Are You Hitting The Theaters This Season? Here's What Movies To Look For A look ahead at possible awards contenders and potential blockbusters that Hollywood is wrapping up for your holiday enjoyment.
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Are You Hitting The Theaters This Season? Here's What Movies To Look For

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Are You Hitting The Theaters This Season? Here's What Movies To Look For

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Movies

Are You Hitting The Theaters This Season? Here's What Movies To Look For

Are You Hitting The Theaters This Season? Here's What Movies To Look For

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/670313806/670313807" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

A look ahead at possible awards contenders and potential blockbusters that Hollywood is wrapping up for your holiday enjoyment.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

It has been a very good year for Hollywood. Superheroes from "Black Panther" to "The Incredibles" have lifted the box office a billion dollars above where it was at this time last year. And as critic Bob Mondello is about to demonstrate, it looks as if Tinseltown is not inclined to coast into 2019.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: You can hardly walk into a multiplex without bumping into a superhero. Now we have to worry about aquariums?

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AQUAMAN")

JACK ANDREW: (As Mike) Check it out. Arthur is talking to the fish.

MONDELLO: Arthur is Arthur Curry, and when he talks, fish listen because he'll grow up to be Aquaman, king of Atlantis and of the Seven Seas, though only because he has no choice.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AQUAMAN")

AMBER HEARD: (As Mera) Your half-brother, King Orm, is about to declare war on the surface world. The only way to stop this war is for you to take your rightful place as king.

JASON MOMOA: (As Arthur Curry/Aquaman) Trust me. I am no king.

HEARD: (As Mera) You do your best thinking when you're not thinking at all.

MOMOA: (As Arthur Curry/Aquaman) That was the worst pep talk ever.

MONDELLO: Someone else who needs a pep talk is Miles Morales. And, happily, Peter Parker's available, which probably requires some explanation.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE")

SHAMEIK MOORE: (As Miles Morales/Spider-Man) In your universe, there's only one Spider-Man. But there's another universe. It looks and sounds like yours, but it's not.

MONDELLO: Enter Peter Parker.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE")

JAKE JOHNSON: (As Peter Parker/Spider-Man) I can teach you to be Spider-Man. Time to swing, just like I taught you.

MOORE: (As Miles Morales/Spider-Man) When did you teach me that?

JOHNSON: (As Peter Parker/Spider-Man) I didn't. It's a little joke for team-building.

MONDELLO: Computer-animated team-building in "Into The Spider-Verse."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE")

MOORE: (As Miles Morales/Spider-Man) OK. Who are you?

HAILEE STEINFELD: (As Gwen Stacy) I'm from another, another dimension.

MOORE: (As Miles Morales/Spider-Man) How many more Spider-People are there?

NICOLAS CAGE: (As Spider-Man Noir) Hey, fellas.

KIMIKO GLENN: (As Peni Parker) Hello.

JOHNSON: (As Peter Parker/Spider-Man) This could literally not get any weirder.

MONDELLO: Oh, sure it can. I mean, things are so weird this holiday season that Deadpool - Fox's R-rated antihero - has washed his mouth out with soap and kidnapped Fred Savage.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ONCE UPON A DEADPOOL")

FRED SAVAGE: (As himself) Why am I here?

RYAN REYNOLDS: (As Wade Wilson/Deadpool) You're in a PG-13 version of "Deadpool," filtered through the prism of childlike innocence.

SAVAGE: (As himself) I'm a grown man.

REYNOLDS: (As Wade Wilson/Deadpool) And nobody does childlike innocence like you, Fred - nobody. I need you almost as much as you need me.

SAVAGE: (As himself) I don't need you at all.

REYNOLDS: (As Wade Wilson/Deadpool) You need me to untie you once we're done.

MONDELLO: "Deadpool 2" recut as "Once Upon A Deadpool."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ONCE UPON A DEADPOOL")

SAVAGE: (As himself) I kind of prefer Marvel movies.

