December 2022 Film Preview | Women and Hollywood

December marks the long-awaited release of “Women Talking” (December 23), Sarah Polley’s star-studded adaptation of Miriam Toews’ novel of the same name. Led by Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, and Jesse Buckley, the awards contender tells the story of women dealing with the aftermath of sexual assault in their remote religious community.

Oscar hopefuls “Saint Omer” (December 11) and “Corsage” (December 23) also hit theaters this month. The former is representing France in the International Feature category, and the latter Austria. From Alice Diop, Venice winner “Saint Omer” centers on a novelist who attends the trial of a woman accused of infanticide. Marie Kreutzer’s “Corsage” sees “Phantom Thread’s” Vicky Krieps playing Empress Elisabeth of Austria.

Kasi Lemmons brings Whitney Houston’s story to the screen in “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” (December 23). “Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker” actress Naomi Ackie stars in the biopic of the late singer.

This month will also see the release of a slew of docs from women directors including Geeta Gandbhir and Sam Pollard’s “Lowndes County And The Road To Black Power” (December 2), a look inside a historic battle for voting rights, and Rachel Lears’ “To the End” (December 9), a portrait of four women fighting the climate crisis.

These are the women- and nonbinary-centric, directed, and written films set to debut in December. All descriptions are from press materials unless otherwise noted.

December 1

“Farha” – Written and Directed by Darin J. Sallam (Available on Netflix)

“Farha”

A 14-year-old girl (Karam Taher) in 1948 Palestine watches from a locked pantry as catastrophe consumes her home.

“Qala” – Written and Directed by Anvitaa Dutt (Available on Netflix)

“Qala”

Set in 1940s Kolkata, “Qala” chronicles the complicated relationship between a young singer (Tripti Dimri) and her mother (Swastika Mukherjee). Will all her sacrifices be worth the success she gets?

“Catfish Christmas” – Directed by Victoria Rowell; Written by Dara Harper (Available on VOD) 

When a young woman (Leigh-Ann Rose) returns home for the holidays, her meddling sister sets her up with a handsome football player online, but things might not be as they appear.

“Mistletoe Ranch” — Directed by Rhiannon Bannenbeg; Written by Claire J. Harris (In Theaters)

Aimée (Mercy Cornwall ) is a young professional photographer who breaks away from her job to return to Mistletoe Ranch, for the first time in seven years, to see what is threatening the family’s Christmas festivities. There, she must face her ex-fiancé James (Jordi Webber) and a perilous financial situation. Forced to work side-by-side to save the ranch, recent bitterness subsides as old feelings of affection emerge.

December 2

“The Eternal Daughter” – Written and Directed by Joanna Hogg (In Theaters and Available on VOD)

“The Eternal Daughter”

An artist and her elderly mother (Tilda Swinton) confront long-buried secrets when they return to a former family home, now a hotel haunted by its mysterious past.

“Lowndes County and the Road To Black Power” (Documentary) – Directed by Geeta Gandbhir and Sam Pollard (In Theaters and Available on VOD)

“Lowndes County and the Road To Black Power”

The passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 represented not the culmination of the Civil Rights Movement, but the beginning of a new, crucial chapter. Nowhere was this next battle better epitomized than in Lowndes County, Alabama, whose population was 80 percent Black but had zero Black voters. “Lowndes County and the Road To Black Power” tells the story of the local movement and young Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organizers who fought not just for voting rights, but for Black Power in Lowndes County.

“Christmas With the Campbells” – Directed by Clare Niederpruem; Written by Barbara Kymlicka, Dan Lagana, and Vince Vaughn (In Theaters and Available on AMC+)

The traditional holiday romance movie gets a little more fun this year, when Jesse (Brittany Snow) gets dumped right before the holidays by her boyfriend Shawn (Alex Moffat). His parents convince her to still spend Christmas with them, and Shawn’s handsome cousin, while Shawn is away.

