The 15 best films coming to Netflix in December 2022

An images collage of White Noise, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, and Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio

White Noise; Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery; Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

Things remain a bit weird over in Netflixland as the company recently debuted a film release plan where they rather unceremoniously drop a movie into theaters for a limited time before yanking it back and running it on their streaming service. Sure, this is sometimes done for awards consideration, but in the case of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery and Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, the films aren’t just in L.A. or New York, they’re everywhere. Nonetheless, Netflix is coming in strong this December with several films recently in theaters as well as family fare and intriguing dramas.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Available December 23)

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery | Official Trailer | Netflix

After being introduced to the toxic Star Wars fanbase following his divisive Star Wars: The Last Jedi in 2017, writer/director Rian Johnson saw his planned Star Wars trilogy likely shelved. Since that decade-plus of his life was returned to him, Johnson trotted out a good old-fashioned mystery movie with Knives Out (2019). The film was a smash hit due to its cleverly bound mystery tale and an outstanding cast featuring Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Toni Collette, and Michael Shannon. It also featured a then relatively unknown Ana de Armas, who darn near stole the show. Now Johnson has brought Craig’s Southern fried detective Benoit Blanc back to the screen with Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. Reviews have been largely positive with Christy Lemire writing for, “Everything is bigger, flashier, and twistier.” This includes the cast which features Edward Norton, Dave Bautista, Kate Hudson, and Janelle Monáe.

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Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (Available December 9)

GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S PINOCCHIO | Official Teaser Trailer | Netflix

After the Disney+ Pinocchio directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks met with a resounding thud, Netflix is hoping its own version, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, doesn’t face the same fate. Not to worry, as this stop-motion animation film is superior to any other telling of Pinocchio put to the screen. This film is dark for a kids’ movie; it highlights the atrocities of war as kind artist Gepetto’s (David Bradley) son is accidentally killed and he goes off the deep end in a years-long bender. As a way to cope with his loss, he creates a wooden puppet, and one night, in a drunken stupor, wishes the boy to life. As we all know, it works, but here it’s dealt with in a much more hard-core way. For one, del Toro’s Pinocchio (Gregory Mann) is a bit of a jerk and a know-it-all. He’s soon enamored with and joins the circus without realizing he’s being exploited by circus owner Count Volpe (Christoph Waltz). Fans of del Toro’s work will note that this film very much fits into the mold of Devil’s Backbone (2001) and Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) as themes of war, religious zealotry, family pain, and distrust and the threat of fascism abound. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is probably the best animated film of the year. In a review for Bloody Disgusting, Meagan Navarro said, “Explorations of Catholicism and interpretations of Death make their way into Pinocchio’s adventures in ways that feel distinctly del Toro.”

BARDO, False Chronicle Of A Handful Of Truths (Available December 16)

BARDO, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths | Official Trailer | Netflix

Alejandro González Iñárritu is back with his first film since 2015’s Leonardo DiCaprio gut wrencher The Revenant. For BARDO, False Chronicle Of A Handful Of Truths, Iñárritu is once again be pushing the cinematic envelope in terms of what viewers can handle. The trailer shows a whirlwind of dreamlike visions as a man (Daniel Giménez Cacho) goes on a trippy-looking journey set to The Beatles’ I Am The Walrus which also indicates a pretty psychedelic experience for viewers. Themes of life, identity, culture, and our place in the world abound, which led The A.V. Club’s Murtada Elfadl to write, “Iñárritu throws a lot at the audience. This is a movie that imagines a world in which Amazon bought the Mexican state of Baja. A world that imagines people dropping to the ground as they are walking from the weight of history and politics. It’s a world where sometimes our hero glides through Mexico City and at other times flies through the desert.”

