Newsday's Rafer Guzmán on four of the top movies coming to theaters this holiday season.   Credit: NewsdayTV

As the holidays get into full swing, Hollywood is offering a cornucopia of movies.

That means flashy blockbusters, topical dramas and family fare, many with big-name stars and A-list directors. And some of these titles are clearly hoping for a few gold-plated gifts of their own.

Among the season’s obvious Oscar contenders: “The Fabelmans,” Steven Spielberg’s drama about a budding young filmmaker and his family; “She Said,” which follows two journalists as they expose sexual abuses by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein; and “The Whale,” featuring an acclaimed performance from Brendan Fraser as an obese recluse.

There’ll also be plenty of pure entertainment, notably from “Avatar: The Way of Water” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” two long-awaited sequels that seem sure to boost the post-pandemic box-office.

As always, there are a few wild cards in the mix. Will Damien Chazelle’s star-studded spectacle “Babylon” dazzle audiences the way his “La La Land” did? Could the Whitney Houston biopic “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” become another “Bohemian Rhapsody”? And will audiences turn out to see Timothée Chalamet as a cannibal in “Bones and All?”

Though some upcoming titles will arrive on streaming or video-on-demand in short order, most will be available only in theaters. Here’s our look at what’s playing the holiday season, which actually begins this year 13 days  before Thanksgiving.


(L-R): Dorothy Steel as Merchant Tribe Elder, Florence Kasumba as...

(L-R): Dorothy Steel as Merchant Tribe Elder, Florence Kasumba as Ayo, Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Danai Gurira as Okoye in Marvel Studios' Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." Credit: Marvel Studios

The role of King T’Challa, originated by the late Chadwick Boseman, will not be recast in this Disney-Marvel sequel. Instead, the movie follows the people of Wakanda as they defend their kingdom. With Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Guirira. Ryan Coogler returns to direct.


(from left) Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano), younger Sammy Fabelman (Mateo...

(from left) Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano), younger Sammy Fabelman (Mateo Zoryan Francis-DeFord) and Mitzi Fabelman (Michelle Williams) in "The Fabelmans," co-written and directed by Steven Spielberg. Credit: Universal Pictures/Amblin Entertainment/Merie Weismiller Wallace

Steven Spielberg reteams with his “West Side Story” writer Tony Kushner for a drama based loosely on the director’s childhood. The eclectic cast includes Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Gabriel LaBelle (as the young protagonist) and Judd Hirsch.


Taylor Russell (left) as Maren and Timothée Chalamet (right) as...

Taylor Russell (left) as Maren and Timothée Chalamet (right) as Lee in "Bones and All."

Credit: Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures/Yannis Drakoulidis

Director Luca Guadagnino reunites with Timothée Chalamet (“Call Me by Your Name”) for this horror-romance about two cannibals in love. With Taylor Russell.

THE MENU (Nov. 18)

Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult in "The Menu."


Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult in "The Menu."

Credit: Searchlight Pictures/Eric Zachanowich

Ralph Fiennes, currently on the New York stage as Robert Moses in “Straight Line Crazy,” takes a slightly different turn here as a crazed chef who torments his diners. With Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult.

SHE SAID (Nov. 18)

(from left) Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe...

(from left) Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) in "She Said." Credit: Universal Pictures/JoJo Whilden

The story of two New York Times reporters (Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan) who exposed decades of sexual abuse by the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Director Maria Schrader adapts the best-selling book.

THERE THERE (Nov. 18) The latest from writer-director Andrew Bujalski (“Support the Girls”) is a series of two-person vignettes – teacher and parent, lawyer and client, etc. – yet all the actors were filmed alone. With Jason Schwartzman, Lili Taylor and Molly Gordon. Also available on demand.

DEVOTION (Nov. 23) During the Korean War, a white pilot (Glen Powell,  “Top Gun: Maverick”) and the Navy’s first Black aviator (Jonathan Majors,  HBO’s “Lovecraft Country”) form an enduring friendship. Based on a true story.

STRANGE WORLD (Nov. 23) An animated Walt Disney feature about the Clades, a family of explorers who must navigate a treacherous land filled with bizarre creatures. With Jake Gyllenhaal and Lucy Liu.

GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY  (Nov. 23) Daniel Craig returns as detective Benoit Blanc in Rian Johnson’s follow-up to “Knives Out.” It plays in theaters for one week before debuting on Netflix Dec. 23. With Edward Norton and Janelle Monáe.

THE SON (Nov. 25)

Zen McGrath, Hugh Jackman and Laura Dern in  "The Son."

Zen McGrath, Hugh Jackman and Laura Dern in  "The Son." Credit: Sony Pictures CLassic/Rekha Garton

Hugh Jackman and Laura Dern play divorced parents of a troubled teenager (Zen McGrath). This is Florian Zeller’s follow-up to “The Father,” which won an Oscar for Anthony Hokpins.

WHITE NOISE (Nov. 25) Noah Baumbach adapts Don DeLillo’s peak-postmodern novel about an academic (Adam Driver) facing a life crisis. Its Netflix debut is Dec. 30. With Greta Gerwig and Don Cheadle.

SPOILER ALERT (Dec. 2) Jim Parsons, Ben Aldridge and Sally Field star in an adaptation of Michael Ausiello’s memoir about his ailing partner. Michael Showalter (“The Big Sick”) directs.


David Harbour in "Violent Night."

David Harbour in "Violent Night." Credit: Universal Pictures/Allen Fraser

When mercenaries take a family hostage on Christmas Eve, they encounter an unexpected foe – Santa Claus (David Harbour, “Stranger Things”). With John Leguizamo and Cam Gigandet.

WOMEN TALKING (Dec. 2) In an isolated religious community, a series of sexual assaults tests the faith of several women. With Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy, Frances McDormand and Rooney Mara.

EMPIRE OF LIGHT (Dec. 9) From writer-director Sam Mendes comes a romantic drama set in a British seaside town during the 1980s. With Olivia Colman, Colin Firth and Michael Ward.

THE WHALE (Dec. 9)

Brendan Fraser in  "The Whale."

Brendan Fraser in  "The Whale." Credit: A24 Films/Niko Tavernise

Brendan Fraser has earned rave reviews as a morbidly obese English teacher trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter (Sadie Sink) in this drama from  director Darren Aronofsky (“The Wrestler”).


The long-awaited "Avatar" sequel hits theaters on Dec. 16.

The long-awaited "Avatar" sequel hits theaters on Dec. 16. Credit: 20th Century Studios

Set more than a decade after the first film, James Cameron’s long-awaited sequel focuses on former Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and his Na’vi family on the tropical moon Pandora. With Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang.

PUSS IN BOOTS: THE LAST WISH (Dec. 21) In this DreamWorks Animation sequel, a feline rogue  (Antonio Banderas) learns he has used up eight of his lives. With Salma Hayek Pinault.


Naomi Ackie in "I Wanna Dance with Somebody."

Naomi Ackie in "I Wanna Dance with Somebody." Credit: TRISTAR pictures/Emily Aragones

English actor Naomi Ackie plays the late Whitney Houston in this biopic. Directed by Kasi Lemmons (“Harriet”), written by Anthony McCarten (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) and co-produced by Clive Davis.

LIVING (Dec. 23) In post-War London, a longtime civil servant (Bill Nighy) receives a life-changing medical diagnosis. Written by Kazuo Ishiguro (“The Remains of the Day”) and directed by Oliver Hermanus.

BABYLON (Dec. 23)

Brad Pitt plays Jack Conrad in "Babylon."

Brad Pitt plays Jack Conrad in "Babylon." Credit: Paramount Pictures

Paramount still isn’t revealing much about the latest from director Damien Chazelle (“La La Land”), but we know it’s set in 1920s Hollywood and features Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Diego Calva and many others.

THE PALE BLUE EYE (Dec. 23) At West Point in 1830, a detective (Christian Bale) attempts to find a cadet’s killer with help from an unlikely source – a budding poet named Edgar Allan Poe (Harry Melling). It premieres on Netflix Jan. 6.


Mariana Treviño and Tom Hanks in "A Man Called Otto."

Mariana Treviño and Tom Hanks in "A Man Called Otto." Credit: Columbia Pictures/Niko Tavernise

A grouchy widower (Tom Hanks) strikes up an unlikely friendship with his pregnant next-door neighbor (Mariana Treviño) in this American adaptation of the Swedish hit “A Man Called Ove.”

Top Stories

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months