MoviesRecapsDecember 2019 Movie Preview

dannythemoviemanDecember 1, 2019

The whole year has built up to this – December, which from year to year proves itself to be one of the best movie months every year. A wonderfully eclectic mix of awards fare (A Hidden Life, Bombshell) and flashy holiday blockbusters (Star Wars, Black Christmas) really gives everyone a ton of great content to check out this month. Not to mention the select films that will thrive in awards season but also be appreciated by the general public (1917, Uncut Gems). There’s so much to see this month, and we’ve got you covered on what to check out! Welcome to our December 2019 movie preview, where we let you know about the noteworthy releases of the month and follow them up with 5 top picks. Hope to see you at the movies!

In addition to the films releasing in December, two films that had their theatrical releases highlighted in our November preview release on Netflix this month:

  • Marriage Story on December 6th
  • The Two Popes on December 20th

Noteworthy Releases

Hala – December 6th (Apple TV+)
Muslim teenager Hala copes with the unraveling of her family as she comes into her own. (IMDb)

Written and directed by Minhal Baig.
Starring Geraldine Viswanathan, Jack Kilmer and Gabriel Luna.

The Kindness of Strangers – December 6th (Theatrical)
The story of people whose lives intertwine during a dramatic winter in New York City. (IMDb)

Written and directed by Lone Scherfig.
Starring Andrea Riseborough, Bill Nighy, Zoe Kazan, Jay Baruchel and Caleb Landry Jones.

Playmobil: The Movie – December 6th (Theatrical)
Animated feature film inspired by the Playmobil brand toys. (IMDb)

Directed by Lino DiSalvo. Written by Blaise Hemingway, Greg Erb and Jason Oremland.
Featuring the voices of Anya Taylor-Joy, Jim Gaffigan, Daniel Radcliffe, Meghan Trainor, Adam Lambert and Kenan Thompson.

Little Joe – December 6th (Theatrical), December 10th (Digital)
Alice, a single mother, is a dedicated senior plant breeder at a corporation engaged in developing new species. Against company policy, she takes one home as a gift for her teenage son, Joe. (IMDb)

Directed by Jessica Hausner. Written by Hausner and Geraldine Bajard.
Starring Ben Whishaw, Emily Beecham, Kerry Fox and Kit Connor.

In Fabric – December 6th (Theatrical), December 10th (Digital)
In Fabric is a haunting ghost story set against the backdrop of a busy winter sales period in a department store and follows the life of a cursed dress as it passes from person to person, with devastating consequences.. (IMDb)

Written and directed by Peter Strickland.
Starring Gwendoline Christie, Hayley Squires, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Leo Bill and Steve Oram.

I See You – December 10th (Digital)
Strange occurrences plague a small town detective and his family as he investigates the disappearance of a young boy. (IMDb)

Directed by Adam Randall and written by Devon Graye.
Starring Helen Hunt, Jon Tenney, Owen Teague and Allison Gabriel King.

A Hidden Life – December 13th (Theatrical)

The Austrian Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, a conscientious objector, refuses to fight for the Nazis in World War II. (IMDb)

Written and directed by Terrence Malick.
Starring August Diehl, Valerie Pachner, Michael Nyqvist, Matthias Schoenarts and Bruno Ganz.

Black Christmas – December 13th (Theatrical)
A group of female students are stalked by a stranger during their Christmas break. That is until the young sorority pledges discover that the killer is part of an underground college conspiracy. (IMDb)

Directed by Sophia Takal. Written by Takal and April Wolfe.
Starring Imogen Poots and Cary Elwes.

Jumanji: The Next Level – December 13th (Theatrical)

The gang is back but the game has changed. As they return to Jumanji to rescue one of their own, they discover that nothing is as they expect. The players will have to brave parts unknown and unexplored, from the arid deserts to the snowy mountains, in order to escape the world’s most dangerous game. (IMDb)

Directed by Jake Kasdan. Written by Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg.