My Girl (Available December 1)

MY GIRL [1991] - Official Trailer (HD)

Holiday get-togethers can be wonderful for many reasons, including catching up with family, and maybe introducing some loved ones to films they’ve never seen. What better time to pull up 1991’s coming-of-age gem My Girl? After all, nothing brings a family closer than melting down in a puddle of tears. My Girl tells the tale of a young girl named Vada (Anna Chlumsky) in small-town Pennsylvania in the ’70s. It’s an odd life as her family owns a funeral home and she is a practicing hypochondriac. She befriends young Thomas (Macaulay Culkin) who is allergic to pretty much everything so, as you can see, it’s a perfect match. While My Girl is mostly remembered as a sweet coming-of-age movie, it’s got some dark edges and not just in terms of its memorable third act. In a revisit of the film for The A.V. Club, Laura Adamczyk wrote “My Girl makes death, illness, and other painful life transitions seem more palatable (or at least bearable) to its main audience: children.”

Peppermint (Available December 1)

Peppermint | Official Trailer | Own It Now on Digital HD, Blu-Ray & DVD

Before she became tabloid fodder for her marriage to Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner starred as the heroine of the immensely popular TV series Alias from 2001-2006. After some not-so-great movie roles (we’re looking at you, Daredevil and Elektra) Gerner got back to her butt-kicking ways in 2018’s underseen thriller Peppermint. In this film, Garner plays Riley North, a woman who awakens from a coma after surviving a vicious attack that killed her husband and daughter. Fraught with trauma and facing a justice system that increasingly lets her down, North decides to take matters into her own hands. She trains herself to become an urban vigilante capable of exacting revenge on those who hurt her family. While the film was a critical flop, it remains an entertaining ride. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Peter Hartlaub said, “We should all have a mother as devoted to bloody vengeance as Riley North, the vigilante played by Jennifer Garner in Peppermint.”

21 Jump Street (Available December 1)

21 JUMP STREET [2012] - Red Band Trailer

As is evidenced in Stutz, his ultra-personal documentary about his struggles with mental health, it’s unclear if we’ll see Jonah Hill onscreen again. Luckily, his filmography will live on with comedic gems like 2012’s 21 Jump Street. Hill was a perfect comic foil for co-star Channing Tatum as undercover cops. The two have been an unlikely duo since high school, where the fact they both missed their prom weighs heavily on them. Years later, the two are bicycle policemen until their captain (Ice Cube) decides their youthful good looks (and immature attitude) would make them perfect undercover high school students. They’re sent in to bust a burgeoning drug ring, and comedy ensues. The film was written by Hill along with Michael Bacall and also marks the live-action debut of directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller. If you haven’t watched 21 Jump Street in a while, you’ve likely forgotten just how funny it is. In a New York Post review of the film, Kyle Smith said, “Jonah Hill, as nerdy rookie cop Schmidt, and Channing Tatum, as Jenko, a dumb fellow patrolman who used to torment him in high school, make a sensational comic pair: meatball meets beefcake.”

Troy (Available December 1)

Troy (2004) Official Trailer - Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom Movie HD

Sword and sandals buffs will rejoice as 2004’s Wolfgang Petersen epic Troy drops on Netflix. The film is an adaptation of Homer’s epic Illiad that follows the assault on Troy by the Greek forces and the fates of the men involved. Did we mention it stars a buff Brad Pitt as Achilles as well as Eric Bana, Rose Byrne, Orlando Bloom, and Brian Cox? While it’s certainly no masterpiece, Troy is an irresistible treat for fans of Greek and Roman epics. Petersen leans way into the epic battles, swooning romance and battle sequences and Troy also looks gorgeous. In a review for The Seattle Times, Moira Macdonald wrote, “Petersen does, at the end, find a nice metaphor for his much-told story of war, love and immortality.”

