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  • Saxon Whitehead

5 Films I'm Looking Forward To (December 2021)

Updated: Jan 23


We have finally made it to the end of the year, and for movie fans, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year. December usually sees a lot of the big awards contenders, as well as some big budget tentpoles, making their way to theaters. This December is no different, as there is a wide array of films set for release this month. Moviegoers are going to be spoiled for choice here, and given the buzz around several of the titles coming out this month, there are several chances to check out some of the year's most talked about films. There are several films that I'm excited to see, so let's take a look at what December has to offer.


Honorable Mentions


A quick note before we get into the Honorable Mentions: Last month, I named Licorice Pizza as my number one film I'm looking forward to in November. However, I didn't realize that it was just being released in New York and LA then, and would expand nationwide in December. Since I already talked about it in the last article, I won't be discussing it here, but make no mistake, it's still my most anticipated film of the year.



Now on to the Honorable Mentions:


Flee

The concept of an animated documentary alone piques my interest, but it's the subject matter that intrigues me the most. Flee is about a man dealing with a painful secret he has been keeping for most of his life, and how his past may affect the life he has built for himself in Denmark. I have seen the trailer for this film a few times before various films I've seen this year, and every time I am struck by the animation style, as well as the fact that this feels like a wholly unique story that needs to be told. This film almost made my top 5 for the month, but it was narrowly edged out. It has played some film festivals, and has received a considerable amount of praise, with some saying that it's one of the best films of the year. This looks to be a heavy experience, but one that should leave a lasting impression on those who see it.


Flee comes out in theaters on December 3rd.



Being the Ricardos

I would be lying if I said that I wasn't a little curious about Being the Ricardos. Despite not being a fan Aaron Sorkin as a director, I do think he's a good writer. On top of that, the idea of Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, respectively, feels so strange, yet I am curious to see how their performances fit in the context of the film. The film focuses on a week of production on the iconic sitcom I Love Lucy, and explores the complex relationship between Ball and Arnaz, while also taking audiences behind the scenes of the hit show. It feels like there's a bit of Sorkin's short-lived TV show Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip in the film's DNA, but it's filtered through the real life drama between Lucy and Desi, and feels much more straightforward based on the marketing. Maybe this will be the film that will unlock Sorkin's capabilities as a director, but I'm keeping my expectations tempered for the time being.


Being the Ricardos comes out in theaters on December 10th, and will be available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video on December 21st.



West Side Story

As I recently pointed out in my Tick, Tick... Boom! review, I'm a bit of a theater nerd, so of course I'm interested in seeing a remake of West Side Story, one of the most beloved musicals of all time. In the hands of another director, I might have a little more pause with this project, but considering that none other than Steven Spielberg is at the helm, I am excited to see this once it hits theaters. Not to mention that the cast is largely made up of talented, up and coming actors like Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, and Mike Faist, as well as established actors like Brian D'Arcy James, Corey Stoll, and Rita Moreno, who appeared in the 1961 film version. The immense talent surrounding this film makes it one to watch, and I will be curious to see how well it works as an adaptation. This is yet another film that narrowly missed being in my top 5 for the month, which goes to show how stacked this month is shaping up to be for movies. I am still very much looking forward to seeing this one, though, and I'm hoping to catch it opening weekend if I can.


West Side Story comes out in theaters on December 10th.



The Lost Daughter

I'll admit that I know quite little about this film, but the fact that it is Maggie Gyllenhaal's directorial debut has me very intrigued. And with Olivia Colman in the lead role, it's all but guaranteed that I'll be watching this the first chance I get. Based on the synopsis, it appears that the film is about a woman who goes on a beach vacation, but quickly finds herself dealing with her troubled past. Given that Colman is one of our finest actors working today, this project has been generating a lot of Oscar buzz for her. She is so good at playing complex characters, so I'm sure she will turn in an excellent performance here. The cast is rounded out by Dakota Johnson, Peter Sarsgaard, and Jessie Buckley, and has the potential to enter the Oscar conversation more fully once more people get a chance to see it. I'm probably going to stay knowing as little as possible about the film until I see it. But I am highly curious, and I have high hopes for it.


The Lost Daughter comes out in limited release on December 17th, and will be available for streaming on December 31st.



Spider-Man: No Way Home

Last, but certainly not least is what may end up being the biggest movie of the year. The hype around Spider-Man: No Way Home is maybe the biggest for any film since before the pandemic. I honestly thought I would be more excited for this one, but I can't say I'm looking forward to it as much as others seem to. Don't get me wrong, I'm fully planning to see this the first chance I get, but I am beginning to get tired of constantly hearing about this movie all over the internet. I'm sure it will be a fun time, and the multiverse component of the film does yield some fascinating possibilities, but I'm not expecting a masterpiece here. All I know is that I am ready for it to come out so that we can stop asking Andrew Garfield if he's in it or not.


Spider-Man: No Way Home comes out in theaters on December 17th.


