A ‘Witcher’ prequel, a ‘Willow’ sequel, a ‘Yellowstone’ prequel, Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Pinocchio’, and much more!
As humanity slides face-first into the crusty, soot-covered snowbank of December, we can all take collective comfort in the warm glow of new shows and movies on our favorite streaming platforms. Netflix is offering features like Don DeLillo’s White Noise, Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio, and the anticipated prequel to the Witcher. Hulu is playing the odds on heavy-hitting Korean gambling drama Big Bet starring Oldboy’s Choi Min-sik, season three of Jack Ryan is exploding onto Amazon Prime screens, and Disney Plus offers new episodes of the fantasy revival series Willow. Apple TV Plus is releasing Will Smith’s historical drama Emancipation, and Harrison Ford will helm sweeping Yellowstone prequel 1923 on Paramount Plus. Curl up with a toasty snack and a warm soft thing, turn the volume up over the sound of 2022’s dying New Year’s resolutions, and binge responsibly.
Troll (Dec 1) – If monster tales embody the human psyche’s generalized anxieties, the terror of our own smallness is universal: the fear of the ant under the magnifying glass draws us to big screens where giant apes, dragons and reconstituted dinosaurs from our collective nightmares loom over us in the dark. Enter Norway’s answer to Godzilla and King Kong: Troll. When an explosion in the Norwegian mountains awakens an ancient troll, only the science nerds (and lots of military technology) can stop it from squishing everything. Director Roar Uthaug (Tomb Raider, The Wave) brings scale and intention to the Scandinavian folktale, telling Variety that he’s been stewing over how to unleash the mythical beast on film for more than twenty years.
Copenhagen Cowboy (Dec 8) – Nicholas Windig Refn’s (Miss Marple: Nemesis) new noir series is a synth-neon trip across six episodes, following young heroine Miu on a revenge-o-rama through Copenhagen’s criminal underworld after a lifetime of servitude. When she encounters her nemesis, Rakel, they embark on a surreal odyssey through the past, ultimately transforming their future. Like Neon Demon and Drive, Refn borrows heavily from Park Chan-Wook, Dario Argento, David Lynch and other psychological horror masters to bloop out another slick editorial product with all the edge and ennui of a Nylon magazine spread.
White Noise (Dec 30) – Director Noah Baumbach reprises his creative partnership with Adam Driver (A Marriage Story) on Baumbach’s first movie not based on a story of his own: Don DeLillo’s 1985 black apocalyptic novel White Noise. College professor Jack is living a comfortable life in the ‘burbs until a nearby chemical leak releases a toxic cloud that forces him and his family to move, upending paradigms and exposing poorly-sublimated fears. DeLillo’s sprawling, “unfilmable” novel became literary canon in its skewering of academia, consumerism, and postmodern malaise – Baumbach’s tender, intimate treatment teases out the emotional core from all the white noise.
They Cloned Tyrone (Dec 30) – When drug dealer Fontaine (John Boyega) is shot to death then wakes up in his bed the next day, he and his friends (Teyonah Parris, Jamie Foxx) begin to scratch the surface of a nefarious government conspiracy. Their search reveals a vast underground lab endangering their Black neighborhood with experiments, kidnapping and surveillance. Described as “Friday meets Get Out,” the sci-fi comedy set in the 60’s offers a wry but sobering commentary on the very non-theoretical experiences of the Black community.
The Witcher: Blood Origin (Dec 25) – Set more than a thousand years BC (Before Cavill), the four-part Witcher prequel series follows seven outcasts in the elf world as they unite in a quest against an unstoppable power. Starring Michelle Yeoh, Sophia Brown and Laurence O’Fuarain, the tale explores the creation of the first prototype Witcher and traces the events leading to the collision of the worlds of men, elves and monsters. Liam Hemsworth will replace Cavill as Geralt of Rivia in the fourth season of the epic drama series – Cavill’s lithic pecs will return in the third and final season, set to be released summer 2023.
Burning Patience (Dec 7)
Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio (Dec 9)
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Dec 23)
Visit Netflix for a full list of releases.
It’s a Wonderful Binge (Dec 9) – Like the original film, the sequel is set in a near future where all drinking and drugs are banned except for one glorious day known as The Binge—and this year, it lands on Christmas. Years after their first Binge, a group of friends face the realities of adulthood and try to clean up their lives – all while under the influence. What could go wrong? Starring Danny Trejo, Kaitlin Olson, Nick Swardson and Tim Meadows, the new holiday adventure also features magical storybooks, catchy songs, stop-motion animation and lots of psychotropics.
Grails: When Sneakers Changed the Game (Dec 14) – The six-part series offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the sneaker industry through entrepreneurs Earl Cooper and Olajuwon Ajanaku, former Morehouse College golf champions who founded lifestyle brand Eastside Golf to promote diversity and accessibility on the course. Featuring industry insight interviews with DJ Khaled, FUBU founder Daymond John, Fat Joe and more, the show follows the Eastside Golf creators as they strike a sweet Nike deal to design a groundbreaking line of sneakers and apparel that shine on and off the green.