Bullet Train (Available December 3)

BULLET TRAIN - Official Trailer (HD)

Sometimes it feels like there’s little rhyme or reason to which streamer will get a big film all to itself. Case in point, 2022’s Brad Pitt-starring Bullet Train, which hits Netflix this December. The film did well at the tail end of a tepid summer box office mainly due to the power of Pitt, some great trailers, and a clever plot. Said plot involves several professional hitmen (and women!) aboard a, you guessed it, Japanese bullet train. It would take a lot more time than we have here to explain the complicated machinations of how all these killers ended up on the same train and what they’re trying to do, but the result is old-fashioned entertainment. Rounding out the cast is Sandra Bullock, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bad Bunny, and Brian Tyree Henry. The film did not do well with critics, but in a review for Vox Alissa Wilkinson said “Bullet Train boasts a visual style that feels ripped from the 1990s, derivative of Tarantino and Guy Ritchie but not in a bad way.”

Emily The Criminal (Available December 7)

Emily The Criminal | Official Trailer | In Theaters August 12

Everywhere we look these days, we see Aubrey Plaza. And, in no way is that a bad thing because she’s at once charming, cynical, playful, and annoyed. Sure, her onscreen personality may be starting to feel rote, but it’s still pretty interesting, as is the film Emily The Criminal, which made its debut at the 2022 Sundance film festival before doing pretty well in theaters. The premise is highly relatable as we meet Emily (Plaza) a normal woman struggling with the constant expenses involved in trying to live your life. Through a series of circumstances, she gets invited to be paid for some shady work involving stealing products. This goes a little too well and soon the plot thickens and darkens for Emily as her burgeoning criminal career gets more serious. In a review for Hammer To Nail, Melanie Addington wrote, “With steady pacing, the film carries you through to the end with increased action and decent character development.”

Prisoners (Available December 10)

Prisoners - Official Trailer 1 [HD]

Denis Villeneuve broke onto the scene with 2010’s well-received Incendies but as is now abundantly clear, he always had bigger films on his mind. Before the spectacle of Blade Runner 2049 (2017) and his solid adaptation of Dune (2021), Villeneuve upped his game with 2013’s outstanding crime thriller Prisoners. Starring Hugh Jackman, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, and Viola Davis as two couples whose children are kidnapped, Prisoners is the kind of film that is beloved yet still somewhat unknown. As if that cast wasn’t enough, Jake Gyllenhaal also stars as eerie Detective Loki (that name alone is cause for suspicion) and Paul Dano appears as a suspect because of course he would be. The film is a taut mind-bender that’s great for first-time viewers and also ripe for revisits this holiday season. In a review for The A.V.Club, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky said Prisoners “makes for a compelling viewing experience, thanks to Villeneuve’s formal chops and the uniformly strong performances.”

Trolls (Available December 19)

Trolls Official Trailer 1 (2016) - Justin Timberlake Movie

2016’s animated smash Trolls was a bit of a gamble for audiences. For every great Dreamworks Animation film like Shrek or How To Train Your Dragon there’s a Boss Baby or The Croods. Then again, as Disney-Pixar is recently proving with Lightyear and Strange World, nobody’s perfect. But we digress. Trolls is a lot of fun and if you survived the first go ’round of hearing “Can’t Stop The Feeling” from the film’s soundtrack, you’re pretty much impervious to earworms. Trolls features the voice talents of Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, and Zoey Deschanel as colorful-haired trolls living their lives happily singing their days away. That is until some creeps called Bergens get a wild notion that the only way their kind can find happiness is by eating a troll. Thus, every year the village is invaded and a troll is consumed on “Trollstice,” which is pretty funny and weird. However, the ritual never comes to fruition as an escape is hatched and now, some 20 years on, the Bergens are still bitter about it and are looking to finally consummate their happiness with a troll snack. Obviously, this is a family movie and it’s also a charming one. In a review for The A.V. Club, Gwen Ihnat gave the film a B+ and said, “Trolls winds up transforming from a prospective toy commercial to a spiritual lesson about being content with what you already have. “

White Noise (Available December 30)

