14 Films We’re Looking Forward To This Holiday Season

It used to be that the winter months were dominated by the releases of films that studios hoped would capture the eye of the average Academy Awards voter. But blockbuster season has spread from the being just in the summer months to year round, and that means that winter has a heady mix of films from art house to thunderous crowd pleasers. Here are the dozen plus two films we are looking forward to over the next five weeks.

Darkest Hour (November 22)

In his latest venture, director Joe Wright pulls away from literary classics and takes on history; enlisting Gary Oldman (Dark Knight trilogy, Harry Potter franchise), Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient, Four Weddings and a Funeral) and Lily James (Disney’s live-action Cinderella, Downton Abbey) to tell the story of Winston Churchill in his early days as Prime Minister amidst the backdrop of the bloodiest war in history. Despite all odds, Churchill rallied the country to take a stand against the Nazis and became a political icon. This is one to check off your Oscar watch list as it will be a frontrunner this awards season.  – Natasha Bogutzki

Coco (November 22)

Pixar films are like pizza–even when they’re bad, they’re good. No other filmmaker has the unique blend of imagination and sentimentality that Pixar does. This film, which focuses on a boy’s reuniting with deceased relatives in the land of the dead, seems to play in to both those strengths. Bring tissues.  – William Gatevackes

The Disaster Artist (December 1)

Some movies are so bad they’re good. Some movies are just bad. But it is a rare film that is so bad that it becomes a cultural phenomenon and an unmitigated classic. The Room was that type of film. The Tommy Wiseau opus has developed a cult following and had thousands of people asking “How did this get made?” This film, adapted from the book of the same name that tells the story of the making of the film, might answer that question for you.  – WG

All the Money in the World (December 8)

One of the odder stories that has tangentially shot off from the current ongoing Hollywood sexual harassment scandals is the recasting of Kevin Spacey in Ridley Scott’s All The Money In The World just weeks before the film is set to premiere. Stepping into the role of J Paul Getty, one of the richest men in the world, is Christopher Plummer in this true story of the kidnapping of Getty’s grandson and his refusal to pay the ransom. Will the end result close out the year for Scott on a higher note than the film he started 2017 with, Alien: Covenant? – RD

The Shape of Water (December 8)

Just based on the trailers, it seems as if there is a strong comparison to be drawn between Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape Of Water and the classic 1950s monster movie Creature From The Black Lagoon. But filtering it through Del Toro’s unique and humanist viewpoint, we are probably getting a story that turns that story on its head in various ways. While it hasn’t managed to spark much interest among the various year-end independent film awards so far, it does have some positive buzz and the Golden Lion Award following its debut at the Venice Film Festival on its side. – RD

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (December 15)

Han Solo is dead. Luke Skywalker has just been given back his lightsabre following years of self-imposed exile by the young and potentially powerful Rey. Fin is in a coma and Leia is worrying about what steps the evil First Order, in part led by her own son Kylo Ren, might be planning to further sow seeds of war across the galaxy. Such is the state our heroes found themselves in at the closing credits of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the return of the much loved franchise to the silver screen. Now, two years later, writer/director Rian Johnson picks up those story threads from J J Abrams to weave the next chapter in the Star Wars tapestry. Lucasfilm has already given Johnson control of the next trilogy of films that will appear at the conclusion of the current trio of films and that bodes well for what we will see when this opens. – RD

Ferdinand (December 15)

The Story of Ferdinand is a classic in children’s literature and is part of a lot of people’s fondest childhood memories since its release in 1936. However, children’s books do not often translate well into full length movies, mainly because you need to expand the text to make it filmable. If the person doing the adapting isn’t as good as the original writer, you’ll have a disaster on your hands. However, Paul Feig is listed as a producer here, and he was the producer on the utterly charming The Peanuts Movie. That gives hope that this film will capture the classic well.   – WG

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle (December 20)