Big Bet Series Premiere (Dec 21) – The new K-drama starring the legendary Choi Min-sik (Oldboy) in his first series role in over 26 years, Big Bet follows a man who rises from poverty to build a casino empire in the Philippines–but his kingdom is threatened when he finds himself at the center of a murder investigation. Determined not to let life beat him down again, he will risk everything he has to get back in the game. Also starring Sohn Seok-gu (My Liberation Notes), Lee Dong Hwi (Pegasus Market) and Heo Sung-tae (Squid Game).
Kindred Season 1 (Dec 13) – Adapted from the celebrated novel by Octavia Butler, the FX mini-series centers on Dana (Mallori Johnson), a Black writer looking for a fresh start in Los Angeles who literally can’t escape the past. Dana begins to unearth secrets about her family’s history when she finds herself being mysteriously pulled back and forth in time to an antebellum plantation– but the longer she stays in the past, the more chaotic her real life becomes. The clock is ticking as she struggles to confront the ties that bind and reconcile the past to unlock her future.
Darby and the Dead (Dec 2)
I Love My Dad (Dec 16)
Mack & Rita (Dec 23)
Visit Hulu for a full list of releases.
Three Pines (Dec 2) – The latest rural crime series stars Alfred Molina as an empathic inspector who travels to the quaint Canadian village of Three Pines to investigate the disappearance of an Indigenous teen – meanwhile the rich white folks are dropping like flies, including the town’s most hated woman who is murdered at a community event in broad daylight. Half Columbo, half Harry Ambrose, it’s up to Molina to sift through the villagers’ clannishness and his own enigmatic mind to uncover their dark secrets and the town’s sinister past.
Jack Ryan Season 3 (Dec 21) – John Krasinski is back in the spy game as the third season of the popular action thriller finally drops after a three-year wait. When he discovers an international criminal plot to revive the USSR, the eponymous analyst-cum-superspook is forced to go on the run from the CIA to stop all-out nuclear war. Chased by Russian thugs and his own shop, Ryan navigates explosive danger with his wits, lots of big clacky guns and lines like “I’m trying to do the right thing.” Krasinski is also executive producing this season, which was filmed in Prague and Athens.
Nanny (Dec 16) – Aisha (Anna Diop, Us) is an undocumented Senegalese nanny working for a wealthy New York couple and trying to bring her own son to the U.S. – but strange, violent visions from her haunted past and rising tensions with the privileged family threaten her dream of a happy future. Following films like His House and Culture Shock, Nikyata Jusu’s riveting horror movie about the psychological trauma of displacement won the Sundance Film Festival’s Dramatic Grand Gury Prize.
Riches Season 1 (Dec 2) – When cosmetics mogul Stephen Richards dies, his estranged children return to battle his second wife and her children for control of the empire. With billions of dollars at stake, their lives collide as secrets threaten their glittering, stylish world. The trailer for the British drama is getting lots of positive attention: packed with snark, designer labels and luxury spaces, it’s a juicy vicarious trip through an insulated, cutthroat world of wealth.
Something From Tiffany’s (Dec 9)
Dr. Seuss Baking Challenge (Dec 13)
Wildcat (Dec 30)
Visit Amazon Prime for a full list of releases.
Branson (Dec 1) – The new docuseries from Chris Smith (Sr., Bad Vegan) takes a look at risk-gobbling Virgin mogul and “Tom Cruise of business” Richard Branson, from his early life as a shy, dyslexic teen with “a lot to prove” to becoming a millionaire at the age of 22, eventually building the Virgin empire to feed his insatiable thirst for high-stakes ventures. Smith spoke to Branson’s colleagues, employees and family, folding in footage of home movies and flashy publicity stunts to get fresh insight on the man who “thrives on jeopardy.”
Doom Patrol Season 4 (Dec 8) – In the newest chapter for the unlikely heroes of Doom Patrol, the team of misfits unexpectedly travels to the future to find a threat that could usher in the apocalypse. Faced with imminent death, the Patrol must confront their past and decide between their own happiness or the fate of the world, once and for all. Expect lots of unhinged supernatural zaniness, poignant emotional growth and a full-cast return, including Brendan Fraser in his voice role as Robotman.
His Dark Materials Season 3 (Dec 5)
Martin: The Reunion Special 2022 (Dec 16)
Adult Swim Yule Log (Dec 12)
Visit HBO Max for a full list of releases.
If These Walls Could Sing (Dec 21) – Mary McCartney guides viewers through nine decades to see and experience the magic that makes the legendary Abbey Road Studios the most famous and longest-running studio in the world. If These Walls Could Sing explores the breadth, diversity, and ingenuity of Abbey Road Studios, with interviews revealing how artists, producers, composers, and the engineers and staff of Abbey Road found their musical language and community, while archive footage and session tapes give exclusive access to these famously private studios.
