Cozy up in your local theater (or kick back on your couch) with these movies starring Jason Momoa, Timothée Chalamet, Sydney Sweeney, Eddie Murphy and more
The holiday season is a time for pumpkin pie, family togetherness — and some of the year’s most highly anticipated movies.
So whether you need a break from the in-laws or want to bond with them, check out these titles. There's something for everyone: dramatic Oscar bait, lighthearted comedy, suspenseful thrillers and even some splashy song-and-dance spectacles.
Enjoy them with or without a slice of pie.
Leave the World Behind
Mr. Robot’s Sam Esmail wrote and directed what he has called a “paranoid” thriller about a married couple Amanda and Clay (Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke) who rent a palatial home for a getaway with their kids. Things go south quickly: The WiFi doesn’t work, the TV goes out, and most unsettling of all, a man (Mahershala Ali) shows up at the door with his daughter (Myha’la), claiming that there’s been a cyber attack — and he’s the actual owner of the house. Esmail said he wants “the audience looking over their shoulders along with the characters.” In select theaters Nov. 22; streaming on Netflix Dec. 8
The biopic about the famed conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein (Bradley Cooper, who also directed and co-wrote the movie) tracks his relationship with longtime love Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein (Carey Mulligan). "People will see the complexity of marriage and the many forms love can take," co-writer Josh Singer recently said. "I think those are both powerful themes." In select theaters Nov. 22; streaming on Netflix Dec. 20
Candy Cane Lane
Clark Griswold has nothing on family man Chris (Eddie Murphy), who’s so determined to win his neighborhood’s holiday decorating competition, he makes a deal with a mischievous elf (Jillian Bell), inadvertently bringing the 12 Days of Christmas to life. (Brace yourself for the maids-a-milking scene!) "I can say confidently you've never seen a holiday movie like this," director Reginald Hudlin recently told PEOPLE. "We have jump scares, car chases and kung-fu fighting, plus all the holiday feels.” Streaming on Prime Video Dec. 1
Inspired by the saga of Mary Kay Letourneau, the Seattle teacher who was convicted of statutory rape for sleeping with an underage student whom she later married, Todd Haynes’ drama stars Julianne Moore as a woman with a similar story. She’s Gracie Atherton-Yoo, who started an affair with a 13-year-old boy, Joe, when she was 36. Years after she caused a tabloid frenzy, Gracie and a now-adult Joe (Charles Melton) are happily wed, but their life is upended when an actress (Natalie Portman) comes to town to research her role as Gracie in an upcoming movie. Streaming on Netflix Dec. 1
Eileen, a mousy young secretary (Thomasin Adlin) in 1960s Massachusetts, dreams of a more exciting life and becomes intrigued by Rebecca (Anne Hathaway), the glamorous new psychologist at the prison where she works. In this tense thriller, their lives become intertwined, leading to a shocking climax. In select theaters Dec. 1 before opening wider Dec. 8
Director Ava DuVernay dramatizes the heartbreaking story of writer Isabel Wilkerson (Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor), who lost her husband (Jon Bernthal), mother (Emily Yancy) and cousin (Niecy Nash) in close succession while working on her seminal book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, a deeply researched history of inequality. In select theaters Dec. 8
And now for something completely different: Emma Stone, reuniting with her The Favourite director Yorgos Lanthimos, stars as Bella Baxter, a woman who’s brought back to life by a eccentric scientist Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe) in this stylish, offbeat drama. Once resurrected, “she is understanding what it is to be a member of society,” Stone has said of Bella, who embarks on a cross-continental adventure with lawyer Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo). “The more autonomous she becomes, the more challenged the men seem to be by it.” In theaters Dec. 8.