“Framing Agnes” (Documentary) – Written by Morgan M. Page and Chase Joynt (In Theaters)

“Framing Agnes”

The pseudonymous Agnes was a pioneering transgender woman who participated in an infamous UCLA gender health study in the 1960s. Her clever use of the study to gain access to gender-affirming healthcare led to her status as a celebrated figure in trans history. Blending fiction and nonfiction, “Framing Agnes” uses Agnes’ story, along with others unearthed in long-shelved case files, to widen the frame through which trans history is viewed.

“The Quiet Epidemic” (Documentary) — Directed by Lindsay Keys and Winslow Crane-Murdoch (In Theaters)

After years of living with mysterious symptoms, a young girl from Brooklyn and a Duke University scientist are diagnosed with a disease said not to exist: chronic Lyme disease. Their search for answers lands them in the middle of a vicious medical debate. What begins as a patient story evolves into an investigation into the history of Lyme disease, and a trail of suppressed scientific research and buried documents reveals why ticks — and the diseases they carry — have been allowed to quietly spread around the globe.

“Food and Romance” – Directed by Annika Appelin; Written by Anna Fredriksson (In Theaters and Available on VOD)

A sudden change forces Karin (Marie Richardson) to re-evaluate her life. With the help of friends, food, and passion she refuses to accept that life has an expiration date and takes the second chance she is given.

“Twisted” – Directed by Vibeke Muasya; Written by Vibeke Muasya and Nikolaj Scherfig (In Theaters)

“Twisted”

A young woman (Madeleine Masson) seeks independence from her protective mother (Karen Leigh Sharp), only to be questioning her own sanity when newfound friends die and her mother suggests Hannah is the cause of their death.

“Christmas in the Caribbean” – Written by Nathalie Cox and Philippe Martinez (In Theaters and Available on VOD)

Rachel (Elizabeth Hurley) has her wedding dreams poof into the late-December air when her groom high-tails it out of the church minutes before he says “I do.” Her two bridesmaids drunkenly decide not to let her perfectly good honeymoon go to waste and the ladies jet off to the islands. Their very first evening meal brings a handsome restaurateur Allesandro to their table, and sparks begin to fly between him and Rachel.

“Return to Seoul” (“Retour à Séoul”) (One Week Preview Engagement; Returns to Theaters February 17)

“Return to Seoul”

After an impulsive travel decision to visit friends, Freddie (Park Ji-Min), 25, returns to South Korea for the first time, where she was born before being adopted and raised in France. Freddie suddenly finds herself embarking on (an unexpected) journey in a country she knows so little about, taking her life in new and unexpected directions.

“Darby and the Dead” – Written by Becca Greene and Wenonah Wilms (Available on Hulu)

“Darby and the Dead”

Darby Harper (Riele Downs) can see dead people. She is introverted and shut off from her high school peers, but all that changes when Capri (Auli’i Cravalho), the Queen Bee of the school’s most exclusive clique, unexpectedly dies in a freak hair straightening accident. Capri pleads with Darby from the other side to intervene and convince Capri’s friends to proceed with her birthday party as planned.

“Hotel for the Holidays” — Written by Maggie Lane and Margarita Matthews (Available on Freevee)

Georgia (Madelaine Petsch) is an ambitious young woman and the manager of the high-end hotel, which attracts guests of all kinds, all looking to come to the hotel as a sanctuary during the holiday season. Georgia’s work and personal life become entangled when she is caught between the charming hotel chef Luke (Mena Massoud) and the sophisticated ex-prince staying at the hotel, Prince Raymond (Max Lloyd-Jones).

December 5

“Broadway Rising” (Documentary) – Directed by Amy Rice (In Theaters)

“Broadway Rising”

The feature-length documentary chronicles the Broadway community’s harrowing and inspiring journey back to the stage following the COVID-19 shutdown. The film turns the spotlight on the community and highlights their stories of anxiety, doubt, perseverance, and ultimately triumph on the long-awaited opening night, September 14, 2021.

