It's nearly Christmastime, which means that the studios are trotting out big budget blockbusters and arty favorites in equal measure. After a somewhat anemic fall, movie fans will be drowning in top quality entertainment. But what is the best movie for you and your family? We've got a handful of picks to make your holiday season even merrier.
Steven Spielberg's latest film is a tremendous accomplishment, especially if you consider that production on "The Post" didn’t commence until this past May. But you can understand why Spielberg felt inclined to get this movie out now. In telling the story of how the Washington Post decided to publish the Pentagon Papers, the filmmaker draws clear parallels to today's abuses of power and prosecution of journalism. Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep star as the paper's editor and publisher, respectively, and they lead a cast full of notable smaller performances from people like Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Paulson, and Matthew Rhys. But make no mistake, this is a historical drama that moves like a tense political thriller.
'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'
The most hotly anticipated movie of the year is the latest installment in the canonical "Star Wars" series and the officially follow-up to 2015's record-breaking "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." With "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" (the details of which are still being kept under lock and key), we pick up with Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), and Poe (Oscar Isaac) fighting the forces of darkness led by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Snoke (Andy Serkis). Taking over for J.J. Abrams is writer-director Rian Johnson, previously known for excellent indie films like "Looper," which makes us even more excited to return to a galaxy far, far away. Take the kids.
'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle'
"Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" serves as both a sequel and a soft reboot to the 1995 original (itself based on the painterly children's book by Chris Van Allsburg). This time, some unsuspecting kids uncover a magical videogame that transports them into the game -- turning them into the big movie stars that you have seen on all the posters (Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan). The original film has become something of a family classic, and this new version is sure to entertain those familiar with the franchise and new viewers alike.
Paul Thomas Anderson's latest intense character study, "Phantom Thread," features Daniel Day-Lewis as a narcissistic fashion designer in 1950's London. While visiting his country home he falls in love with a young woman (Vicky Krieps) and their relationship becomes increasingly tormented and toxic. While superficially, "Phantom Thread," is a straightforward drama, as it goes along it reveals itself to be something slinkier and more sinister. This is more of a Gothic romance in the Hitchcockian mold than anything else, and older viewers looking for sophisticated entertainment will do well here.
'The Shape of Water'
Already tapped as an Oscar frontrunner, "The Shape of Water" is the latest cinematic treasure from Guillermo del Toro. The Mexican filmmaker's most ambitious and beautiful film, "Water" centers around a mute janitor (Sally Hawkins) who works at a top secret lab. It's at this lab that she encounters (and falls in love with) an aquatic creature (Doug Jones). If this is already sounding too weird, then "Shape of Water" probably isn't for you. But adventurous viewers will be rewarded by one of the oddest, most captivating, and (yes) most romantic movies of the year, full of lush visuals and charming odes to cinema's rich history. Just be warned -- while there might be a creature, this is, most certainly, not for kids.
'The Disaster Artist'
If there are those in your family looking for a more nuanced R-rated comedy, they should be pointed in the direction of "The Disaster Artist," about the making of the infamous midnight movie "The Room." James Franco directs and stars as hapless filmmaker Tommy Wiseau, with little brother Dave as Wiseau's confederate Greg Sestero. This movie is for fans of "The Room" and people who love movies about making movies.
'All the Money in the World'
It'll be amazing if "All the Money in the World" makes is release date at all. After serious sexual assault allegations were leveled against Kevin Spacey, director Ridley Scott took the unprecedented step to digitally remove him from the movie, replacing him with Christopher Plummer. (We call that the ole "Superman's mustache" routine.) Even without the behind-the-scenes intrigue, this is an incredible story -- the true-life tale of John Paul Getty III, the grandson to the infamous oil tycoon (Spacey then Plummer). Getty III frequently talked about staging his own kidnapping as a way of extracting money from his grandfather until it actually happened. A totally wild tale, see it now before its dramatized in an upcoming FX miniseries from Danny Boyle.
An epic of miniature proportions, Alexander Payne's "Downsizing" is an extravagant sci-fi comedy that is also relatable and down-to-earth. Matt Damon plays an everyman who is seduced by a new technology called downsizing which will literally shrink you. It's supposed to be good for the environment but the real reason people do it is because their wealth exponentially increases. Living in a phony planned community, Damon connects with a Vietnamese dissident (Hong Chau) and befriends a crazy neighbor (Christoph Waltz). This is a film that zigs and zags in directions you'd never expect and while it's occasionally messier than it needs to be, it's hard to fault something so wonderfully ambitious.
'The Greatest Showman'
For some reason Christmastime has become synonymous with glitzy movie musicals, from "Chicago" to "Dreamgirls" to last year's "La La Land." This year's future karaoke classic is "The Greatest Showman," a brand new musical following the life of circus impresario P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) and featuring songs from the "La La Land" team. Yep, it's a musical and a biopic, which means it will probably earn a whole host of Oscar nominations. With a starry cast that also includes Zac Efron and Michelle Williams, and a gentle PG-13 rating, this could be the perfect counter-programming for louder, more muscular holiday entertainment.