Holiday movies 2023: Here’s what’s coming

No matter what your cinematic mood might be from now till the end of December, Hollywood’s got you covered.

In need of some romance? Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell hope to make hearts swell as squabbling wedding guests who, of course, develop an eventual soft spot for each other  in “Anyone But You.”

Prefer a good cry? Filmmaker Andrew Haigh aims to make even the most cynical moviegoer weep buckets when watching “All of Us Strangers,” starring Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal.

Hankering for a bloody revenge flick? Veteran action director John Woo’s got shootouts galore in “Silent Night,” starring an acting-his-heart-out Joel Kinnaman.

Yes, the Hollywood elves are back on the job and working overtime stuffing movie stockings with heart-warmers, heartbreakers, Oscar hopefuls and even a blockbuster or two.

So we’ve made a list of the cinematic goodies coming out from Dec. 1 till the end of the year, and then checking it twice.

Note: Some major Netflix releases — Todd Haynes black dramedy “May December” (streaming Dec. 1)  with Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore, along with Sam Esmail’s domestic thriller “Leave the World Behind” (streaming Dec. 8) with Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali and Ethan Hawke, have already had limited releases in theaters so are not included here. And in all cases, dates, of course, are subject to change.

Dec. 1

“Maestro”: Bradley Cooper commits fully both in front of and behind the camera for this Netflix drama on the real-life romance and complicated marriage of legendary composer Leonard Bernstein (Cooper) — who was gay — and actress Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan). Cooper directs, stars and produces this atypical biopic that’s partly shot in black and white. Also streams Dec. 20.

“Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé”: Will the BeyHive show up the Swifties at the box office? That’s the big question mark about Queen Bey’s latest concert film. We actually couldn’t care less about that we’re just confident that Beyonce’s latest will appeal to audiences and critics alike, just like her outstanding 2019 documentary “Homecoming: A Beyonce Film.”

“Godzilla Minus One”: Haven’t had your fill of kaijū stomping on cities? You’re in luck. Director/writer/visual effects wiz Takashi Yamazaki scratches our mega-monster itch with a post-World War II-set scaly hoedown released by Toho studios. Remarkably, it’s that studio’s 33rd Godzilla film.

“Silent Night”: A Southern Californian dad (Joel Kinnaman) gets caught in the cross-hairs of a gang fight and loses both his son and his voice, which propels him to get all John Wick on his perpetrators in John Woo’s ultra-violent return to top-tier form. This one makes ideal counterprogramming for all the sentimental holiday romps.

“Candy Cane Lane”: Speaking of sentimental holiday films: In this Amazon Studios bit of comedic seasonal cheer, a competitive dad (Eddie Murphy) makes a pact with a mischievous elf (Jillian Bell) so he can win top honors in the annual Christmas decoration contest. Mayhem ensues, and it’s up to his family to reverse an elf’s curse. (Streams on Amazon Prime Video.)

“Eileen”: A juvenile detention center in the 1960s is the moody setting for this twist-filled tale of obsession, wherein a coworker (Thomasin McKenzie) falls under the spell of an entrancing new counselor (Anne Hathaway). William Oldroyd directs this adaptation of Ottessa Mossfegh’s Booker Prize-nominated debut novel.

Dec. 8

“The Boy and the Heron”: Revered animator and filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki’s first film in 10 years (his 12th feature overall) is a moving semi-autobiographical fantasy about 12-year-old Mahito Maki reluctantly moving to an estate with his dad who just wed his dead mother’s sister. A series of curious events transport him to a magical realm that includes hordes of evil gargantuan parakeets. Kid you not. Robert Pattinson voices the Grey Heron.

“Poor Things”: In Yorgos Lanthimos’s latest eyebrow-raiser, a Victorian-era woman (Emma Stone in a performance buzzing with Oscar potential) escapes death and then tours various continents where she attempts to shed the sexist shackles of her time. A sketchy lawyer (Mark Ruffalo) joins the ride.

Dec. 15

“The Family Plan”: A frazzled suburban dad (Mark Wahlberg) is forced to face his past as a government assassin as he packs up the family and embarks on a road trip to Las Vegas with hitmen following in hot pursuit. (Streams on Apple TV+.)

“Monster”: Leave it to deservedly acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda to take us by surprise with this “Rashomon”-like drama that involves a troubling incident at a school and the twist-filled aftermath. Easily one of the best films of 2023.