REYNOLDS: (As Wade Wilson/Deadpool) We are Marvel.

SAVAGE: (As himself) Yeah, but you're, you know, Marvel licensed by Fox. It's like if the Beatles were produced by Nickelback. It's music, but it sucks.

REYNOLDS: (As Wade Wilson/Deadpool) You were nicer as a kid.

MONDELLO: There is more to holiday cinema than superheroes, happily. And a lot of what there is is woman-centric, starting with a woman whose powers are supercalifragilistic.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MARY POPPINS RETURNS")

BEN WHISHAW: (As Michael Banks) Mary...

EMILY MORTIMER: (As Jane Banks) Poppins, you came back.

WHISHAW: (As Michael Banks) You seem hardly to have aged at all.

EMILY BLUNT: (As Mary Poppins) Really? One never discusses a woman's age, Michael. Would have hoped I taught you better.

MONDELLO: That little lesson is one that Jennifer Lopez will confront in the workplace comedy "Second Act," when she rides a fake resume to success.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SECOND ACT")

DAN BUCATINSKY: (As Arthur) It's not easy getting a job for a woman your age.

JENNIFER LOPEZ: (As Maya) Watch me.

MONDELLO: There's palace intrigue in the dark comedy "The Favourite," as Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone compete for the attention of England's Queen Anne.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE FAVOURITE")

RACHEL WEISZ: (As Lady Sarah) You have become close to Abigail. She is a viper.

OLIVIA COLMAN: (As Queen Anne) You're jealous.

MONDELLO: And in the historical drama "Mary Queen Of Scots," there's a more lethal struggle fanned by manipulative men in the courts of England's Queen Elizabeth and Scotland's Queen Mary.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS")

MARGOT ROBBIE: (As Queen Elizabeth I) You would have me to post sister monarch (ph).

GUY PEARCE: (As Sir William Cecil) It is either civil war there or civil war here.

DAVID TENNANT: (As John Knox) We have a scourge upon our land - a woman with a crown.

SAOIRSE RONAN: (As Mary Stuart) Should you murder me, remember; you murder your sister, and you murder your queen.

MONDELLO: Saoirse Ronan is a possible Oscar contender as the title character in "Mary Queen Of Scots." That's also true of a desiccated, battered-by-life Nicole Kidman in the crime thriller "Destroyer."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DESTROYER")

NICOLE KIDMAN: (As Erin Bell) I'm mad. I'm still mad. It burned a circuit in my brain.

MONDELLO: Other female stars play battling moms - Sandra Bullock blindfolded in the horror flick "Bird Box."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BIRD BOX")

SANDRA BULLOCK: (As Malorie) What is wrong with you?

MONDELLO: Julia Roberts, wide-eyed in the drug addiction tale "Ben Is Back."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BEN IS BACK")

JULIA ROBERTS: (As Holly Burns) Just tell me, son, where you want me to bury you.

MONDELLO: And Felicity Jones, opening everyone's eyes in "On The Basis Of Sex" as a young lawyer you may have heard of.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ON THE BASIS OF SEX")

FELICITY JONES: (As Ruth Bader Ginsburg) Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

MONDELLO: Who had to convince male judges, at a time when women could only get credit cards in their husband's name, that maybe gender equality ought to be considered a civil right.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ON THE BASIS OF SEX")

GARY WERNTZ: (As Judge Doyle) The word, woman, does not appear even once in the U.S. Constitution.

JONES: (As Ruth Bader Ginsburg) Nor does the word, freedom, Your Honor.

MONDELLO: Other origin stories about real-life figures include "Vice," in which Christian Bale plays Dick Cheney as a man not entirely sure he wants to be George W.'s vice president.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "VICE")

SAM ROCKWELL: (As George W. Bush) I want you. You're my vice.

CHRISTIAN BALE: (As Dick Cheney) Well, George, I - the vice presidency is a mostly symbolic job. However, if we came to a different understanding.

