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Arts and Entertainment Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018 12 months ago

Critic's holiday film picks 2018

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A look at our favorite movies coming out this holiday season.

The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year to catch really great films. The deadline for Oscar consideration is fast approaching, so ‘tis the season to treat yourself and others to the gift of a movie that, perhaps, just might prove to be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Our picks ...

 

‘VOX LUX’

Now playing

When a school shooting victim sings a song at the memorial, a star is born. Fast forward 18 years and the pop icon (Natalie Portman) is consumed by guilt, paranoia and PTSD. Portman doesn’t show up until nearly halfway through, but her performance is receiving Oscar buzz. The daring Brady Corbet directs and scripts this controversial piece of filmmaking. 

 

‘THE MULE’

Now playing

The tagline for Clint Eastwood’s latest film is, “Nobody Runs Forever.” In it he plays a 90-year-old businessman who’s down on his luck and turns to smuggling cocaine in an effort to make ends meet. But when a DEA agent (Bradley Cooper) and cartel thugs start breathing down his neck, he’s forced to re-evaluate his life. At age 88, Eastwood proves that he’s still a vital force in movie making.

 

‘ROMA’

Released on Dec. 14 Netflix and expanded theatrical release

Once again director Alfonso Cuaron attempts to dazzle us with his genius in this film set in 1970s Mexico City. The story, which spans a year in the life of a middle-class family, is told from the point of view of their devoted maid (Yalitza Aparicio). Through trials and tribulations, she becomes their rock and source of comfort. Expect a personal and visually captivating experience. 

 

‘IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK’

Dec. 14 limited, Dec. 25 wide

Two young black people, much in love, are separated when unjust accusations are made against the fiancé. Set in Harlem, in the 1970s, the film examines the strong bond between two families when their children must face harsh adversaries. Directed by Barry Jenkins, this adaptation of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel looks emotionally charged. 

 

‘MARY POPPINS RETURNS’

Now playing 

The gifted Emily Blunt plays Poppins in this sequel to the beloved original made back in 1964. This time the nanny returns to assist her former, now grown up, wards with their children in difficult times. She brings her friend (Lin-Manuel Miranda) to help with the magical skills needed to once again lift the family’s spirits. An amazing cast that includes Emily Mortimer, Colin Firth and, yes, Meryl Streep.

 

‘BIRD BOX’

Dec. 21 on Netflix and expanded theatrical release

In this thriller about surviving a worldwide apocalyptic event, a mysterious force triggers self-destruction. If you see it, you die. Thus, being blindfolded is the only way to navigate seeking shelter. Sandra Bullock portrays a woman desperately trying to protect her children while holed up with strangers. Judging from the trailer, white knuckle moments may invoke wishing YOU had a blindfold. Directed by Susanne Bier. 

 

‘WELCOME TO MARWEN’

Opens Dec. 21

Based on a true story, Steve Carell portrays a man who is brutally attacked and left with severe handicaps, including memory loss. In an effort to cope, he creates a miniature village populated by fantasy and real friends. Director Robert Zemeckis employs performance-capture animation along with live action and it’s completely jaw-dropping. Leslie Mann, Janelle Monae and Merritt Wever also star. But it’s Carell’s profoundly moving performance, evident in the trailers, that grabs at your heart.

 

‘VICE’

Opens Dec. 25

An unrecognizable Christian Bale plays Dick Cheney in his rise from staffer to vice president. He’s downright spooky in the trailer because not only does he nail the look, he walks and talks exactly like the guy. But the content of what he says about agreeing to be the VP will make the hair on your arms stand up. When Chaney tells Bush he wants to “oversee bureaucracy ... military ... energy and foreign policy,” Bush’s reply is, “Yeah, right! I like that!” Also starring Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell. Adam McKay scripts and directs this not-so-festive film that leads in Golden Globe nominations. 

 

‘DESTROYER’

Opens Dec. 25

Another movie with a totally unrecognizable main character...Nicole Kidman as an alcoholic cop with a dark past is almost difficult to behold. Her character is unlikable, unreliable and unhappy. Her mysterious back story involves a possible relationship with a serial killer whom she wants to take down on her own. Kidman is nominated for a Golden Globe, so go girl, beat Gaga. Directed by Kayrn Kusama. 

 

‘ON THE BASIS OF SEX’

Opens Dec. 25

Ruth Bader Ginsberg is on a roll and deservedly so. In the documentary “RBG” we fell in love with her. In this biopic Felicity Jones portrays the iconic Supreme Court Justice who “has become a beacon of truth.” The film documents her overcoming obstacles throughout her life and fighting for equal rights, never wavering. The script is written by Bader’s nephew, Daniel Stiepleman. Also starring yummy Armis Hammer (as Ruth’s hubby), Justin Theroux and Kathy Bated. Directed by Mimi Leder. 

All dates are subject to change.

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