December 6

“Deinfluencer” (Available on VOD)

A young cheerleader and influencer (Marie Luciani-Grimaldi) is imprisoned and forced to take part in social media challenges at the behest of her seemingly motivated kidnapper. She soon finds that she’s fighting for her life, as well as the lives of other young women.

December 7

“Bed Rest” — Written and Directed by Lori Evans Taylor (Available on Tubi)

A pregnant woman (Melissa Barrera) on bed rest begins to wonder if her house is haunted or it’s all in her head.

December 8

“Smyrna” (“Smyrni mou agapimeni”) — Written by Mimi Denissi and Martin Sherman (In Theaters for One Night) 

A century after the disaster of Smyrna comes to life a moving drama about an elderly Greek American woman whose family diary recounts the 1922 burning of the cosmopolitan city of Smyrna where Greeks, Turks, Jews, Armenians, and Levantines once lived together harmoniously.

December 9

“Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical” (In Theaters; Available on Netflix December 25)

“Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical”

Matilda (Alisha Weir), an extraordinary girl armed with a sharp mind and a vivid imagination, dares to take a stand against her oppressive parents and head teacher to change her story with miraculous results.

“One Fine Morning” – Written and Directed by Mia Hansen-Løve (One Week Preview Engagement; Returns to Theaters January 27)

“One Fine Morning”

A young single mother (Léa Seydoux) raising an eight-year-old daughter struggles to take care of her father, who’s been diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease. While trying to secure a decent nursing home, she runs into a married friend and they begin an affair.

“To the End” (Documentary) – Directed by Rachel Lears; Written by Rachel Lears and Robin Blotnick (In Theaters)

“To the End”

Four exceptional young women — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, activist Varshini Prakash, climate policy writer Rhiana Gunn-Wright, and political strategist Alexandra Rojas — grapple with new challenges of leadership and power and work together to defend their generation’s right to a future. From street protests to the halls of Congress, these bold leaders fight to shift the narrative around climate, revealing the crisis as an opportunity to build a better society.

“Hidden Letters” (Documentary) – Directed by Violet Du Feng and Qing Zhao (In Theaters; Available on VOD December 23)

“Hidden Letters”

Spanning between past and present, “Hidden Letters” follows two millennial Chinese women who are connected by their fascination with a secret language of sisterhood, and their desire to protect it against a perpetually patriarchal society.

“Idina Menzel: Which Way to the Stage?” (Documentary) – Directed by Anne McCabe (Available on Disney+)

“Idina Menzel: Which Way to the Stage?”

Actress and singer Idina Menzel’s many triumphs include iconic Broadway roles in productions of “Rent” and “Wicked” as well as the legendary voice of Elsa in Disney’s “Frozen.” Yet one dream goal has evaded her grasp: to headline the Madison Square Garden. Filmmaker Anne McCabe follows Menzel on a national tour as she juggles the challenges of being a working mom with a grueling travel schedule, all preparing to finally realize her dream.

“Confession” – Directed by Dayna Hanson (In Theaters)

An ambitious, up-and-coming district attorney takes on the recently dismissed small town case of a young woman who has accused three men of sexual assault. As she puts her career on the line to uncover the truth, little does she know the web she is untangling leads to a sobering tale of murder, lies, and deceit that may change the city’s history forever.

“Divorce Bait” – Written by Cristina Nava and Ruben Islas (In Theaters and Available on VOD)

Alexis Laguna (Vannessa Vasquez) is happily re-married but when she finds out that her friends are divorcing, and have begun to date others within their circle, she starts to spiral. Who can she trust? Alexis comes up with a plan. She announces that she and Marco (Justin Berti) are getting a divorce to see which of her friends will try to steal her husband.

“Something From Tiffany’s” – Written by Tamara Chestna (Available on Prime Video)

Rachel (Zoey Deutch) and Gary (Ray Nicholson) are happy enough but not quite ready for the big commitment of marriage. Ethan (Kendrick Smith Sampson) and Vanessa (Shay Mitchell), the perfect picture, are just about to make it official. When a simple mix-up of gifts causes all of their paths to cross, it sets off a series of twists and unexpected discoveries that lead them where they’re truly meant to be.