“Wonka”: So how did Roald Dahl’s eccentric Willy Wonka turn into the Candy Man of universal renown? Timothée Chalamet steps into the shoes of a young Wonka to reveal the path that the eccentric chocolate-maker followed to reach the Oompa-Loompas. The origin story is directed and written by Paul King, who delighted all with two “Paddington” movies (and a third is on the way).

“Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget”: This Netflix sequel flaps its wings 23 years after the original and finds Ginger’s placid existence on a bird sanctuary getting interrupted. Sam Fell of “ParaNorman” and “Flushed Away” directs.

Dec. 20

“Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom”: Jason Momoa again swims with the fishes as Arthur Curry/Aquaman with director James Wan diving in as well. This time, Aquaman needs to get over bad blood spilled between he and his half-brother Orm Marius (Patrick Wilson) in order to save Atlantis from David Kane/Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Matten II). Will this break the DC film curse after a series of box-office bombs?

Dec. 22

“All of Us Strangers”: Expect your hankies to work overtime while watching this fantasy-laced heartbreaker from Andrew Haigh’s (“Looking”) about a lonely gay man (Andrew Scott) visiting the spirits of his dead parents while falling for a troubled but hunky neighbor (Paul Mescal) in his apartment building.

“American Fiction”: On an alcohol-induced whim, an acclaimed but non-mainstream author (Jeffrey Wright) cranks out a gritty urban novel that wows critics and readers alike. Talented screenwriter and now director Cord Jefferson adapts Percival Everett’s satirical 2001 novel “Erasure” and touches on a variety of hot-button issues — race, family, homosexuality, romance and pretension.

“Anyone But You”: After a brief but awful romance, Bea (Sydney Sweeney) and Ben (“Top Gun: Maverick’s” Glen Powell) meet up again at a destination wedding where they engage in put-downs and let the sparks fly. Rom-coms have had a spotty record at the box office of late (we’re looking at you, “What Happens Later”) but director/writer Will Gluck (“Friends With Benefits” and “Easy A”) has a solid track record.

“Migration”: Need something for the kids to watch over the holiday break? Wing it over to see this first computer animated venture from Benjamin Renner (co-director of the Oscar-nominated “Ernest & Celine”). It’s about a stay-at-home duck family taking a mind-expanding trip away from the pond where they roost. Kumail Nanjiani, Elizabeth Banks and Awkwafina chime in on the voice cast.

“The Zone of Interest”: Jonathan Glazer observes the mundanity of evil in the lives of Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel), the commandant of Auschwitz, his wife Hedwig (Sandra Hüller) and their five children — who live next door to the death camp. It’s a chilling and unique cinematic experience that you won’t forget.

“The Iron Claw”: Best chug back a couple of massive protein shakes before hitting the gym — er, theater — to check out Sean Durkin’s star-studded 1980s professional wrestling epic that follows the tightly bonded Von Erich brothers out of Texas. Actors Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White and Harris Dickinson go to the mat for what looks to be another A24 hit.

“Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire”: The first film in Zach Snyder’s two-part sci-fi epic plays in limited theatrical release. It stars Sofia Boutella as a resistance organizer who encourages warriors from various worlds to retaliate against an oppressive regime. Charlie Hunnam and Djimon Hounsou costar. (Also on Netflix.)

Dec. 25

“The Boys in the Boat”: George Clooney climbs aboard to direct an adaptation of the inspirational Daniel James Brown best-seller, which recounts the astonishing story of the 1930s University of Washington rowing team that went from modest beginnings to capturing the gold at the ‘36 Berlin Olympics. Joel Edgerton and Callum Turner star.

“The Color Purple”: Both the Tony Award-winning musical version of Alice Walker’s iconic 1982 novel and Steven Spielberg’s iconic 1985 big-screen adaptation inspired this Hollywood treatment from director Blitz Bazawule (Beyonce’s “Black Is King”) and screenwriter Marcus Gardley, an Oakland native. Oprah Winfrey, Spielberg, Quincy Jones and Scott Sanders sign on as producers. Fantasia Barrino stars as Celie while Taraji P. Henson plays Shug and Halle Bailey (“The Little Mermaid”) portrays young Nettie.

“Ferrari”: Adam Driver puts pedal to the metal in Michael Mann’s high-voltage look into a make-or-break chapter from automaker Enzo Ferrari’s extraordinary life, a period when his Italian empire skidded into financial straits. To save it, he puts it all on the line with a road race in Italy. Penelope Cruz is winning raves for her performance as his wife, Laura.

Contact Randy Myers at

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