The gradual easing up of lockdown means cinemas are back open, with a release calendar that (fingers crossed) looks much healthier than last month’s. Plus, there’s plenty of streaming gems —including Pixar’s latest and some prestige Netflix offerings from the likes of David Fincher and George Clooney – for those staying at home.
From buzzed-about Oscar contenders to a long-awaited superhero sequel, here’s what we’ll be watching in December…
Writer and director Henry Blake drew on his experience as a youth worker in East London when making this painfully topical film, which tackles the grim reality of county lines drug networks that groom and recruit youngsters to transport their wares out of the city. Newcomer Conrad Khan plays 14-year-old Tyler, who is spotted as a potential accomplice by dealer Simon (The King’s Man star Harris Dickinson).
In cinemas from December 4
A Christmas Carol
This new version of Charles Dickens’ festive favourite takes a unique approach to a much-told tale, with dancers including BalletBoyz founder Michael Nunn embodying the characters on screen, while the likes of Carey Mulligan, Daniel Kaluuya, Simon Russell Beale and Andy Serkis provide the voices. Standing in solidarity with struggling cinemas and theatres, the film’s distributors have decided not to release it digitally.
In cinemas from December 4
David Fincher’s ode to Hollywood’s Golden Age is a black and white epic, charting Citizen Kane’s famously tumultuous journey from page to screen to cinemas. Gary Oldman plays screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, leading a star-studded cast that also features Charles Dance as media magnate William Randolph Hearst (thought to be the inspiration behind the film’s central figure, Charles Foster Kane), Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins and Tom Burke as director Orson Welles.
On Netflix from December 4
The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone
To mark the 30th anniversary of the final instalment in the Godfather trilogy, Francis Ford Coppola has unveiled a new edit of the third film, which he’s described as “a more appropriate conclusion” to the saga that’s closer to his and author Mario Puzo’s original intentions. It seems like much more than your average director’s cut, with a new beginning and ending as well as restored picture and sound. One for the super-fans.
In cinemas December 5 and 6, available on digital download from December 8
Margot Robbie is a wounded fugitive on the run in this Depression-era drama, set in a Dust Bowl town; the idealistic Eugene (played by Peaky Blinders star Joe Cole) finds her, eventually torn between claiming the reward for her capture and his growing feelings for the criminal, who’s just about the most compelling person ever to shake up life in his small town. Lola Kirke narrates and Big Little Lies breakout star Darby Camp is also in the cast.
In cinemas from December 11
A group of washed-up theatre stars attempt to throw an Indiana teen the best prom ever when her end-of-school bash is cancelled by the homophobic PTA (she’d asked to bring her girlfriend as her date) in this Broadway adaptation from Ryan Murphy. Will this all-singing, all-dancing Netflix movie become an all-conquering hit the size of The Greatest Showman or will be a catastrophic hellscape on the scale of Cats? We simply can’t wait to find out.
On Netflix from December 11
This documentary generated plenty of buzz at the Sundance Film Festival back in January, where it picked up the Festival Favourite award. It follows six students as they compete in the August Wilson Monologue Competition, an annual contest which sees thousands of budding actors from across the United States perform the playwright’s work. Executive producers and Fences co-stars Viola Davis and Denzel Washington also make cameos, sharing the impact that Wilson’s work has had on their careers. A perfect companion piece for the streamer’s adaptation of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
On Netflix from December 11
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Viola Davis plays ‘Mother of the Blues’ Ma Rainey in this Netflix adaptation of August Wilson’s 1984 play, part of his Pittsburgh Cycle charting the African-American experience throughout the twentieth century. In his final role, Chadwick Boseman stars as Levee, a trumpeter certain he is destined for bigger things than playing as a backing musician for big names like Ma.
On Netflix from December 18
Angolan immigrant Walter is joined in Brooklyn by his wife Esther and teenage daughter Sylvie 17 years after he left their home country in writer and director Ekwa Msangi’s acclaimed film, which screened at the London Film Festival this autumn and picked up the prestigious Sundance Prize way back in January. While Sylvie finds a place in her new city through her love of dance, her mother struggles with the new culture and a husband she now barely seems to know.
On MUBI on December 18
Wonder Woman 1984
After more date changes than Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, the Wonder Woman sequel is finally ready to swoop into cinemas. Gal Gadot is back as the kickass Diana Prince, with Patty Jenkins returning to the director’s chair. The first film took her to the battlefields of World War One; now, she’s headed to the Eighties to face off against supervillains Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) and Cheetah (Kristin Wiig). Inexplicably, her love interest Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), who didn’t make it to the end credits last time round, seems to be back from the dead, too.
In cinemas from December 16
The Midnight Sky
If 2020 hasn’t proved apocalyptic enough for your tastes, George Clooney has you covered with this dystopian sci-fi epic, starring as a scientist trying to warn a group of astronauts (played by Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo and Kyle Chandler) that they’d probably be better off staying in space after the earth has suffered a mysterious extinction event. He’s also on directorial duties, too.
On Netflix from December 23
Disney and Pixar’s latest tearjerker will bypass a traditional cinema release to premiere on Disney+ on Christmas Day. It’s a decision that’s divided the film industry, but the movie itself has prompted rave reviews across the board. Jamie Foxx voices Joe Gardner, a teacher who has long dreamed of pursuing a career as a jazz musician. After an untimely accident, his soul ends up in The Great Before, where he’s tasked with teaching new souls – including 22, voiced by Tina Fey – the meaning of life. Cue delight from small viewers and existential crises from grown-up ones.
On Disney+ from December 25
One Night In Miami
The feature directorial debut from Oscar and Emmy winner Regina King has emerged as one of this season’s most buzzed-about awards contenders – no mean feat given that the majority of this year’s film festivals have either been cancelled or held virtually. Based on the play by Kemp Powers, One Night In Miami follows the young Cassius Clay (before he became Muhammad Ali) as he celebrates his victory as the World Heavyweight Boxing champion with Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke and footballer Jim Brown. If you miss the cinema rollout, it’ll be available to stream on Amazon Prime from January 15.
In cinemas from December 26