November brings a slew of must-watch movies to your local cineplex—and, as is more and more often the case, streaming to your living room. We upgrade from Black Adam to Black Panther this month, with Marvel’s much-buzzed-about sequel, Wakanda Forever. Amy Adams’ Disenchanted is another long-awaited sequel, and comedy music fans have been craving the feature-length version of Weird Al’s wacky biopic, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. And Oscar regulars Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Williams, Timothée Chalamet, and Carey Mulligan throw themselves into the awards fray. The Oscars may not be until March 2023, but ’tis the season! Read on for The A.V. Club’s guide to the November films worth the price of popcorn.
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Netflix October 2
When an 11-year-old girl appears to have survived four months of not eating thanks to divine miracles, a nurse (Florence Pugh) and a nun are sent to determine if, in fact, this is a Heavenly exception to medical science. The Wonder is set in late 19th century Ireland, and in a heavily Catholic village, families that survived the 1861 famine (which in turn followed the Great Famine of the 1840s) might easily find inspiration in the idea of divine nutrition. Of course, that time and setting being what they are, there’s also plenty of space for women and children to get abused in the name of the all-powerful church.
The script and its source novel come from Emma Donoghue, the author of Room, another tale of a young child finding wonder in an abusive environment. That’s not the only Oscar pedigree here: director Sebastian Lelio won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2017 for A Fantastic Woman. The cast includes Tom Burke, Ciaran Hinds, Toby Jones, and Elaine Cassidy.
And in a self-conscious, Brechtian touch, Pugh flat out tells viewers at the start that this is a story, implying, perhaps, that anything can happen because this isn’t a documentary. Chances are it unfolds as the book does—though it’s up to you whether or not to read that first. [Luke Y. Thompson]
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Theaters everywhere and Apple TV+ November 4
Just when you thought Jennifer Lawrence was fated to be just another franchise widget or high-concepts-only superstar, here comes Causeway to remind us why she’s been nominated for four Oscars. Lawrence earned raves from Toronto International Film Festival audiences for her performance as an Afghan war vet who returns home to New Orleans with a traumatic brain injury. Brian Tyree Henry, who continues to impress in a wide variety of films, including Bullet Train, If Beale Street Could Talk, and Eternals, co-stars as a truck driver nursing a trauma of his own. Upping the curiosity factor is Lila Neugebauer (Netflix’s Maid), making her film directing debut. She’s a Broadway director best known for her work in the revival of The Waverly Gallery, the Pulitzer Prize-shortlisted play from Manchester By The Sea helmer Kenneth Lonergan starring Oscar nominee Lucas Hedges. So the film, which is getting a simultaneous release in theaters and on AppleTV+, has got some serious firepower. But most importantly for film buffs, Causeway sees Lawrence going back to Winter’s Bone basics. It’s also her first film as a producer, which means Katniss Everdeen officially has another powerful arrow in her quiver. [Mark Keizer]
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The Roku Channel November 4
Weird Al Yankovic, he of the super-frizzy hair, loud Hawaiian shirts, and ubiquitous accordion, is the biggest-selling comedy recording artist … ever. He’s won five Grammys and crafted blockbuster parody songs and videos, from “My Bologna” to “Amish Paradise.” He’s sold out concerts around the world for decades. It’s about time he got the biopic treatment, right? Back in 2010, Eric Appel directed a fake trailer for an imaginary movie called WEIRD: The Weird Al Yankovic Story. Now, WEIRD is a legit major motion picture, directed by Appel, co-written and co-produced by Yankovic, and starring Daniel Radcliffe as Weird Al.
As one might expect, WEIRD parodies the music biopic genre, spinning a tsunami of lies about Yankovic’s childhood, burgeoning career, the heights of stardom, his fall from grace, etc. Michael Jackson steals Al’s music, Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood) lusts for him, and he battles Pablo Escobar. Yankovic turns up as a record exec, Rainn Wilson plays Dr. Demento, and look for cameos galore, including Jack Black as Wolfman Jack and Conan O’Brien as Andy Warhol. It remains to be seen if WEIRD, premiering November 4 on The Roku Channel, will be spoken of in the same breath as the granddaddy of music biopic spoofs, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, but it sounds promising. [Ian Spelling]
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Theaters everywhere November 11
We predict there won’t be a dry eye in the house when Black Panther: Wakanda Forever comes to theaters this month. The returning cast of the Marvel Studios sequel—including Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, and Winston Duke—have scarcely been able to hold it together in interviews, so emotions will definitely be running high on the screen. Losing Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman in 2020 was a shock that we’re still processing, so perhaps this film will give us all some kind of cathartic release.
