A new calendar year is almost upon us, and while 2019 is packed with hotly anticipated movies of all kinds, we still have to get through 2018. But that’s a good thing because there are still lots of big movies to take us through these last two months. The holiday movie season is officially starting, which means there will be everything from blockbusters to awards contenders to keep us busy.
Not limited to just Thanksgiving or Christmas movies, the holiday film season is about every kind of movie premiering for the remainder of the year. We’ve broken down every major release into one of four categories: Blockbusters, Awards Contenders, For The Whole Family, and Coming to Streaming. There’s a lot still left to go this year, so sit back and relax while we break down all the movies that you need to be aware for the holiday season.
While generally associated with the summer, blockbusters basically come out almost every month and the holiday season has become an extremely valuable territory for studios. Major releases like Star Wars and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle have cleaned up in December. There’s less competition, and kids are usually on holiday break, so blockbusters have laid their claim for the holiday season. There are more of them than ever, so here are all the blockbuster releases coming up.
First up on the plate is The Girl in the Spider’s Web, the reboot-sequel to 2011’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This time around, Claire Foy stars as Lisbeth Salander, a computer hacker/investigator who finds herself snared in a mysterious new case. Directed by Fede Álvarez, the film is based on a book of the same name written by David Lagercrantz.
Hitting theaters on November 16, the Harry Potter world grows a little larger with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. The story picks up a few years after the first movie with Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) sent on a mission to stop the dark wizard Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) by a younger version of Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law). Early reactions from fans have been very positive about the movie, with praise thrown at the action and surprise twists. It also has baby nifflers in it, so, points.
The follow up to the exceptionally well-received Creed, Creed II digs deeper into the Rocky franchise and pits Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) against the son of Rocky IV‘s Ivan Drago, the man who killed Apollo Creed in the ring 30 years ago. Steven Caple Jr. steps into the director’s chair with a script written by Sylvester Stallone and Juel Taylor. The first Creed was massively popular with critics and audiences, so much like its main protagonist, Creed II has a lot to live up to. Creed II hits theaters November 21.
The Robin Hood story has been adapted over and over again, and Hollywood’s not done with it yet. On November 21, we’ll have an all-new version of the story. Simply titled Robin Hood, the film takes a more action and superhero-oriented approach to the classic tale, portraying Robin Hood as a vigilante. The film is directed by Otto Bathurst and stars Taron Egerton as Robin Hood and Jamie Foxx as Little John.
Peter Jackson is back, and instead of hobbits and rings, he’s brought cities on wheels. Based on a series of books by Philip Reeve, Mortal Engines is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the remainder of humanity live on mobile cities where it’s eat or be eaten — literally, the cities can eat each other. The story follows Hester (Hera Hilmar) and her quest to kill a man she blames for her mother’s death. With a script written by Jackson and his writing partners Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, Jackson handles production duties while Christian Rivers directs.
Sony takes Spider-Man movies in a different (and animated) direction with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The movie focuses on Miles Morales rather than tell Peter Parker’s story for the 100th time. But Peter Parker is still involved! The animated film features Spider-Men from across the multiverse, like an older, jaded Peter, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man Noir, and Spider-Ham. The story was created by Phil Lord and Chris Miller and offers a really creative and unique Spider-Man experience. The animated film arrives on December 14.
The only new, live-action superhero hitting theaters in the holiday season is also the only DC movie this year. Aquaman is the solo film for Jason Momoa’s undersea hero, which finds Aquaman embarking on a journey to stop a war between the surface world and Atlantis. The movie features big comic book action (it has giant crabs and sea dragons!) and wants to reverse the campy image of its central hero. Horror master James Wan directs the film, which is all set to hit theaters on December 21.
Bumblebee is the first spin-off film of the Transformers franchise, and it hopes to make you completely forget about the rest of those movies. Rather than focus on big action and explosions, Bumblebee takes a more emotional approach by focusing on the bond between the title Autobot and Hailee Steinfeld’s character. Travis Knight from Laika makes his live-action directorial debut based off of a script by Christina Hodson and Kelly Fremon Craig. The movie is all set to transform and rollout on December 21.
Without question, the most unusual blockbuster release is the Untitled Deadpool Movie. Not much is known about the movie, but rumor has it that it’s a PG-13 re-release of Deadpool 2 framed as Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) telling an adult Fred Savage a bedtime story. It’s a spoof on The Princess Bride, and it’s a curious move by Fox. Then again, this is all pretty on brand for Deadpool. We’ll see what this is all about on December 21.