And now, onto my official top five:



5. Nightmare Alley

Guillermo Del Toro's follow-up to his Academy Award winning film The Shape of Water looks to be yet another strange, dark, thrilling ride. This film is based on the novel of the same name by William Lindsey Gresham, and was previously adapted for the screen back in 1947. This version looks to retain the noir elements of the source material, and delve further into the psychological horror of it. This is an interesting project for Del Toro, as it will not have any supernatural elements, which is a consistent part of his other work. Despite this, it looks like it will be perfectly in line with his other films in terms of style, but it's treading some interesting new territory for him. And with an all-star cast made up of Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Richard Jenkins, Toni Colette, Ron Perlman, David Strathairn, Willem Dafoe, and Mary Steenburgen, this definitely has a lot of potential riding on it. This is yet another film I'm trying to go into as blind as possible, which is hard given that I've been seeing the trailer for it before almost every movie I've seen for the last couple of months. Regardless, this still looks highly intriguing, and I am always in for anything that Guillermo Del Toro puts out.


Nightmare Alley comes out in theaters on December 17th.



4. Red Rocket

The Florida Project was my favorite film of 2017, so naturally, I'm excited to check out Sean Baker's follow-up to it. This looks to continue his trend of focusing on the parts of America we don't usually see, with small-town Texas as the setting this time around. The film stars Simon Rex as a former adult film star who returns to his hometown, despite nobody really wanting him back. Sean Baker's films draw you into these specific worlds that feel so authentic and while their plots are usually rather simple, they are filled with such distinct characters, often portrayed by first-time actors, and paint a portrait of American life like no other. Despite the similarities found in his work, they all seem to have different focuses, with this particular film looking to test audiences by having them follow a character who is rather unlikable. If the early reactions to it are anything to go off of, Simon Rex's character is quite reprehensible, so it may be a tough sell for some. I am quite curious about his involvement, however, as Rex is not the type of actor I would expect to see in a film like this. I wouldn't expect him to be a serious Oscar contender either, but I am fully prepared to be proven wrong once I finally see this film.


Red Rocket comes out in theaters on December 10th.



3. The Tragedy of Macbeth

Joel Coen's first film without his brother, Ethan, looks to be an ambitious, and visually stunning retelling of Shakespeare's classic tragedy. It's shot entirely in black and white by the legendary cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel, and looks to truly dig into the dark and foreboding nature of the original text. Based on the teaser for it, it feels like it will be a rather disorienting experience, and will likely be a powerful experience. It also helps that the film stars Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth respectively, and features Corey Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson, and Henry Melling among the supporting cast. It will be interesting to see how Joel Coen handles making a film without his brother, but there are so many great people he's working with on this project that I feel it will still end up being fairly good at the very least.


The Tragedy of Macbeth comes out in limited release on December 25th, and will be available for streaming on Apple TV+ on January 14th.



2. The Power of the Dog

It's been 12 years since we've got a film from acclaimed director Jane Campion, and it looks like she's returning with a film that might be her biggest success since 1993's The Piano. The Power of the Dog tells the story of a rancher who holds a considerable amount of power over those around him. When his brother returns home with a new wife and her son, he begins to act rather cruel to them, but he begins to find himself reckoning with new emotions, and his own masculinity. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Savage, and the material feels well within Campion's wheelhouse, as it features a complicated protagonist, weighty themes, and deals with concepts of power. It's almost a slam dunk for her, and even if the film isn't all that good, it's just exciting that she has something new coming out. The film has also been getting a lot of Oscar buzz, and will likely get several nominations this year. Jane Campion is one of the frontrunners for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, and there has been a lot of talk about Benedict Cumberbatch's performance getting a Best Actor nod. Kirsten Dunst and Kodi Smit-McPhee also have been getting a lot of praise, and may see themselves getting nominated as well. Everything I've seen about this film makes it sound more and more fascinating, and definitely feels right up my alley.


The Power of the Dog is now playing in limited release, and will be available for streaming on Netflix on December 1st.



1. The Matrix Resurrections

When I first heard that a sequel to The Matrix was in development, I was surprised. I felt that the franchise reached a rather clear conclusion with The Matrix Revolutions, and I was unsure of what else could be explored if it were to continue. But with everything I've seen from it, and the fact that Lana Wachowski is back in the director's chair makes me quite excited at the possibilities that the film has in store. My excitement was only doubled when the incredible trailer dropped, and I have been eagerly awaiting its release ever since. In addition to Wachowski, the film also sees the return of Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, and adds several new faces to the world of The Matrix. I am particularly curious about Yahya Abdul-Mateen II's involvement, as he appears to be playing a version of Morpheus, who was played by Laurence Fishburne in the original trilogy. So little is known about the film beyond casting and what details we see in the trailer, but that only piques my interest further. I have pretty high hopes for the film, but I'm definitely expecting some curveballs given that this is a Wachowski film. I have almost no idea what to expect from it, but that's part of what makes it exciting to me. I am anxiously awaiting its release, and I plan to see it as soon as humanly possible.


The Matrix Resurrections comes out in theaters and will be streaming on HBO Max on December 22nd.



What are you looking forward to seeing this December? Is there a film that I didn't talk about in this article? Let me know in the comments below, or find me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

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