MONDELLO: Sam Rockwell plays George W., while Steve Carell plays Donald Rumsfeld. Carell is also in "Welcome To Marwen," the true story of the victim of a violent assault who constructed a miniature World War II village to help in his recovery. It was populated by dolls.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WELCOME TO MARWEN")

STEVE CARELL: (As Mark Hogancamp) These are the women of Marwen, and they protect Mark - we're one and the same, pal - from the bad guys.

MONDELLO: With digital wizardry, director Robert Zemeckis brings the dolls to life.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WELCOME TO MARWEN")

CARELL: (As Mark Hogancamp) We need more ammo.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) I thought I heard you yelling for more gumbo.

CARELL: (As Mark Hogancamp) Not gumbo. No gumbo.

MONDELLO: Then there's a buddy biopic that will recreate one of movie comedy's...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAN & OLLIE")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Cue music.

MONDELLO: ...Most celebrated teams.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAN & OLLIE")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) And action.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Hollywood legends Mr. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy arrived in Britain today as they embarked on a national tour

MONDELLO: Steve Coogan plays beanpole Stan Laurel. John C. Reilly is big guy Oliver Hardy, both a bit past their prime in "Stan & Ollie."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAN & OLLIE")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) Amazing that you two are still going strong, still using the same old material.

MONDELLO: John C. Reilly is also going strong in a more recent comic duo. He and Will Ferrell already have "Step Brothers," "Anchorman" and "Talladega Nights" under their belts. And on Christmas Day, they'll make a literary addition to that list while meeting Queen Victoria.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HOLMES & WATSON")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As character) Your Majesty, may I present to you the greatest detective of all time, Sherlock Holmes, and Doctor John Watson.

JOHN C. REILLY: (As Watson) I love you.

WILL FERRELL: (As Holmes) Watson.

REILLY: (As Watson) Oh. What a looker, right?

FERRELL: (As Holmes) She is stunning.

MONDELLO: While we're talking literary, a brief novel by James Baldwin has been turned into a ravishing big-screen love story. It's called "If Beale Street Could Talk."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK")

STEPHAN JAMES: (As Alonzo 'Fonny' Hunt) I'm yours in your mind, and that's it. You and me all the time.

KIKI LAYNE: (As Tish Rivers) Honey, there's something I got to tell you.

MONDELLO: Director Barry Jenkins was working on two projects when he started "If Beale Street Could Talk." The other was his Oscar winner, "Moonlight."

Kenneth Branagh, who's directed and starred in plenty of Shakespeare onscreen, will direct and star as Shakespeare in "All Is True." And Clint Eastwood, who's caught plenty of bad guys onscreen, will direct and star as a bad guy, a drug courier in "The Mule."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE MULE")

CLINT EASTWOOD: (As Earl Stone) So help me God, this is the last one.

MONDELLO: Year's end always brings lots of foreign films, and there are two terrific ones about children in dicey situations - Lebanon's almost Dickensian epic "Capernaum" and Japan's sweetly affecting comedy "Shoplifters." There's also a pair of movies about politically stifled artists, Germany's "Never Look Away" and Poland's jazz-inflected "Cold War."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "COLD WAR")

JOANNA KULIG: (As Zula, singing in Polish).

MONDELLO: Music is also central to the season's most out-there concept, "Anna And The Apocalypse," a holiday movie filled with warm family sentiments and a bit of skull-cracking, as Anna and her pals fight and sing their way through a rough Christmas break.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE")

CHRISTOPHER LEVEAUX: (As Chris) Oh, no.

ELLA HUNT: (As Anna) What?

LEVEAUX: (As Chris) Justin Bieber's a zombie.

MONDELLO: Think "High School Musical" meets "Shaun Of The Dead." Proof, if any were needed, that Tinseltown was determined to come up with something for everyone on its Christmas list. I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (Singing as characters) What a time to be alive. What a time to be alive.

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