'Tis the Season: FJI previews the holiday movie roster

Movies Features

A long year is almost over, but there are still dozens of new films winging their way into theatres over the next two months. From high-energy actioners to awards-season favorites, FJI presents a guide to all the new movies to catch before it’s time to ring in 2018.

November Highlights

Jon Lucas and Scott Moore follow up their R-rated comedy hit Bad Moms with A Bad Moms Christmas, in which Amy (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) must make it through holiday visits from their own bad moms. Susan Sarandon, Christine Baranski and Cheryl Hines play that trio. (STX Entertainment; Nov. 3)

Yorgos Lanthimos follows up critical darling The Lobster with The Killing of a Sacred Deer, in which a doctor (Colin Farrell) and his family are wrapped up in a young patient’s (Barry Keoghan) quest for vengeance. Nicole Kidman co-stars. (A24; Nov. 3)

A former Navy medic (Steve Carell) enlists two ex-Marine buddies (Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne) to accompany him to his son’s funeral in Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying. (Lionsgate; Nov. 3)

Woody Harrelson plays Lyndon B. Johnson in Rob Reiner’s biopic LBJ, co-starring Jennifer Jason Leigh (Lady Bird Johnson), C. Thomas Howell (top aide Walter Jenkins), Bill Pullman (liberal Senator Ralph Yarborough) and Jeffrey Donovan (John F. Kennedy). (Electric Entertainment; Nov. 3)

Director Dan Gilroy follows up 2014 indie hit Nightcrawler with Roman Israel, Esq., starring Denzel Washington as an idealistic lawyer who takes on a big case with unexpected consequences. Colin Farrell and Carmen Ejogo co-star. (Columbia Pictures; Nov. 3)

Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Marvel Cinematic Universe newbie Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) team up to prevent the Norse goddess of death (Cate Blanchett) from bringing about the apocalypse in Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok. (Walt Disney; Nov. 3)

The first Daddy’s Home pitted good guy Brad (Will Ferrell) against motorcycle-riding cool guy Dusty (Mark Wahlberg), the biological father of his two stepchildren. By the end of the film, fences were mended…just in time for their wildly different fathers, played by John Lithgow and Mel Gibson, to step into the mix for Daddy’s Home 2. (Paramount; Nov. 10)

Writer/actress Greta Gerwig takes on her second film as a director—following 2008’s Nights and Weekends, co-directed by Joe Swanberg—with the semi-autobiographical Lady Bird, starring Saoirse Ronan as a California teen who wants to put small-town life behind her and move to New York. (A24; Nov. 10)

Kenneth Branagh adapts one of Agatha Christie’s best-known novels—previously tackled by Sidney Lumet in 1974—with Murder on the Orient Express. In addition to directing, Branagh stars as the famous Detective Poirot, who investigates the murder of a businessman (Johnny Depp) on board the eponymous train. Michelle Pfeiffer, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Penélope Cruz, Daisy Ridley and more make up the star-studded cast. (20th Century Fox; Nov. 10)

Keegan-Michael Key, Zachary Levi, Christopher Plummer, Kristin Chenoweth, Gina Rodriguez and more lend their voices to The Star, first-time director Timothy Reckart’s animated tale of the first Christmas. (Columbia Pictures; Nov. 10)

A foul-mouthed mother (Frances McDormand) goes toe-to-toe against the cops who failed to apprehend her daughter’s murderer in the dark comedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, from In Bruges director Martin McDonagh. Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson also star. (Fox Searchlight; Nov. 10)

Comedian Louis C.K. directed, co-wrote and stars in I Love You, Daddy, about a TV writer/producer whose teenage daughter (Chloë Grace Moretz) becomes involved with a much older filmmaker, played by John Malkovich. (The Orchard; Nov. 17)

Some of the greats of the DC pantheon—Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Batman (Ben Affleck), Superman (Henry Cavill), The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher)—join forces to save the planet in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. (Warner Bros.; Nov. 17)

Two World War II servicemen—one white (Garrett Hedlund), one black (Jason Mitchell)—return to their Mississippi hometown only to have very different experiences as returning vets in Dee Rees’ Mudbound. Carey Mulligan, Mary J. Blige, Jonathan Banks, Jason Clarke and Rob Morgan round out the cast. (Netflix; Nov. 17)

