18 brilliant movies to watch in winter 2022 in cinema and streaming
Christmas is definitely in the air this week with new family fairytales starring Will Ferrell and Amy Adams, plus there’s Anya Taylor-Joy at the world’s weirdest restaurant and Florence Pugh investigating a strange phenomenon. Happy viewing!
The Menu (cinemas)
Think Gordon Ramsey is a tough taskmaster in the kitchen? Wait until you meet Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes), a celebrated chef whose restaurant on a remote island is on every serious foodie’s To Do List. People like Tyler (Nicholas Hoult), a young man whose spent big money booking a table for him and his date Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy), only to discover that Julian’s culinary perfectionism might be hiding a dark side. It’s not to everyone’s taste that’s for sure but if you like your thrillers weird and warped, The Menu is deliciously disturbing fun that’ll make you wince (as well as hungry.)
WATCH: The Menu stars Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor Joy and Nicholas Hoult
Can it really be fifteen years since Enchanted hit cinemas, charming us along the way with its warm-and-witty update of Disney fairytales? Well, yes. It really is that long. But the good news is, stars Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, Idina Menzel and James Marsden are all back for this belated sequel, which sees Giselle move with her family from Manhattan to the suburbs - with mixed results (and some mind-blowing special effects). Legendary composter Alan Menken is back on musical duties too, all of which makes this ideal Christmas viewing for the whole family.
Spirited (Apple TV+)
Elf icon Will Ferrell has another stab at festive movie-making in this modern update of Charles Dickens’ Scrooge story (yes, another one!), playing The Ghost of Christmas Present - a spirit heading for retirement but wanting leaving his mark by transforming a seriously nasty player down on earth.
Enter one Clint Briggs (Ryan Reynolds), a heartless marketing millionaire who loves to create controversy and conflict wherever he goes and who seems just the candidate. The songs might not be the best (and make this comedy rather long) but with Ferrell, Reynolds and the wonderful Octavia Spencer in the lead roles, this is enjoyably silly, ultimately sweet, festive fare.
The Wonder (Netflix)
The great Florence Pugh plays English nurse Lib Wright, brought to a tiny 19th century Irish village to observe eleven year old Anna O'Donnell, who is said to have survived without food for months. But is the village really home to a saint 'surviving on manna from heaven' or are there more dubious motives at work? Based on a novel that itself was inspired by a real Victorian phenomenon of so-called ‘fasting girls’, this is classy, thought-provoking stuff.
The Phantom of the Open (Sky Cinema)
Get ready to have your cockles warmed by this true story starring the great Mark Rylance as Maurice Flitcroft - a crane operator in 1970s Cumbria who, out of the blue, took up golf. So far, so normal. But then the eccentric Maurice decided that he didn’t just want to play everyday golf - he wanted to enter the British Open. So begins a film that celebrates Maurice as a cult figure from sporting history, a wonderfully whimsical and hugely heartwarming tale of an outsider who aimed for the stars. Sally Hawkins co-stars.
Aisha (Sky Cinema)
Aisha, a young Nigerian woman seeking asylum in Ireland, is struggling with social services and complex bureaucracy. Eventually she finds an ally in Conor, an employee at her residence home, a local young man with troubles of his own. Together they struggle to keep their tender friendship going in the face of Aisha’s increasingly worrying predicament and rapidly diminishing options. Powerful drama starring two of the hottest young actors around, both on impressive form: Black Panther’s Letitia Wright and The Crown’s Josh O’Connor.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (cinemas)
If you’re in the mood for huge set pieces, a huge budget and a huge running time (161 minutes!), look no further than this long-awaited sequel to one of biggest films of 2018. Unlike that original Black Panther movie though, Wakanda Forever no longer features Chadwick Boseman in the title role, after the much-loved star died aged just 43 in 2020. So how does this new film cope?
Well, after a powerfully emotional opening, the action kicks in as the magical country of Wakanda finds itself under attack for its legendary resource: the super metal vibranium. Without King T’Challa, his family and friends - including Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri (Letitia Wright) and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) - have to fight for themselves, resulting in a moody and globe-trotting adventure that delivers plenty of thrills, soul-searching and style. As good as the first? Maybe not. But this is still dynamic storytelling.
