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Jeff Simon: Nothing like films for the holidays

"This time, it's personal."

Yeah, yeah, you've no doubt heard that orotund threat before in movie trailers for the newest sequel to some action revenge movie starring Charles Bronson, Bruce Willis or Liam Neeson.

Readjust your appetite for mayhem. I'm using it in a much milder and friendly context, suitable for the holiday season. Here is my wayward personal list of some upcoming Holiday movies -- most of which I haven't seen yet -- and some reasons why I'm looking forward or dreading.

What's coming out and what I'm thinking about them at this moment:


"The Darkest Hour": Gary Oldman plays Winston Churchill, a really bad casting idea that, somewhat incredibly, is said to have panned out brilliantly. If it turns out to be, at long last, Oldman's claim to actorly sovereignty, far be it from me to complain.

Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in "Darkest Hour." (Jack English/Focus Features)

DEC. 20

"Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle": Sequel to the popular digital jungle nonsense starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, one of the largest currently employed Hollywood actors, and Kevin Hart, one of the gabbiest and smallest. I tell you, not since Arnold Schwarzenegger met Danny DeVito ...

"The Greatest Showman": Would you believe Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum? Of course you can. You believed him as The Wolverine, right? With Michelle Williams.

DEC. 22

"Pitch Perfect 3": One more time for the Bellas. Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson etc. add to their grandchildren's education fund.

"Downsizing": A film I've seen with a brilliant premise that doesn't begin to prepare you for where it goes. A virtuoso visual feat about a world where people are shrunk to 5 inches tall. Starring Matt Damon.

"Father Figures": In this particular, smutty joke, Owen Wilson and Ed Helms try to figure out who their daddies are from what their Mom says. J.K. Simmons? Terry Bradshaw? Ving Rhames? Christopher Walken? And get this now: The onetime, loose-living Mom is played by Glenn Close. She must have giggled her way through the whole movie shoot.

From left to right: Flo (Chrissie Fit), Aubrey (Anna Camp), Stacie (Alexis Knapp), Chloe (Brittany Snow), Beca (Anna Kendrick), Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) and Cynthia Rose (Ester Dean) in "Pitch Perfect 3," directed by Trish Sie. (Quantrell D. Colbe/Universal Studios)


"All the Money in the World": One of the great virtuoso stunts in movie history. Under Ridley Scott's direction, Kevin Spacey was thrown out of the movie at just about the last possible minute and replaced by an actor decades older, Christopher Plummer.

Sure, it's interesting to see a movie about how a man could be so rich that he'd turn down a kidnapper who asked for ransom for his grandson. But not a fraction as interesting as a movie director replacing an actor caught up in the current maelstrom of sexual scandal.

"Phantom Thread": Daniel-Day Lewis plays a '50s dressmaker in London under the direction of Paul Thomas Anderson, who directed him in the diametrically opposite tale "There Will Be Blood." On top of everything else, Lewis says this will be the last film we'll ever see him act in.

JAN. 5

"Molly's Game": Jessica Chastain as a gambler in the first film directed by the edgy and literate TV and movie writer Aaron Sorkin. I'm dying of curiosity: will debuting director Sorkin use all these patented walk-and-talks that his friend, director Thomas Schlamme, virtually invented for his TV shows "Sports Night" and "The West Wing?"

JAN. 12

"The Post": Steven Spielberg takes another crack at modern history. Look, I love Tom Hanks as much as anyone but playing the late Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee? After Bradlee spent so many years on TV being visible himself? And after Jason Robards played him for all time in "All the President's Men?" At least he's got Meryl Streep playing Katharine Graham to bolster his cause.


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