December 11

“Saint Omer”

“Saint Omer” – Directed by Alice Diop; Written by Alice Diop, Amrita David, Marie N’Diaye, and Zoé Galeron (One-Night Screening at MoMA)

Rama (Kayije Kagame), a literature professor and novelist, travels from Paris to Saint-Omer to observe and write about the trial of Laurence Coly (Guslagie Malanda). Coly is a student and Senegalese immigrant accused of leaving her infant daughter on a beach to be swept away. Rama writes a modern day retelling of the Greek Medea myth about the case. As she learns more about Coly’s life and the isolation she experienced in France, Rama becomes increasingly anxious about her own life and pregnancy.

December 14

“The Volcano: Rescue from Whakaari” (Documentary) – Directed by Rory Kennedy (In Theaters; Available on Netflix December 16)

A close examination of the Whakaari/White Island volcanic eruption of 2019 in which 22 lives were lost, the film viscerally recounts a day when ordinary people were called upon to do extraordinary things, placing this tragic event within the larger context of nature, resilience, and the power of our shared humanity.

December 16

“The Super 8 Years” (Documentary) – Directed by Annie Ernaux (In Theaters; Available on VOD December 20) 

“The Super 8 Years”

A natural extension of Annie Ernaux’s literary work in its form and content, “The Super 8 Years” shows the pastimes, lifestyle, and aspirations of a social class in post-1960s France through the lens of the Ernaux family archive.

“The Apology” – Written and Directed by Alison Star Locke (In Theaters and Available on AMC+ and Shudder)

Twenty years after the disappearance of her daughter, a recovering alcoholic (Anna Gunn) is preparing to host her family’s Christmas celebration when her estranged ex-bother-in-law (Linus Roache) arrives unannounced, bearing nostalgic gifts and a heavy secret.

“Children of the Mist” (Documentary) – Directed by Hà Lệ Diễm (In Theaters)

“Children of the Mist”

In a village hidden in the mist-shrouded Northwest Vietnamese mountains resides an indigenous Hmong community, home to 12-year-old Di, part of the first generation of her people with access to formal education. In this insular community, girls must still endure the controversial but accepted tradition of “bride kidnapping.” One night, when the young girl’s parents return home from celebrating the Lunar New Year, they are shocked to find their house is silent: Di has disappeared.

“Avatar: The Way of Water” – Written by Amanda Silver, James Cameron, and Rick Jaffa (In Theaters)

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) lives with his newfound family formed on the planet of Pandora. Once a familiar threat returns to finish what was previously started, Jake must work with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and the army of the Na’vi race to protect their planet.

“The Almond and the Seahorse” – Written by Kaite O’Reilly and Celyn Jones (In Theaters)

What happens when you’re ambushed by time? An archaeologist and an architect fight to re-imagine a future after traumatic brain injury leaves them adrift from the people they love.

“Nelly & Nadine” (Documentary) (In Theaters)

“Nelly & Nadine”

“Nelly & Nadine” is the unlikely love story between two women falling in love on Christmas Eve, 1944, in the Ravensbrück concentration camp. Despite being separated in the last months of the war, Nelly and Nadine manage to later reunite and spend the rest of their life together. For many years their love story was kept a secret, even to some of their closest family. Now Nelly’s grandchild, Sylvie, has decided to open Nelly and Nadine’s unseen personal archives and uncover their remarkable story.

“High Heat” (In Theaters and Available on VOD)

An ex-KGB operative turned chef, Ana (Olga Kurylenko) is targeted by the local mafia in a hit on her new restaurant to collect on her husband’s (Don Johnson) debt. Now, Ana must rely upon her lethal skills as she goes on a deadly rampage to take out the entire crime syndicate one-by-one to save her restaurant and survive the night in this action-packed crime thriller.

“Lullaby” (In Theaters and Available on VOD)

A new mother (Oona Chaplin) discovers a lullaby in an ancient book and regards the song as a blessing. But her world transforms into a nightmare when the lullaby brings forth the ancient demon Lilith.

