December 11, 2018

2018 Holiday Movie Guide

Rachel Weisz. Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight

Members of the Tribe are on camera and behind the scenes in this cinematic holiday mix of comedy, drama, animation, prestige pictures and action flicks, plus one special reissue.

“Black Swan” Oscar-winner Natalie Portman is getting rave reviews for her latest performance in “Vox Lux” as a pop superstar with a troubled past, a sensational career and a complicated life. She plays Celeste, who survived a school shooting and became famous for a song she wrote to honor the victims. Twenty years later, she’s the mother of a teenage daughter and on the career comeback trail, trying to put a scandalous incident behind her. While on tour with her album, she has to deal with personal crises, the pressures of fame and another shattering act of violence. 

Written and directed by Brady Corbet and featuring original songs by Sia, “Vox Lux” will be released on Dec. 7.

Natalie Portman. Photo courtesy of Neon.

Reteaming with her “Lobster” director, Yorgos Lanthimos, Rachel Weisz (“Denial,” “Disobedience”) stars in “The Favourite” as Lady Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, the woman behind the throne in the court of Queen Anne of England (Olivia Colman).  

Lady Sarah was an ancestor of both Winston Churchill and Princess Diana, and was the queen’s friend, confidant and trusted adviser on matters personal and political.  According to Weisz, “Lady Sarah has the whole package: She’s very intellectually powerful, she’s very sexually powerful, she’s physically quite powerful, and politically, she is in charge of the entire country. I think of her as having the clarity and decisiveness of any modern political leader. Neither politics nor battle tactics nor running the country is Anne’s strong suit, but that’s all very appealing to Sarah.”

In the film, opening on Nov. 23, the balance of the women’s symbiotic relationship is threatened with the arrival of Lady Sarah’s cousin Abigail (Emma Stone), who becomes a rival for the queen’s attention and affections. Weisz also stars opposite Colin Firth in “The Mercy,” opening Nov. 30. It’s based on the true story of sailor Donald Crowhurst’s 1998 attempt to circumnavigate the globe and the cover-up of its failure. 

Sarah Silverman. Photo courtesy of Alberto E. Rodriguez/ Getty Images for Disney.

Sarah Silverman and Gal Gadot add their voices to that of John C. Reilly’s title character in the animated sequel “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” a family-friendly adventure that Silverman describes as a “completely different” story compared with its predecessor, “Wreck-It Ralph.”

In the movie, opening on Nov. 23, racer Vanellope “is missing something, a steering wheel from her game, and that becomes a complete existential crisis,” Silverman said of her character. “Who am I if I’m not a racer? So [she and Ralph] decide to go into the internet and explore this vast endless expanse and it changes them forever.”

Gadot plays new character Shank, a racer in a game called “Slaughter Race.”
Silverman explained, “It’s a racing game that’s thrilling to Vanellope but very hard-core. Vanellope looks up to her. She becomes Vanellope’s mentor and she takes Vanellope under her wing.”

Another big draw for kids: “We have this scene with every Disney princess in it,” Silverman said. 

Hailee Steinfeld. Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Hailee Steinfeld stars as a teenage mechanic who befriends the titular Autobot in  Bumblebee,” a stand-alone action adventure from the “Transformers” universe, opening Dec. 21. She plays Charlie, who stumbles upon the battered Volkswagen Beetle hiding in a junkyard, takes him home and sees him as her ticket out. 

According to Steinfeld, whose single “Back to Life” appears on the movie’s soundtrack, her character Charlie “has experienced a major loss in her life. She’s constantly trying to find that freedom she craves and start her own life.” Bumblebee is targeted for destruction, which sets their escape in motion. “Better Things” star Pamela Adlon plays Steinfeld’s mother. 

Steinfeld also supplies the voice of Gwen Stacy in the animated movie “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” opening on Dec. 14.

Israeli writer-turned-director Etan Cohen’s new action comedy plays Sherlock Holmes for laughs in “Holmes & Watson,” starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in the title roles. The story sends the sleuths on a mission to stop Professor Moriarty (Ralph Fiennes) from assassinating Queen Victoria. It opens on Dec. 21.

Ron Perlman plays a Mossad agent turned hitman who falls for his target (Famke Janssen) in “Asher,” opening Dec. 7. Perlman’s daughter, Blake, who was in “Hellboy 2” and “Hand of God” with her father, appears as a pregnant woman. 

The Oscar-winning Holocaust drama “Schindler’s List” will be re-released in select theaters on Dec. 7, with picture and sound digital remastering supervised by Steven Spielberg. In the 2017 HBO documentary “Spielberg,” the director talked about filming “on hallowed ground” at Auschwitz and how the little girl in the red dress — the only color in the black-and-white movie — “symbolized the Holocaust and the monstrous evil that no one did anything about. It was emotionally the hardest movie I’ve ever made.”

Read more from the 2018 Holiday Arts & Entertainment Edition here.