Boxers, zombies and a new Spider-Man: The 2018 holiday movie preview
Sometimes during the holidays, you just need to get out of the house and go to the movies, and it doesn't much matter what is on the screen.
Welcome to late November and all of December, when studios present family movies, feel-gooders and the remains of the pre-Oscar consideration "quality pictures."
Here are 26 buzzy and not-so-buzzy movies coming out between now and the end of the year. Release dates are, as always, subject to change, especially in Austin, which tends to get some films a few weeks after major markets.
“The Front Runner.” Oh, Gary Hart. Once a respected senator considered the odds-on favorite for the 1988 Democratic nomination, Hart’s relationship with Donna Rice, to whom he was not married, was the canary in the coal mine for all the zipper-based political journalism that came after. And that was 30 years ago. Jason Reitman directs Hugh Jackman as Hart and Vera Farmiga as his wife.
“Robin Hood.” Hollywood never, ever tires of trying to make Robin Hood happen. This time around, Otto Bathurst directs Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn and Eve Hewson in yet another spin on Robin of Loxley (played by Egerton). Expect bows that fire at machine-gun speed and lots of flipping in the air.
“Creed II.” Yes, the rumors are true. Michael B. Jordan is, once again, Adonis Creed, and this time he is fighting Viktor Drago, son of Ivan “If he dies, he dies” Drago. (Spoiler: He died. Drago killed Creed’s dad, Apollo, in “Rocky IV.”) Soundtrack sounds decent, but let’s be rea l— Rocky music is never, ever getting better than the cue called “Going the Distance” by Bill Conti from the original film's score. (Seriously, Google it. It remains bulletproof.)
“Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2.” Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) leaves video games and explores the wide, wide world of the internet, the sum total of online humanity’s hopes, fears and interests. He’s joined by Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman) as they encounter all sort of netizens, including Yesss (voice of Taraji P. Henson), the embodiment of the buzzy, tubey site “BuzzzTube.”
“Green Book.” This is the story of Italian-American bouncer Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) who becomes the driver of Jamaican-American classical pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South. It’s being called by many one of the feel-good movies of a year in which there is a lot about which to feel bad — but I have yet to read a African-American critic say as much.
"The Favourite." Yorgos Lanthimos directs the always-awesome Olivia Colman as an aging Queen Anne, Rachel Weisz as her close friend Lady Sarah, who runs the show, and Emma Stone as Abigail, a servant whose arrival disrupts a delicate balance in the court. Yes, please.
“Maria By Callas.” Tom Volf’s documentary takes a close look at the legendary Greek-American opera singer completely in her own words. Expect performances, TV interviews, home movies, family photographs, private letters and unpublished memoirs.
“Anna and the Apocalypse.” It’s yet another zombie apocalypse (y’all know these aren’t actually real, right?), this one threatening the wee town of Little Haven at Christmas, which prompts Anna and pals to fight the walking dead with weapons while also singing. With Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, Sarah Swire and Christopher Leveaux.
“Becoming Astrid.” Alba August stars in this biopic about the complicated life of children’s writer Astrid Lindgren, author of “Pippi Longstocking.” Writer-director Pernille Fischer Christensen won the Los Angeles Film Festival’s best narrative feature and audience awards for "Someone to Love."
“Vox Lux.” In 1999, teenage sisters Celeste (Raffey Cassidy) and Eleanor (Stacy Martin) compose and perform a song about a traumatic experience, which also happens to launch a music career. Jude Law plays a passionate music manager as Celeste becomes a star and Eleanor stays in the relative background. In 2017, 31-year-old Celeste (Natalie Portman), whose career has been marked with scandal, is mother to a teenage daughter when an act of violence demands Celeste’s attention.
“Once Upon a Deadpool.” Perhaps sensing they were leaving money on the table (OK, fine, absolutely sensing that), Fox gives us this, essentially a PG-13 edit of “Deadpool 2” aimed at kids too young for the original, complete with a new framing sequence.
“Mary Queen of Scots.” The British royalty catfight to end all British royalty catfights. Saoirse Ronan IS Mary! Margot Robbie IS Elizabeth I. Unless they take some very serious liberties with the story, pretty sure I know how this one ends.