Julia Roberts and Room breakout Jacob Tremblay star in Wonder, about a boy with facial differences who goes to a school with other children for the first time. (Lionsgate; Nov. 17)

Pixar vet Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 2 and 3; Monsters, Inc.; Finding Nemo) co-directs (with Adrian Molina) Coco, about a young boy’s journey through the Land of the Dead. (Walt Disney-Pixar; Nov. 22)

Gary Oldman becomes the latest actor to play famed elder statesman Winston Churchill in Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour, about Churchill’s tumultuous early weeks as Prime Minster. Lily James, Ben Mendelsohn, Kristin Scott Thomas, Stephen Dillane and Ronald Pickup co-star. (Focus Features; Nov. 22)

Jessica Chastain runs a high-stakes poker game—and gets into some trouble with the feds as a result—in Molly’s Game, the directorial debut of writer Aaron Sorkin. Idris Elba co-stars. (STX Entertainment; Nov. 22)

A teenage boy (Timothée Chalamet) strikes up a relationship with the graduate student (Armie Hammer) staying in his family’s Italian home for the summer in Luca Guadagnino’s coming-of-age drama Call Me By Your Name. (Sony Pictures Classics; Nov. 24)

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon helms the historical drama The Current War, about the rivalry between Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) in establishing America’s then-new electrical system. (The Weinstein Company; Nov. 24)

Also In November

Ferenc Török directs the post-World War II drama 1945, about a small Hungarian town whose denizens are forced to question their role in the Holocaust after the mysterious arrival of two Orthodox Jews. (Menemsha Films; Nov. 1)

A young Brooklyn architect (Stephanie Beatriz) copes with the aftermath of sexual assault and the impact it has on her life and relationships in The Light of the Moon. (Imagination Worldwide; Nov. 1)

Sixteen filmmakers cover 16 different stories surrounding America’s most recent presidential election in the Jeff Deutchman-produced 11/8/16. (The Orchard; Nov. 3)

Documentarians Alon and Saul Schwarz uncover the secrets of one Jewish family torn apart by the Holocaust in Aida’s Secrets. (Music Box Films; Nov. 3)

The many sides of maverick actor and director Dennis Hopper are explored in Nick Ebeling’s documentary portrait, Along for the Ride. (Nov. 3)

Four grandmothers accidentally kill a con man, then must cover up their deed when his ex-partner rolls into town in Bad Grandmas. Pam Grier and the late Florence Henderson head the cast. (Parade Deck Films; Nov. 3)

A loner (Bill Skarsgård) whose rare skin disease necessitates a complete avoidance of sunlight strikes up a relationship with the mysterious new girl in town (Claire van der Boom) in Alison Eastwood’s Battlecreek. (Hannover House; Nov. 3)

An immortal former samurai (Takuya Kimura) vows to achieve vengeance for a young girl (Hana Sugisaki) whose family was killed by a power-hungry swordsman (Sôta Fukushi) in Blade of the Immortal, the 100th film from Takashi Miike. (Magnolia Pictures; Nov. 3)

Tristan Ferland Milewski directs the documentary Dream Boat, about five men from five countries who embark on a cruise for gay men. (Strand Releasing; Nov. 3)

Neil Berkeley, who directed documentary tributes to writer/producer Dan Harmon (Harmontown) and artist Wayne White (Beauty Is Embarrassing) turns his lens on comedian Gilbert Gottfried with Gilbert. (Gravitas Ventures; Nov. 3)

An undocumented migrant from Spain (Ana Asensio, also serving as the writer-director) attempts to make a life for herself in New York in the dramatic thriller The Most Beautiful Island. (Orion Pictures-Samuel Goldwyn Films; Nov. 3)

Ross Lynch plays a young Jeffrey Dahmer in My Friend Dahmer, about the teenage years of the future serial killer. Alex Wolff plays “Derf” Backderf, Dahmer’s high-school friend and eventual author of the graphic novel on which the film is based. (FilmRise; Nov. 3)