Waitress: The Musical
This Broadway spectacle’s composer and lyricist, Sara Bareilles (also a Grammy-winning pop singer), stars in the big-screen adaptation as Jenna Hunterson, a small-town waitress who finds herself in a rut and a loveless marriage. A nearby baking contest and a new romance offer Jenna an escape — and an opportunity for true happiness. In theaters Dec. 7
“The dumber I behave, the richer I get,” says novelist Monk Ellison (Jeffrey Wright) in a searing satire from director Cord Jefferson. Monk is a talented writer, but his books don’t sell — and he resents the stereotypical “Black” novels that do (e.g. We’s Lives in Da Ghetto). As a joke, Monk assumes a ridiculous pseudonym and writes his own version of the very books he despises. It becomes a hit — both fascinating and frustrating him. In select theaters Dec. 15 before going wider on Dec. 22
The Family Plan
To those who know Dan Morgan (Mark Wahlberg), he’s a husband, father, car salesman and all around affable guy. Years prior, however, this minivan-driving middle-aged man was a secret government assassin who took out dangerous threats. Not even his family knows, and when his past comes back to haunt him, he takes his wife (Michelle Monaghan) and kids on a road trip to Las Vegas to keep them safe. Expect laughs and lots of action. Streaming on Apple TV+ Dec. 15
How did Willy become the man known as Wonka? Timothée Chalamet stars as the titular candy man in this whimsical prequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Hugh Grant and Rowan Atkinson costar in the origin story, which features original musical numbers — and singing by Chalamet! In theaters Dec. 15
The Zone of Interest
An unsettling look at the domestic life of Rudolph Höss, the commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp. The ruthless and power-hungry Nazi officer (Christian Friedel) lived with his ambitious wife (Sandra Hüller, chilling) and their children in a lovely home with a garden that abutted the notorious prison, separated only by a wall. Friedel says the film "offers an examination of the dark side of humanity through the lens of everyday life." In theaters Dec. 15
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
Jason Momoa reprises his role as the sea-dwelling superhero and King of Atlantis in this sequel to 2018’s Aquaman. He faces off against the menacing Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who declares, “I’m gonna kill Aquaman and destroy everything he holds dear. I’m gonna murder his family and burn his kingdom to ash.” Patrick Wilson and Amber Heard costar. In theaters Dec. 22
All of Us Strangers
In this dreamy fantasy-romance, London-based screenwriter Adam (Andrew Scott) begins a relationship with his mysterious neighbor Harry (Paul Mescal)—and suddenly finds himself drawn back to his childhood home, where his deceased parents (Claire Foy and Jamie Bell) seem to be alive and well. Keep the tissues close at hand. In theaters Dec. 22
Anyone But You
The rom-com starring Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney is “about two people that hate each other," Powell explained at CinemaCon earlier this year. The pair play former college nemeses, who, years after graduation, see each other again and pretend to be a couple at a destination wedding. Will sparks fly? Hmmm... In theaters Dec. 22
The Iron Claw
Zac Efron and Jeremy Allen White star in the true story of professional wrestlers Kevin and Kerry von Erich, whose family was plagued by tragedy in the 1980s and 1990s. “It speaks to the downside or the pitfalls of fame,” explains Efron. “You have to be a warrior to get through this s–t, man. And, and that's what this story is about.” In theaters Dec. 22
Elizabeth Banks, Awkwafina, Danny DeVito, Kumail Nanjiani and Keegan-Michael Key lend their voices to this family-friendly animated comedy about The Mallards, a family of pond-dwelling ducks who decide they want to migrate as a way to see the world. Seeing as this is their first time, the Mallards may be flying blind. The screenplay comes from The White Lotus creator Mike White, so smart humor abounds. In theaters Dec. 22
Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire
“I have a love of ‘putting-the-team-together’ movies,” director Zac Snyder recently said. His sweeping sci-fi epic scratches that itch. After Kora (Sofia Boutella) crash lands on a moon populated by peaceful farmers and learns they are under threat from the forces of the Motherworld, she travels around the galaxy to assemble warriors who will help them fight back. Charlie Hunnam and Djimon Hounsou costar. Streaming on Netflix Dec. 22
The Boys in the Boat
Who doesn’t love rooting for the underdog? George Clooney directs the true story of a University of Washington rowing team who made it to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. "The Boys in the Boat is about strong, tough kids, but they were poor and hungry. They’re rowing because it was the only way they could stay in college,” Clooney explained in a behind-the-scenes video. “The stakes were much higher for them, and it gave them an edge." In theaters Dec. 25
The Color Purple
The Tony-winning Broadway musical — based on Alice Walker’s 1982 novel and subsequent 1985 movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey — comes to the big screen nearly 20 years after its debut on the Great White Way. This version, from producer Winfrey, stars Fantasia Barrino as Celie, a Black woman in early 20th century Georgia who finds hope despite unspeakable hardship. Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks and Colman Domingo costar. In theaters Dec. 25
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