It’s also giving us some new heroes to add to the MCU’s ever-growing roster. Namor, the Sub-Mariner, will finally make his way to live action more than eight decades after his first comic appearance. Tenoch Huerta plays a slightly different version than the Namor you may know; he’s been given a new origin rooted in Aztec and Mayan culture rather than the underwater city of Atlantis. We’ll also get to meet the MCU’s version of Riri Williams, also known as Ironheart, played by Dominique Thorne. She’s a tech genius who could give Shuri a run for her money when it comes to creating fancy gadgets. Or maybe Shuri will be too busy taking over her brother’s mantle to spend much time in the lab? Marvel hasn’t confirmed exactly who will be stepping into T’Challa’s clawed boots yet, but we think she’d be a pretty good choice. [Cindy White]
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Theaters everywhere November 11
Of course, Steven Spielberg’s long been heralded as one of the greatest film directors ever, but with story or screenwriting credits on all-timers like Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Poltergeist, and The Goonies, his batting average as a writer is none too shabby either. With frequent collaborator Tony Kushner (Lincoln, West Side Story), he’s co-penned his latest directorial effort The Fabelmans, a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age tale inspired by his formative years. Expected to be the filmmaker’s most personal project—he’s said it’s taken him ages to summon the courage to tap into his family history—the closely guarded storyline follows the postwar Arizona youth of Sammy Fabelman (played by Gabriel La Belle of Brand New Cherry Flavor) as he navigates painful territory, including anti-Semitism, his parents’ divorce and his sisters’ personal dramas, bolstered by the potent power of cinema and a deepening passion for filmmaking.
The eclectic, impressively pedigreed cast includes Michelle Williams and Paul Dano as Sammy’s parents, Seth Rogen and Judd Hirsch as uncles, Julia Butters as Sammy’s sister, and director David Lynch as legendary filmmaker John Ford. Behind the scenes, Spielberg is joined by several longtime collaborators: cinematographer Janusz Kamiński, editor Michael Kahn and—for their 29th film together—composer John Williams. “It was incredible to see how much of this [history] was in his work the whole time,” Dano told The Hollywood Reporter. “He’s sharing a piece of himself that I find very moving.” [Scott Huver]
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Theaters everywhere November 18
While every year ushers a new crop of military films, it is exceptionally rare for one of these oorah, “drop and give me twenty,” camo-infused tales to center a queer character. The Inspection, one of A24’s incredibly deep bench of fall films, follows Ellis French (Jeremy Pope), a gay man thrown onto the streets after coming out to his mother, as he enlists in the Marine Corps in an attempt to turn his life around. Joining during the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” era, Ellis must weigh the opportunities and camaraderie he may receive from the military against the ever-present danger he faces if he is outed.
The story is a semi-autobiographical one for the film’s writer and director Elegance Bratton, who also joined the Marines before becoming the filmmaker behind a handful of shorts and the 2019 documentary feature, Pier Kids. Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year, Bratton’s directorial debut has received especially high praise for its acting. The momentous central performance from Grammy, Emmy, and Tony-nominated Pope is bolstered by the work of Gabrielle Union, who plays his venomous mother in a groundbreaking, de-glammed transformation. Bokeem Woodbine (Fargo) and Raul Castillo (Looking) are also well-cast as the officers leading Ellis and his compatriots through a rigorous (and often potentially life-threatening) boot camp/hazing experience. It’s a compelling queer narrative we haven’t seen before on the big screen, and one that demands viewers drop their preconceptions to take a second look. [Matthew Huff]
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Theaters everywhere November 18
If you could combine the major cultural trends of the past year into a tantalizing, unattainably expensive four-course meal, the menu would probably look a little something like, well, The Menu. A pinch of the über-wealthy playing their wicked games on a remote island and a dash of ubiquitous ingénue Anya Taylor-Joy, all rounded out with direction from Succession’s Mark Mylod and a cannibalism metaphor tweezed on top? Table for two, please.
After the runaway success of FX’s The Bear this past summer, Mylod’s entry into the “what if Chef’s Table was really, really stressful actually” genre follows a young couple (Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult) as they embark to dine at an ultra-exclusive restaurant run by a mysterious auteur (the perfectly cast Ralph Fiennes) who maybe, definitely eats people. The trailer doesn’t reveal much else about the actual plot of the film, other than the fact that “the game is trying to guess what the overarching theme of the entire meal is going to be.” We certainly have some guesses but most of them involve the fact that everything is clearly going to descend into chaos, fast. Would we survive an evening at Hawthorne? Probably not. Will we be buying tickets anyway? Yes, chef! [Emma Keates]
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Theaters everywhere November 18
In the tradition of dramas like Spotlight, The Post, and All The President’s Men, She Said follows the course of a major newspaper investigation and the intrepid reporters who fought the system to get out a story that would rock the world. This time there’s the added meta context of being a film about the film industry. It’s just the kind of Oscar bait that the convicted Harvey Weinstein would have been pushing back when he was running Miramax, before the gross sexual assaults uncovered in She Said were made public. Maybe they’ll let him see it in prison.