Cristina Herrera Borquez follows the journey of devoted couple Víctor and Fernando to get married in their hometown of Mexicali, Mexico—where same-sex marriage is illegal—in the documentary No Dresscode Required. (Outsider Pictures; Nov. 3)

A 16-year-old girl (Jessie Pinnick) finds herself attracted to a female barista (Malic White) during a summer visit to Chicago in Princess Cyd, written and directed by Stephen Cone (Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party). (Wolfe Releasing; Nov. 3)

An overworked, underappreciated wife and mother (Marianna Palka, also the writer-director) has a psychotic break that causes her to act like a dog in Bitch. (MPI; Nov. 10)

Twelve survivors of the Holocaust share their stories—of the war and the attempts to rebuild their lives that came after—in Claire Ferguson’s Destination Unknown. (7th Art Releasing; Nov. 10)

A singer (Véro Tshanda Beya Mputu) races through the streets of Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, after her son suffers an accident in Alain Gomis’ Félicité. (Strand Releasing; Nov. 10)

Prolific documentarian Joe Berlinger (the Paradise Lost trilogy Metallica: Some Kind of Monster) covers the Armenian genocide and the Turkish government’s denial of the same in Intent to Destroy.(Nov. 10)

An office building is infected by a virus that makes people act out their wildest—often violent—impulses in Joe Lynch’s horror film/corporate satire Mayhem. “The Walking Dead”’s Steven Yeun stars. (RLJ Entertainment; Nov. 10)

A woman (Eili Harboe) goes away to college and falls in love, only to discover she has unusual powers, in Norwegian director Joachim Trier’s Thelma. (The Orchard; Nov. 10)

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, the long-running all-male drag ballet company, takes center stage in Bobbi Jo Hart’s documentary Rebels on Pointe. (Nov. 15)

Documentarian Pat Collins pays tribute to traditional Irish singing great Joe Heaney in Song of Granite. (Oscilloscope Laboratories; Nov. 15)

A young transgender woman (Daniela Vega) must cope with the death of her lover—and the censure of his closed-minded family—in Sebastián Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman. (Sony Pictures Classics; Nov. 17)

An actress (Kim Min-hee) takes to self-reflection after news about her affair with a married filmmaker causes a scandal in Hong Sang-soo’s On the Beach at Night Alone. (The Cinema Guild; Nov. 17)

Lucie Lucas and the late Anton Yelchin star in Gabe Klinger’s romantic drama Porto, about two expats who share a brief connection in the eponymous Portuguese city. (Kino Lorber; Nov. 17)

Jon Bernthal stars in the Alaska-set thriller Sweet Virginia, about a motel owner/former rodeo champ (Bernthal) who befriends a man (Christopher Abbott) whose violent impulses are tearing his small town apart. (IFC Films; Nov. 17)

Three Palestinian women sharing an apartment in Tel Aviv struggle to balance traditional expectations with modern culture in Maysaloun Hamoud’s In Between. (Film Movement; Nov. 20)

God bless us, everyone! Director Bharat Nalluri (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day) helps ring in the holidays with The Man Who Invented Christmas, which chronicles Charles Dickens’ writing of A Christmas Carol. Dan Stevens plays the author in question, with Christopher Plummer getting his humbug on as the fictional Ebenezer Scrooge. (Bleecker Street; Nov. 22)

Hedy Lamarr was a gorgeous movie star…but she was also a tech innovator who helped invent the technology that’s now the basis for Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth. Director Alexandra Dean sheds a light on this little-known aspect of Lamarr’s life in Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story. (Zeitgeist Films-Kino Lorber; Nov. 24)

Benedict Cumberbatch narrates Francesco Patierno’s World War II documentary Naples ’44, based on writer Norman Lewis’ memoir about his year in the eponymous city as a British soldier. (First Run Features; Nov. 29)

Evgeny Mitta’s documentary Act & Punishment focuses on the Russian activist rockers Pussy Riot, who were jailed in 2011 after protesting their home country’s human-rights abuses. (Cleopatra Entertainment; November)

A couple whose marriage is on the rocks try to reignite their spark with some glamping—aka “glamorous camping”—in Brandon Dickerson’s comedy Amanda & Jack Go Glamping. (Gravitas Ventures; November)

