WILL moviegoers be facing a winter wonderland or merely a big chill?
That's always the question asked at this time of year, when the holiday film season begins its sprint toward the finish line of December 31. It's that window of opportunity when studios hope their year-end movies will be successful enough to rake in gobs of cash, gobs of awards, or gobs of both.
With that in mind, here's a checklist of the handful of films coming our way throughout the rest of December. And since we're feeling the generous spirit of the season, we're also offering a peek at the 2018 movies that will only be opening in New York and Los Angeles this month to qualify for Oscar consideration but will then be hitting the rest of the country in January 2019.
DECEMBER 12: The R-rated Deadpool 2 returns to theaters as the PG-13 Once Upon a Deadpool, with the excision of reams of profanity and gore and the addition of framing sequences featuring Fred Savage in The Princess Bride mode.
DECEMBER 14: A sickly Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) must decide whether to bestow her affections on her longtime friend and advisor (Rachel Weisz) or on a lowly servant girl (Emma Stone) in the period seriocomedy The Favourite ... The writers of The Lord of the Rings trilogy (including Peter Jackson) are now behind the adaptation of Mortal Engines, a post-apocalyptic yarn in which a young woman (Hera Hilmar) tries to prevent London (now on wheels) from destroying everything in its path ... Clint Eastwood serves as both star and director for The Mule, in which an octogenarian unwittingly becomes a drug courier for a Mexican cartel and soon finds himself being pursued by a determined DEA agent (Bradley Cooper) ... Simultaneously debuting in select theaters and on Netflix, Roma finds Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity) turning to his memories to fashion a drama about a young maid (Yalitza Aparicio) working for a middle-class family in 1970s Mexico City ... Praised for The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street but fired from Solo: A Star Wars Story, the filmmaking team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller returns with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, an animated saga in which Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales discovers he's not the only one donning a web-slinging costume.
DECEMBER 19: Fifty-four years after her initial appearance, Mary Poppins Returns, this time in the form of Emily Blunt as the practically perfect nanny who again contends with the (now-adult) Banks children (Ben Wishaw and Emily Mortimer) and receives assistance from another cheerful working-class bloke (Lin-Manuel Miranda).
DECEMBER 21: Following his cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and his co-starring role in Justice League, the lord of Atlantis now merits his own motion picture with Aquaman, starring Jason Momoa as the title character and featuring Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman and Dolph Lundgren in support ... An offshoot of the Transformers series, Bumblebee centers on the escapades of the friendliest (and yellowest) space 'bot as he teams up with a precocious teenager (Hailee Steinfeld) in 1987 California ... After a retail worker (Jennifer Lopez) is passed over for a promotion due to her lack of a college degree, a falsified resume allows her new opportunities in Second Act ... A victim (Steve Carell) of a savage beating finds an unusual way to recover from his ordeal in Welcome to Marwen, the latest fantasy-twinged piece from Oscar-winning director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump).
DECEMBER 25: Fans of Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and the BBC Sherlock will have to refocus to enjoy Holmes & Watson, a comedy starring Step Brothers co-stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as the celebrated sleuth and his loyal sidekick ... Vice tells the life story of Dick Cheney (Christian Bale), following the political insider through his marriage to Lynne (Amy Adams), his friendship with Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell), and his vice presidency under George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell).
LIMITED: If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins' first film since directing and co-writing the Best Picture Oscar winner Moonlight, centers on a young black woman (KiKi Layne) whose fiancé (Stephan James) has been arrested for a crime he did not commit ... In Ben Is Back, a drug addict (Manchester by the Sea Oscar nominee Lucas Hedges) interrupts his rehabilitation to return home for Christmas, thus providing a tense situation for his mother (Julia Roberts), stepdad (Courtney B. Vance) and sister (Kathryn Newton) ... A detective (Nicole Kidman) whose life was derailed after she went undercover finds herself faced with characters from her past in the psychological drama Destroyer ... While this past summer's documentary RBG offered a comprehensive look at the life and career of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, On the Basis of Sex offers a dramatization of her early years as a struggling lawyer and professor, with Felicity Jones cast as Ruth and Armie Hammer portraying her devoted husband Marty ... Stan & Ollie focuses on the waning years of the legendary comedy team, as Stan Laurel (Steve Coogan) and Oliver Hardy (John C. Reilly) wind down their careers with a theatrical tour. cs