What to watch this holiday weekend, from over-the-top ‘Babylon’ to … – USA TODAY

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Santa’s making his list and checking it twice, but you should be doing the same with all the movies coming your way.

Over the next two holiday weekends, Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt play silent film stars in Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle’s latest effort, Naomi Ackie channels Whitney Houston in a musical biopic, Emma Thompson stars as the heavy of a Netflix kid flick and Antonio Banderas once again voices the coolest animated cat around. (Sorry, Garfield.)

So if you need a film for your time off work and school? We got you, fam. Here’s a guide to satisfying every cinematic taste:

Ranked: The 10 best movies of 2022, from Tom Cruise’s ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ to ‘The Whale,’ ‘RRR’

Major movies are joining ‘Avatar’ at the cinema for Christmastime

“Avatar: The Way of Water” ruled the box office opening weekend but is getting some serious competition for the holiday season in theaters and at home:

  • “Babylon,” “The Whale” and “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” will appeal to the adult movie lovers in the crowd.
  • “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” and “Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical” are here to entertain the kiddos.
  • If you’re hanging close to the couch, “Glass Onion,” “Strange World” and, yes, “Top Gun: Maverick” are all coming to a streaming service near you.

If you need a great cartoon for the holidays: ‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’

In the second solo film for Banderas’ swashbuckling feline, Puss learns he has only one of his nine lives left and seeks a mythical star to wish them back. He’s joined by his ex Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) and gleeful mutt Perrito (Harvey Guillén) for hilarious fairy-tale mayhem and a surprising exploration of mortality and living life to the fullest.

Where to watch: In theaters

If you dig the dark, heartbreaking stuff: ‘The Whale’

One of the year’s best films, Darren Aronofsky’s drama is a showcase for Brendan Fraser, who plays an obese online writing instructor hoping to reconnect with his estranged, hurting teen daughter (Sadie Sink). Fraser brings a bunch of heart and Sink’s got serious fire in an excellent effort that’s unsettling as well as hopeful.

Where to watch: In theaters

‘The Whale’ review: Brendan Fraser’s soulful, Oscar-ready performance will blow you away

If you want a star-filled trip to old-school Hollywood: ‘Babylon’

Chazelle’s ode to 1920s Hollywood embraces chaos and debauchery in the story of an aspiring silent-movie actress (Robbie), an A-list leading man (Pitt) and the Mexican assistant (Diego Calva) trying to get his foot in the door. It peters out over the course of three hours and change, but the film’s great when it veers fully bonkers.

Where to watch: In theaters Friday

‘Babylon’ review: A-list Tinseltown ode is a boisterous, coke-snorting mess, with moments of greatness

If you’re a Whitney Houston super-fan: ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’

Those who hated “Bohemian Rhapsody” might want to skip this similarly forgettable musical drama. The cursory examination of Houston’s life chronicles her rise from choir girl to global superstar and the drug addictions that derailed her career. The icon’s great songs go a long way, though, and Ackie inhabits Whitney like a champ.

Where to watch: In theaters Friday

If you live for costume dramas: ‘Corsage’

Vicky Krieps rules the more-fun-than-you-think-it’ll-be Austrian biopic as Empress Elisabeth, a 19th-century style icon in public and a mischievous rebel in private. When she turns 40, she escapes her repressive home life and heads off to reconnect with former lovers and friends to recapture a youthful vigor.

Where to watch: In theaters Friday

If you’re down for a timely discussion: ‘Women Talking’

Based on the Miriam Toews novel, writer/director Sarah Polley’s intimate drama centers on a group of women in a religious colony who, after a series of rapes, have to decide whether to stay or go. The acting is phenomenal, with Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy and Rooney Mara among those playing characters determining their fate in a barn debate.

Where to watch: In select theaters Friday, expanding in January

If you are an Anglophile (or just adore Bill Nighy): ‘Living’

Nighy earned a Golden Globe nomination for his role as a 1950s bureaucrat working at the Public Works department who learns he’s terminally ill. The thoughtful drama follows the reserved man waking up from his humdrum life and, inspired by a young employee (Aimee Lou Wood), making a difference the rest of his remaining days.

Where to watch: In New York and L.A. theaters Friday

If you want to see Emma Thompson break bad: ‘Matilda the Musical’

Fans of the 1996 Dahl adaptation will sing the praises of this fun and entertainingly odd musical redo based on the stage show. Alisha Weir plays the spunky girl with a genius brain and cool powers sent to a boarding school by her neglectful parents, and she leads the rebellion against the oppressive, hammer-throwing headmistress (Thompson).

Where to watch: In theaters (and on Netflix Sunday)

If you’re in the mood for a solid crime thriller: ‘American Murderer’

Emmy nominee Tom Pelphrey oozes charisma that’s downright criminal as Jason Derek Brown, a con man indebted to the wrong people who goes to extremes and risks his family’s livelihoods to save his skin. Ryan Phillippe co-stars as the FBI agent out to catch him in this intriguing glimpse into the real-life story of a most-wanted fugitive.

Where to watch: Apple TV, Vudu, Amazon

Also on streaming

  • Rian Johnson’s sequel “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” featuring Janelle Monáe, Kate Hudson, Edward Norton and Daniel Craig as returning detective Benoit Blanc, is available on Netflix Friday.
  • The Disney animated family sci-fi adventure “Strange World,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Dennis Quaid, arrives on Disney+ Friday.
  • If you’re one of the five people who haven’t yet seen “Top Gun: Maverick,” the Tom Cruise action sequel finally makes its Paramount+ debut Thursday.
  • And if you’re looking for holiday action, David Harbour stars as a sledgehammer-wielding Santa in “Violent Night,” now on Apple TV, Vudu and other on-demand platforms.