Green Book (November 21)
Plot Summary: Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen star in this engrossing story of a working-class Italian-American bouncer who takes a job chauffeuring an African American classical pianist across the American South in the 1960s.
The Breakdown: It seems many (most?) people hadn't heard of this one before its trailer dropped back in August. Since then, however, Green Book has emerged as a critical darling on the festival circuit and is now considered a front-runner to land a Best Picture nod at next year's ceremony. Awards season prognosticators are calling it this year's Hidden Figures and it's easy to grasp why, seeing as it takes a crowd-pleasing approach to examining racism and U.S. history through the lens of a true story-based dramedy. The fact that Green Book was cowritten and directed by Peter Farrelly (yes, of The Farrelly Brothers fame) is just the icing on this cake.
Ralph Breaks the Internet (November 21)
Plot Summary: Video game bad guy Ralph and fellow misfit Vanellope von Schweetz must risk it all by traveling to the world wide web in search of a replacement part to save Vanellope’s video game, Sugar Rush. In way over their heads, Ralph and Vanellope rely on the citizens of the internet - the netizens - to help navigate their way, including a webite entrepreneur named Yesss, who is the head algorithm and the heart and soul of trend-making site “BuzzzTube.”
The Breakdown: Animation has dominated the Thanksgiving box office frame for two years running and should end up taking the crown again in 2018, thanks to Disney's Ralph Breaks the Internet aka. Wreck-It Ralph 2. The original Wreck-It Ralph wasn't a monster hit on the level of the Mouse House's Frozen and Zootopia, but was perfectly successful in its own right and there's been a demand for more adventures with Ralph and Vanellope ever since. Ralph Breaks the Internet will further up the ante by including cameos from a variety of characters and IPs owned by Disney - most notably, a whole team of beloved princesses (ranging from Snow White to Moana).
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (December 14)
Plot Summary: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse introduces Brooklyn teen Miles Morales, and the limitless possibilities of the Spider-Verse, where more than one can wear the mask.
The Breakdown: The best (possibly) has yet to come in the year of Spider-Man, even after Peter Parker suited up as Iron Spider during Avengers: Infinity War and spinoff Venom became a sizable success at the box office this month. Sony has Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ready to arrive this December and the animated Spider-Man adventure continues to look and sound better with every new piece of footage that's released. In a year where the superhero genre has already broken fresh ground when it comes to representation and narrative innovation, it's fitting that Miles Morales, Spider-Gwen and, heck, even Spider-Ham also get to join in the fun.
Mortal Engines (December 14)
Plot Summary: Hundreds of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, a mysterious young woman, Hester Shaw, emerges as the only one who can stop London - now a giant, predator city on wheels - from devouring everything in its path. Feral, and fiercely driven by the memory of her mother, Hester joins forces with Tom Natsworthy, an outcast from London, along with Anna Fang, a dangerous outlaw with a bounty on her head.
The Breakdown: What happens when you make a Peter Jackson epic (technically) without Jackson? That's the question hanging over Mortal Engines, an adaptation of the YA post-apocalypse novel series that Jackson cowrote and produced, but didn't call the shots on (his Oscar-winning storyboard artist Christian Rivers did, instead). While the film's world-building and massive spectacle seem pretty impressive thus far, Mortal Engines currently isn't generating buzz the way Jackson's previous blockbusters have. Meanwhile, the fan discussion has taken a turn for the worse in response to the movie's changes to Hester's facial scarring. Still, all hope is far from lost when it comes to this December tentpole.
Mary Poppins Returns (December 19)
Plot Summary: In Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns,” an all new original musical and sequel, Mary Poppins is back to help the next generation of the Banks family find the joy and wonder missing in their lives following a personal loss. Emily Blunt stars as the practically-perfect nanny with unique magical skills who can turn any ordinary task into an unforgettable, fantastic adventure and Lin-Manuel Miranda plays her friend Jack, an optimistic street lamplighter who helps bring light - and life - to the streets of London.
The Breakdown: After Winnie the Pooh returned to cheer up a middle-aged Christopher Robin during this summer's, well, Christopher Robin, Mary Poppins is coming back to help the now-grown Banks children (and everyone else, really) in Mary Poppins Returns. The Disney sequel appears to be as much an homage to the beloved 1964 Mary Poppins film as a continuation of the franchise, but in all the very best ways - right on down to having a live-action/animated musical number of its own. Even with all the other "event" films coming out in December, moviegoers would do well to find some time to enjoy another jolly holiday with Mary on the big screen.
Aquaman (December 21)
Plot Summary: An action-packed adventure that spans the vast, visually breathtaking underwater world of the seven seas, “Aquaman” stars Jason Momoa in the title role. The film reveals the origin story of half-human, half-Atlantean Arthur Curry and takes him on the journey of his lifetime - one that will not only force him to face who he really is, but to discover if he is worthy of who he was born to be... a king.
The Breakdown: The final superhero movie of 2018 further promises to be the grandest in scope, as it sends Arthur "Aquaman" Curry on a quest to unite the seven underwater kingdoms. James Wan's DC adaptation certainly won't be hurting when it comes to swashbuckling adventure either, what with the film's trailers promising lots of grand visuals (both on-land and under the sea) to go with its Aqua-quips and stylish action sequences. There's still plenty that could go wrong here (see also: the sometimes wonky CGI), but on the whole Aquaman has the potential to be a highly entertaining conclusion to this year's run of comic book tentpoles.
Bumblebee (December 21)
Plot Summary: On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie, on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns this is no ordinary, yellow VW bug.
The Breakdown: Bumblebee's heartwarming trailers have certainly done their part to stoke the fires of anticipation for Travis Knight's spinoff, especially among those who were feeling burnt-out on all things Transformers after five Michael Bay-directed entries. Longtime fans of the franchise seem equally pleased by how the movie returns the robots in disguise to their G1 designs, nods to a number of fan-favorite characters, and even fills in some plot holes in the larger Transformers film continuity. All in all, Bumblebee could prove to be a proper crowd-pleaser - even among people who only have the faintest inkling what a Decepticon and/or Autobot even is.
Holmes and Watson (December 25)
Plot Summary: The Step Brothers are reunited - this time playing the world’s greatest consulting detective and his loyal biographer - as Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly star as Holmes & Watson.
The Breakdown: Ralph Breaks the Internet won't be the only John C. Reilly offering on this table this holiday season, thanks to his reunion with his Talladega Nights and Step Brothers costar Will Ferrell on Holmes and Watson. So far, the movie looks and sounds as ridiculous as one would expect for a Will Ferrell-fied take on Sherlock Holmes, but also just as harmlessly silly and playful. With end of year awards season contenders and big-budget offerings surrounding it on all sides, Holmes and Watson should comfortably fill the niche of broad comedy for the whole family to enjoy while everyone's together over the winter holidays.