It begins. The winter season, or our ever climate shifting definition of it, is coming. With it usually means stores hooking us up with reminders that Christmas is coming before we even get our annual awkward Thanksgiving family dinner planned, much less out of the way. It also brings us a new batch of cinematic gifts. These are but a few of those potential gifts coming between now and December 1.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Nov. 16
The sequel to the prequel spinoff you’ve been waiting for will be in theaters this Thursday. Die-hard and casual fans of the Harry Potter film series alike will be on hand to watch Eddie Redmayne’s “magizoologist,” Newt Scamander, get his magizoo on. After a semi-cameo in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Johnny Depp, the man known to most as the star of Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, returns as Gellert Grindelwald ready to inflict his dark wizardry on the world thanks to the Wizarding Order after escaping custody. Grindelwald sets about gathering himself followers (a.k.a. rubes) to help him raise pure-blood wizards and witches up to rule over all non-magical beings. Meanwhile a young Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) pulls Scamander back into danger to fend off the coming chaos.
Widows, Nov. 16
With an all-star cast, the director of Shame and 12 Years A Slave returns to the director’s chair with an eye on action-based drama rather than straight up drama. Four women (Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Bailey Rhyse Walters) with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities, take it upon themselves to do some heist stuff. Bullets fly, stuff blows up, and gravitas is the tone for the award-winning director’s venture into thriller territory.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Nov. 16
So this film, an anthology of six short stories that take place in the Old West in the 19th-century post-Civil War era, is the latest by the Coen brothers. We follow a sharp-shooting singing cowboy type (Tim Blake Nelson), a couple traveling performers (Liam Neeson, Harry Melling), a prospector (Tom Waits), a bank robber (James Franco), a lonely woman (Zoe Kazan), and a specter (Tyne Daly) through interludes that range from darkly comic to comically dark. On the same day as its limited theatrical release, the film will premiere on some video streaming service called Netflix.
Green Book, Nov. 21
Were you a fan of Driving Miss Daisy — the tale of a chauffeur and her driver in the late ’40s South? Then you may enjoy this semi remix of the friendship between a chauffeur and his driver story in the late ’60s South, directed by one half of the team behind There’s Something About Mary. No it’s not a comedy but, based on the trailer, it is pretty funny that dated, sentimental treacle like this still gets made. Then again, the film’s trailer could be completely misleading. It could be a thoughtful examination of relationships that cross cultural barriers … or it could just be, to semi-quote Chuck D., “shallow Terms of Endearment bullshit.”
Ralph Breaks the Internet, Nov. 21
I love advertisements. My all-time favorite commercial is Wendy’s “Where’s The Beef” ad starring that lovely little old lady Clara Peller yelling the tagline over and over. I thought of that ad while watching this film’s trailer, which is filled with product placement for Google, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and everything else under the sun including Disney’s recent Marvel and Star Wars acquisitions. I’m good. Then again, this film isn’t marketed to grumpy movie critics. Still, aside from selling me stuff, what else does this sequel have to offer? In other words, where’s the beef between this film’s figurative buns, Ralph?
Creed II, Nov. 21
Much like the conclusion of Rocky, Creed ended with its main character losing the fight. Much like Rocky II, Creed II sees its main character getting into a match with the son of the Russian guy that killed his dad. Oh wait, my bad, Rocky’s dad never got pummeled by a Russian. Anyhoo, here’s the sequel to Ryan Coogler’s stellar movie, a movie that had no business being as stellar as it was considering the numerous pitfalls it could’ve fallen into.
Robin Hood (2018), Nov. 21
A new Robin Hood movie. Thank God. I can’t wait.
The Favourite, Nov. 23
Set in the early 18th century, a frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) sits at the throne while Lady Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) governs the country in her stead and tends to Anne’s failing health and deals with her chaotic temperament. Soon enough, a new servant Abigail Masham (Emma Stone) arrives and charms her way into Sarah’s heart. Abigail isn’t content with being Sarah’s help and won’t let anyone stand in her way. If you’re looking for a good date movie, then Yorgos Lanthimos’ (The Lobster, Killing Of A Sacred Deer) latest is it. I’m kidding. Don’t take a first date to this movie unless they’re a big Lanthimos fan.
Anna and the Apocalypse, Nov. 30
A Christmas zombie-killing musical involving a young lady and her friends kicking undead ass as their sleepy town, Little Haven, falls to pieces. All this is done with song, dance, and pizzazz. Based on the trailer, it could be a unique fantastic feast or a moldy meal.