Now that the holiday movie calendar has been disinfected — cleared to a reasonable degree of men behaving badly — the season can proceed.
Gone are Weinstein Co. releases (like Polaroid). the Louis C.K. movie (I Love You, Daddy), and Kevin Spacey from the movie All The Money in the World. When the movie is released in December, you’ll see Christopher Plummer instead. The already-in-theaters Coco had been released before producer and Pixar chief John Lasseter took a leave of absence, admitting to “missteps.” He was referring not to Cars 3, but to the fallout from reports that he had subjected women at Pixar to unwanted advances.
Movies about men behaving badly are still on the schedule. Like sure-bet Oscar nominee Molly’s Game, which directly addresses the exploitation of women by Hollywood power players. It’s Aaron Sorkin’s take on the true story of Molly Bloom, who ran a poker game for Hollywood big shots until she was cruelly betrayed and expelled by the men she served. The role will put Jessica Chastain on the best actress short list.
There, she will join Margot Robbie, who plays notorious figure skater Tonya Harding in I, Tonya (though it recently opened the Philadelphia Film Festival, it will arrive here in January), a tongue-in-cheek biography that is deadly serious about presenting Harding as woman victimized by an abusive husband and a media hungry for retrograde female stereotypes.
Not to be outdone — is she ever? — Meryl Streep. As Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham in Steven Spielberg’s The Post, she plays a woman who inherited her father’s position and business who endures a great deal of condescension from men who do not take her seriously. That changes when she courageously (and against the advice of her lawyers and financiers) defies an injunction and publishes the Pentagon Papers, a decision later vindicated by the Supreme Court.
Other awards-season competitors abound. Gary Oldman channels Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, and Guillermo Del Toro creates a new type of fairy tale in The Shape of Water, both arriving Dec. 15. Alexander Payne’s Matt Damon-starring Downsizing arrives Dec. 22. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread arrives in January.
Here are the coming releases, with dates subject to change, plus the inscrutable whims of companies like Netflix, which may or may not open Will Smith’s new sci-fi fantasy Bright in theaters here (if it happens, it will be Dec. 15):
Quest. Documentary about Christopher “Quest” Rainey, his Philadelphia music studio, and his family. Through its profile of Rainey, this long-range project (filmed over a decade) delves into important issues facing urban communities. (Dec. 1)
The Breadwinner. Animated movie about a young girl in Afghanistan who pretends to be a boy in order to feed her family. Directed by Nora Twomey, who co-directed The Secret of Kells. Produced by Angelina Jolie. (Dec. 1)
The Disaster Artist. James Franco directed and starred in this movie about the making of The Room, which has gained cult status as one of the worst movies ever made. Franco plays writer-director-mystery man Tommy Wiseau, its writer/director/star. The cast includes Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, and Alison Brie. (Dec. 8).
Wonder Wheel. Woody Allen riffs on Eugene O’Neill with a theatrical, period story of a Coney Island woman (Kate Winslet) carrying on with a lifeguard (Justin Timberlake) under the nose of her alcoholic husband (Jim Belushi). (Dec. 8)
Just Getting Started. Ron Shelton comedy about an old timer (Morgan Freeman) in the witness protection program at a retirement home, fending off bad guys with the help of a gung-ho fellow resident (Tommy Lee Jones). (Dec. 8)
Ferdinand. Animated movie based on the beloved children’s book about a good-natured bull, featuring the voices of John Cena, Kate McKinnon, and Gina Rodriguez. From Ice Age director Carlos Saldanha. (Dec. 15)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Picks up where The Force Awakens left off, with Rey (Daisy Ridley) seeking out Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). It’s a prelude to further adventures with Finn (John Boyega) and Leia (Carrie Fisher) as they contend with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Directed by Rian Johnson (Looper). (Dec. 15)
Darkest Hour. Gary Oldman is Winston Churchill in Joe Wright’s entertaining account of the new prime minister’s efforts to form a government, save an army, and stand up to Hitler in the early days of WWII. (Dec. 15)
Bill Nye: Science Guy. A documentary about the popular science advocate and his campaign to defend evolution and climate change and evidence-based thinking in general. (Dec. 15)
The Shape of Water. A worker (Sally Hawkins) tries to protect a creature being studied by the government in a secret laboratory. Directed by Guillermo Del Toro, costarring Michael Shannon. (Dec. 15).
Kaleidoscope. Rupert Jones directs brother Toby Jones is this story of a convict whose attempt to readjust to society is thwarted by his mother (Anne Reid). (Dec. 15).
Jumanji. Reimagined remake of Jumanji. This time, the board game transports players into a fantasy realm wherein they are video game avatars. With Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan. (Dec. 20)
The Greatest Showman. A musical based on the life of Barnum and Bailey impresario P.T. Barnum, played by Hugh Jackman. Music by Ardmore Oscar-winner Benj Pasek and writing partner Justin Paul, who also worked on La La Land and took home a Tony for best musical for Dear Evan Hansen. With Michelle Williams, Zac Efron and Zendaya. (Dec. 20)
The Post. Steven Spielberg’s account of the First Amendment issues involved in the publishing of the Pentagon Papers, first in the New York Times and then at the Washington Post, run by Katherine Graham (Meryl Streep) and edited by Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks). (Dec. 22)
Downsizing. Alexander Payne sci-fi comedy about a future world where couples (like Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig) can reduce their environmental footprint by shrinking down to tiny size. With Jason Sudeikis and Christoph Waltz. (Dec. 22)
Father Figures. Owen Wilson and Ed Helms go in search of their biological father, an adventure that includes Terry Bradshaw, Ving Rhames, and J.K. Simmons. Glenn Close costars. (Dec. 22)
Pitch Perfect 3. The cinema’s favorite a cappella singers, Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, and Hailee Steinfeld, return in a story of the gang and their activities after college. Directed by Trish Sie. (Dec. 22)
Call Me By Your Name. James Ivory wrote the screenplay, adapted from the Andre Aciman novel about a young man’s sexual coming of age in Europe in the early 1980s, starring Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer, and Michael Stuhlbarg. (Dec. 22)
All The Money in the World. Based on the kidnapping of J. Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer), whose miserly grandfather (Christopher Plummer, subbing for the disgraced Kevin Spacey) refused to pay his ransom. Directed by Ridley Scott. With Michelle Williams. (Dec. 22)
Molly’s Game. Aaron Sorkin’s bitingly entertaining account of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), who organized a glamorous Hollywood poker ring, is a timely account of the way even strong women can be ground under the wheels of male power, in Hollywood and elsewhere. With Idris Elba. (Dec. 25).
Wait Till Next Year: Arriving in January are Paul Tomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread, Armando Iannucci’s Death of Stalin, the Tonya Harding biopic I, Tonya, and Hostiles, starring Christian Bale.