Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos: 20th Century Studios, A24, Apple Studios, Netflix,Universal Pictures,

’Tis the season of the Oscars movie, and while this winter comes bearing the gift of more straight-faced and serious hopefuls — touching on subjects like Me Too in the newsroom drama She Said, homophobia in Elegance Bratton’s The Inspection, and slavery in the Will Smith–starring Emancipation — there’s a certain wackiness to come in the months ahead, too. Daniel Craig’s Foghorn Leghorn impression will drawl through a second whodunit in Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. There now exists such a thing as a Timothée Chalamet–starring teen-cannibal romance. And once the holidays are over, deep in that typically dry January and February stretch, the movies will be going full-tilt unhinged. We’ll see Cocaine Bear (about a rampaging bear high on cocaine — directed by Elizabeth Banks) and M3gan, a film whose trailer I don’t possess the words to describe. You just gotta watch it. There’s much to look forward to beyond that, too.

No, it’s not a big-screen adaptation of the 1965 party where the Beatles dropped acid with Peter Fonda. Rather, it’s a retelling of the process by which a pair of determined New York Times reporters (played by Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan) exposed Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sex crimes. Maria Schrader’s film has earned Spotlight comparisons for its understated portrait of investigative journalism, and given that its subject is Hollywood itself, you’ll want to stay and watch the credits: Who’s played by an actor, and who’s playing themselves? (In theaters November 18.)Nate Jones

Sure, it’s a tale we’ve seen before: A young gay man is kicked out of his home, lives on the street, then joins the Marines to prove his masculinity to his homophobic mother. That was Elegance Bratton’s story, and now it’s the plot of his feature-film directorial debut. The Inspection is open about its debt to films like Full Metal Jacket and Beau Travail, but it features a star-making turn from Jeremy Pope plus a bitterly unglamorous performance by Gabrielle Union as the mother, which is earning the Bring It On star a bit of Supporting Actress buzz. (In theaters November 18.)Nate Jones

Like a deranged sibling to The Bear, this cleverly executed thriller uses toxic fine-dining culture as a springboard for some darkly comic set pieces. Anya Taylor-Joy is Margot, a woman whose annoying foodie date (Nicholas Hoult) takes her to one of the most exclusive restaurants in the world. But the famed chef (a very fun Ralph Fiennes) turns out to have planned an unusual night that involves meditations on capitalism, art, power, and a growing body count. (In theaters November 18.) — Alison Willmore

Having dabbled in horror with Suspiria, Luca Guadagnino returns to the genre — and to his Call Me by Your Name lead, Timothée Chalamet — for a film that blends darkness with romance. The Camille DeAngelis novel it’s based on is about teenage cannibals, so expect some gruesomeness alongside the longing as Chalamet and Taylor Russell play a drifter and an outcast traveling across the country looking for self-acceptance while grappling with some gory impulses. (In theaters November 23.) — Alison Willmore

After Glen Powell nearly stole Top Gun: Maverick right out from under Tom Cruise’s feet, this upcoming Korean War flyboy drama about the real-life friendship between Navy pilots Jesse Brown (Jonathan Majors) and Tom Hudner (Powell) suddenly gained a lot more interest. Hangman takes to the skies again?? Sign us up! Of course, this is based on a very moving true-life story, so it will likely be quite different from a Top Gun–style action fantasy. It’s directed by J.D. Dillard, whose previous feature, the intensely suspenseful, expertly mounted castaway thriller Sweetheart, is a genre delight. (In theaters November 23.) — Bilge Ebiri

In this, the first of two intended sequels to 2019’s smash-hit, Oscar-nominated Knives Out — for which Netflix paid an eye-watering $469 million — Daniel Craig returns as the tweed-clad “Gentleman Sleuth” Benoit Blanc at the scene of the crime for another high-IQ whodunit. As yet, writer-director Rian Johnson has revealed almost nothing of the plot. But with Greece serving as the backdrop to evil under the sun this time and a sprawling ensemble cast that includes Kate Hudson, Leslie Odom Jr., Edward Norton, Dave Bautista, and Janelle Monae, expect more Agatha Christie–like intrigue. (In theaters November 23 and streaming on Netflix December 23.)Chris Lee

