What to look forward to in film for the 2022 holiday season


The November/December season is always an exciting time to be a filmgoer. While some of the biggest blockbusters are often scheduled during these months, it’s also the prime season for films going for award nominations in the early months of the next year. 2022 is shaping up to be one of the most stacked holiday seasons since the theater industry has mostly bounced back from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On the side of the blockbusters, two films are seemingly reigning over their respective months and are predicted to be such box-office giants that not many other big films are being released against them, out of fear of being overshadowed in ticket sales. The two films in question are November’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and December’s “Avatar: The Way of Water.” 

Both films are follow-ups to hugely successful movies that broke numerous box-office records during their release. Their respective sequels are projected to continue that trend and likely will both make their way to all-time highest grossers. Although, it should be noted that both films now fall under the Disney corporation, further highlighting the obscene monopoly they hold over the theatrical market. 


The similarities don’t stop there; both films take place in imagination-capturing new worlds, Wakanda and Pandora, and both films seem to have a large emphasis on underwater and water-based tribes. They also both have faced immense challenges in the time between their previous films. 

“Black Panther” lost its lead actor, with Chadwick Boseman’s untimely and tragic death after his battle with cancer. This placed the studio and filmmakers with a great challenge in how to continue the story, while paying respects to the actor and remaining respectful to his legacy. 

James Cameron also faces challenges with “Avatar” in the 13 years that have passed since the first film was released. Many audiences have voiced their skepticism in “The Way of the Water” recapturing the same attention the first did now that the blockbuster landscape and filmgoers’ interest have drastically shifted in that time. 

Similarities aside, the two films have built up a tremendous amount of excitement and will undoubtedly shape a historical holiday movie going season when “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” releases Nov. 11 and “Avatar: The Way of Water” releases Dec. 16. 

On the other side of the spectrum, many auteur directors are adding to their filmographies this season, with some of the most fresh and exciting films that will undoubtedly gain a lot of attention in prestige awards circles. 

A film that walks the line with an auteur vision, but also can be considered a blockbuster after its predecessor was so unexpectedly successful, is Rian Johnson’s “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.” The follow-up to 2019’s widely beloved “Knives Out” looks to continue in its devilishly witty charm, for another whodunnit being investigated by Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc. While the film is being released as a Netflix original on the streaming service, it is also getting a limited release in theaters, which is the best way to experience a film like this one, which releases Thanksgiving Day.

A film that has already been making waves since premiering at festivals is Todd Field’s “Tár” starring Cate Blanchett. The film follows a fictional character Lydia Tár, who is considered one of the greatest living composer-conductors and first-ever female music director of a major German orchestra. “Tár” boasts an emotionally complex story of the life of an artist and how fame can affect one’s psyche. The film has a staggered release but is slowly widening to more theaters in early November. (See our review on page __.)


Luca Guadagnino also is returning with his first feature since 2018’s “Suspiria” and 2017’s Oscar nominated “Call Me by Your Name.” His new film, “Bones and All,” is again starring Timothée Chalamet, whose career similarly skyrocketed with “Call Me by Your Name.” The film follows a love story between two young cannibals trying to find peace in their disturbing urges and comforting each other in their shared troubles. The film similarly is receiving much praise in the leadup to its wide release during Thanksgiving week. 

The holiday week continues to stack up the potential, with Steven Spielberg’s latest film “The Fabelmans” releasing that week as well. The film is a semi autobiographical story loosely following Spielberg’s own life, with familial troubles and how it led to his love for filmmaking. It boasts a stacked cast, including Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Judd Hirsch and Seth Rogen. With Spielberg being one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, his personal life has been long analyzed by viewers and how it relates to his work; now with a film seeming to dig further into that past, it’s something impossible to pass up for any lover of his work. 

There are many other great films that will be populating cinemas in the coming months, but even with these few, it’s simultaneously overwhelming and invigorating as a filmgoer. 

Staff reporter Zaden Dennis can be reached at [email protected] and you can find his other reviews at letterboxd.com/Zadenator.

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