Holiday Movie Preview

Move over for the Oscar contenders

From drama to family fun and musical zombie thrillers, there's something for everyone at the movies this holiday season

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We've already seen some Academy Award contenders — "First Man," "A Star is Born," and unless Hollywood has its occasional short-term memory problem — "BlacKkKlansman." Now we'll see the rest, as movie-makers put out Oscar bait between Thanksgiving and the end of 2018.

And because it's the holidays and everybody should get something, we'll see a bunch of comedies, a few action films and even a couple of superhero movies that didn't make the summer schedule in the movie-packed weeks ahead.

As always, the release dates below are subject to change and some of the films will be platformed in New York and Los Angeles before fanning out to the Berkshires and the rest of the movie nation.

OSCAR CONTENDERS

The affair that derailed the presidential campaign of charismatic Democrat Gary Hart in 1988 seems almost quaint by the standards of today's ugly scandals, but "The Front-Runner" (Nov. 21) is timely nonetheless. Hugh Jackman is receiving favorable early notices for his portrayal of Hart.

Cousins played by Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone compete for the affection of Queen Anne in "The Favourite," (Nov. 23), a black comedy set in the 18th century that has been a hit with audiences on the film festival circuit this fall. In the other royal pairing of the holiday season, Queen Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie) tries to fend off a challenge to the throne from Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan) in "Mary Queen of Scots" (Dec. 7). Yes, somebody loses their head.

"If Beale Street Could Talk" (Dec. 14), the first film from director Barry Jenkins since his "Moonlight" won the Best Picture Oscar two years ago, is an adaptation of James Baldwin's still timely 1974 novel about a young man in Harlem wrongly accused of rape. The first starring role in six years by 88-year-old Clint Eastwood makes "The Mule" (Dec. 14) an Academy Award contender. In a story based on fact, Eastwood plays a drug mule for a South American cartel.

Steve Carell's serious acting chops will again be on display Dec. 21 in "Welcome to Marwen," in which Carell's artist, having suffered brain damage in a brutal assault, escapes into the model World War II-era town he creates. Robert Zemeckis directs.

Christmas Day brings three Oscar contenders, none of which will likely arrive in Berkshire theaters until January. Nicole Kidman is getting awards buzz for her performance as a Southern California detective who goes after a gang she successfully infiltrated years earlier in "Destroyer." Felicity Jones plays Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a young lawyer waging gender discrimination cases in "On The Basis of Sex." Christian Bale, an actor known for starving himself to prepare for roles, goes the opposite route to play former Vice President Dick Cheney in "Vice." Sam Rockwell promises to be fun as President George W. Bush.

DRAMA

"Green Book" (Nov. 21), starring Mahershala Ali as an African-American pianist and Viggo Mortensen as his white driver during a Deep South tour in 1962, was a crowd-pleaser at the Toronto Film Festival in September. A spin-off of the "Rocky" film series, "Creed II," which also opens on the 21st, stars Michael B. Jordan as the revenge-seeking son of Carl Weathers' Apollo Creed. Sylvester Stallone's now wizened Rocky is the young Adonis Creed's mentor.

Lucas Hedges plays a 19-year-old drug addict who comes home for Christmas in "Ben Is Back" (Dec. 7). Julia Roberts is the worried mom who fears a relapse. Also on Dec. 7, Danielle Macdonald's plus-sized Texas teenager decides to shake up a beauty pageant in "Dumplin'." Sharing this release date is "Vox Lux," which chronicles the evolution of a teenager who becomes a national celebrity after singing at a memorial service following a school shooting. Raffey Cassidy plays her as a teenager and Natalie Portman takes over as an adult.

ACTION

The merry scoundrel who robs from the rich and gives to the poor gets yet another screen reboot Nov. 21 in "Robin Hood," with Taran Edgerton as Robin. Eve Hewson (Bono's daughter) is Maid Marian and Jamie Foxx should make an intriguing Little John.

"Spider-Man" has been rebooted so many times they have apparently run out of actors. "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse" (Dec. 14), is animated, with Shameik Moore voicing a black Hispanic webslinger trainee under the tutelage of Peter Parker, voiced by Jake Johnson.

The disaster-plagued Norwegian family that survived a tsunami in 2015's "The Wave" finds itself at the epicenter of an Oslo earthquake in "The Quake" (Dec. 14). Maybe they should heed President Trump's plea and emigrate to the United States. Also on the 14th, Peter Jackson and his "Lord of the Rings" team offer "Mortal Engines," set in a bizarre future world in which major cities are on wheels and roar off to attack smaller cities.

DC Comics was scraping from the bottom of the ocean when it dragged up Aqua-Man as its latest superhero in the moribund "Justice League." Amazingly, the man-fish gets his own movie Dec. 21 with Jason Momoa as the title character in "Aqua-Man." Similarly, the "Transformer" series is apparently so out of gas that it is reduced to featuring the two-cylinder "Bumblebee" (Dec. 21), a VW bug that transforms into a large, but cute, robot.

LIGHT COMEDY

The season's only animated comedy, "Ralph Breaks The Internet" (Nov. 21), features John C. Reilly's Ralph and Sarah Silverman's Vanellope from the popular "Wreck-It Ralph" movie of 2012, and new characters voiced by among others Gal Gadot and Taraji P. Henson. Rob Bryson, Steve Coogan's droll sidekick in the delightful "Trip" movies, joins a group of synchronized swimmers with big ambitions in "Swimming With Men" (Dec. 7).

"Mary Poppins Returns" (Dec. 19) defies easy classification, just like the magical lady herself. Emily Blunt stars as the nanny of "Mary Poppins" returned to help her now grown-up charges in this musical comedy, which also features Lin Manual-Miranda and an appearance from Dick Van Dyke.

Jennifer Lopez becomes a powerful Madison Avenue executive after her online resume gets a mysterious upgrade in "Second Act" (Dec. 21). Will Ferrell is the legendary detective and John C. Reilly is his avuncular assistant in "Holmes & Watson" (Dec. 25), a comic version of the often-told tale based on Arthur Conan Doyle's detective duo. On Dec. 28, Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly — yes, him again — play a real-life duo, legendary comedians Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, as their careers wind down, in "Stan & Ollie."

DARK COMEDY

High school kids are pursued by zombies during the Christmas holidays in "Anna and the Apocalypse" (Nov. 30), which is, of all things, a musical comedy. Bridey Elliott, the daughter of comedian Chris Elliott and granddaughter of early radio and TV comedian Bob Elliott, makes her feature film debut as a writer and director on Dec. 7 with "Clara's Ghost." The story of a dysfunctional family's confrontation with a ghost stars Bridey's parents, Chris and Paula, and her sister Abby.

Also opening on the 7th is "Tyrel," in which Jason Mitchell finds that he is the only African-American at a birthday party in rural upstate New York. The Sundance hit recalls last year's dark comic sensation "Get Out."

THRILLERS

Penelope Cruz's young married mom returns to her Spanish village for a family wedding and meets up with an old flame, played by the intimidating Javier Cruz, in "Everybody Knows" (Nov. 30). Also on the 30th is one of a couple of holiday entries in the horror genre, Shay Mitchell plays a young woman working in a morgue who is confronted by a far too active corpse in "The Possession of Hannah Grace."

Ron Perlman is an aging hitman haunted by his past in "Asher" (Dec. 7). Nicolas Cage finds that a young woman is possessed by the spirit of his dead wife, leaving him "Between Worlds" (Dec. 21). But does she pose a threat to the U.S. Constitution?!


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