Based on D. H. Lawrence’s famously horny novel of the same name, which was banned for obscenity in several countries, Lady Chatterley’s Lover looks like exactly the wrong thing to watch with your family over the holidays. Emma Corrin is Lady Constance Chatterley, a young and depressed aristocrat stuck in a loveless marriage to Sir Clifford Chatterley (Matthew Duckett). When Constance falls for Oliver Mellors (Jack O’Connell), the sexy (and married) gamekeeper, the two embark on a dramatic and rather unabashed sexual affair. The lush film is directed by The Mustang’s Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre and adapted with Life of Pi writer David Magee. (In theaters November 23 and streaming on Netflix December 2.) Rachel Handler

Disenchanted (streaming on Disney+ November 18), Slumberland (streaming on Netflix November 18), The People We Hate at the Wedding (streaming on Prime Video November 18), All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (in theaters November 23), Nanny (in theaters November 23 and streaming on Prime Video December 16), Strange World (in theaters November 23), The Swimmers (streaming on Netflix November 23), White Noise (in theaters November 25 and streaming on Netflix December 30)

Some feared that Will Smith’s Oscar fracas earlier this year would put this film’s release in jeopardy. Instead, the movie might well benefit from the controversy — both increasing the curiosity factor and helping give the star another comeback narrative (in a year that already saw him win an Academy Award). And the picture looks like it could be special: Based on a true story, it’s an Antoine Fuqua–directed period action film about a man who flees slavery in Louisiana and travels north to join the Union Army. The director has a facility with visceral violence (The Equalizer movies), but he has shown an ability to handle big, emotional stories when given the right material (Training Day). (In select theaters December 2 and streaming on Apple TV+ December 9.) — Bilge Ebiri

The great Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Mona Lisa, Interview With the Vampire) has again teamed up with his Michael Collins star Liam Neeson for a brand-new noir thriller featuring the legendary Los Angeles private eye Philip Marlowe. (Well, not exactly “brand” new: The film is based on the acclaimed 2014 John Banville novel The Black-Eyed Blonde.) After years of dadsploitation action flicks, Neeson clearly wants a change of pace. This could well combine his tough-guy appeal with the more delicate portrayals of his early career. And Jordan, a master of mood and myth, could be the perfect director for him. (In theaters December 2.)Bilge Ebiri

Several of this fall’s films — Tár, Holy Spider, She Said — take on themes related to Me Too, but none from such a surprising angle as this drama from Sarah Polley. Set in a conservative Mennonite community, Women Talking is about just that. Its characters, played by an impressive ensemble of actors that includes Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley, and Claire Foy, have been tasked with figuring out what’s next for the women of the colony, who’ve been subjected to a campaign of druggings and rapes by a group of the men. Over conversations that range from rage to the nature of forgiveness, they try to figure out a way forward. The setting may feel exotic, but the questions asked are universal. (In theaters December 2.) — Alison Willmore

Advance word is already pretty terrific on Guillermo del Toro’s animated adaptation of the classic story about the sentient puppet who longs to be a real boy. (If nothing else, it’s got to be better than Robert Zemeckis’s disastrous CGI adaptation from earlier this year, which pretty much everybody hated.) Here’s a director whose unfettered imagination could actually bring something new to this oft-told tale — a sense of possibility and wonder that too many versions have lacked in the past. This time, the story is set in fascist Italy, which could add a relevant political edge to the material — not unlike del Toro’s 2006 Oscar-winner Pan’s Labyrinth. (In theaters and streaming on Netflix December 9.)Bilge Ebiri

Is Darren Aronofsky’s film — which stars a prosthetics-laden Brendan Fraser as a 600-pound man seeking to reconnect with his teenage daughter — a powerful story of redemption or an insensitive freak show inviting us to gawk at the abjection of extreme obesity? We’re going to be arguing about it all through awards season, but now’s your chance to see it and formulate your own take. (In theaters December 9.) Nate Jones

James Cameron has been pushing back movies since before it was cool. Thirteen years after the original Avatar became the highest-grossing film worldwide, its sequel will finally hit theaters. Will audiences flock back to Pandora? They’d better — if this one makes money, more installments in the Avatar saga will arrive every two years until 2028. (In theaters December 16.) — Nate Jones