Starring Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Jack Black, Awkwafina, Danny DeVito, Kevin Hart, Nick Jonas, Alex Wolff, Colin Hanks, Danny Glover and Rhys Darby.

6 Underground – December 13th (Netflix)
Meet a new kind of action hero. Six untraceable agents, totally off the grid. They’ve buried their pasts so they can change the future. (IMDb)

Directed by Michael Bay. Written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick.
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Melanie Laurent, Dave Franco, Helene Cardona and Corey Hawkins.

Togo – December 13th (Disney+)
The story of the sled dog, Togo, who led the 1925 serum run, but was considered by most to be too small and weak to lead such an intense race. (IMDb)

Directed by Ericson Core and written by Tom Flynn.
Starring Willem Dafoe and Julianne Nicholson.

Cats – December 20th (Theatrical)
A tribe of cats called the Jellicles must decide yearly which one will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new Jellicle life. (IMDb)

Directed by Tom Hooper. Written by Hooper and Lee Hall.
Starring Idris Elba, Ian McKellen, Rebel Wilson, Judi Dench, Taylor Swift, James Corden, Jennifer Hudson, Jason Derulo and Francesca Hayward.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – December 20th (Theatrical)
The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more in the final chapter of the Skywalker saga. (IMDb)

Directed by J.J. Abrams. Written by Abrams, Chris Terrio, Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly.
Starring Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Billie Lourd, Domnhall Gleeson, Mark Hamill, Lupita Nyong’o, Oscar Isaac, Keri Rusell, Ian McDiarmid, Kelly Marie Tran, Richard E. Grant, John Boyega, Billy Dee Williams and Anthony Daniels.

Ip Man 4 – December 20th (Theatrical)
The Kung Fu master travels to the U.S. where his student has upset the local martial arts community by opening a Wing Chun school. (IMDb)

Directed by Wilson Yip. Written by Hiroshi Fukazawa and Edmond Wong.
Starring Donnie Yen, Scott Adkins, Kent Cheng and Jim Liu.

Invisible Life – December 20th (Theatrical)
Two sisters born in Rio de Janeiro make their way through life, each mistakenly believing the other is living out her dreams half a world away. (IMDb)

Directed by Karim Ainouz. Written by Ainouz and Ines Bortagaray.
Starring Julia Stockler and Carol Duarte.

The Aeronauts – December 20th (Amazon Prime Video)

Pilot Amelia Wren and scientist James Glaisher find themselves in an epic fight for survival while attempting to make discoveries in a gas balloon. (IMDb)

Directed by Tom Harper and written by Jack Thorne.
Starring Felicity Jones, Eddie Redmayne, Himesh Patel and Tom Courtenay.

Spies in Disguise – December 25th (Theatrical)
When the world’s best spy is turned into a pigeon, he must rely on his nerdy tech officer to save the world. (IMDb)

Directed by Nick Bruno and Troy Quane. Written by Brad Copeland and Lloyd Taylor.
Featuring the voices of Will Smith, Karen Gillan, Ben Mendelsohn, Tom Holland, Rachel Brosnahan, Rashida Jones and DJ Khaled.

The Song of Names – December 25th (Theatrical)
Tim Roth and Clive Owen star in an emotional detective story spread over two continents and a half century. Beneath the film’s stunning and pulsing musical revelations burn the horror of a war and the lost souls extinguished from history. (IMDb)

Directed by Francois Girard and written by Jeffrey Caine.

Starring Clive Owen, Tim Roth, Eddie Izzard and Saul Rubinek.

Little Women – December 25th (Theatrical)
Four sisters come of age in America in the aftermath of the Civil War. (IMDb)

Written and directed by Greta Gerwig.
Starring Saiorse Ronan, Emma Watson, Timothee Chalamet, Florence Pugh, Laura Dern, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, Louis Garrel, Chris Cooper and Meryl Streep.

