This December, throw a log on the fire and dig into our well-provisioned stash of great movies: we’ve got a gift bag full of screwball comedy favorites, a wagon train of wintry westerns, and a World Cup–ready team of eclectic football movies. There’s so much more to choose from, including an Adventures in Moviegoing with Tessa Thompson, three astonishing films by Mai Zetterling, documentaries spotlighting the stories of Iranian women, and Criterion Editions of Tootsie and Exotica.
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* indicates programming available only in the U.S.
PREMIERING DECEMBER 1
Screwball Comedy Classics
Featuring an introduction by comedian and actor Patton Oswalt
First comes love, then comes anarchy—at least that’s how it works in the wild, upside-down world of classic screwball. Like a romcom on speed, the screwball comedy supercharges the genre with fizzy battle-of-the-sexes mayhem; fast-talking, diamond-cut dialogue; and a perfectly calibrated combination of escapist elegance and slapstick chaos. The result is golden-age Hollywood at its most exuberantly inventive and playfully subversive, flipping social, class, and gender norms on their head with gleeful, lunatic abandon. This holiday haul of favorites by masters of the genre such as Frank Capra (It Happened One Night), Howard Hawks (His Girl Friday), and Preston Sturges (The Lady Eve) as well as ripe-for-discovery gems (Theodora Goes Wild, Love Is News) runs riot with the sparkling wit, virtuoso performances, and sense of unstoppable fun that make screwball such a blast.
FEATURING: The Front Page (1931), Me and My Gal (1932), Twentieth Century (1934), It Happened One Night (1934), My Man Godfrey (1936), Theodora Goes Wild (1936), Love Is News (1937), Easy Living (1937), The Awful Truth (1937), Holiday (1938), Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938), Midnight (1939), His Girl Friday (1940), The Lady Eve (1941), Ball of Fire (1941), Sullivan’s Travels (1941), The Palm Beach Story (1942), To Be or Not to Be (1942), The More the Merrier (1943), The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944), Hail the Conquering Hero (1944), Murder, He Says (1945), It Happens Every Spring (1949), Rhubarb (1951), You Never Can Tell (1951)
Snow, snow on the range . . . While the western traditionally evokes images of dusty, sunbaked deserts and parched plains, head north and you’ll find a wintry mix of snowbound frontier sagas that turn icy mountains and freezing tundra landscapes into dramatic, visually stunning backdrops for mythic tales of heroes, villains, and outlaws on treacherous treks through frigid temps. Spanning half a century, this collection of white-blanketed westerns brings together defining works by classical masters like Anthony Mann (The Far Country), William Wellman (Track of the Cat), and André de Toth (Day of the Outlaw) alongside revisionist genre reimaginings by iconoclasts such as Sam Peckinpah (Ride the High Country), Robert Altman (McCabe & Mrs. Miller), and Antonia Bird (Ravenous).
FEATURING: The Secret of Convict Lake (1951), The Wild North (1952), The Far Country (1954), Track of the Cat (1954), Day of the Outlaw (1959), Ride the High Country (1962), The Great Silence (1968), Little Big Man (1970), McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), Dead Man (1995), Ravenous (1999)
The Beautiful Game: International Football Films
Soccer, er, football fans rejoice: just in time for the World Cup, this champion lineup of films celebrates the world’s most popular sport. Spanning pitches from Europe and Asia to Africa and the Middle East, these eclectic tales go well beyond the standard sports-movie clichés of adversity and triumph, crossing and subverting genres to examine the intersection of sport and culture. Stories of women who risk everything to participate (Offside, Freedom Fields), Buddhist monks who defy tradition in the name of fandom (The Cup), and one man’s obsessive quest to revolutionize the sport (Infinite Football) illustrate the power and worldwide impact of a phenomenon that is truly more than a game.
FEATURING: The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick (1972), Forza Bastia (1978), Gregory’s Girl (1980), The Cup (1999), Shaolin Soccer (2001), Offside (2006), The Second Game (2014), Mirage (2014), Infinite Football (2018), Freedom Fields (2018), Diamantino (2018)*
Tessa Thompson’s Adventures in Moviegoing
Anchoring both high-profile blockbusters like the Creed and Thor franchises and acclaimed, adventurous indies like Sorry to Bother You and Passing, actor and producer Tessa Thompson has emerged as one of the most intriguing and versatile performers of her generation. In this edition of Adventures in Moviegoing, Thompson sits down with Criterion curatorial director Ashley Clark to discuss acting legends like Angela Bassett and Al Pacino, as well as the films that have had a lasting impact on her understanding of the art. Encompassing the ravishing bossa nova beauty of Marcel Camus’s Black Orpheus, the wildly unrestrained sensuality of Jean-Jacques Beineix’s Betty Blue, and the jagged surrealist comedy of Janicza Bravo’s Lemon, her selections offer a menu of bold, transportive, and immersive moviegoing experiences.