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Comics nerds from all over are probably a little too excited for this CGI-animated picture, which focuses on a black, Latino Brooklyn teenager named Miles Morales, the Spider-Man of an alternate universe, who meets Peter Parker, the Spider-Man that most folks know. Shameik Moore is Miles, Hailee Steinfeld is Gwen Stacy, Jake Johnson is Peter Parker, Liev Schreiber is the Kingpin. A black, comics nerd pal of mine from New York said he almost burst into tears at the scene in the trailer wherein Miles dives off a skyscraper in classic superhero fashion and screams “Brooklyn!” Representation means something, folks.
“The Mule.” Bradley “I should do a Barry Manilow biopic” Cooper, Taissa Farmiga and director Clint Eastwood star in this story of a 90-year-old drug runner for the Sinaloa cartel.
“If Beale Street Could Talk.” Barry “Moonlight” Jenkins follows up that Oscar-winner with a passion project, this adaptation of James Baldwin’s somewhat-underknown 1974 novel of the same name. KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Colman Domingo and Teyonah Parris star in this emotionally complex, gorgeously shot love story.
“Mortal Engines.” Peter “Hobbit” Jackson has been hankering to do an adaptation of Philip Reeve’s post-apocalyptic steampunk series since 2009. He finally delivers this story of giant cities on wheels with first-time feature helmer Christian Rivers (a longtime Jackson collaborator) directing Hugo Weaving, Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan and Jihae.
“Mary Poppins Returns.” Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) visits the grown-up Michael and Jane Banks (Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer) as their family suffers a loss. Kites will be flown, birds will be fed and Lin-Manuel Miranda will play a chimney sweep.
“Aquaman.” Jason Momoa stars as the titular character, aka Arthur Curry, half-human ruler of Atlantis and member of the Justice League. DC Comics movies have mostly been critical nightmares, under-lit and over-dramatic in equal measure. We’ll see how this one goes.
“Ben is Back.” Writer-director Peter Hedges directs his son Lucas as Ben Burns, who has been clean for about two months when it comes time to hang out with this parents (mother Julia Roberts and stepfather Courtney B. Vance) for the holidays. But like many addicts, Ben struggles with holidays and could relapse instantly, not to mention the fact that his hometown is full of folks who still resent the destruction his addiction brought to their lives.
“Bumblebee.” Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr. and John Ortiz star in this 1987-set origin story for one of the most popular characters in the “Transformers” franchise.
“Welcome to Marwen.” This Robert “Forrest Gump” Zemekis-directed feature-ization of the stunning documentary “Marwencol” stars Steve Carell as Mark Hogancamp, who, after being nearly beaten to death in a bar assault, constructs a miniature World War II village, called Marwencol, in his yard to aid his recovery. The jury is still out as to whether the movie will address why Hogancamp was beaten — because he told drunk jerks he liked to wear women’s stockings and heels. Anyway, if you have ever wanted to see Carell as a doll, here you go. Please watch the documentary in addition to this.
“Second Act.” Oh, J-Lo. How the world would be different if you had stuck with acting after blowing minds in “Out of Sight,” one of the best movies of 1998. Jennifer Lopez, Leah Remini, Vanessa Hudgens and Milo Ventimiglia star in this comedy about Maya (Lopez), a 40-year-old (cough) woman struggling with the limitations of her life. The feels, they will be good.
“Vice.” Christian Bale IS Dick Cheney (even if he looks exactly like Jeff Daniels in a fat suit)! Amy Adams IS Lynne Cheney! Steve Carell IS Donald Rumsfeld! And the almighty Sam Rockwell IS president and future painter George W. Bush. Directed by Adam McKay.
“Destroyer.” Karyn Kusama directs a grim-looking Nicole Kidman in this even-grimmer-looking drama about a cop who has to deal with her past by interacting with folks from an old undercover assignment.
“On the Basis of Sex.” Mimi Leder directs the story of future Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones, somehow). With Justin Theroux, Cailee Spaeny and Armie Hammer. Probably pairs well with “RBG,” a 2018 documentary about Ginsburg.