Dan’s Top Picks of the Month

5. Just Mercy – December 25th (Theatrical)

World-renowned civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson recounts his experiences and details the case of a condemned death row prisoner whom he fought to free. (IMDb)

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. Written by Cretton with Andrew Lanham.
Starring Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson, Jamie Foxx, Tim Blake Nelson, Rafe Spall, O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Rob Morgan.

Why You Should See It: One of our collective favourites out of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, Just Mercy is the dictionary definition of a crowdpleaser. A captivating and brilliant true story, a fantastic ensemble and a message of true hope. Although in retrospect, it may feel weird to check out a death row drama on Christmas day, this is a surprisingly hopeful, optimistic and powerful film that is definitely worth your time this holiday season.

4. Richard Jewell – December 13th (Theatrical)
American security guard Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser) saves thousands of lives from an exploding bomb at the 1996 Olympics, but is vilified by journalists and the press who falsely report that he was a terrorist. (IMDb)

Directed by Clint Eastwood. Written by Billy Ray.
Starring Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Jon Hamm, Kathy Bates and Paul Walter Hauser.

Why You Should See It: Clint Eastwood has been quite hit or miss the past few years – but some of his films, in particular, 2018’s The Mule showed us that he still has a hell of a lot of directorial energy in his 89 year old body. The underlooked but intriguing true figure behind the story, as well as the likes of an all-star cast, with a spotlight on the brilliant up-and coming Paul Walter Hauser (you may remember him from I, Tonya, Late Night and BlacKkKlansman).

3. 1917 – December 25th (Theatrical)


Two young British privates during the First World War are given an impossible mission: deliver a message deep in enemy territory that will stop 1,600 men, and one of the soldier’s brothers, from walking straight into a deadly trap. (IMDb)

Directed by Sam Mendes. Written by Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns.

Starring Dean-Charles Chapman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Madden, Mark Strong, Colin Firth and George MacKay.

Why You Should See It: What will likely be the final release of a best picture nominee this year, Sam Mendes’ infinitely ambitious project is an ensemble WW1 piece featuring a visual style that allows it to seem as if it’s an individual, uninterrupted shot. This aspect should make this one of the most impressive and immersive films of the year with a sense of ambition that pays off.

2. Bombshell – December 20th (Theatrical)
A group of women decide to take on Fox News head Roger Ailes and the toxic atmosphere he presided over at the network. (IMDb)

Directed by Jay Roach. Written by Charles Randolph.
Starring Margot Robbie, Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Kate McKinnon, D’Arcy Carden, Mark Duplass, Alice Eve, Allison Janney, John Lithgow, Connie Britton, Malcolm McDowell and Stephen Root.

Why You Should See It: Three of the best working actresses today front this fast paced, intriguing drama on the true story of Fox News’ Roger Ailes, and some of the allegations that ejected him from his high authority position at the right wing network. Although many of Fox’s supporters won’t be happy about the release of this, those that are on more of a politically neutral stance should be truly captivated by this performance driven piece.

1. Uncut Gems – December 25th (Theatrical), January 6th (Netflix)

A charismatic New York City jeweller always on the lookout for the next big score, makes a series of high-stakes bets that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime. Howard must perform a precarious high-wire act, balancing business, family, and encroaching adversaries on all sides, in his relentless pursuit of the ultimate win.

Directed by Josh and Benny Safdie. Written by the Safdies and Ronald Bronstein.
Starring Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, Kevin Garnett, The Weeknd, Idina Menzel, LaKeith Stanfield and Judd Hirsch.

Why You Should See It: A brilliant follow up to the Safdie’s previous film Good Time, and a much more accessible one at that, Uncut Gems is a riot. Besides being one of the best ensembles of the year with some fantastic breakthrough performances and an oscar-worthy turn for the Sandman, this is a relentlessly hysterical and thrilling venture through the grimy underground of the NYC Diamond District. It’s best to go in not knowing much more than this, because every single twist and turn in this is extremely captivating – making for what is absolutely one of the year’s best films.

Follow me on twitter @daniel_azbel and on letterboxd @danthemovieman.

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