FEATURING: Black Orpheus (1959), Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962), Black Girl (1966), Touki bouki (1973), Tampopo (1985), Betty Blue (1986), Poetry (2010), Lemon (2017)
EXCLUSIVE STREAMING PREMIERES
Marx Can Wait
1968 was the year Camillo died. Nearly fifty years after the death of his twin brother at the age of twenty-nine, acclaimed director Marco Bellocchio (Fists in the Pocket) gathers his family to reconstruct Camillo’s disappearance. Combining intimate conversations with the Bellocchio family and those who knew Camillo best with archival material, home movies, and his own films, Marco attempts to manifest a ghost he has been dealing with his entire life. What begins as a family conversation morphs into a profoundly moving investigation into grief, guilt, compassion, and love from one of Italian cinema’s greatest directors.
The Hawaiian island of Kauaʻi is seen by many as a paradise of leisure and pristine natural beauty, but these escapist fantasies obscure the colonial displacement, hyperexploitation of workers, and destructive environmental extraction that have actually shaped life on the island for the last 250 years. This illuminating documentary critically examines the island’s history—and the various strategies by which Hollywood has represented it—through four generations of director Anthony Banua-Simon’s family, who first immigrated to Kauaʻi from the Philippines to work on the sugar plantations. Assembled from a diverse array of sources—from Banua-Simon’s observational footage to amateur YouTube travelogues to epic Hollywood musical sequences—Cane Fire offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of the economic and cultural forces that have cast Indigenous and working-class residents as “extras” in their own story.
This revelatory first feature from Nathalie Álvarez Mesén is a mesmerizing portrait of a woman in the process of taking ownership of her body and self. In a remote village in Costa Rica, forty-year-old Clara (Wendy Chinchilla Araya in a stunning screen debut) endures a repressively religious and withdrawn life under the command of her mother (Flor María Vargas Chavez). Her uncanny affinity for creatures large and small allows Clara to find solace in the natural world around her. Tension builds within the family as Clara’s niece (Ana Julia Porras Espinoza) approaches her quinceañera, igniting a sexual and mystical awakening in Clara and inaugurating a journey to free herself from the strictures that have dominated her life.
CRITERION COLLECTION EDITIONS
PREMIERING DECEMBER 1
Tootsie (Sydney Pollack, 1982)
Criterion Collection Edition #738
Dustin Hoffman lands the role of a lifetime in this funny, cutting, and poignant look at an American moment defined by shifting social and sexual identities.
SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by director Sydney Pollack, interviews with Dustin Hoffman and comedy writer Phil Rosenthal, two documentaries on the making of the film, deleted scenes, and more.
Exotica (Atom Egoyan, 1994)
Criterion Collection Edition #1150
Atom Egoyan’s mesmerizing international breakthrough takes the conventions of the psychological thriller into bold new territory—unsettling, dreamlike, and transcendently empathetic.
SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Egoyan’s 1993 feature Calendar, audio commentary by Egoyan and composer Mychael Danna, a conversation between Egoyan and filmmaker and actor Sarah Polley, short films by Egoyan, and more.
McCabe & Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)
Criterion Collection Edition #827
This unorthodox dream western by Robert Altman may be the most radically beautiful film to come out of the New American Cinema.
SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by Altman and producer David Foster, a documentary on the making of the film, interviews with cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, television appearances by Altman, and more.
3X Jafar Panahi
The brilliant Iranian auteur Jafar Panahi was sentenced to six years in prison in July 2022, after refusing to stop making urgent, perceptive films when he was banned from the profession in 2010. With No Bears, his latest film, coming out in December, there’s no better time to revisit three of his most beloved masterpieces, all of which view modern Iran through the eyes of young girls.
FEATURING: The White Balloon (1995), The Mirror (1997), Offside (2006)
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 3
Charlie Chaplin straps on a pair of skates and hits the roller rink in a sublime display of his balletically graceful slapstick style.
Feline acting legend Orangey the Cat stars as a feral tabby who inherits a Brooklyn baseball team(!) in this uproariously absurd screwball charmer.
Three Wishes for Cinderella
This enchanting Czech Christmas classic updates the beloved fairy tale with a woodsy wintertime setting and a refreshingly spirited, assertive heroine.
The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24
This hilarious, heartwarming tale of animal misfits is graced with a visual spontaneity that harkens back to classic Looney Tunes shorts.