The holiday season is always rife with movies hoping to nab that Oscar. Arriving at the end of the year helps keep the film at the forefront of Academy members’ minds once the time to vote comes the next year. These movies can draw lots of buzz for themselves by people who want to see what all the hubbub is about. If you like to pay attention to the Oscars race next year, these are the movies you should check out.
The Front Runner follows the true story of Senator Gary Hart and his 1987 presidential campaign, which was derailed when reporters discovered that he was having an extramarital affair. The movie is sure to get a boost in the Oscar race due to its timely content, while star Hugh Jackman’s performance is already getting lead actor buzz. The Front Runner is all set to arrive in theaters on November 7.
Director Steve McQueen turns in a thoughtful and entertaining heist thriller with Widows. After four armed robbers are killed in a failed heist attempt, their widows are forced to step up to finish the job. The movie features a star-studded ensemble cast that includes Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, Robert Duvall, and Liam Neeson. Early buzz is already praising the work of McQueen, with Viola Davis getting a shout out for her performance. Widows premieres on November 16.
Also hitting theaters on November 16, Green Book is a comedy-drama film about a tour of the South in the 1960s by Jamaican-American classical pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and New York bouncer Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), who served as Shirley’s driver and security. Peter Farrelly served as director, while Lip’s own son, Nick Vallelonga, co-wrote the screenplay. Opposites attract here, with Ali and Mortensen getting singled out for their performances.
The Academy loves historical drama period pieces, and it’ll get one in the form of The Favourite. Set in the 18th century, the movie stars Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone as two cousins who enter a bitter rivalry to be the favorite of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman). The movie premiered at the Venice International Film Festival, where it received praise towards its screenplay, direction, acting, and production values, which is a pretty good signal for its awards future. The film will debut on November 23.
I said that the Academy loved period pieces and I meant it. Another Oscar hopeful is Mary Queen of Scots, which tells the story of, uh, Mary, Queen of Scots. Based on John Guy’s biography, Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart, the film follows Mary Stuart’s attempt to overthrow her cousin Elizabeth I, Queen of England, which results in her imprisonment and eventual execution. Saoirse Ronan steps into the shoes of Mary Stuart, while Margot Robbie plays Queens Elizabeth. That’s two Academy Award nominated actresses right there! The film will release in theaters on December 7.
Director Barry Jenkins made waves in 2016 for his Best Picture winner Moonlight, and this year he returns with If Beale Street Could Talk. Based on the novel of the same name by James Baldwin, the movie follows an African-American woman who seeks to clear the name of her wrongly convicted husband before the birth of their child. Jenkins’ new film has received very positive buzz so far, with critics praising his evolving style and visuals. If Beale Street Could Talk will hit theaters December 14.
It’s been 10 years since Clint Eastwood has starred in a film that he directed, but he’s making a big return in The Mule. The film is based on The New York Times Magazine article “The Sinaloa Cartel’s 90-Year-Old Drug Mule,” which chronicles the story of elderly drug mule Leo Sharp. Pretty much anything involving Eastwood gets attention from the Academy, and we’ll see how strong of a contender it is once it arrives in theaters on December 14.
Another Academy favorite director returning this year is Robert Zemeckis. The Forrest Gump director’s new film is called Welcome to Marwen, which follows Mark Hogancamp, a victim of a violent assault who builds a miniature replica of his town to aid in his mental recovery. The drama is sure to pull on the heartstrings, especially with Steve Carell — who has a knack for making characters sympathetic — in the lead role. Welcome to Marwen releases on December 21.
In addition to the above mentioned period pieces and political dramas, the Academy also loves transformative performances, and no one is better at that than Christian Bale. The actor is one DNA splice away from becoming Dick Cheney in the film Vice, which chronicles Cheney’s tenure as one of the most powerful Vice Presidents in American history. Adam McKay wrote and directed the film, while Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell play Lynne Cheney and President George W. Bush, respectively. McKay got a lot of attention for The Big Short, and we’ll see if history repeats itself on December 25.
