a bit of an animation makeover, the beloved Shrek character Puss in Boots returns to the big screen after a long hiatus. Our titular feline has exhausted nearly all of his lives and is ready for a peaceful retirement, which turns out to be not so peaceful. 

emancipation new movies December
Emancipation (new movies to watch in December)

While many of the Oscar heavy hitters have already been released, there are still some to come. Sam Mendes’s Empire of Light (Dec. 9) is yet another love story to the movies. Starring Olivia Colman, the film is a complicated romance set in and around an old cinema on the South Coast of England in the 1980s.

In any other year, Will Smith might have been considered a strong candidate for a best actor nomination, but after the slap (followed by a Best Actor win)… it seems unlikely. His new film Emancipation (Dec. 2 in theatres and Dec. 9 on Apple TV+) is inspired by the true story of an enslaved man who risks his life to escape and return to his family.

I Wanna Dance with Somebody new movies December
I Wanna Dance With Somebody (new movies to watch in December)

Reviews aren’t out yet for the Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Dec. 21). The references to the writers of Bohemian Rhapsody in the trailer don’t necessarily bode well, but from a purely popular cinema perspective, Rhapsody cleaned up at the box office. Naomi Ackie, who played Jannah in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, plays the lead role. 

With White Noise (Dec. 2), Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story) adapts a novel by Don DeLillo — an almost Herculean task. White Noise dramatizes a contemporary American family’s attempts to deal with the mundane conflicts of everyday life while grappling with the universal mysteries of love, death and the possibility of happiness in an uncertain world. The film stars Greta Gerwig, Adam Driver and Don Cheadle. 

White Noise new movies December
White Noise (new movies to watch in December)

There are lots of documentaries on the horizon, too. Luca Guadagnino follows up Bones and All with Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams (Dec. 2) about the life of Italian shoemaker Salvatore Ferragamo, who created shoes for Hollywood stars and iconic films during the silent era. Concordia alumnus Jacquelyn Mills releases her meditative portrait of Sable Island, Geographies of Solitude (Dec. 16). Hélène Choquette’s Une histoire sur le goût de la langue (Dec. 9), examines the evolution and diversity of the French language in Quebec. ■

This article originally appeared in the December 2022 issue of Cult MTL. Check Montreal cinema showtimes here.

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