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Arts and Entertainment Monday, Nov. 25, 2019 2 weeks ago

Critic's holiday film picks 2019

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

This holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year to catch great movies. Studios save the best for last with award ceremonies quickly approaching. We've selected the following picks that definitely look like winners.

 

'Marriage Story'

Opens Dec. 6.

In his latest film, rumored to be his finest, Director Noah Baumbach dissects the elements of a marriage and its dissolution. Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver portray parents deeply concerned about the emotional impact on their children when custody becomes an inflammatory issue. Laura Dern and Ray Liotta play their attorneys. Based on Baumbach's divorce from Jennifer Jason Leigh.

 

'Portrait of a Lady on Fire'

Opens Dec. 6.

Director-writer Celine Sciamma scored the award for best screenplay at Cannes in this film about forbidden love in 18th century France. When a female artist is commissioned to paint a portrait of a young woman about to be married, the subject refuses to sit for her. Therefore, she resorts to hiding in the shadows to catch glimpses of the elusive woman. But soon the two become close, and moral dilemmas erupt. Noemie Merlant and Adele Haenel portray the star-crossed lovers. The trailers are gorgeous. 

 

'Midnight Family'

Opens Dec. 6.

In this documentary, set in Mexico City, a working-class family operates a private ambulance service. Theirs is one of only 45 that serve a population of more than 9 million. It's a race to beat rivaling ambulance services when an emergency is reported. And getting paid is not an easy task. You think our health care system sucks. Directed and written by Luke Lorentzen.

 

'Richard Jewell'

Opens Dec. 13.

At age 89, Clint Eastwood is still on top of his game, judging from the trailer for this heart-pounding true story. When Richard Jewell was hailed a hero for saving thousands of lives at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta (1996), journalists jumped on a story that vilified him. An impressive cast has been assembled for this thought-provoking film, including Sam Rockwell, Jon Hamm, Kathy Bates and Paul Walter Hauser as Jewell.

 

'A Hidden Life'

Opens Dec. 13.

This is definitely the most controversial film in the holiday lineup. Based on true events, an Austrian farmer, Franz Jagerstatter, refused to fight for the Nazis and was eventually executed in 1943. Director Terrence Malick describes Franz's decision not to yield as "the way of grace." August Diehl portrays heroic Jagerstatter, and Valerie Pachner plays his devoted wife. Malick, amid immense division among critics, managed to walk away with the prestigious Palme d' Or at Cannes this year.

 

'Invisible Life'

Opens Dec. 20.

In this Brazilian film from Director Karim Ainouz, two sisters separated for decades discover that they've been living in close proximity. Deceit and shame within their family have kept them apart. Misogyny, class disparity and desperation also come into play while the sisters never give up hope of reuniting. Be prepared for heartstrings tugging. Starring Julia Stockler and Carol Duarte.

 

'Bombshell'

Opens Dec. 20.

Fox News' Roger Ailes once again gets his comeuppance in this biographical drama directed by Jay Roach. The chameleonic Charlize Theron morphs, this time into newscaster Megyn Kelly. Joined by Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson and Margot Robbie playing the fictional Kayla Popisil, the trio nails Ailes for sexual harassment. Roach and Theron spoke to those close to the scandal in hopes that the audience could empathize with the characters. Given his work in HBO's "Game Change," impact is inevitable.

 

'The Two Popes'

Opens Dec. 20.

In 2012 the future of the Catholic Church is debated by two popes with diametric viewpoints. Anthony Hopkins plays conservative Pope Benedict XVI, and Jonathan Pryce portrays "cool" Pope Francis. For starters, kudos to casting these outstanding thespians who never disappoint. And humorous scripting that never stoops to being preachy, drew raves at this year's Telluride Film Festival. Directed by Fernando Meirellas.

 

'Uncut Gems'

Opens Dec. 25.

Adam Sandler maintains that every fifth movie he makes "is allowed to be good." Let's assume this one, in which a Manhattan jeweler is in debt to the mob, falls into that category. Brothers Benny and Josh Safdie direct this adrenaline-fueled film, judging from the slick trailer. Laughs look to be in abundance. Martin Scorsese serves as executive producer which suggests that this film could definitely be a fifth.

 

'What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael'

Opens Dec. 25.

Over the course of 23 years, Pauline Kael was a film critic for The New Yorker. She had a reputation for being brutally honest and extremely insightful. Through archival film footage and interviews with the likes of Francis Ford Coppola, Quentin Tarantino, Woody Allen and Alec Baldwin, we glean an understanding into what made this celebrated writer tick. Rod Garver directs this fascinating documentary guaranteed to please "Paulettes."

 

Dates are subject to change.

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