For The Whole Family
Kids have a few breaks during the holiday season and what better way to spend time with the family than at the movies? Animated movies are typically seen as being the most kid-friendly, but there are a few options for parents who want to see some real people. There are plenty of family-friendly films hitting theaters this holiday season that offer up some entertainment for people of all ages.
It’s tough to make it through the holiday season without one holiday-themed movie, and you won’t get any better than Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch. An animated retelling of the classic Dr. Seuss children’s book, the new film comes from Despicable Me and The Secret Life of Pets creator Illumination Studios. This new take on the Grinch is a bit sillier than people might be used to. Benedict Cumberbatch voices the lead role, and the film is set to arrive on November 9.
Not every family-friendly movie has to be animated. Instant Family stars Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne as a married couple who adopt three foster kids and find themselves woefully underprepared for how instant parenthood changes their lives. Both Wahlberg and Byrne have proved their comedy chops, and the film looks to be heartwarming and fun for parents. Sean Anders directs and the movie will release on November 16.
The big animated Disney release this year is Ralph Breaks the Internet, the sequel to the video game comedy Wreck-It Ralph. This time around, Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) journey into the internet to find a piece for Vanellope’s broken game. The movie has gotten positive reception so far for its creativity and strong emotional core. Of course, there’s also that Disney Princess scene featuring all the major Princesses, giving something to love for any fans of Disney. Ralph will officially break the internet on November 21.
This one could be also be categorized as a blockbuster for what a smash hit this is destined to be. Mary Poppins Returns is the long-awaited sequel to the Disney classic Mary Poppins. Emily Blunt takes over for Julie Andrews as the mystical nanny with Lin-Manuel Miranda providing support. The early buzz on this one is extremely strong, with critics highlighting Blunt’s performance, the music, the choreography, and an innovative scene involving 2-D animation. This is going to be a big one and everyone in the family will likely find something to love.
Coming to Streaming
Movies don’t just come to theaters anymore. Streaming has completely changed the game of how we digest media and Hollywood is still trying to figure out what that exactly means. Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime are making their own content, attracting more and more talent to their less-inhibiting platforms. Netflix has all the big movies coming up this season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that wasn’t the case next year.
Hell or High Water director David Mackenzie’s new film is a historical drama about the life of Robert the Bruce, the King of Scots. Called Outlaw King, the movie follows the renowned King of Scots and the war of liberation he waged against the English occupation of Scotland. Chris Pine reteams with Mackenzie to play the lead role. Pine’s Scottish accent might be a bit spotty, but this duo shined for Hell or High Water, so people should keep on eye out for Outlaw King when it debuts November 9 on Netflix and in select theaters.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is one of the most notable movies coming to Netflix. The film comes from the Coen Brothers, so those two getting in on the streaming game is noteworthy enough. Originally envisioned as an anthology series, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs has been retooled as a film with an anthology format, telling six different stories from the wild west. The film stars Tim Blake Nelson, Liam Neeson, James Franco, Zoe Kazan, Tyne Daly, and Tom Waits, and will air on Netflix on November 16 following a limited theatrical run (so that it can be eligible for an Oscar).
It might not be Halloween anymore, but Netflix has one more horror installment in the form of Cam. The psychological horror-thriller follows a camgirl who discovers that she’s been replaced on her site by a replica of herself. Directed by Daniel Goldhaber and written by Isa Mazzei, the movie premiered at Fantasia Fest earlier this year, where it won awards for Best First Film and Best Screenplay. Cam is due to arrive on Netflix on November 16.
Another streaming movie that is gaining awards buzz is Roma from director Alfonso Cuarón. The foreign language drama is a semi-biographical take on Cuarón’s upbringing in Mexico City and follows the life of a middle-class family and its live-in housekeeper. The film made its debut at the 75th Venice International Film Festival where it won the coveted Golden Lion award. Roma will have a limited theatrical release (again, so it can contend for an Oscar) and will become available on Netflix on December 14.
Sandra Bullock gets in on the horror renaissance with the upcoming Netflix film Bird Box. The movie is sort of like A Quiet Place if the characters were blindfolded instead of mute. Bird Box is set in a post-apocalyptic world where a mysterious force kills anyone who sees it. A mother (Bullock) must journey with her kids to a potential safe haven but must make the trip while blindfolded. It’s an interesting concept, and the film comes from Academy Award-winning director Susanne Bier. Bird Box will arrive hit Netflix on December 21.