Happy A Sacred Wall Christmas, everybody! Unfortunately, this year hasn’t been as festive as normal. I won’t be going into everything, but this has been a wild, complicated personal time for me, and while I managed to stay on top of reviews, it has made other articles difficult to write.
But I am still your humble servant, here to give you the best advice for your holiday planning. After all, with all sorts of relatives in town, and movies in theaters and at home to watch, there’s going to be fighting over the remote. So it’s time for the 2022 edition of the Sacred Wall Holiday Guide.
Below is a list of every major film released, recently or otherwise, on streaming and in the multiplex, ranging from awards contenders to blockbusters to just films I like and hope you’ll like too. Hopefully, these are films that everyone will enjoy, but just to be safe, I’ve offered thoughts on who the film may work best for.
As always, if a film is marked with a *, it is an Oscar contender in one of the major categories (Picture, Acting, etc.). If it’s marked with a #, that means it is a Sacred Wall Full Recommendation, meaning it is in the Top 25 of the over 100 films I’ve watched this year. And at the end, I have the five films I personally believe will be the biggest hits with your families. So, with that all settled, let’s jump right into my 2022 holiday recommendations.
- Avatar: The Way of Water *# – A small indie film for the more artistic of the fam…nah, I’m just kidding. This is the move for everyone. It’ll be THE film. Try to go as early as possible though – James Cameron movies start strong and then sell out for weeks
- Babylon *# – Grandma and Grandpa may want to pick this one to remember the stars of yesteryear, but don’t be fooled. This is one for the younger relatives – perhaps the same ones you snuck away to watch Wolf of Wall Street with a decade ago
- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever *# – You probably all saw this one at Thanksgiving. But it’s still in theaters, and if Avatar is too long and you want something the whole family can see together, you could do worse than a second trip to Wakanda
- Devotion – Dads and grandpas like movies, too. And there’s no greater “Dad” movie than Devotion. It’s a bit long, but it’s interesting enough. And hey, Jonathan Majors, Glen Powell, and Joe Jonas are hot, so there’s something for the teen girls and the gay cousins tired of answering questions, too
- I Wanna Dance With Somebody –This is gonna be the go-to film for all of the aunts. If you want to just go and dance to some of the greatest musical performances ever written while a bare-bones recap of Whitney Houston’s tragic life plays in the background, the family can have a great time with this one
- The Menu – It’s the perfect movie to make your dumb relatives feel “smart,” and maybe provide some laughs along the way. Plus, the food porn is so good, it’ll get you properly ready for holiday dinner
- Puss In Boots: The Last Wish – Listen, the young kids are gonna need to see SOMETHING to get them to shut up and stop asking questions about Santa. You could do a lot worse than Antonio Banderas as a cat
- Spoiler Alert # – A good old-fashioned weepy for the whole family, especially that aunt and uncle that love The Big Bang Theory and want to show how down they are with gay rights
- Violent Night – I mean, come on. It’s a movie tailor-made for cousins young and old to get together and watch Santa merc a bunch of bloodthirsty killers. Sneak in some alcohol and maybe a decriminalized substance or two, and you’ve got the best outing you’ve ever had together
- Women Talking * – This is the movie to watch for some intellectual counterprogramming. Great for the adults to watch and debate over dinner instead of politics
- Bones and All – For that cousin who’s obsessed with Timothée Chalamet. Probably a good one once the kiddies go to bed – no need to explain cannibalism at this time
- Everything Everywhere All At Once *# – I cannot imagine a single adult over the age of 40 loving this. But if the adults go to bed and the hip cousins need something to watch, this is the perfect movie for them. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll cheer. What more can you ask for?
- The Fabelmans *# – Probably more of a Hannukah movie, although you can’t go wrong with a great, loving, funny movie about dysfunctional families. Anyone who squirms has a deep, dark secret – uncover it!
- Fall # – Arguably the best horror movie of the year. Honestly a great one for the whole family – nothing too violent or scary, just good old-fashioned thrills. Even Grandma can get in on this one
- Lyle Lyle Crocodile – The perfect kids’ movie. It’s got everything. A singing croc for the kids. Shawn Mendes for the thirsty teenyboppers. Javier Bardem for that one thirsty twentysomething cousin. Brett Gelman for the Adult Swim stoner cousin. A musical for the grandparents. Like I said, something for everyone
- Marcel the Shell with Shoes On # – The perfect film to delight kids and parents alike. It’s a smart children’s film, with jokes that work and themes that will touch your heart. Throw it on and watch a room aged 5 to 75 burst out in tears at Jenny Slate’s innocence
- Tár *# – For the adults to watch and debate over after the kids go to bed. Perfect for everyone, from the New York elite cousin to the cancel culture-ranting uncle who missed the point
- Top Gun: Maverick *# – Why fight over something new to watch when you can just throw on the movie everyone’s seen and everyone loves?