White Noise | Official Teaser | Netflix

Filmmaker Noah Baumbach has been on a pretty impressive run. His last films have included popular indies like Greenberg, Frances Ha, Mistress America, and most notably, Marriage Story. So, why sit back and coast on your well-earned success when you’ve got some of that sweet, sweet Netflix money to do what you want? Enter the long-considered unadaptable White Noise, based on a novel by Don DeLillo. His works have been adapted before, most recently via David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis which, if you’ve seen, might give you some kind of indication as to the weird and heady material in play here. White Noise does have a great cast going for it with Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig, and Don Cheadle as people in the ’80s going through what could quite possibly be the end of the world. Reviews are mixed so far with The A.V. Club’s Murtada Elfadl saying, “Its ambitions are grander and its themes cover a wider perspective, grappling with a few big social issues in America. Baumbach as director also goes bigger. With apparently his biggest budget to date, he stages a few complex set pieces and directs on a larger canvas than he has before.”

Coach Carter (Available December 1)

Coach Carter (2005) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

Coach Carter is based on a true story about an undefeated high school basketball team back in 1999 whose head coach (here played by Samuel L. Jackson) suspends his entire team due to poor grades. That’s rough! But so is coach Carter who wants to show these kids that there’s more to life than being great at high school sports. You can’t say these kids didn’t see it coming as before the season Carter has them sign a contract stating they all need to be respectful in class and keep a C+ average. I guess they thought he was kidding. Throughout the film, subplots develop and it quickly becomes clear Carter is using a heavy dose of good old-fashioned tough love to get these young men to see their potential. A decent performance at the box office catapulted this little film that could into the public consciousness and it remains a feel-good movie with some good life lessons. While the film relies a bit too much on sports movie clichés, that may not be a bad thing as Stephanie Zacharek notes in her review for Salon, saying it’s “one of those highly effective conventional pictures that remind us that conventionality isn’t always a bad thing.”

Lady Chatterley’s Lover (Available December 2)

Lady Chatterley’s Lover | Official Trailer | Netflix

English writer D.H. Lawrence, famed for his early 1900s novels with erotic flair, published his final work, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, in 1928. Since then, it’s been adapted several times and in several ways, including a classier version in 2006, a few soft-core films and sequels in the 1980s, and now, an awards bait-looking version via French multi-hyphenate Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre. A somewhat classic love triangle plot involves Lady Chatterley (Emma Corrin) falling out of love with her husband (Matthew Duckett) after he sustains a war injury. That’s not cool but alas, the Lady wants what they Lady wants. From there she enters into a passionate affair with the gamekeeper (Jack O’Connell) on their estate and drama ensues. While this latest iteration of Lady Chatterley’s Lover has plenty of sex scenes, de Clermont-Tonnerre also adds “many sequences that focus on the emotional connections, too,” according to Chris Reed in his review for Hammer To Nail.

Side Effects (Available December 18)

Side Effects Official Trailer #3 (2013) - Channing Tatum Movie HD

Steven Soderberg is a filmmaker who can really do it all. From experimental storylines (Schizopolis) to experiments in cameras (Unsane, High Flying Bird, both shot on iPhones) to heist films (the Oceans Eleven series) and comedies (the Magic Mike films) to biopics (Behind The Candelabra), there’s nothing Soderberg won’t at least try. This is a roundabout way to get at his 2013 psychological thriller Side Effects which stars Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Jude Law. The plot concerns Martin (Tatum), who is released from prison for insider trading. His incarceration has taken its toll on his wife Emily (Mara), who’s attempted suicide several times, including by driving into a wall. This lands her in the care of psychologist Dr. Jonathan Banks (Law), who prescribes her a new anti-depressant which seemingly causes Emily to murder Martin in his sleep. This situation obviously doesn’t bode well for Dr. Banks’ career, but he senses something is afoul and begins to try and get to the bottom of the murder. Side Effects is a solid crime thriller which Scott Tobias gave a B+ in his review for The A.V. Club, saying, “Like his underappreciated Haywire, Side Effects screws around in its own thriller architecture, toying with feints of structure and clever bits of misdirection, and otherwise playing the audience like a fiddle.”

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