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Holiday movie preview

The movies I’m most looking forward to seeing this holiday season

Spend Christmas day in France, circa "1917". Photo credit: Francois Duhamel / Universal Pic - © 2019 Universal Pictures and Storyteller Distribution Co., LLC. All Rights Reserved

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The Banker (Dec. 6) 

George Nolfi, who did such a splendid job of adapting The Adjustment Bureau and turning it into one of the great romantic films of the 2010s, is behind the camera for this based-on-true-events story starring Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony Mackie as African-American businessmen in the 1950s who posed as service industry employees and hired a working-class white man (Nicholas Hoult) to pose as the head of their company.

Richard Jewell (Dec. 13) 

Clint Eastwood, the 89-year-old marvel, returns to the true-story well with Richard Jewell, with Paul Walter Hauser as the security guard who was accused -- and virtually convicted in the public eye without trial -- of planting a bomb at the 1996 Olympics. 

We all thought Jewell did it. All of us were wrong.

Bombshell (Dec. 20) 

On the heels of the Showtime limited series The Loudest Voice, with Russell Crowe's magnificent performance as Fox News creator and notorious predator Roger Ailes, this story is told mainly through the eyes of two high-profile, on-air personalities -- Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) and Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) -- and one fictional composite character, an associate producer played by Margot Robbie. 

Cats (Dec. 20) 

Dame Judi Dench plays a cat with a fur coat! 

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Dec. 20) 

Full disclosure: From the time I saw Star Wars at the River Oaks Theater in Calumet City, Illinois, as a teenager, I've been a big fan of the franchise, and I truly appreciate its standing as one of the dominant global pop culture phenomena of the last half-century. 

However, I am not a FANATIC. I don't analyze every trailer and still photo for clues within clues within clues. I don't wear out my fingertips typing hysterical reactions to some bit of casting news. I don't troll this director or that actor because they created something that didn't match my expectations or hopes or mom-can-you-please-leave-the-nightlight-on dreams. 

I'm excited, really, I am, to see what happens in the third installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. But if it's not great, I'm still gonna go ahead with my Christmas plans. 

Uncut Gems (Dec. 25) 

From Punch-Drunk Love to Spanglish to Funny People to The Meyerowitz Stories, Adam Sandler has repeatedly demonstrated he has legitimate acting chops and can pull off a serious role. Film festival buzz says Sandler gives what might be his most impressive performance yet in Uncut Gems as a compulsive gambler who makes a series of high-stakes bets that could either be his salvation or end him. 

1917 (Dec. 25) 

The versatile director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Skyfall) helms this epic set at the height of World War I in northern France. Benedict Cumberbatch headlines the outstanding ensemble cast, and the legendary Roger Deakins (The Shawshank Redemption, No Country for Old Men, et al.) is the cinematographer, virtually ensuring this will be a visually stunning piece of work. 

Little Women (Dec. 25) 

Do we really need an eighth big-screen adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's 1868 classic? 

Answer: Yes. 

Yes, because the film stars Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Laura Dern, Timothee Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Bob Odenkirk, Chris Cooper and my current favorite working character actor in the world: Steppenwolf Theatre great Tracy Letts. 

Yes, because actor-filmmaker Greta Gerwig is the writer-director this time around, and based on Gerwig's solo directorial debut Lady Bird, this latest iteration could be something special.

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