Spider-Man: No Way Home

Marvel’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home” premieres in theaters Dec. 17, starring Tom Holland, Zendaya and Benedict Cumberbatch in a game-changing superhero adventure. The film is one of the many highly anticipated and exciting releases this holiday season.

As the year comes to a close, life is getting busy. Traveling, holiday shopping, awkward family dinners — the list goes on. Thankfully, Hollywood keeps churning out intriguing movies to distract us from the craziness. With a variety of superhero showdowns, ‘70s teen romance and delicious callbacks to the past, the end of the year will feature plenty of wonderful ways to ease the transition into 2022 via the big screen.

Most Anticipated

In order to get a sense of which movies UA students are most eager to see, I distributed a poll with a list of 28 different films set to release from November to December. With 55 responses from students who each chose three of the listed films, it appears the following are at the top of students’ watchlists.

A surprise to nobody, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” dominated the list with 87.3% of students choosing it as one of their most anticipated films. In the next adventure for Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, the hero’s identity is exposed to the world, leaving him seeking help from the mystical Doctor Strange. With spells and mind-bending events galore, this gigantic Marvel Cinematic Universe entry seems likely to blow fans away when it opens in theaters Dec. 17.

Marvel’s “Eternals” was the second-most anticipated movie on the list with 30.9% of the vote, continuing the trend of comic-book adaptation cravings. Soaring into theaters Nov. 5, this story spans millennia while following a group of immortal alien beings and their influence on Earth. Academy Award-winning director Chloé Zhao helms this epic and unique MCU saga.

Garnering 29.1% of votes, the third-most anticipated film for UofA students is “The Matrix Resurrections,” the fourth entry in the “Matrix” series and a continuation of its twisted sci-fi spectacles. Icons Neo and Trinity are reunited as they dive further into the simulated world, fighting suited agents and futuristic technology with unbeatable action and scale. Viewers can behold the Wachowski sisters’ latest mind-freeing experience Dec. 22.

Other strong contenders were “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” “House of Gucci,” “The King’s Man” and “West Side Story.”

Awards Contenders

There are numerous titles set to be released in the next two months that are sure to spark major awards buzz early next year. While not necessarily the most viewed, this handful of titles, along with many others, will certainly be worthy of attention.

Set in 1973 California, eight-time Academy Award nominee Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza” will inevitably be a quirky trip. As high-schoolers Alana and Gary, played by newcomers Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman, get into all sorts of trouble throughout the wild San Fernando Valley, they form a sweet but unfamiliar bond of young love and ‘70s nostalgia. Mark your calendars for Nov. 26, because this film is bound to be groovy.

After generating mountains of positive reviews at 2021 film festivals including Telluride and Toronto, Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical film “Belfast” is undeniably an early frontrunner for awards. The film follows a young boy and his working-class family’s efforts to remain chipper throughout the riotous ‘60s in Northern Ireland. This charming period piece releases Nov. 12.

Kristen Stewart is finally getting the recognition she deserves as the talented actress portrays Princess Diana in “Spencer.” Pablo Larraín’s follow-up to his exquisite 2016 film “Jackie” chronicles Diana’s troubled relationship with the English royal family and her eventual divorce from Prince Charles. Don’t count Stewart out of many “best actress” nominations — and even wins — this awards season. “Spencer” hits theaters Friday.

Other possible awards contenders include “King Richard,” “Don’t Look Up,” “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” “The Power of the Dog” and many more.

Family Fun

From Lin-Manuel Miranda comes a colorful new adventure in the mystical, animated world of Disney’s “Encanto.” In Colombia, each member of the Madrigal family has magical powers, except for Mirabel. However, when dangers arrive and threaten the family’s gifts, it is up to Mirabel to stop them. Families can enjoy this vivid quest together on Nov. 24 (magical powers not included).

With an extensive list of late-2021 releases, there will be no excuses for boredom when draining family reunions and chilly weather hit this winter.

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