Including Rian Johnson’s follow-up to Knives Out, Steven Spielberg’s autobiopic The Fabelmans, and cannibal drama Bones and All starring Timothée Chalamet – Nicholas Barber lists this month’s unmissable releases.
1. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
How often these days does Hollywood make a sequel to any film that isn’t a cartoon, a horror movie or a CGI-heavy action blockbuster? The answer is: not often at all. But Knives Out was so ingenious, and its central character was so delightful, that Rian Johnson has written and directed another murder mystery in the same gloriously complicated vein. Daniel Craig returns as Benoit Blanc, the brilliant detective with an extravagant vocabulary and an even more extravagant Southern drawl. As in Knives Out, he’s sniffing out a killer among a group of wealthy, entitled Americans, but this time the setting is a private Greek island and the suspects (played by Ed Norton, Dave Bautista, Kate Hudson, Janelle Monáe and others) have made their millions from tech and social media. BBC Culture’s Caryn James says that “this hugely entertaining follow-up [is] filled with delicious cameos and loaded with more comic moments than the previous film”.
Released in UK and US cinemas on 23 November, and on Netflix internationally on 23 December
2. Bones and All
Luca Guadagnino and Timothée Chalamet, the star and director of Call Me by Your Name, reunite for another tender tale of budding romance, adapted from a novel and set in the 1980s. But Bones and All is different in one key respect: its young lovers can’t resist eating human flesh. One of them, the 18-year-old Maren (Taylor Russell), thought she was the only person with this unconventional dietary requirement, but as she drives around small-town America, she finds that ” eaters” are surprisingly common. Among her cannibalistic new acquaintances are the handsome Lee (Chalamet) and the horribly menacing Sully (Mark Rylance). “Guadagnino has created an effective and gruesome shocker,” says John Bleasdale at Sight & Sound. “But Bones and All is also the tale of a lost young pair, finding each other and themselves. It is wryly funny, gleefully entertaining and oddly touching. Delicious and nutritious.”
Released internationally on 23 November
3. The Fabelmans
Roma, Belfast, The Hand of God… there’s a trend at the moment for films about their directors’ own formative years. The latest example is Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans, a tender, autobiographical coming-of-age drama that has been widely tipped as a best picture contender at the Oscars. Its young hero has been renamed Sammy Fabelman (played by Mateo Zoryon Francis-DeFord, and then by Gabriel LaBelle), but his life story follows Spielberg’s own, as he falls in love with cinema, moves from New Jersey to Arizona to Northern California, and witnesses the marital problems of his father (Paul Dano), a computer engineer, and his mother (Michelle Williams), a pianist. “This is the movie we’ve been waiting 45 years for him to make,” says David Fear at Rolling Stone. “It’s one man’s thank you to the movies for saving him. And it’s a great American artist utilising his skill as a great storyteller to finally tell his own… It’s one of the most impressive, enlightening, vital things he’s ever done.”
Released on 23 November in the US, 24 November in Portugal, 25 November in Poland and Turkey, and 27 January 2023 in the UK
4. The Wonder
In a remote Irish village in 1862, an 11-year-old girl (Kila Lord Cassidy) is said to have survived for months without food, so a sceptical English nurse (Florence Pugh) is sent to observe her. The local bigwigs (Ciarán Hinds, Toby Jones, Tom Burke) want answers: is she a miracle or a cheat? A mastermind or a pawn in someone else’s game? Adapted from the novel by Emma Donoghue (Room), Sebastián Lelio’s “eerie and unusual period drama is a magnetic and mysterious little marvel rich in atmosphere and allure”, says Benjamin Lee in The Guardian. But the real miracle in this “incredibly involving” film is Pugh, who is “never less than utterly, mesmerically convincing. She’s so totally in command here that it almost feels as if she’s directing the film from within”. Don’t be surprised if she picks up several best actress nominations this awards season.
Released on 16 November on Netflix
5. Lady Chatterley’s Lover
Having won a Golden Globe for playing Lady Diana Spencer in The Crown, Emma Corrin stars as Lady Constance Chatterley in Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s film of DH Lawrence’s groundbreakingly torrid novel. (Is this the kind of book “you would wish your wife or servants to read,” asked the prosecutor in the British obscenity trial of 1960.) Jack O’Connell co-stars as Oliver Mellors, the rugged gamekeeper who gives the Lady the physical attention she craves after her husband, Sir Clifford (Matthew Duckett), is paralysed from the waist down in World War One. And Joely Richardson, who played Lady Chatterley alongside Sean Bean in a 1993 television series, is Sir Clifford’s nurse, Mrs Bolton. Tomris Laffly at The Wrap says that the film is “a handsome introduction to this feminine saga of sexual awakening, laced with both something old and something new, and plenty of frank, tastefully choreographed and actually steamy eroticism dearly missed in today’s increasingly sterile mainstream cinema”.