Although Weinstein looms large over this story, we’re mercifully spared his presence as a character. Director Maria Schrader only shoots a stand-in from behind, never showing his face. Instead, the film focuses on the two women who originally broke the story in The New York Times and later wrote the book that served as inspiration for the screenplay—Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Jodi Kantor (played by Zoe Kazan) and Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan). Weinstein’s victims get their say, too—including Ashley Judd, who plays herself—but he’s not the true villain of the piece; She Said takes direct aim at the system that allowed this kind of abuse to go on with impunity for so long. Even now, years into the #MeToo era that this case set in motion, we’re still grappling with its ramifications. [Cindy White]
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Netflix November 18
Following an impressive run of virtuosic cinematic triumphs that include Babel, Biutiful, Birdman, and The Revenant, filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu ends his hiatus from the big screen with Bardo, a deeply personal exploration of a successful artist’s relationship with his Mexican heritage. Daniel Giménez Cacho plays an acclaimed L.A.-based documentarian bearing a more than passing resemblance to Iñárritu, who returns to his native Mexico City and finds himself grappling with an existential crisis, expressed in a visually sumptuous, often wildly surreal journey through time and space as he tries to come to grips with complicated histories—his own and his homeland’s. “I think this is the most complicated film I have done,” the filmmaker told IndieWire at the buzzy Telluride Film Festival premiere, while explaining that any overtly autobiographical comparisons are overstated. “For me, it’s the best film I have done. It will be very difficult to make a better film than this.” [Scott Huver]
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Netflix November 18
Slumberland is essentially Inception for kids, with a wacky Jason Momoa thrown in the mix. Hailing from director Francis Lawrence, writers David Guion and Michael Handelman, and Netflix’s family-friendly programming, it’s based loosely on Winsor McCay’s iconic Little Nemo In Slumberland comics. The tale of a grieving girl (played by newcomer Marlow Barkley) who can escape into the titular land of dreams, a fantastical meta-verse where inter-dream travel is possible, nightmares loom, and wishes can be granted, Slumberland features clever visual gags amid the requisite CGI spectacle. There’s a surprisingly emotional performance from Chris O’Dowd alongside solid work from Kyle Chandler, Weruche Opia, and Momoa, who hams it up with a mouth full of fangs and satyr-like horns atop his head. If you’re looking for an escape into heartfelt, high-flying adventure, you’ll have no trouble staying awake for this one. [Jack Smart]
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Select theaters November 23; Prime Video December 16
Aisha (Anna Diop) works as a nanny for Amy (Michelle Monaghan) and Adam (Morgan Spector), a wealthy and unhappily married white couple, caring for their young daughter, Rose (Rose Decker), in Manhattan. Rose bonds just fine with Aisha, but everything Aisha truly cares about is elsewhere: her country, Senegal, and her family, especially her son, Lamine. It’s why she’s a nanny, to earn enough money to bring Lamine to America. Aisha meets Malik (Sinqua Walls), a good man and a fellow immigrant, and his grandmother, Kathleen (Leslie Uggams), and the future looks bright. But can it last in a Blumhouse film?
The answer is hell no. Visions plague Aisha, and they’re powerful hallucinations rendered terrifying by the West African folklore spirits Mami Wata and Anansi. Kathleen tries to help Aisha decipher and survive the visions before it’s too late, but is it already too late? Nikyatu Jusu, who directed the acclaimed short Suicide By Sunlight, makes her feature debut with Nanny, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. The trailer is moody, atmospheric, and creepy, and the film will open in theaters on November 23 in advance of a December 16 streaming debut on Amazon Prime Video. [Ian Spelling]
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Theaters everywhere November 23
Yes, yes, Top Gun: Maverick breakout star Glen Powell is back in an airplane. But Devotion isn’t some quickly knocked-out stab at marketplace capitalization, a la Hollywood B-pictures of yore. Instead, it’s a different type of throwback—a square-jawed, meticulously developed war drama, based on a compelling true story of the sort to which studios used to reliably commit major resources.