Willow Episodes 5 & 6 (Dec 21 & 28) – 34 years after the release of Ron Howard’s classic fantasy adventure Willow, Warwick Davis is back as the titular sorcerer in a new sequel series that puts a modern twist on the magical world that enchanted 80’s audiences. A new generation of unlikely heroes is banding together on a quest to far-flung lands, where they must face great darkness to save the world– and they need Willow’s help. Val Kilmer was unable to reprise his role as Madmartigan due to throat cancer, but executive producer Johnathan Kasdan says Kilmer will still be involved “in a big way.” Joanne Whalley is back as the warrior-queen Sorsha and Christian Slater will also appear. The series, shot in Wales, also stars Erin Kellyman, Ellie Bamber and Tony Revolori.
The Flagmakers (Dec 21) – The documentary follows the flagmakers at an employee-owned Wisconsin company that sews and ships five million American flags a year. Locals, immigrants and refugees stitch stars and stripes elbow to elbow while they wrestle with identity and belonging. Serbian immigrant Radica believes every flag has a soul. Ali, a war survivor from Iraq, is learning how to sew after arriving in the United States three months before. Midwestern-born conservative Barb enjoys genuine friendships with her co-workers, while SugarRay reflects on his complicated relationship with this country as a Black man: “I definitely love this country, but it don’t always love you back.”
It’s an intimate glimpse into the lives of the people behind the most recognizable icon in America, and what the flag represents in a changing nation and world. Executive produced by NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo, it’s an elegant allegory of America’s “fabric” of immigration and blue-collar work, balancing the pride of immigration with the ambivalence of minority experiences. “You don’t love something because it’s perfect,” says Radica. “You love it because it’s yours.”
Black Pharaohs: Sunken Treasures (Dec 30) – In a land of gold and ancient treasure, a recent discovery inside a pyramid sends archaeologists in search of clues – but this is no ordinary excavation in arid desert sands. For the first time ever, archaeologists dive inside a 2,300 year old pyramid tomb submerged in rising groundwater to shed new light on the fabulously wealthy Kushite kingdom that overthrew the pharaohs and ruled Egypt for 75 years.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules (Dec 2)
National Treasure: Edge of History (Dec 14)
Encanto at the Hollywood Bowl (Dec 28)
Visit Disney+ for a full list of releases.
Apple TV Plus
Slow Horses Season 2 (Dec 2) – This darkly funny spy caper drew critical praise for its first season, reviving a well-worn genre with articulated wit, tension and salty British bleakness. The series follows a bumbling team of British intelligence agents serving in a dumping ground department of MI5 under the brilliant grump Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldman). Season 2 opens with the death of a Cold War spy, revealing a horrifying plot: Russian sleeper agents have been reactivated to bring carnage to the streets of London. Lamb and Co. must surmount their own flaws to unravel the roots of the conspiracy that threatens thousands of lives – and leads to a breathtaking betrayal.
Little America Season 2 (Dec 9) – The critically acclaimed series from producer Kumail Nanjiani and Oscar-winning CODA director Siân Heder is returning with eight new stories about the immigrant experience in the United States. Little America tells the funny, romantic, inspiring and surprising tales of people from around the world pursuing their very own American dream, and the bonds they form while building varied, complex new lives. Starring Phylicia Rashad, Ki Hong Lee, Haaz Sleiman, Zachary Quinto and Suraj Sharma, the anthology is based on extraordinary true stories featured in Vox’s Epic Magazine.
Emancipation (Dec 9) – Will Smith is doing damage control ahead of his first film release since The Slap, telling fans he “understands” why they might be cold to his performance in the new abolitionist drama. Director Antoine Fuqua was less apologetic of the project when speaking to Vanity Fair: “400 years of slavery is bigger than one moment,” he said, adding that he hopes audiences will be “swept away” by Smith’s performance and the production crew’s work. Smith is Peter, a Black man who flees a Louisiana plantation after almost losing his life to the cruelty of antebellum slavery. Peter must outwit cold-blooded hunters and unforgiving swamps as he makes his way to the relative safety of the North, where he joins the Union Army.
Shantaram Season 1 (con’t.)
Mythic Quest Season 3 (con’t.)
Visit Apple TV+ for a full list of releases.
1923 (Dec 18) – The new original drama series starring Hellen Mirren and Harrison Ford tells the next installment of the Dutton family origin story as the prequel to hit series Yellowstone and a sequel to 1883. Meet a new generation led by Jacob (Ford) and steely matriarch Cara (Mirren) as they found a Montana homestead in the face of pandemics, drought, Prohibition and the Great Depression in the early 20th century. Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones) and Timothy Dalton also star in the thrilling tale of adventure and conflict that shaped the American West.
Bosé (Dec 1) – The Spanish-language biopic series takes an intimate look at the life of the enigmatic singer-songwriter Miguel Bosé. The son of a Spanish bullfighter and an Italian movie star, Bosé’s tumultuous youth transformed him into the rebellious and disruptive artist his fans fell in love with. Each episode focuses on a different hit song and traces pivotal moments in his life, including breaking industry records and becoming a father.
The Game Season 2 (Dec 15)
Metallica Presents: Helping Hands Concert (Dec 16)
The 45th Annual Kennedy Center Honors (Dec 28)
Visit Paramount+ for a full list of releases.