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15 Films to See in December

Written by on December 3, 2018 

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It’s the final month of 2018, which means a great deal of catching up on the best films of 2018 so far, along with a handful of films in theaters to check out. This month brings some last-minute hopeful awards contenders as well as a selection of festival favorites, a few promising blockbusters, and some oddities.

Matinees to See: Ben is Back (12/7), Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes (12/7), Mary, Queen of Scots (12/7), Bird Box (12/13), Mortal Engines (12/14), Capernaum (12/14), Aquaman (12/21), Bumblebee (12/21), Mary Poppins Returns (12/19), On the Basis of Sex (12/25)

15. Vice (Adam McKay; Dec. 14)

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Considering the official embargo isn’t up yet, we can’t give our reviewer’s thoughts on Vice yet, but they are… less than kind. However, I still have some morbid curiosity when it comes to Adam McKay’s cartoonish-looking depiction of the Bush era. With a physically transformative performance from Christian Bale as Dick Cheney, we’ll have to wait and see if the final product will have been worth it, but at the very least, perhaps it’ll give way to a reappraisal of Oliver Stone’s overlooked W.

14. Holmes & Watson (Etan Cohen; Dec. 25)

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We aren’t getting a Step Brothers 2, so this reunion between Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly will have to suffice. Taking on the classic Arthur Conan Doyle characters, Tropic Thunder writer Etan Cohen follows up his disappointing directorial debut Get Hard with something that will hopefully be a bit more endearing–or just downright silly. Also starring Lauren Lapkus, Rob Brydon, Kelly Macdonald, Rebecca Hall, Ralph Fiennes, and Hugh Laurie, it aims to be enjoyable comedic counter-programming this month.

13. They Shall Not Grow Old (Peter Jackson; Dec. 17)

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Presumably still shaken up by the soul-draining experience that was The Hobbit trilogy, Peter Jackson isn’t venturing back into narrative filmmaking any time soon, but he does have two new projects this month. While he produced the big-budget fantasy Mortal Engines, the more interesting-looking film is his new documentary They Shall Not Grow Old, which takes never-before-seen World War I footage and uses audio and video enhancement techniques to resemble what the experience of the soldiers might have been like. Getting rave reviews following its fall festival tour, it’ll be presented in the U.S. at two one-night-only special events.

12. Stan & Ollie (Jon S. Baird; Dec. 28)

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Not to be confused with the aforementioned John C. Reilly-starring Holmes and Watson, his other duo-led December release, Stan & Ollie, depicts comedy legends Laurel and Hardy with some help from Steve Coogan. Following a strong response at its BFI London Film Festival premiere, the film is directed by Jon S. Baird (Filth, Green Street Hooligans) and written by Jeff Pope (Philomena). Rather than the by-the-numbers biopic that Reilly so beautifully parodied in Walk Hard, this one zeroes on in the duo’s farewell tour, delving more into the drama and emotion of their working relationship.

11. Destroyer (Karyn Kusama; Dec. 25)

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Following up her small-scale, impressive thriller The Invitation, Karyn Kusama has given Nicole Kidman quite a transformative showcase with Destroyer. Tracking Kidman as an LAPD detective whose past catches up with her after going undercover, Christopher Schobert said in his review, “Nicole Kidman is relentless in the fascinating, ambitiously pitch-black, often off-putting police drama Destroyer. Karyn Kusama’s follow-up to the slow-burn horror gem The Invitation is a humorless, grim experience, one bursting with graphic violence and sun-soaked sadness. (It’s like season two of True Detective condensed to two hours.) Yet there are moments of great beauty and real power. And, above all else, there is a badge-wielding, pistol-whipping Kidman, unleashed and on fire.”

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