Starring Jonathan Majors and Powell, Devotion tells the story of a pair of the U.S. Navy’s most elite and celebrated wingmen, one black and one white, who forge a fierce and lasting friendship during the Korean War. The movie’s trailer pops, setting it up as a potential breakout for director J.D. Dillard, who made a strong debut with 2016’s Sleight and delivered probably the best pure genre effort at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival with his tightly wound low-budget survival thriller Sweetheart, starring Kiersey Clemons. Devotion premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, with Sony Pictures (who will release the film Stateside, with STX Entertainment handling international) hoping this has the type of critical wings crucial to launching non-IP material in this clamorous all-blockbusters-all-the-time era. [Brent Simon]
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Theaters everywhere November 23
The mere presence of noted actor and internet boyfriend Timothée Chalamet is enough to rocket Bones And All to the top of quite a few November watchlists, but the film adaptation of Camille DeAngelis’ novel is about so much more than a new incarnation of beloved star. Chalamet, reteaming with Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino, is bold and gracious enough to take a backseat in the film to star Taylor Russell, playing a teenage runaway with an unpredictable and sometimes insatiable taste for human flesh. Along the way, she meets a fellow cannibal (Chalamet) and they embark on a road trip across 1980s America, where they find that not every “eater” gets along as well as the two of them do. A love story about monsters, Bones And All made an immediate impact on the festival circuit when Guadagnino won the Venice Film Festival’s Silver Lion for his direction, then went on to widespread acclaim across the festival circuit, from the BFI Festival in London to Austin’s Fantastic Fest. [Matthew Jackson]
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Select theaters November 23
Nan Goldin is one of the most important and influential photographers of the 20th century, and a documentary about her life and work would be welcome even if it took a more conventional, wide-lens approach to its subject. Goldin’s perspective as an autobiographical artist, a chronicler of the LGBTQIA movement in America, and a documenter of the AIDS epidemic is invaluable, and any one of those areas of focus could merit its own film.
But All The Beauty And The Bloodshed takes a decidedly more confrontational approach by examining not just Goldin’s life and work as an artist, but as an activist battling the opioid crisis and the powerful families who made it possible head-on. Director Laura Poitras, an Oscar winner for her Edward Snowden doc Citizenfour, turns her cameras on Goldin as she goes toe-to-toe not just with a powerful Big Pharma family, but with the art institutions around the world who’ve gladly taken their money for decades. All that was enough to earn All The Beauty And The Bloodshed a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival—only the second documentary to achieve that honor—and rave reviews at the fests in Venice, Toronto, and New York. [Matthew Jackson]
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Disney+ November 24
Fifteen years after the success of Disney’s self-deprecating live-action musical fairy tale Enchanted, Amy Adams returns this Thanksgiving to reveal if the animated princess Giselle, brought down to earth in real-world NYC, actually found her happily ever after now that she’s married and relocated to the suburbs. Much of the original film cast is on hand for Disenchanted as well, including Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, and Idina Menzel (who, yes, does sing this time around), plus a slew of faces fresh to the franchise including Maya Rudolph as witchy Malvina Monroe, the new Big Bad, and Gabriella Baldacchino as Giselle’s now-teenage stepdaughter Morgan. Another crucial returnee: legendary Disney maestro Alan Menken, who once again composes the songs, while screen musical vet Adam Shankman (Hairspray) takes the directorial helm this time around. “[Giselle’s] not [the ingenue] anymore,” Adams told Entertainment Weekly about her role’s evolution. “She’s now the stepmother and things begin to unfold in that direction.” Which begs the question: is she becoming a wicked stepmother? [Scott Huver]
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Tapping into their seemingly bottomless catalog of completed films, Netflix is having a particularly active November. Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre directs Emma Corrin in a new adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover (select theaters November 23; streaming December 2); Millie Bobby Brown returns to the now-iconic character of Sherlock Holmes’ sister in Enola Holmes 2 (November 4); Lindsay Lohan makes a grand return to the screen with holiday film Falling For Christmas (November 10); and The Swimmers (November 23) is Sally El Hosaini’s dramatization of the real-life sisters Yusra and Sarah Mardini, who swam a dinghy of refugees across the Aegean Sea.
The charming Jillian Bell and Natalie Morales headline the bittersweet I’m Totally Fine (select theaters November 4); Hugh Jackman and Laura Dern join the Florian Zeller-verse in The Son (theaters everywhere November 25); and Amazon launches space documentary Good Night Oppy (select theaters November 4; streaming November 23) while Allison Janney, Ben Platt, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, and Kristen Bell star in The People We Hate At The Wedding (select theaters and streaming November 18). For family-friendly fare, try Disney’s Strange World (theaters everywhere November 23), and to get in the holiday spirit before Christmas, go for Spirited, (select theaters November 11; Apple TV+ November 18), starring Will Ferrell, Ryan Reynolds, and Octavia Spencer in a modern retelling of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol.
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