Many films to be released around the holidays
More than two dozen films are slated for release between today and the end of this year. Here are some of the tasty-looking choices at your local theater through New Year’s Day:
“Ben Is Back” — Written and directed by Peter Hedges (“Dan in Real Life,” “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”), “Ben” concerns a long-lost son who unexpectedly returns to his family on Christmas Eve — bringing a problematic past. The young man is played by Lucas Hedges, who worked so memorably in “Lady Bird” and “Manchester by the Sea.” He also happens to be Peter’s son. With Julia Roberts and Courtney B. Vance.
Also due: The historical piece “Mary, Queen of Scots,” starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie; and “Vox Lux,” with Natalie Portman and Jude Law as a troubled pop star and her manager.
“The Mule” — Clint Eastwood directs this film based on the life of Leo Sharp, an aging World War II vet who became a courier for a Central American drug cartel. Co-starring Bradley Cooper, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Pena, Dianne Wiest, Andy Garcia and Eastwood’s daughter Ginny.
Also due: the animated “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “Deadpool 2,” and the post-apocalyptic steampunk fantasy “Mortal Engines.”
“Mary Poppins Returns” — This is not a remake but a sequel, with the world’s most beloved nanny reappearing to care for the now-grown Banks children and their young families. Under the hand of director Rob Marshall (“Chicago”), Emily Blunt does her own singing in the lead — with the blessing of Julie Andrews; she’s accompanied by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Wishaw, Emily Mortimer, Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, Meryl Streep and Colin Firth. And if that cast doesn’t make your mouth water, go on YouTube and watch the dazzling trailer.
“Welcome to Marwen” — Looks like director Robert Zemeckis is about to add to his impressive resume (“Back to the Future,” “Roger Rabbit,” “Forrest Gump,” “Flight”) with this story of a man recovering from a brutal assault; check out the mesmerizing trailer for this one, too. With “Marwen,” “Vice” and “Beautiful Boy” (see below), 2018 could be Steve Carell’s year to take home an Oscar.
Also due: “Aquaman”; the “Transformers” spin-off “Bumblebee”; and the work-place comedy “Second Act,” starring Jennifer Lopez.
“Stan and Ollie” — Though the year’s final weekend boasts many promising films, I’m most eager for this story of a late-career theatrical tour by the aging Laurel & Hardy. In previews, Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly look letter-perfect as the legendary comic duo.
Also due: “Holmes & Watson,” a Sherlock send-up starring Will Ferrell and Reilly; “On the Basis of Sex,” with Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg; “Destroyer,” a crime thriller featuring Nicole Kidman; and “Vice,” with Christian Bale as Vice-President Dick Cheney, supported by Carell (Donald Rumsfeld), Amy Adams (Lynne Cheney) and Tyler Perry (Colin Powell) — plus Sam Rockwell as President George W. Bush.
2018 films with unspecified release dates include: “Green Book,” which may net Viggo Mortensen another Oscar nom for his work as a blue-collar chauffeur escorting a black concert pianist (Mahershala Ali) on a tour of the South in the Civil Rights era.
Also due by year’s end: “Beautiful Boy,” a film about teen-age addiction starring Carell and Timothee Chalamet; and “Boy Erased,” with Kidman, Russell Crowe and Lucas Hedges in the tale of a Baptist family wrestling with their son’s homosexuality.