Holiday movie preview: Sweet symphony of Oscar hopefuls, family fare

Mark Meszoros, The News-Herald, Willoughby, Ohio on

Published in Entertainment News

If you write about movies, this is the time of year when you write A LOT about movies, and they'll continue to snowball into theaters and onto streaming services through the end of the year.

There will be time to breathe in January.

Now, though, as the fall rush gives way to the early-winter avalanche, we offer this look at much of what's coming, from Academy Award hopefuls to fanciful films the studios hope will appeal to your whole family around the holidays. (As always, dates are subject to change.)

"Leo" — Nov. 21 — Netflix >> Adam Sandler's latest film for the streaming giant is an animated tale set during the last year of elementary school — as seen from the eyes of the class pet. Sandler ("Hotel Transylvania") voices the titular 74-year-old lizard, who's been stuck for decades in a Florida classroom with a likewise glassed-in turtle (voiced by Bill Burr). When Leo learns he has but one year to live, he plots his great escape.

"Genie" — Nov. 22 — Peacock >> In this Universal Pictures holiday fairy tale penned by Richard Curtis ("Love Actually," "Four Weddings and a Funeral," "Notting Hill"), Melissa McCarthy portrays a genie trapped for more than 2,000 years in a jewelry box. Now free, she must grant wishes to a man (Paapa Essiedu of "I May Destroy You") who's been so busy working he's neglected his marriage.

"Good Burger 2" — Nov. 22 — Paramount+ >> Keenan Thompson reprises the role of inventor Dexter Reed, who reunites with his old co-worker Ed (a likewise returning Kel Mitchell) in this sequel to the 1997 comedy. The cast also boasts Lil Rel Howery and Jillian Bell.


"Napoleon" — Nov. 22 — Theaters >> After seeing endlessly prolific director Ridley Scott's historical effort about French figure Napoleon Bonaparte (Joaquin Phoenix) — which focuses on his rise through the military ranks to become the country's leader, as well as his complicated marriage to Josephine (Vanessa Kirby) — you understand why it may see a four-hour cut when it lands on Apple TV+. Even at about two-and-a-half hours and containing several battle sequences, the expensive Apple production — distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing — feels as though it's leaving plenty of meat on the bone. The screenplay is by David Scarpa, who penned Scott's 2017 film "All the Money in the World."

"Saltburn" — Nov. 22 — Theaters >> Emerald Fennell ("Promising Young Woman") directs what's being described as a cross between a psychological thriller and a black comedy about a struggling student at Oxford University who gets sucked into the world of a charming and aristocratic classmate for a summer. The cast boasts Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike and Richard E. Grant.

"Wish" — Nov. 22 — Theaters >> This latest offering from Walt Disney Animation Studio, coming as the company celebrates its 100th-anniversary year, leans heavily into the idea of wishing upon a star, which is synonymous with the House of Mouse. Gifted singer Ariana DeBose ("Hamilton," "West Side Story") voices the film's appealing heroine, 17-year-old Asha, who seeks to retrieve the wishes of her friends and family members from a sorcerer-king (Chris Pine) who, well, wishes to keep them for himself. "Wish" is co-directed by Chris Buck ("Frozen," "Frozen II") and Fawn Veerasunthorn, making her feature directorial debut. Speaking of "Frozen" and its sequel, the writer of those films, Jennifer Lee, co-wrote this screenplay, as well.

"Maestro" — Nov. 22 — Theaters >> Bradley Cooper pours his heart and musical soul into this highly anticipated biopic about Leonard Bernstein from Netflix, which streams Dec. 20 following a theatrical run. After directing, co-writing and starring in 2018's well-received remake of "A Star Is Born," the crazy-talented Cooper pulls the same duties in this biopic, which is more interested in the famed composer and conductor's unusual marriage to his beloved wife, actress Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan), than it is in, say, how he wrote "West Side Story" with Stephen Sondheim. With the help of topnotch hair, makeup and costuming work, Cooper disappears into the role of Bernstein, a creative genius who loves to be around people — especially young men.


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