Fall & Winter Holidays 2018 Movie Preview: 15 Films to Check Out

With Halloween the movie now in theaters and Halloween the holiday right around the corner, join us as we look ahead to the Fall and Winter 2018 holiday films to come. Much like last year, Hollywood's fall started off with a bang at the box office thanks to a horror movie (The Nun), before things cooled down a bit for the rest of September and the actual start of fall. Things have since picked up in a big way this month, as movies like Venom, A Star is Born and Halloween have all torn things up when it comes to ticket sales (and, in the case of the latter two, largely impressed critics).

All the same, there are still a lot of big films coming out in the last two months of 2018, even more so than there have been in years past. While a number of those late-year arrivals are Oscar hopefuls that will start off in limited release before gradually expanding to more theaters (see: The Favourite, If Beale Street Could Talk, etc.), there are also a whole lot of mainstream titles on the horizon - ranging from adult drama-thrillers to superheroes movies, Disney musicals, big-budget epics, and even a Transformers film that (believe it or not) looks pretty heartfelt.

Related: Ranking Every Halloween Movie, From 1978 to 2018

As has been the case with our fall/winter holiday previews in the past, this year's list will focus on films that are going to be playing in U.S. theaters "everywhere" throughout November and December. With that in mind, here are our 15 Films to Check Out Over the Fall and Winter Holidays in 2018 (in the order of their release).

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (November 2)

Plot Summary: All Clara (Mackenzie Foy) wants is a key - a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift. A golden thread, presented to her at godfather Drosselmeyer’s (Morgan Freeman) annual holiday party, leads her to the coveted key - which promptly disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. It’s there that Clara encounters a soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice and the regents who preside over three Realms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets. Clara and Phillip must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to the tyrant Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), to retrieve Clara’s key and hopefully return harmony to the unstable world.

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The Breakdown: Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms trailers arguably bring Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland to mind more than the Mouse House's recent live-action fairy tale retellings, in terms of their splashy production design and hero's journey adventure. Lasse Hallström's film also underwent substantial reshoots by Captain America helmsman Joe Johnston around the start of this year, enough so that the pair are sharing directing credit. Nutcracker and the Four Realms could end up being something of a shiny mess for it, but the hope is that this one has enough heart and charm to provide families with some classic Mouse House magic this holiday season.

The Grinch (November 9)

Plot Summary: Benedict Cumberbatch lends his voice to the infamous Grinch, who lives a solitary life inside a cave on Mt. Crumpet with only his loyal dog, Max, for company. With a cave rigged with inventions and contraptions for his day-to-day needs, the Grinch only sees his neighbors in Who-ville when he runs out of food. Each year at Christmas they disrupt his tranquil solitude with their increasingly bigger, brighter and louder celebrations. When the Whos declare they are going to make Christmas three times bigger this year, the Grinch realizes there is only one way for him to gain some peace and quiet: he must steal Christmas.

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The Breakdown: Illumination's previous Dr. Seuss adaptation, The Lorax, is their lowest-grossing animated film to date, but things should play out differently with The Grinch. The combination of Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular green grump, Illumination's trademark zany humor and cutesy sidekicks, and everyone's love for Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas source material ought to propel this one to greater box office heights... whether critics are onboard for the ride or not. Not to mention, the movie's November release date should allow it to gain a second wind in December, when more filmgoers are in the mood for some festive silliness.

The Girl in the Spider's Web (November 9)

Plot Summary: A new Dragon Tattoo story comes to the screen starring Claire Foy as Lisbeth Salander, the fierce, outcast vigilante defender from the acclaimed Millennium book series created by Stieg Larsson, in The Girl in the Spider's Web.

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The Breakdown: Claire Foy has already had a great year onscreen, thanks to her acclaimed roles in Unsane and First Man - but can she go three for three? That's the question hanging over The Girl in the Spider's Web, a revival of the english-language Millennium series that David Fincher launched with 2011's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but never got to continue. Foy as Lisbeth Salander seems to have even more in common with Batman than her predecessor in the role (Rooney Mara), but Don't Breathe director Fede Alvarez's Spider-Web may yet prove to be the shot in the arm this mystery-thriller franchise needs.

Overlord (November 9)

Plot Summary: With only hours until D-Day, a team of American paratroopers drop into Nazi-occupied France to carry out a mission that’s crucial to the invasion's success. Tasked with destroying a radio transmitter atop a fortified church, the desperate soldiers join forces with a young French villager to penetrate the walls and take down the tower. But, in a mysterious Nazi lab beneath the church, the outnumbered G.I.s come face-to-face with enemies unlike any the world has ever seen.

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The Breakdown: Overlord went over quite well on the festival circuit earlier this year, enough so that it's easy to forget that Bad Robot's WWII horror-thriller was originally believed to be Cloverfield 4 in disguise. It's too bad, then, that Paramount delayed the movie from its original late October launch date; it sounds like director Julius Avery's historical monster flick would have made for pitch-perfect Halloween weekend entertainment. Nevertheless, Overlord seems worth checking out when it arrives in November, especially for anyone who's in the mood to spend two hours watching Nazi "zombies" (along with some plain ol' Nazis) get punched in the face.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (November 16)

Dan Fogler and Eddie Redmayne in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Plot Summary: Making good on his threat, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald escapes custody and sets about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings. In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead.

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The BreakdownThe Fantastic Beasts sequel is the next major tentpole on the horizon and will almost certainly clean up at the box office, having the drawing power of J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World behind it. Yet, as far as the fan discussion goes, The Crimes of Grindelwald is having a rough time generating positive buzz, between the controversy over Rowling's stretching of the Harry Potter mythology (see also: the Nagini revelation) and Grindelwald himself, Johnny Depp, speaking out and calling further attention to the domestic assault allegations against him. Will things change once critics and general moviegoers have actually gotten to see the film for themselves?

Widows (November 16)

Plot Summary: "Widows" is the story of four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands' criminal activities. Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, tensions build when Veronica, Linda, Alice and Belle take their fate into their own hands and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.

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The Breakdown: 12 Years a Slave filmmaker Steve McQueen is back in the awards season race this year thanks to Widows, his crime-thriller based on the 1980s British TV miniseries. The film has been widely celebrated throughout its festival circuit tour for everything from McQueen's direction to the stellar cast (led by Viola Davis) and the script by McQueen and Gone Girl writer Gillian Flynn. By the sound of it, Widows is one of November's must-see movies for adults and marks another intriguing point in McQueen's ongoing evolution as a storyteller. It's also good to see Bad Times at the El Royale's Cynthia Erivo back in another movie already.

Creed 2 (November 21)

Plot Summary: Life has become a balancing act for Adonis Creed. Between personal obligations and training for his next big fight, he is up against the challenge of his life. Facing an opponent with ties to his family’s past only intensifies his impending battle in the ring. Rocky Balboa is there by his side through it all and, together, Rocky and Adonis will confront their shared legacy, question what’s worth fighting for, and discover that nothing’s more important than family.

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The Breakdown: Judging by the Creed II trailers, it seems Creed director Ryan Coogler made the right choice when he handed the sequel's reins over to Steven Caple Jr. (while he went off and made Black Panther, instead). The film looks like a worthy followup to Coogler's Rocky spinoff/revival and might even succeed in bringing greater emotional depth to the Ivan Drago storyline from Rocky IV by pitting Michael B. Jordan's Adonis Creed against Ivan's now-grown son in the boxing ring. Assuming Creed II lives up to its potential, it shouldn't be long before Jordan and his rest of his crew start talking seriously about making Creed III next.

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