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Best Movies Releasing This Winter (2022) – MovieWeb

Many of the best films of any given year are released in winter ahead of awards season, and the movies of 2022 are no exception.
Though it's debatable, winter movie season is probably the best time of the year for film. On the one hand, there's an endless cavalcade of comfortingly cheesy holiday films to watch, but there's also big cinematic epics and anticipated sequels that are usually released around Christmastime.
Best of all, many of the year's best films are released in its last two months, since the season of major film festivals has ended and awards season is right around the corner; studios want their most acclaimed films to be released near the Oscars in order to keep them fresh in viewers' minds and dominant in the cultural conversation. That being said, the winter of 2022 has a bevy of films both big and small that are either hotly anticipated or really deserve to be. Here are the essential movies to check out this winter.
The much-anticipated sequel to one of the most successful and acclaimed movies in the MCU, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever had the unenviable task of continuing the story after the death of beloved star Chadwick Boseman. It seems that director Ryan Coogler and a massive ensemble cast have done the best that they can, though, and created an epic film that will be an appropriately gigantic conclusion to Marvel's Phase Four.
There's probably only one director who studios could bet on to compete with Black Panther on the same weekend, and that would be Steven Spielberg, the most profitable filmmaker of all time. He has been garnering glowing reviews for his intimate autobiographical drama The Fabelmans, which essentially tells his story. Young Sammy Fabelman grows up in post-WW2 Arizona learning secrets about his family all while discovering a passion for the power of film. With a great cast, including Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Gabriel LaBelle, Judd Hirsch, and David Lynch of all people, The Fabelmans looks to be a great swan song for the master director.
Colson Baker, better known as Machine Gun Kelly, stars in this dark, semi-autobiographical drama about Cole, an increasingly popular and gradually more troubled musician dancing on the edge of oblivion. Self-destructive and borderline suicidal, Cole searches for inspiration to write one last song, but it's always darkest before dawn. Written and directed by Tim Sutton (Donnybrook, The Last Son) and co-starring Maddie Hasson, Demetrius "Lil Meech" Flenory, Megan Fox, Ruby Rose, and Scoot McNairy, Taurus looks to be a grim but powerful film about fame, addiction, and the creative process.
Director Luca Guadagnino teams up once again with star Timothée Chalamet for a very unconventional and bleak romantic drama, Bones and All. Based on the YA novel by Camille DeAngelis‎, the film is actually a very adult story about Maren, a young woman left on her own after her family abandons her. Maren (poignantly played by Taylor Russell) is a cannibal, and cannot help who she is.
Related: Bones and All Review: Timothée Chalamet and Luca Guadagnino Reunite
Traveling 1980s America, Maren encounters other cannibals who help her survive, including Chalamet as the troubled but kind Lee and the great Mark Rylance as the sneaky Southern gentleman Sully. It's a heartbreaking, beautiful, and wonderfully weird movie about otherness, validation, and learning to live with who you are.
After Knives Out was a surprising smash hit, Rian Johnson's not-really-a-sequel follow-up has been greatly anticipated. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery will follow Daniel Craig's extremely fun Southern detective Benoit Blanc much more than in the previous film, as he investigates a murder on a Greek island owned by a billionaire (Edward Norton). Funny and suspenseful in equal measures, the riotous Glass Onion features yet another phenomenal cast (including Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Kate Hudson, and Dave Bautista).
Holiday rom-coms are always a fun winter staple, and Christmas with the Campbells seems to be the most anticipated one of the year outside Lifetime's holiday slate of films, mostly thanks to the large amount of talent surrounding it. Co-produced and co-written by Vince Vaughn and the Peabody Award-winning Dan Lagana (of the brilliant American Vandal), Christmas with the Campbells stars Brittany Snow as a woman spending an awkward Christmas with her ex-boyfriend's family, and Justin Long as her ex-boyfriend's cousin. The very funny Alex Moffat from SNL and George Wendt from Cheers co-star. Coming to theaters and AMC+, Christmas with the Campbells from RLJE Films will likely scratch that holiday itch.
Sarah Polley continues to prove why she's one of the best Canadian directors of our time, following up the excellent films Away From Her, Take This Waltz, and Stories We Tell with Women Talking. While it's been a decade since that excellent last feature, she returns in fine form with this adaptation of a book from Miriam Toews (who also wrote the great All My Puny Sorrows) about a group of women in a religious community who decide what to do about an abuser. With a staggeringly excellent cast (Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Ben Whishaw, Frances McDormand), Women Talking made waves at TIFF and rightly so.
Sam Mendes follows up his massive war film 1917 with something much more intimate, the visually stunning Empire of Light. With a somewhat simple script, the film follows a budding romance around a movie theater in 1980s England. Making the most out of legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins' immaculate eye, Mendes' film features yet another masterful performance from Olivia Colman, who has been at the top of her game since 2017 and simply can't seem to falter. A beautiful love letter to cinema, Empire of Light looks to be the Cinema Paradiso of our time.
Joe Begos, a horror auteur known for his over-the-top, kaleidoscopic films Bliss, VFW, and Almost Human, brings his unique, gory vision to the Christmas horror movie market with Christmas Bloody Christmas. The film follows a bitter record store owner (is there any other kind?) whose plans for debauchery get ruined on Christmas Eve.
Related: The Best Dark or Sad Christmas Movies
Instead of getting wasted and partying, Tori Tooms must face down a robotic Santa Claus that has become seemingly sentient at a nearby store and begins wreaking havoc. Splattering blood across freshly fallen snow, Christmas Bloody Christmas looks to be an extremely fun time filled with similar themes as Begos' Bliss — drugs, sex, and rock 'n' roll, with a whole lot of violence.
An already revered and award-winning film, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed is Laura Poitras' next documentary after the immense success of Citizenfour and Risk. This one seems to be a bit different, though it does follow another figure immersed in politics. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed is a portrait of the photographer Nan Goldin, an artist and LGBTQ+ activist who took on Purdue Pharma and attempted to hold them accountable for the opioid epidemic. The film is only the second documentary to win the top prize at the Venice Film Festival, and was the centerpiece of the recent New York Film Festival.
Rounding out an epic weekend for movies (which will also include Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio and Something From Tiffany's with Reese Witherspoon) is Darren Aronofsky's film The Whale. Already steeped in attention, acclaim, and controversy, the film has been lauded by practically everyone for the powerful, transformative performance from the beloved Brendan Fraser as an obese teacher trying to reconnect with his daughter.
It will be extremely interesting to see how well Avatar: The Way of Water does. Hopes are high, considering the nearly $3 billion success of the first Avatar, though that was 13 years ago. One thing's certain — the James Cameron film is sure to have jaw-dropping visuals, with the filmmaker spending an inordinately long amount of time getting everything right before releasing the sequel. The film looks to have much of its old cast back (whether in human or Na'avi form), and will continue the deeply allegorical and moving story of Pandora and the attempts to exploit it by governments and corporations.
Making a splash at the Toronto International Film Festival, Alice, Darling from director Mary Nighy finds the great Anna Kendrick taking on a quite different role. She stars as a depressed woman on vacation with her two friends, taking time away from her emotionally abusive boyfriend. Just as she begins to heal, she fears that the spurned stud is stalking them, and she must do whatever she can to protect herself and her friends. A tense, efficient thriller, Alive, Darling is already a critical darling for its great performances and suspenseful direction.
Editor and writer for Movieweb.com. Lover of film, philosophy, and theology. Amateur human. Contact him at [email protected]

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