A young girl living in Afghanistan must dress as a boy in order to provide for her family in The Breadwinner, an animated drama from The Secret of Kells co-director Nora Twomey. (Gkids; November)

Werner Herzog is executive producer of director Erin Nekson’s documentary A Gray State, about the death of filmmaker David Crowley and the conspiracy theories that subsequently popped up in the alt-right crowd. (First Run Features; November)

Adam (director Shady Srour), an Arab Christian living in Nazareth who’s in dire need of money, comes up with a bold business proposal—selling the air on Mount Precipice, a Biblical site strongly associated with the Virgin Mary—in the comedy Holy Air. (Samuel Goldwyn Films; November)

An ambitious Nigerian-American man (Aml Ameen) commits insider trading in Anthony Onah’s The Price. (Samuel Goldwyn; November)

One of the most notorious art forgers of the 20th century gets a documentary examination in Jeff Oppenheim’s Real Fake: The Art, Life & Crimes of Elmyr De Hory. (Gravitas Ventures; November)

A teenage girl fakes her own abduction by aliens, leaving her father to venture into the weird world of teenagers to search for her, in Alex Taylor’s debut feature, Spaceship. (Breaking Glass Pictures; November)

December Highlights

James Franco directs an adaptation of Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell’s nonfiction book The Disaster Artist, about the making of the infamous cult classic The Room. Franco also stars as The Room’s enigmatic director, writer, producer and leading man Tommy Wiseau. (A24; Dec. 1)

Woody Allen continues his one-film-a-year run with Wonder Wheel, a period drama set in Coney Island in the 1950s. Kate Winslet, Juno Temple, Justin Timberlake and James Belushi star. (Amazon Studios; Dec. 1)

Ridley Scott directs All the Money in the World, a ’70s-set period piece about oil tycoon J. Paul Getty (Kevin Spacey), who refuses to cough up ransom when his grandson is kidnapped by terrorists. Michelle Williams plays the boy’s mother, who works with an ex-CIA agent (Mark Wahlberg) to rescue her child. (TriStar; Dec. 8)

Margot Robbie laces up her ice skates to play Tonya Harding in the dark comedy I, Tonya, from Lars and the Real Girl director Craig Gillespie. Sebastian Stan plays Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, who (in)famously was part of a plot to break Harding’s figure skating rival Nancy Kerrigan’s leg in the run-up to the 1994 Winter Olympics, leading to one of the biggest sports scandals of the ’90s. (NEON; Dec. 8)

A mousy, mute janitor (Sally Hawkins) falls in love with a fish creature (Doug Jones) being kept in the secret government lab where she works in Guillermo del Toro’s Cold War-set dark fairytale The Shape of Water. (Fox Searchlight; Dec. 8)

Carlos Saldanha (the Ice Age and Rio franchises) provides an animated take on Munro Leaf’s classic children’s picture book Ferdinand, about a gentle bull (voiced by John Cena) who doesn’t want to fight. (20th Century Fox; Dec. 15)

Patricia Arquette and Rainn Wilson star in writer-director Colette Burson’s Permanent, a coming-of-age comedy set in 1980s small-town Virginia. (Magnolia Pictures; Dec. 15)

Star Wars icons new and old—er, minus Han Solo, RIP—are back in the galaxy far, far away for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, director Rian Johnson’s follow-up to 2015’s The Force Awakens. (Walt Disney; Dec. 15)

Four teenagers get sucked into the jungle world of a mysterious videogame—not a board game this time—in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black play the kids’ in-game avatars. (Columbia Pictures; Dec. 20)

David Ayer reteams with his Suicide Squad co-star Will Smith for Bright, a fantasy crime drama set in a Los Angeles where magical creatures live alongside humans. (Netflix; Dec. 22)

Alexander Payne (Sideways, The Descendants) directed and co-wrote the social satire Downsizing, about a man (Matt Damon) who decides the solution to all his problems is to literally shrink himself. Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chai and Jason Sudeikis co-star. (Paramount; Dec. 22)

Two brothers (Ed Helms and Owen Wilson) try to track down their birth father after learning that he’s not, as they thought, deceased, in the Lawrence Sher-directed R-rated comedy Father Figures. (Warner Bros.; Dec. 22)