Released in UK cinemas on 25 November, and Netflix internationally on 2 December
(Credit: Searchlight Pictures)
6. The Menu
This month’s other satirical tale of the super-rich getting their comeuppance on a private island (see also: Glass Onion), The Menu features Ralph Fiennes as a devilish celebrity chef who presides over one of the world’s most exclusive restaurants. Nicholas Hoult and Anya Taylor-Joy play two of the gourmands who have signed up for the $1250-a-head fine-dining experience. But they soon find that while the chef’s “molecular gastronomy” (including a rock covered in bits of seaweed) is not exactly lip -smacking, the way he treats his customers is even worse. “The rarefied world of haute cuisine is not exactly a hard target to satirise,” says Wendy Ide at Screen Daily, “but this deliciously savage comedy from Succession director Mark Mylod makes every bitter mouthful count. A bracingly spiteful and very funny picture.”
Released internationally on 18 November
7. Good Night Oppy
Nasa’s Mars exploration rover, Opportunity, landed on the Red Planet in 2004. It was expected to function for just 90 days, but the solar-powered, remote-controlled robot kept trundling around, analysing minerals, for 15 years. (Fifteen Earth years , that is, which translates as eight years on Mars.) It’s little wonder that scientists started to see it – or her – less as a machine than as a friendly relative of R2-D2 and Wall-E. Viewers of Ryan White’s documentary might have similar feelings. Alongside Nasa’s own footage, White uses computer-animated sequences to show Oppy’s Martian travels. That means that the “inspirational and wonderfully engaging… Good Night Oppy is more than just a documentary,” says Peter Debruge in Variety. “It’s an animated film as well – and a hugely entertaining one at that.”
Released in UK cinemas on 4 November, and Amazon Prime internationally on 23 November
Charlotte Wells’ debut as a writer-director is one of the most acclaimed films of the year. Essentially a two-hander, the wistful, intimate Aftersun stars Francesca Corio and Paul Mescal (Normal People) as an 11-year-old girl on a rare holiday with her 30-year-old father in the late 1990s: she still lives with her mother in Scotland while he has moved to England, with no intention of returning. They tour the discos, amusement arcades and karaoke bars of a fading Turkish resort, but it becomes clear that Calum isn’t quite the happy dad he is struggling to be. “Deftly constructed and utterly heartbreaking,” says Pat Brown at Slant Magazine, “Aftersun announces Wells as an eminent storyteller of prodigious powers.”
Released on 18 November in the UK and Ireland
(Credit: Walt Disney Studios)
9. Strange World
Don Hall and Qui Nguyen, the director and writer of Raya and the Last Dragon, use their latest Disney cartoon to pay homage to the classic science-fiction yarns of Jules Verne and HG Wells: the cartoon’s explorer heroes, voiced by Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal and Gabrielle Union, discover a land of weird and wonderful flora and fauna under the Earth’s surface. But like The Incredibles, among other Disney and Pixar films, Strange World is also about family life. “We know this is about Don [Hall] and his dad,” Nguyen told Jamie Jirak at ComicBook.com, “about his children, and what he thinks is important to the world and what he wants to give to the world as a legacy… it’s our love letter to our kids as both fathers and sons.”
Released internationally on 23 November
(Credit: Walt Disney Studios)
10. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Chadwick Boseman was so revered as King T’Challa of Wakanda, aka Black Panther, that when he died of cancer in August 2020, executives at Marvel Studios knew that they couldn’t recast the part. Instead, Ryan Coogler, the film’s director, made a sequel which pays tribute to Boseman. In part, the film is about T’Challa’s Wakandan friends and relatives battling the aquatic armies of Namor, the Sub-Mariner (Tenoch Huerta). But it is also about a nation grieving for its lost king. “I dreaded the start of this shoot because I could not imagine how we would proceed without Chadwick,” Lupita Nyong’o told Devan Coggan at Entertainment Weekly. “It was unfathomable to me. But Ryan managed to honour his life and his role in both the film and our lives with his moving, truthful, and clear vision.”
Released internationally on 11 November
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