April and the Extraordinary World*
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31
A riveting sci-fi adventure unfolds in an alternate steampunk universe in this breathtaking fantasy born from the imagination of renowned graphic novelist Jacques Tardi.
Docunight Presents: Iranian Women’s Stories
An initiative of the Kiarostami Foundation, Docunight is a streaming platform dedicated to documentaries from and about Iran. As Iranian women protest for a say in the future of their society, Docunight presents four piercing works by female filmmakers, which examine the parts that marriage and religion play in shaping gender roles, while celebrating women who’ve carved out their own destinies through martial arts and filmmaking. These documentaries present rebellious and independent characters whose struggles echo the Kurdish slogan that today’s movement in Iran has adopted as its own: Woman, Life, Freedom.
FEATURING: Here the Seats Are Vacant (2016), The Broker (2018), Radiograph of a Family (2020), Platform (2021)
It takes a village to make a movie—but what happens when that village is Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin? This cult-favorite documentary captures one DIY filmmaker’s bizarre, comical, and poignant quest to make his movie, his way.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 26
A tiny Tuscan town confronts the end of its way of life through the transformative power of theater.
More documentaries featured in this month’s programming: Forza Bastia (1978), The Second Game (2014), Infinite Football (2018), Freedom Fields (2018), Cane Fire (2020), Marx Can Wait (2021)
Three Films by Mai Zetterling
Featuring a new introduction by critic Alicia Malone
A fearlessly transgressive, long-overlooked pioneer of feminist cinema, Swedish actor turned director Mai Zetterling ruffled the feathers of the patriarchal establishment with a string of bracingly modern, sexually frank, and politically incendiary films focused on female agency and the turbulent state of twentieth-century Europe. Her peerless ability to render subjective psychological states with startling immediacy is on display in Loving Couples, Night Games, and The Girls—three provocative, taboo-shattering works from the 1960s featuring some of Swedish cinema’s most iconic stars. With their audacious narrative structures that fuse reality and fantasy, their elaborate use of metaphor and symbolism, and their willingness to delve into the most fraught realms of human experience, these movies are models of adventurous, passionately engaged filmmaking.
FEATURING: Loving Couples (1964), Night Games (1966), The Girls (1968)
Carey Mulligan delivers a luminous, star-making performance in this captivating coming-of-age tale sparkling with the charm and style of 1960s Britain.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 28
You are what you eat in Antonia Bird’s wickedly subversive, Donner Party–inspired cannibal satire.
More women filmmakers featured in this month’s programming: Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962), Forza Bastia (1978), Gasman (1998), Lemon (2017), Spettacolo (2017), Freedom Fields (2018), All the Crows in the World (2021), Clara sola (2021), Like the Ones I Used to Know (2021), Melting Snow (2021)
All the Crows in the World and Tampopo
A pair of absurdist tales use the ritual of the shared meal as a springboard to explore social roles, human connection, and communion with a sardonic twist.
The Headhunter’s Daughter
Song and landscape merge sublimely in this cosmically poetic evocation of a young Filipina woman’s journey to become a country singer.
A stocking stuffer of holiday shorts captures both the magic of the season and the melancholy of what can be the loneliest time of year. From a cozy stop-motion bauble (A Christmas Dream) to striking early works by renowned directors like Lynne Ramsay (Gasman) and Miguel Gomes (Christmas Inventory), these by turns festive, funny, and poignant films are proof that sometimes small gifts are the best of all.
FEATURING: A Christmas Dream (1945), Gasman (1998), Christmas Inventory (2000), Bad Night for the Blues (2010), Wren Boys (2017), Melting Snow (2021)
Tattoo and The Mirror
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 27
Two tales of transit reveal the patriarchal structures that shape life in Iran as women and girls navigate bureaucracy, the city, and the limits of their autonomy.
Footnote and My Sex Life . . . or How I Got into an Argument
Two films scale the ivory tower to explore the posturing and politics of academic life.
Brazil and The City of Lost Children
It’s steampunk Santa vibes all the way in two darkly imaginative visions of the holiday season as a dystopian fever dream.
Jolly Good Christmas
This Sporting Life and The Long Day Closes
Lindsay Anderson and Terence Davies employ contrasting aesthetic sensibilities to portray British Christmas stories full of turmoil and longing.
My Night at Maud’s and A Christmas Tale
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 23
Gallic tidings we bring in two tales of Yuletide friction, connection, and ennui courtesy of French masters past and present.
NEW ADDITIONS TO PREVIOUS PROGRAMS
Now Playing in ’80s Horror: Christine
A high-school nerd’s possessive and possessed 1958 Plymouth Fury unleashes its jealousy in a killing rampage in this sleek Stephen King adaptation from genre master John Carpenter.