Michael Haneke and Isabelle Huppert reunite for the first time since 2012’s Amour in Happy End, a drama about a vacationing French family set against the backdrop of the European refugee crisis. (Sony Pictures Classics; Dec. 22)

The Barden Bellas, now graduated from college and out in the real world, reteam to compete at a USO tour in Trish Sie’s Pitch Perfect 3. Franchise newcomers Ruby Rose and John Lithgow join Anna Kendrick, Hailee Steinfeld, Anna Camp and the rest. (Universal; Dec. 22)

Steven Spielberg directs Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Sarah Paulson and Alison Brie in The Post, the fact-based drama of The Washington Post’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers. (20th Century Fox; Dec. 22)

Hugh Jackman stars as P.T. Barnum, inventor of modern show business, in first-time feature director Michael Gracey’s The Greatest Showman. Joining Jackman’s circus are Michelle Williams (playing P.T.’s wife), Zac Efron, Zendaya and Rebecca Ferguson. (20th Century Fox; Dec. 25)

Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis head to 1950s London for their second collaboration, Phantom Thread, in which a dressmaker (Day-Lewis) is tasked with designing clothes for members of high society. (Focus Features; Dec. 25)

Annette Bening plays Oscar-winning actress Gloria Grahame in Paul McGuigan’s Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, about the later years of the film noir icon and her romance with a young actor (Jamie Bell). (Sony Pictures Classics; Dec. 29)

Also In December

Ethan Hawke stars in the actioner 24 Hours to Live, about an assassin brought back to life after being killed on the job. (Saban Films; Dec. 1)

A new generation of techno-anarchist activists get their time in front of the camera—though it’s even money that some of them will be wearing Guy Fawkes masks—in Adam Bhala Lough’s documentary The New Radical. (The Orchard; Dec. 1)

Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki (Le Havre) returns with The Other Side of Hope, a comedy-drama about the unlikely friendship between a Syrian asylum seeker (Sherwan Haji) and a struggling restaurateur (Sakari Kuosmanen). (Janus Films; Dec. 1)

Getting your picture snapped by a vintage Polaroid camera means death in Polaroid, a horror outing from first-time feature director Lars Klevberg. (Dimension Films; Dec. 1)

Richard Hambleton, who gained notoriety painting silhouettes on the walls of lower Manhattan in the 1980s before plunging into drug addiction, is spotlighted in Oren Jacoby’s doc Shadowman. (Film Movement; Dec. 1)

A California teenager (Maika Monroe) turns to surfing to cope with her embattled home life in The Tribes of Palos Verdes, co-starring and executive produced by Jennifer Garner. (IFC Films; Dec. 1)

Rivals Leo (Tommy Lee Jones) and Duke (Morgan Freeman)—the former an ex-FBI agent, the latter an ex-mob lawyer—must join forces to come out on the other side of a mob hit alive in Just Getting Started. (Broad Green Pictures; Dec. 8)

A teacher helps refugee children adjust to a new life and a new language in Petra Lataster-Czisch and Peter Lataster’s documentary Miss Kiet’s Children. (Icarus Films; Dec. 13)

The trusty sidekick of a frontier legend must take the reins—literally and figuratively—and avenge his late friend’s death in Jared Moshe’s The Ballad of Lefty Brown. Bill Pullman, Peter Fonda and Kathy Bates star. (A24; Dec. 15)

John Travolta stars in the biographical crime drama Gotti, about the infamous crime boss John Gotti (Travolta) and his relationship with his son and successor (Spencer Lofranco). (Lionsgate; Dec. 15)

Private detective Charles Hayward (Max Irons) investigates the suspicious death of a wealthy patriarch in the Agatha Christie mystery Crooked House. Gillian Anderson, Glenn Close, Terence Stamp and Christina Hendricks are among the suspects in Gilles Paquet-Brenner’s film. (Vertical; Dec. 22)

Two teenage boys attempt to solve the murder of a young girl in 1960s Australia in Rachel Perkins’ Jasper Jones. (Film Movement; Winter)

All release dates are subject to change.