“Saving Grace” (In Theaters)

When Sarah (Kirsty McKenzie) takes a live-in caretaker job on a remote island to escape her dark, violent past, she discovers her demons have followed her, turning her tranquil new life into a terrifying nightmare.

“Private Lesson” — Written by Yasemin Erturan and Murat Disli (Available on Netflix)

Posing as a private tutor, Azra (Bensu Soral) secretly coaches students on achieving their goals in life and love — but not without a few bumps in the road.

December 20

“The Cosmos Sisters” — Written and Directed by Nora Kaye and Whitney Uland (Available on VOD)

After the death of Nora’s mother, Nora (Nora Kaye) and Whitney (Whitney Uland) find themselves back in their hometown, where their indie band, The Cosmos Sisters, thrived. When they receive a suspicious request for the Cosmos Sisters to perform one last gig, Whitney & Nora can’t resist falling down the nostalgic (and chaotic) rabbit hole again. It’s showtime baby. For better or for worse.

“A Not So Merry Christmas” (“Reviviendo la Navidad”) — Written by Angélica Gudiño and Juan Carlos Garzón (Available on Netflix)

A curse is placed on grinchy Chuy, who wakes up to find he’s lived a full year, but is doomed to remember only Christmas Day. Every year. From now on.

December 21

“Wildcat” (Documentary) – Directed by Melissa Lesh and Trevor Frost (In Theaters; Available on Prime Video December 30)

Back from war in Afghanistan, a young British soldier struggling with depression and PTSD finds a second chance in the Amazon rainforest when he meets an American scientist, and together they foster an orphaned baby ocelot.

December 23

“Women Talking” – Written and Directed by Sarah Polley (In Theaters)

“Women Talking”

Do nothing. Stay and fight. Or leave. In 2010, the women of an isolated religious community grapple with reconciling a brutal reality with their faith.

“I Wanna Dance with Somebody” – Directed by Kasi Lemmons (In Theaters)

“I Wanna Dance With Somebody”

Discovered by record executive Clive Davis (Stanley Tucci), Whitney Houston (Naomi Ackie) rises from obscurity to international fame in the 1980s to become one of the greatest singers of her generation.

“Corsage” – Written and Directed by Marie Kreutzer (In Theaters)

“Corsage”

Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Vicky Krieps) was idolized for her beauty and renowned for inspiring fashion trends. But in 1877, “Sisi” celebrates her 40th birthday and must fight to maintain her public image by lacing her corset ever tighter. While Elisabeth’s role has been reduced against her wishes to purely performative, her hunger for knowledge and zest for life makes her more and more restless in Vienna.

“Joyride” – Written by Ailbhe Keogan (In Theaters and Available on VOD)

“Joyride” follows 12-year-old Mully (Charlie Reid), who, after fleeing his father, steals a taxi and is shocked to find a woman, Joy (Olivia Colman), in the back seat with a baby. Joy has decided to give her child away to a friend, and Mully needs some distance from his debt-ridden dad, who’s after the cash Mully has with him. And so two lovable rogues — a complicated middle-aged mother and a troubled adolescent — go on a journey across Ireland, gradually finding in each other the friendship, love, and learning they never knew they needed.

December 30

“Alice Darling” – Directed by Mary Nighy; Written by Alanna Francis (In Theaters)

“Alice, Darling”

A young woman (Anna Kendrick) trapped in an abusive relationship becomes the unwitting participant in an intervention staged by her two closest friends.

“Turn Every Page – The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb” (Documentary) – Directed by Lizzie Gottlieb (In Theaters)

“Turn Every Page” explores the remarkable 50-year relationship between writer Robert Caro and his longtime editor Robert Gottlieb. Now 86, Caro is working to complete the final volume of his masterwork, “The Years of Lyndon Johnson;” Gottlieb, 91, waits to edit it. With humor and insight, this unique double portrait reveals the work habits, peculiarities and professional joys of these two ferocious intellects.

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