Causeway (Apple TV+)
Jennifer Lawrence goes back-to-basics in this low-budget, intimate, indie drama that sees her in a producer role as well as leading actress. She plays Lynsey, US military veteran back in her home city of New Orleans after fighting in Afghanistan, struggling to recover both physically and mentally from her time in a war zone. Causeway’s greatest strength is letting Jennifer Lawrence really act again. Forget special effects, fancy hair and make-up and multi-million dollar franchises. Here’s J-Law at her most simple, most authentic best.
My Father’s Dragon (Netflix)
Animated fantasies don’t get more magical than this beauty from the talent behind 2009’s The Secret of Kells and Pixar’s classic Inside/Out. Based on the children’s book of the same name, My Father’s Dragon tells the story of the wonderfully-named Elmer Elevator, a young boy hunting for a secretive dragon on Wild Island, and who discovers a whole lot more on his journey. Ideal for viewers young and old, this exquisitely-made and heartfelt tale is certain to be up for some major awards. Featuring the voices of Jacob Tremblay, Whoopi Goldberg, Ian McShane and Chris O’Dowd.
A Bunch of Amateurs (cinemas)
Say hello to the Bradford Movie Makers, a film club who’ve being going since the early 30s, making their own amateur films, but who now are struggling for survival. Membership is dwindling and their meeting room is badly in need of a refurb. How will they survive? It might not be a Hollywood blockbuster but A Bunch of Amateurs is the most charming film of the year - a true story of everyday folk fighting against the tide and the bonds that are formed in even the quirkiest of communities. You’ll laugh for sure but be prepared for tears too. A Bunch of Amateurs will warm the most cynical of hearts.
Ambulance (Sky Cinema)
Jake Gyllenhaal stars in this enjoyably silly action thriller about criminal brothers who hijack an ambulance to use as a getaway vehicle after a botched bank robbery. And while it’s hardly Hamlet, Ambulance at least delivers on the high-octane front, boasting car chases and explosions a-plenty, all thrillingly shot on the real streets of downtown Los Angeles. Maybe the fact this feels a little like a relic from the 90s (think Bad Boys or Speed) was the reason Ambulance underperformed at the box-office? On the small screen, though, this is deliciously dumb fun.
My Policeman (Amazon Prime)
Harry Styles headlines his second film of the year as Tom Burgess, a young policeman in 1950s Brighton who marries schoolteacher Marion (Emma Corrin) at the same time as being in love with older museum curator Patrick (David Dawson). Harry might not yet be Leo Di Caprio in the acting stakes but just like in Don’t Worry Darling, he’s always a comforting presence on-screen. More experienced stars Rupert Everett, Gina McKee and Linus Roache add some acting welly as the trio’s older selves too. If you like your period dramas lean and restrained then this is for you.
Bodies Bodies Bodies (buy on all major platforms)
The whodunnit gets hip in this enjoyably twisted thriller featuring Amandla Stenberg (The Hate U Give, The Hunger Games), Maria Bakalova (so good in the last Borat movie) and a certain Pete Davison. They star as a group of faintly obnoxious twenty-somethings having a party at a big old house and playing a murder mystery game - a game that suddenly becomes worryingly real. It’s topical and buzzy, almost like a scientific experiment: what happens when you lock a bunch of frenemies in a house and turn off the electricity? The answers, unsurprisingly, aren’t pretty.
Fisherman’s Friends: One and All (buy/rent on all major platforms)
Cornwall’s singing sailors, the Fisherman’s Friends, are back in this sequel to the smash hit from 2019. Picking up the true story where the last film finished, the unlikely pop stars now find themselves struggling to deal with the spotlight after a successful album and tour. Leading light Jim (James Purefoy) is also dealing with the loss of his father Jago (David Hayman), a touching storyline that gives the film a real emotional punch. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll find yourself singing sea shanties in the bath.
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