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Your guide to the 2019 holiday movie season

You know you’re in for a wild couple of months at the movies when the phrase “Oscar buzz for Adam Sandler” isn’t the most jarringly discordant thing you’ll encounter.

It obviously takes something bizarre on an almost generational level to top the idea of the “Happy Gilmore” star being honored during the Academy Awards in anything other than the In Memoriam segment.

That something is “Cats.”

The trailer for the kinda-sorta live-action movie version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is a veritable nightmare buffet. Some cats — including those portrayed by Idris Elba and Judi Dench — seem to be both covered in fur and wearing fur coats. Some cats wear pants. Some cats wear hats — which, if it isn’t already the title of a children’s book, it really should be. Most cats, though, walk around in their natural unclothed state, albeit upright on their hind legs. Also, instead of paws, the cats have hands and feet, each of which sports five very human-looking fingers or toes.

Despite being directed by “The King’s Speech” Oscar winner Tom Hooper, who also helmed the film version of “Les Miserables,” the whole thing looks as though it were shot using the official “Island of Dr. Moreau” Snapchat filter.

Here’s a look at those and the rest of this year’s crop of holiday movies, including a little film called “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”


Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell) are back — along with Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf (Josh Gad) and Sven — to “Let It Go” some more in “Frozen 2,” featuring seven new songs from the Oscar-winning duo of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.

Tom Hanks, possibly the nicest guy in Hollywood, portrays one of the nicest men to ever walk the face of the Earth as he dons the signature sneakers and cardigan of Fred Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”

An NYPD detective (Chadwick Boseman) on the hunt for cop killers tries to corner them by ordering every way in and out of Manhattan closed in the thriller “21 Bridges.”

Nov. 27

A detective (Daniel Craig) searches for clues in the death of a crime novelist (Christopher Plummer) in “Knives Out,” an Agatha Christie-style whodunnit from writer-director Rian Johnson (“Looper,” “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) that co-stars Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette and LaKeith Stanfield.

After a traffic stop goes terrifyingly wrong, a black couple (“Get Out” Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Turner-Smith) on a first date go on the run and become a media sensation in “Queen & Slim.”

Dec. 6

A Cincinnati attorney (Mark Ruffalo) who has successfully defended large chemical companies wages a 15-year legal fight against DuPont, which is suspected of having poisoned the water supply of a West Virginia community, in “Dark Waters.”

The members of a suburban African-American family — including a high school wrestler (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) and his domineering father (Sterling K. Brown) — struggle with an unthinkable loss in “Waves.”

In his feature screenwriting debut, Shia LaBeouf portrays a version of his troubled father in “Honey Boy,” which chronicles the rapid rise and descent of a very LaBeouf-ian young actor.

Small plastic representations of a secret agent (voiced by Daniel Radcliffe) and a food truck driver (Jim Gaffigan) come to the rescue in the animated “Playmobil: The Movie,” which is not in any way inspired by the success of “The Lego Movie.”

Dec. 13

Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Nick Jonas get back in the game — along with newcomers Danny DeVito and Danny Glover — in “Jumanji: The Next Level.”

A security guard is wrongly implicated in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing in director Clint Eastwood’s “Richard Jewell.

An Austrian peasant farmer faces charges of treason for refusing to fight for the Nazis in World War II in “A Hidden Life,” from writer-director Terrence Malick.

Sorority girls are once again being butchered over the holidays in this second remake of the 1974 cult horror classic “Black Christmas.”

Dec. 20

After 41 years and eight movies, the Skywalker saga reportedly will come to an end — we’ll believe it when we see it — in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”

Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, James Corden and Jennifer Hudson star in the musical “Cats.”

Charlize Theron is Megyn Kelly, Nicole Kidman is Gretchen Carlson and John Lithgow is Roger Ailes in “Bombshell,” a look at the Fox News sexual harassment scandal.

Dec. 25

Writer-director Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”) adapts Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women,” starring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Timothee Chalamet and Meryl Streep.

A recent Harvard Law graduate (Michael B. Jordan) heads to Alabama to fight, with the help of a local advocate (Brie Larson), for the rights of wrongly incarcerated prisoners in “Just Mercy,” co-starring Jamie Foxx.

When a super spy (voiced by Will Smith) is turned into a pigeon, he must try to save the world with the help of a scientist (Tom Holland) in the animated “Spies in Disguise.”

A New York City jeweler (Adam Sandler) who owes money all over town tries to extricate himself through a series of large wagers in the drama “Uncut Gems.”

To be determined

A pair of young British soldiers race across enemy lines to deliver warning of an ambush that could cost 1,600 of their countrymen their lives in “1917.” Director Sam Mendes’ World War I tale, co-starring Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch, will open in some cities Dec. 25 but might not make it to Las Vegas until Jan. 10.

Two Netflix movies are being talked about in several Oscar categories, but they don’t yet have local release dates — and they might never get them. Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda and Ray Liotta star in “Marriage Story,” writer-director Noah Baumbach’s look at divorce that will debut on Netflix on Dec. 6. And the resignation of Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) and the ascendency of the man who would become known as Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce) is the subject of “The Two Popes,” which hits the streaming service Dec. 20.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

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