Triangle of Sadness, The Banshees of Inisherin and Lyle, Lyle Crocodile: the biggest films coming to Australia on Boxing Day

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, when Australian distributors rush to release the year’s most chaotic combination of films – otherwise known as Boxing Day.

Here’s the slate of what’s hitting our cinemas on 26 December – including big award-winners finally landing on our shores, a blockbuster biopic and a singing crocodile.

Triangle of Sadness

Starring: Charlbi Dean, Harris Dickinson, Woody Harrelson

Directed by: Ruben Östlund

Those hankering for more of Mike White’s trouble-in-paradise White Lotus antics can quench their thirst with this year’s Palme d’Or winner: a similarly nasty glimpse into the lifestyles of the rich and fameless. Equal parts Titanic and Below Deck, a luxury cruise is the disastrous setting here, carrying onboard an Instagram influencer (the late Dean) and her flailing model boyfriend (Dickinson), along with a coterie of crassness: a pair of British arms dealers, a Russian manure magnate, and a permanently inebriated captain. Of course, it all turns to shit – quite literally.

Sweden’s Östlund helms this production in typically acerbic fashion: his last two films, The Square (a fellow Palme winner) and Force Majeure, excoriated the absurdities of fine art and masculinity with sadistic zeal. There’s an overdose of schadenfreude here too, tapping into the primal appeal of seeing the 1% floundering at sea.

Read more: Triangle of Sadness review – glossy satire on the ultra wealthy

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

Starring: Antonio Bandares, Florence Pugh, Olivia Colman, John Mulaney

Directed by: Joel Crawford

Some spinoffs are such brazen cash grabs that you wonder why they bothered with a film at all instead of skipping straight to the merch line. To much surprise, Puss in Boots’ feature debut in 2011 was … actually good? Who’d have thought that that the feline fugitive from Shrek could sustain his own hero’s journey – let alone two?

A decade on, Puss is back for his long-awaited sequel, with Banderas reprising his voice role as the gallant gato with a checkered past. This time round, he has used up eight of his nine lives, and – wearied by age and years of tomfoolery – stares down the barrel of his last shot to make something of himself. It’s all very existential – the old hand coming out of retirement to reclaim his glory days – and it’s bolstered by a hilariously stacked voice cast of villains, including Pugh, Colman and Mulaney.

The Banshees of Inisherin

Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell

Directed by: Martin McDonagh

This year’s other film about a cranky old man trying to salvage his legacy stars Gleeson as Colm, said grump, and Farrell as his overbearing compadre Padraic. It is 1923 on the fictional Irish island of Inisherin, and Colm has decided, with all the huff of a scorned teenager, that their long friendship is now over so that he can focus on more important pursuits, by which he means playing the fiddle.

Like the world’s saddest buddy comedy or the least romantic rom com, Padraic tries to woo Colm back into his life, only to be spurned at every opportunity. And like every other McDonagh joint (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; In Bruges, etc), it moves towards the violent in jarring lurches, turning wounded masculinity into a bloodsport. It’s also just picked up eight Golden Globes nominations, leading the count – so awards heads might keep an eye on its Oscars chances.

Read more: The Banshees of Inisherin review – flawless tragicomedy of male friendship gone sour

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Starring: Shawn Mendes, Constance Wu, Javier Bardem

Directed by: Will Speck, Josh Gordon

Have casting agents gone too far? That is a question you can ask yourself as you watch this musical adaptation of the beloved children’s book starring Mendes as the titular rhyming reptile. A magnanimous family discovers Lyle, the eight-foot croc, living in their attic and before long he reveals his secret singing voice – though his dreams of performing professionally are held back by his stage fright.

“There is something really beautifully left of centre about this movie,” said Brett Gelman, who plays a meddling neighbour, in an interview. “The story itself is pretty bizarre, you know? It’s about a singing crocodile.” He is not wrong.

Read more: Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile review – lip-smackingly good fun with the CGI singing croc

The Lost King

Starring: Sally Hawkins, Steve Coogan

Directed by: Stephen Frears

Also in bizarro adaptations: Hawkins plays real-life historian Philippa Langley, who made headlines in 2012 for her chance discovery of Richard III’s remains beneath a carpark in Leicester – based on hours of amateur sleuthing, reams of research and one very lucky hunch.

The Lost King dramatises this discovery with a fair amount of mayhem – including a ghostly version of Richard III who appears to Langley in full regalia (very camp). If all of this wasn’t British enough, Coogan also stars.

Read more: The Lost King review – Sally Hawkins saves Richard III dig drama

I Wanna Dance With Somebody

Starring: Naomi Ackie, Stanley Tucci, Ashton Sanders

Directed by: Kasi Lemmons

Whitney Houston has had a rough time lately. First there were two documentaries of varying quality, then a tour which trotted out that most cursed of production tricks – a hologram – followed by an ill-fated Netflix original that could only be read as a thinly veiled biopic.

Finally, here comes a glimmer of hope: in the form of a Houston film authorised by her estate and starring Star Wars’ Ackie as the legendary singer. Details are scant, though Pat Houston – Whitney’s manager and sister-in-law – promised an “uplifting and inspiring” film when it was announced in 2020. It’s also produced by Clive Davis – the music exec credited with discovering Houston when she was a teen – which is probably why he is played by Tucci in the film.

Read more: Whitney Houston’s 20 greatest songs – ranked!