December! Oscar bait meets the blockbusters! Sometimes they’re one and the same! This year, not so much, but honestly you’ll get pretty deep in the list before the crap starts to show, so dig in!
- STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI – Dec. 14, RealD3D, IMAX3D. I mean, come on. FORCE AWAKENS reinvigorated the franchise, legit auteur Rian Johnson (LOOPER, BRICK) is directing, and it looks phenomenal. I’m suggest it could be the best STAR WARS film yet. But that would raise expectations waaaay too much, so I’ll just say I’m excited. For the 3D haters, several IMAX screens have at least one 2D showing a day, so plan your viewing accordingly.
- THE SHAPE OF WATER – Dec. 8. Guillermo Del Toro is one of the best filmmakers working today, and this is said to be one of his best. Basically, what if CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON was a love story? Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer are support but it’s Sally Hawkins who will break your heart, and Doug Jones is once again the man behind the mask. A must-see.
- THE DISASTER ARTIST – Dec. 1. The story behind one of the most baffling films of all time. James Franco IS Tommy Wiseau. Extremely good reviews abound, and it looks funny as hell but is also heartbreaking, showing how Hollywood can break you by making your dreams come true.
- THE PHANTOM THREAD – Dec. 25. Another great filmmaker graces us this month, with Paul Thomas Anderson and the brilliant Daniel Day Lewis getting together one last time, telling us a tale of a dressmaker losing himself in his muse in 1950’s London. It’ll be stunning, that much is guaranteed.
- MOLLY’S GAME – Dec. 25. Aaron Sorkin tells the true story of Molly, the Olympian who ran high-stakes poker games for famous clients. Jessica Chastain is Molly, and Idris Elba is whoever the hell he wants to be. Sorkin’s always exciting, and this is his directorial debut!
- JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE – Dec. 20, RealD3D. This is an actual sequel to the original JUMANJI, except this time four kids get sucked into a video game version and become The Rock, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, and Jack Black. That’s a hell of a combo. Early word is actually super positive, so director Jake Kasdan must be channeling WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY more than SEX TAPE, thank god.
- THE POST – Dec. 22 (limited). Spielberg’s latest is the trial-by-fire of the first female newspaper publisher, thrown into chaos with the leak of the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War. Sure, it’s Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, but it all seems a bit dry to me.
- THE GREATEST SHOWMAN – Dec. 20. Hugh Jackman IS P. T. Barnum! The lyrics for the songs are from the guys who did LA LA LAND! Michelle Williams! Zac Efron! Zendaya! But dammit, I just can’t get excited for this. The first trailer was terrified to show you that it’s a damned musical, though later trailers are much more up front about it. I’m just worried that it’ll be more GLEE than anything.
- ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD – Dec. 22. Ridley Scott’s latest is getting more attention for replacing Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer than anything, and it really doesn’t seem to have much going for it. Mark Wahlberg is a badass, um, private security dude tasked with saving the grandson of Jean Paul Getty, who doesn’t seem interested in paying the ransom so it’s up to his mom (Michelle Williams AGAIN) to either convince him to pay or save the kid herself. It’s hard to tell who the main character is here, and Ridley’s not exactly at the top of his game. Hopefully this will be better than it looks.
- DOWNSIZING – Dec. 22. Alexander Payne is an Oscar winning director (THE DESCENDANTS) but early reviews for this one are pretty soft. Matt Damon and his family undergo a procedure to literally shrink themselves for a simpler life among other shrunk folk. It’s a morality play, but it’s probably too goofy to be emotionally affecting.
- PITCH PERFECT 3- Dec. 22. Anna Kendrick and the Pitchettes are back for one final show, but will an attempt at solo success kill the group’s momentum? Look, I love Anna but I’ve never seen one of these, so if you’re a fan I’m sure it will be just fine.
- FERDINAND – Dec. 15. The director of ICE AGE and RIO is back with the story of a bull just trying to get back to his family. An interesting cast, with John Cena playing the bull, along with Kate McKinnon, David Tennant, and Bobby Cannavale among many others. I’m sure it will be a perfectly decent film that will not make you crave the sweet release of death as you watch it with your young, young children.
- JUST GETTING STARTED – Dec. 8. These last two films are basically tied for last, but this one was made by Ron Shelton who made BULL DURHAM so it gets the tiebreaker. Morgan Freeman is the king of his retirement home until Tommy Lee Jones shows up and challenges his dominance. Then some hitmen try to kill Morgan since it turns out he was under witness protection. Lots of saucy bits about old people fuckin’, but it’s fun to see Morgan as a dick. It also features one of the last performance of the great Glenne Headly from DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS.
- FATHER FIGURES – Dec. 22. So Owen Wilson and Ed Helms are brothers. Their mom, Glenn Close, admits that she’s not sure who their real dad is, but it’s one of like five wacky guys she banged in the 70s. Terry Bradshaw (as Terry Bradshaw), JK Simmons, and Christopher Walken are the most likely dads. Wow. Directed by the DP for THE HANGOVER, and written by the guy who wrote OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY, so, you know, bona fides. And at some point they pick up Katt Williams who may or may not be a serial killer. So yeah, comedy gold across the board.
So there’s no excuse to avoid the theatre this month, lots to check out, big and small. Escape the madness of the season in an air-conditioned, uhh, warmish room and laugh or cry to forget your troubles. Don’t even think about January, lord knows I’m not (checks list) yeah, it’s pretty weak. So enjoy THE LAST JEDI!