- The Woman King *# – Perfect for history-buff dads AND kids who want something new and fresh. Some of the best action of the year, plus some of the best performances
- All Quiet on the Western Front * – For the dads who love war films, although Grandpa might ask why they’re speaking that damned German
- Bullet Train – A nice, solid action film. Might be too violent for Grandma, but the aunts, uncles, and teens should have a blast with Brad Pitt’s wacky train antics
- Falling For Christmas – Moms and sisters deserve movies too, and a Lindsay Lohan Christmas rom-com is tailor-made for them
- Father Stu – If you’re from a religious family, but want something with a bit of edge, Mark Wahlberg’s cursing priest in Father Stu may strike the perfect balance
- Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery *# – Honestly, the perfect film for the whole family. It’s funny, smart, and breezy, and should please every cousin, aunt, uncle, and grandparent easily
- Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio *# – A perfect film, no notes. Should delight kids, adults, and cousins who love The Sopranos for the Italian stereotypes
- Lady Chatterly’s Lover – A frisky little drama for all you couples who need some alone time away from your wild and crazy families
- Matilda the Musical – Listen, musicals are always a hit, and Matilda is a solid one. Should be fun for the whole family, plus the story is familiar enough to appease grown adults, millennials, and Gen-Z alike
- RRR *# – If you want to bring down the house, this film’s got something for everyone: musical numbers for the grandparents, action for the teens, and more homoerotic undertones than anything not called Top Gun
- Slumberland – A surprisingly delightful children’s film. May be too childish for most adults, but kids will be happy, as will all the aunts with a crush on Jason Momoa
- Where The Crawdads Sing – For the aunts and cousins who had a book club during the pandemic. Everyone should be able to walk away saying “That was fine. The book was better”
- A Christmas Story Christmas – Perfect for those in the family who want to feel nostalgic AND those who want to be angry (because of nostalgia)
- Barbarian # – The f*cked-up cousins deserve a movie too. Throw this one on and watch everyone’s jaw drop for the first-act finale
- The Batman # – The perfect movie to throw on thinking you’re getting a fun superhero film and then immediately have to explain to the youngsters what a serial killer is
- Don’t Worry Darling – If you want to feel smarter than you actually are, or you have a cousin who’s REALLY into Harry Styles, then maybe the perfect film for the family
- Elvis *# – Arguably the biggest crowd=pleaser of the bunch. The grandparents will love it, the parents will love it, the teens will love it – who doesn’t love Elvis?
- The Banshees of Inisherin *# – The rare film that can function as counterprogramming AND a crowd-pleaser for the whole family. Perfect for grandparents, cool teens, and that one elderly relative that immigrated from Ireland and seems really happy about the Queen
- See How They Run # – If you’re busy waiting for Glass Onion to finally drop on Netflix, might I suggest See How They Run? Equally light, breezy, and fun for the whole family, although its aesthetic is more “grandparent” than “millennial”
- Catherine, Called Birdy – A Sunday morning treat for the tween cousins that loved the book and the older millennial cousins who haven’t let go of their Lena Dunham love
- Good Night Oppy – While not the best move for your mom who hates documentaries, it’s perfect for everyone who loves science, space, and cute little robots (so everyone else)
- My Policeman – Perfect for the cousins who love Harry Styles, came out of the closet but haven’t read Queen Theory yet, or both
- Thirteen Lives – The ultimate Dad Movie hit, mainly because that’s what Ron Howard’s good at. Great for the whole family to cry to, except that one cousin aggressively thirsting after Colin Farrell (see also: Banshees of Inisherin)
- Cha Cha Real Smooth # – Just a sweet, basic story. Perfect to put on for the recent college graduate who hasn’t found a job yet so you can all stare at them
- Emancipation * – Because if your family doesn’t watch the new Will Smith film he personally shows up to your house and slaps you
- The Greatest Beer Run Ever – This strikes me as the type of film your Dad watches after everyone else goes to bed. If you stay up late to watch, or have a crush on Zac Efron, you can too!
- Spirited – I truly hope this doesn’t become your newest holiday classic, but I don’t have a strong enough argument against a Christmas Story adaptation with Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell
- Bros – Perhaps not the rom-com for Grandma, no matter how many Hallmark actors they throw at you, but Billy Eichner’s gay love story is perfect for the older cousins when everyone else has gone to bed
- Minions: The Rise of Gru – Because kids LOVE Minions, for some insane reason
- Harris Goes To Paris – The movie your grandma asks to watch and everyone else pretends to hate but secretly loves
- Nope – Scary enough for the horror nerds, fun enough for the action fans, and Twilight Zone-ish enough for the grandparents – there’s something for everyone in this Jordan Peele romp
- Ticket to Paradise # – The perfect rom-com. Watch it. I don’t have any snarky comments to make here
- Chip n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers – One of the most delightful films of the year, this Emmy Award winner is perfect for young kids and hip millennial cousins feeling nostalgic, angsty, or stoned
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules – There’s always one asinine movie that the kids want to watch – maybe a great opportunity for the adults to spike the egg nog
- Disenchanted – The same way A Christmas Story Christmas is meant to make boys nostalgic and angry at the same time, so too will Disenchanted do so for women of a certain age (28)
- Strange World – Honestly, just skip it. It’s not worth the price of a Disney Plus watch – that is to say, free. But if the kids REALLY need something to make them shut up for an hour and a half, I guess you could do worse
- Thor: Love and Thunder – There’s always one Marvel movie the nerds in the family want to watch; Thor: Love and Thunder is silly enough to pass the time
The Sacred Wall’s Top Five Choices:
- The Fabelmans – You can never go wrong with a Spielberg film, especially when it’s one of his best in years
- Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – It’s got mystery, it’s got humor, and everyone loved the first one. What could go wrong?
- Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio – Because no film this year, especially on this list, is as artistically or emotionally rich as del Toro’s new fairy tale
- Marcel the Shell with Shoes On – Sweet, cute, and fun for the whole family. The perfect option for any holiday
- See How They Run – If you trust me on nothing else, trust me on this: See How They Run is a delightful comedy caper, and if you don’t have Netflix, then this is the perfect alternative to Glass Onion
Hopefully, this list helps you out this holiday season. This year’s Christmas lists were unfortunately a bust, but I’ll be back later this week with the Best of 2022 coverage, as well as a few more reviews of the films I’ve watched this year. Until then, Happy Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Holidays, and Happy Watching!