Whitney Houston gets the Bohemian Rhapsody treatment — from the screenwriters of that Oscar-winning Queen biopic — in this jukebox musical directed by Kasi Lemmons (2019’s Harriet, Eve’s Bayou). London-born actress Naomi Ackie stars as Houston, and Stanley Tucci delivers a supporting performance beneath a resplendently bad toupee as the multiplatinum-selling pop chanteuse’s record label Svengali, Clive Davis. (In theaters December 23.) — Chris Lee

Christian Bale stars in Scott Cooper’s Gothic mystery about the investigation of a series of murders at West Point in the 1830s. Oh, and he’s aided by Harry Melling playing a young cadet named Edgar Allan Poe! Cooper’s work can be hit or miss — Hostiles and Crazy Heart were terrific, while Black Mass and Out of the Furnace were not — but the director certainly understands atmosphere, and this film feels like it will play to his strengths. And never discount Bale’s charisma. Amsterdam might have been a bust, but he was one of the best things about it. (In theaters December 23 and streaming on Netflix January 6.) — Bilge Ebiri

In March 2021, a source described Damien Chazelle’s period drama Babylon, about the 1920s transition from silent films to talkies, as “Great Gatsby on steroids,” an assessment that sounds promising! Chazelle’s post–La La Land return to analyzing the tension between who makes it in Hollywood and who doesn’t features absolutely everyone: A-listers Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, rising stars Jovan Adepo and Li Jun Li, and an endless array of recognizable faces, including Olivia Wilde, Tobey Maguire, and Spike Jonze. (In theaters December 25.) — Roxana Hadadi

The Eternal Daughter (in theaters December 2), Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies (in theaters December 2), Violent Night (in theaters December 2), Corsage (in theaters December 9), Living (in theaters December 9), Empire of Light (in theaters December 9), House Party (in theaters December 9), Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical (in theaters December 9), Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (in theaters December 21), A Man Called Otto (in theaters December 25)

Equal parts Chucky and Ex Machina, the titular M3gan is a child-size child-care android endowed with artificial intelligence, freaky dance moves, and a boundless capacity for murder (specifically, taking out those she perceives as threatening her preteen orphan ward, Cady). Produced by Saw franchise mastermind James Wan (who also receives a “story by” credit) and distributed by Blumhouse, the killer-doll caper has already been widely memed across TikTok and Twitter thanks to a viral trailer. Expect it to make a killing at the box office. (In theaters January 6.) — Chris Lee

Although it’s not Jennifer Lopez’s first wedding rom-com, Shotgun Wedding is certainly the first to have done a last-minute casting shift due to its lead actor writing that he was “100% a cannibal” in an Instagram DM. Now co-starring the decidedly less controversial Josh Duhamel, the movie sees Lopez as a soon-to-be bride who’s kidnapped by pirates alongside her guests at her destination wedding and must scrappily defend everyone’s lives, hurling grenades and wielding shotguns in her increasingly frayed wedding dress. Jennifer Coolidge is here, too, as Lopez’s daffy mother-in-law, and Lenny Kravitz pops up as Lopez’s threateningly hot ex. (Streaming on Prime Video January 27.)Rachel Handler

Can we declare M. Night Shyamalan’s comeback campaign a resounding success yet? The box-office receipts for The Visit, Split, Glass, and Old have demonstrated his reliable ability to make hits on relatively low budgets, but Knock at the Cabin could be the real test. Based on Paul Tremblay’s novel The Cabin at the End of the World, it feels like a bridge between the films that Shyamalan used to make and the ones he’s been making in more recent years. Set in a remote cabin where a couple (Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge) are vacationing with their daughter, it’s a hostage thriller about the arrival of cultists (lead by Dave Bautista) who are convinced that the apocalypse is nigh and only they know how to stop it. (In theaters February 2.) — Alison Willmore

The log line for this Elizabeth Banks–directed, ripped-from-the-headlines feature says it all: After a failed drug-smuggling operation, a black bear ingests a large amount of cocaine and goes on a drug-fueled rampage. The ’80s-set thriller’s ensemble cast includes Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and the late Ray Liotta. But like Snakes on a Plane before it, just look at the title … Cocaine Bear. What else do you need to know? (In theaters February 24.)Chris Lee

Close (in theaters January 20), Maybe I Do (in theaters January 27), Magic Mike’s Last Dance (in theaters February 10), Sharper (in theaters February 10), Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (in theaters February 17)

By OngkyF