Between Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, Hollywood figures most Americans have a decent amount of vacation time on their hands. As a result the coming month (or so) is crammed with big-time movie releases. This time of the year, studios are eagerly releasing both epic popcorn movies (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Jumanji: The Next Level) and small-scale Oscar bait (Richard Jewell, Just Mercy) hoping you’ll give them the gift of a huge box office. So what do we have waiting for us at the cineplexes this holiday season? Let’s take a look!
Note: All opening dates are subject to change.
A cocky high school athlete and his introspective younger sister are at the center of this lavishly praised film fest favorite. The story traces the journey of a suburban family, led by a well-intentioned but domineering father, as they try to come together in the aftermath of a devastating loss. Up-and-coming indie filmmaker Trey Edward Shults (Krishna, It Comes at Night) writes and directs.
Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne (who appeared together in The Theory of Everything) star in this historical adventure tale about a pilot and a scientist in the mid-1800s who find themselves in an epic fight for survival while attempting to break a world record in a gas balloon.
Playmobil: The Movie
Warner Bros. made a lot of money of The LEGO Movie, so it was only a matter of time before the toy line’s European equivalent jumped in with its own CGI spin-off. In it, two orphaned kids find themselves transported into a tiny Playmobil playset world come to life. Daniel Radcliffe, Jim Gaffigan, Adam Lambert, Kenan Thompson and Meghan Trainor provide voices for the various toys (everything from pirates to robots to Vikings to fairy godmothers).
Bob Clark’s 1974 cult classic holiday slasher—about a group of female students stalked by a stranger during Christmas break—gets a feminst reboot thanks to writer/director Sophia Takal. Imogen Poots (Fright Night, Green Room) heads the cast.
Margot Robbie, Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman star in this ripped-
Jumaniji: The Next Level
Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Jack Black and Kevin Hart are back as a group of friends transported back into their digital avatars in the magical video game Jumanji. This time around, the rules have changed, and the quartet find themselves navigating new landscapes—from snowy mountaintops to arid deserts. Awkwafina, Nick Jonas and Danny DeVito are among the new cast members for this go-around.
A Hidden Life
Acclaimed director Terrence Malick (Badlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life) returns with this biopic about Austrian Franz Jägerstätter, a conscientious objector who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War II—and was eventually declared a martyr and beatified by the Catholic Church.
Clint Eastwood directs this biopic about American security guard Richard Jewell, who was briefly considered a suspect in the 1996 Summer Olympic bombing in Atlanta. The film documents Jewell’s “trial by media,” which took a huge toll on his personal and professional life—before his eventual exoneration (and the capture of the actual bomber).
The enduringly popular stage musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber (and based on some weird-ass cat poems by T.S. Eliot) comes to life on the big screen. Idris Elba, Ian McKellen, Rebel Wilson, Judi Dench, Taylor Swift, James Corden, Jennifer Hudson and Jason Derulo are among the actors wearing CGI cat suits and singing about “the Heavyside Layer.”
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Director J.J. Abrams closes out this latest Star Wars trilogy by setting up one final battle between the forces of good (embodied by Daisey Ridley’s Rey) and the forces of evil (led by Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren). Also, Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) and Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) are back for old times’ sake.
Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road, Skyfall) directs the epic and technically ingenious tale of World War I. Two young British privates are given the impossible mission of delivering a message deep within enemy territory, preventing 1,600 young soldiers from walking into a trap. This entire film, inspired by a true historical incident, is shot and edited to appear as a single, uninterrupted take unfolding in real time.
Spies in Disguise
Will Smith offers up his voice to this cartoon about an international superspy who gets turned into a pigeon. He’s a pigeon. But he’s still got to save the world. That’s the situation. Will Smith is a pigeon.
We already had the Japanese films Ju-On: The Curse, Ju-On: The Curse 2, Ju-On: The Grudge, Ju-On: The Grudge 2, Ju-On: The Beginning of the End and Ju-On: The Final Curse as well as the American films The Grudge, The Grudge 2 and The Grudge 3—almost all of which are just remakes/reboots of the first film. Here’s yet another one, which is said to have little to do with the previous films—other than the fact that it’s about a house cursed by a vengeful ghost.
Joel Kinnaman (Robocop, Suicide Squad) is an ex-con working undercover for the FBI. He intentionally gets himself incarcerated again in order to infiltrate the Polish mob at a maximum security prison.
World renowned civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) takes on the case of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), a man wrongfully imprisoned for the murder of a white woman. This legal drama is based on a true case from the early ’90s.
Like a Boss
Two female friends (Rose Byrne, Tiffany Haddish) with very different ideals decide to start a beauty company together. One is more practical and business-oriented, while the other just wants to earn a fortune and live a lavish lifestyle. This comedy comes from edgy indie director Miguel Arteta (Star Maps, Chuck & Buck, Youth in Revolt, The Good Girl)
In the wacky Hollywood tradition of musclebound tough guys getting saddled with cute little kids, wrestler-
The crew of an underwater research facility finds themselves trapped on the bottom of the ocean after an earthquake devastates their laboratory. But the earthquake lets loose a horde of subterranean monsters, forcing the crew to fight for their lives in more ways than one. Kristen Stewart (Twilight, Charlie’s Angels) tops the cast list of this waterlogged horror/disaster flick.
Bad Boys For Life
Belated sequels, prequels and reboots of series we’ve had our fill of haven’t done all that well at the box office lately. (See for reference: Terminator: Dark Fate, Charlie’s Angels). But Will Smith and Martin Lawrence have bills to pay. So they’re back doing the mismatched buddy cop thing after a leisurely 17-year hiatus.
The original 1967 film Doctor Dolittle (based on Hugh Lofting’s kids’ book series) was a colossal failure that nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox. But that hasn’t stopped Universal from attempting a new version starring Robert Downey Jr. as a Victorian physician who discovers he can talk to animals. Rami Malek, Octavia Spencer, Kumail Nanjiani, John Cena and Emma Thompson line up to provide the animal voices.