Welcome back to Jumanji. Robin Williams cult classic is getting a sequel. Or a reboot. It’s hard to tell with this film. This time, instead of the game coming to life, four teenagers get sucked into Jumanji (updated from board game to video game), and become their avatars. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson leads this cast, consisting of his former collaborator, Kevin Hart, as well as Jack Black, Karen Gillan and Nick Jonas. It’s too early to say if this will be an action comedy with substance or a nostalgia fueled cashgrab. But one thing is certain, first trailers have practically guaranteed this as box office gold. However, will it be able to stand up against the heavyweight Star Wars: The Last Jedi?- NB

Bright (December 22)

It feels like it has been a long time since we had any type of buddy cop film, good or bad. The 1980s were lousy with them but over the ensuing years the trope has faded away somewhat. One of the few successful ones of recent vintage were the pair of Bad Boys films from director Michael Bay. One half of that duo, Will Smith, is headlining this new high concept buddy cop film. But his partner isn’t a fast talking cop, but an orc and their beat is a Los Angeles where magic and science intermingle. Max Landis scripted this genre mashup, though at least one subsequent draft went through director David Ayers’ typewriter. Both have been involved with some troubled productions in the past, but when left to their own devices, they have turned in some interesting work. Here’s hoping that they have been left alone. – RD

Downsizing (December 22): 

Alexander Payne is one of the best filmmakers working today and is a master at capturing the human condition in all manner of scenarios. To see him apply this mastery to a satire about people voluntarily shrinking to five inches high in order to aleive overpopulation makes this a film worth waiting for, and likely one that will get some attention around Oscar time. – WG

The Post (December 22)

There is nothing like a really good newspaper movie. We have heroic reporters working hard to find out the truth and fighting hard to make sure that truth gets told to the public no matter what. A good newspaper movie can be about the process of gathering the news, it can be about the humans at the heart of the story being reported on and it can be about the moral and ethical choices that the writers and publishers may have to make. And Spielberg’s The Post, which tells the story of the reports who broke the story of the Pentagon Papers, an internal Department of Defense report that detailed the US government’s deceit of the American people over certain aspects of the Vietnam War. And with the ongoing attempt to delegitimize reputable news organizations coming from certain corridors of power, Steven Spielberg’s film can possibly stand as a nice reminder as to what news organizations do for the American people. – RD

The Great Showman (December 25)

Whether it be the jukebox hit Moulin Rouge (2001) or last year’s award season darling La La Land, film audiences has proven time and again that they love an original musical. And this one is looking to follow in the trend of its predecessors. The film follows P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) leading an ensemble cast featuring Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Zendaya and Rebecca Ferguson as it tells the story of the creation of the visionary wonder known as Barnum and Bailey’s Circus: The Greatest Show On Earth. And speaking of music, La La Land songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are following up their success by penning the songs for Showman. Audiences love films about hardworking underdogs who go against societal norms, and with the musical talent jam packed into this film, it appears a heavy hitter. In spite of that, could director Michael Gracey’s lack of experience have a negative effect on this film, as it is his first feature. The film may need to rely on it’s wild card; the circus itself. The traveling show played its final performance on May 21st, 2017, after 146 consecutive years. This may reach the childhood memories of audience members, striking interest. But is that enough? -NB

Molly’s Game (December 25)

We all know that scribe Aron Sorkin has a voice all his own. But can he make the transition to director and shoot a walk-and-talk scene as well as he writes one? That’s the question Molly’s Game will answer as Sorkin the writer becomes Sorkin, the first time helmer. Based on the true story of a woman who arranged discreet million-dollar poker games for the rich and famous, the film has already been generating some strong buzz for star Jessica Chastain following its premier at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this past fall. – Rich Drees

Phantom Thread (December 25)

There’s not too much known about Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film. We do know that Daniel Day Lewis stars as a renowned dressmaker in 1950s London who meets the strong-willed Alma (Vicky Krieps), who challenges his bachelor ways and becomes his muse and lover. It opens on Christmas Day, so obviously this is a gift from the movie gods to you! – RD

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