Holiday Movie Highlights

Kristen Wiig and Matt Damon in "Downsizing"

Photo courtesy of TIFF


The holiday movie season is a unique mix of prestige films, family-friendly blockbusters, and more challenging fare that does not quite fit cinemas during the summertime.

Some major films arrived in September and October—real-life tennis drama Battle of the Sexes, long-awaited sci-fi sequel Blade Runner 2049, the Buffalo-shot Marshall. But November, December, and January are even busier.
The list below offers a diverse range of genres and topics, and there are plenty more coming soon, as well. (Opening dates are subject to change.)


For Younger Grandkids

Coco: The latest from Pixar (Finding Dory, Inside Out) takes an aspiring musician through the Land of the Dead. (November 24)
Ferdinand: Wrestling star John Cena voices Ferdinand, a bull with a big heart, in this animated family film. (December 15)

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle: The 1990s favorite Jumanji was one of Robin Williams’s biggest hits. This reboot of the film about a magical board game moves things into a video game setting and stars Dwayne Johnson. (December 22)


For Older Grandkids

Thor: Ragnarok: The third film centered on Thor, the Marvel Comics favorite played by Chris Hemsworth, looks to be the most fun in the series. This time, the cast includes Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, as well as Cate Blanchett as a villainess. (November 3)

Daddy’s Home 2: The Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg comedy Daddy’s Home was a pleasant surprise in 2015. The sequel adds John Lithgow and Mel Gibson as the fathers to Ferrell and Wahlberg, respectively. (November 10)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: There’s no doubt that the eighth Star Wars episode is the year’s most anticipated film. The follow-up to The Force Awakens sees Rey (Daisy Ridley) continue her journey under the tutelage of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). (December 15)


For the Oscar Handicapper

Darkest Hour: Gary Oldman plays Winston Churchill in this entertaining World War II drama. I caught the film at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and I can assure you the buzz surrounding the performance is accurate—Oldman has never been better. (November 24; limited release)

Call Me By Your Name: Few films in 2017 are more moving that this story of the affair between the teenage son of an American professor and the graduate student who spends a summer with the family. It was a TIFF highlight. (November 24; limited release)

The Post: A mighty trio—director Steven Spielberg and stars Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep—team up for a drama about the Pentagon Papers cover-up. (January 12)


For a Post-film Conversation

Wonder Wheel: Another year, another film from Woody Allen. Kate Winslet stars in this drama set at Coney Island during the 1950s. (December 1; limited)

Chappaquiddick: This period drama about the scandal involving a young Ted Kennedy is directed by Rochester’s John Curran. (December 8)

Downsizing: It’s difficult to know what to make of Alexander Payne’s latest, which stars Matt Damon as a man who takes advantage of a new procedure that can shrink humans. (I saw it at TIFF.) It’s a strange but compelling mix of comedy, drama and science fiction. (December 22)


Christopher Schobert is the former managing editor of Forever Young. He is a film critic for The Buffalo News and other outlets, and writes a monthly film screenings column for Buffalo Spree.


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