Thanksgiving weekend is a good time to feast on leftovers, spend time with the family, and sit in a dark theater for two hours catching up on the year’s biggest movies. From new releases like Pixar’s Coco to critically acclaimed favorites like Lady Bird to streaming gems like Mudbound, here’s what to know about 17 big movies worth considering during the holiday break.



Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor
Director: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina (co-director)
Rating: PG

Review: “Mamas don’t let their babies grow up to be mariachis. That’s one thing Miguel (voiced by newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) knows for sure: Ever since his great-great-grandfather abandoned the family decades ago to pursue la vida musical, every descendant has shunned both his tainted memory and any stray melody unwise enough to drift past a window. They are shoemakers now, not dreamers. But Miguel, a tenacious 12-year-old with a single dimple in his cheek and an unhushable song in his heart, can’t help it; his fingers ache for a guitar. And like every hero on a quest, he will find one. Though unlike most — especially in the shiny world of Pixar, whose Technicolor critters, toy cowboys, and anthropomorphized race cars often seemed to come in every shade but brown — he is also proudly, unmistakably Mexican.” B+

Where to watch: In theaters everywhere (buy tickets)

Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Starring: Denzel Washington, Colin Farell, Carmen Ejogo
Director: Dan Gilroy
Rating: R

Review: “Roman J. Israel, Esq. doesn’t quite have the same frayed-wire electricity as Nightcrawler, but what it does have on its side is Denzel Washington — a squalling, one-of-a-kind screen presence whose mere presence elevates just about any movie he’s in. That’s no small thing. Washington’s Roman is a former inner-city civil rights activist who is the silent, unseen partner in a small, two-person criminal-defense law firm in downtown L.A. With his grown-out, Don Cornelius Afro, ‘70s glasses frames, and ill-fitting blazer over a threadbare cardigan, Roman is a man out of time (his iPod is crammed with soul classics from the Nixon era). Roman is the kind of Luddite relic who favors index cards to computer spreadsheets, payphones to cellphones, and actually walks to get around in the pedestrian-unfriendly city. He’s a brilliant, encyclopedic legal mind who seems to be just shy of the autism spectrum, unable to play well with others. He’s a blunt instrument and an odd duck. Which is why he does the backroom paperwork while his partner, the face of the firm, is the one who appears in court. Roman is a walking contradiction. He can’t stomach the inequalities he sees in the legal system, but he proudly insists on adding the term ‘Esquire’ to his name. When asked by a client what the honorific means, he replies, ‘It’s slightly above gentleman and below knight.’” B

Where to watch: In theaters everywhere (buy tickets)

Darkest Hour

Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristen Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn
Director: Joe Wright
Rating: PG-13

Review: “I’ll be honest, Oldman hasn’t been this good for a very long time. To be even more honest, he’s starred in a lot of junk in the past decade. But remember, this is the actor who played Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy and was so hypnotic (and often scary) in Prick Up Your Ears, State of Grace, JFK, The Professional, True Romance, Immortal Beloved, and The Contender. It’s both a relief and revelation to see him get the chance to swing for the fences again.” B+

Where to watch: In limited release (buy tickets)

The Man Who Invented Christmas

Starring: Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer
Director: Bharat Nallui
Rating: PG

Review: “There are not very many surprises in this movie, since most of us know A Christmas Carol by heart. True to its title, though, The Man Who Invented Christmas does give viewers a look at how Dickens’ book changed perceptions of the winter holiday. Every time he pitches it to someone, they express shock that he would even bother writing about Christmas at all. There’s hardly a Christmas tree to be seen. The film’s argument is that Dickens’ wonderful story had the same effect on the general populace as it does on Scrooge himself, inspiring people to be more generous and forgiving at Yuletide. Perhaps some of its power comes from its parallels with Dickens’ own life story; it was hard for him to complete when he still had unresolved issues with his profligate father (Jonathan Pryce). Again, we know the beats by heart, but there’s a reason A Christmas Carol has been told every which way from Muppets to Disney. You can’t help getting swept up in it, even if you’ve heard it all before.” B-

Where to watch: In limited release (buy tickets)

Call Me By Your Name

Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Rating: R

Review: “Call Me By Your Name, adapted by Oscar nominee James Ivory from André Aciman’s acclaimed 2007 novel, is in no rush to tell its story. The narrative casts a sort of languorous spell over its two-plus hours, capturing the unhurried sun-drunk rhythm of Elio’s days as his crush evolves from intriguing distraction to full-blown obsession. There are other contenders for his affection, and Oliver’s, too: local girls whose own sidelined desires Guadagnino captures with startling poignancy. The Italian director, best known for stylized sensory feasts like last year’s sleek, brittle A Bigger Splash, is as lavish with his visual gifts as he’s ever been. And he even finds levity in moments like an already internet-famous dance to the Psychedelic Furs’ ‘Love My Way,’ or in the sheer awkwardness of living inside a teenage body. But there’s a new kind of empathy here—one that allows the winsome Chalamet to shine and pulls surprising new depths from Hammer, an actor whose serene symmetry finally cracks open to reveal the remarkably flawed and feeling human being beneath.” A-

Where to watch: In limited release starting Friday (buy tickets)


Justice League

Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons
Director: Zack Snyder
Rating: PG-13

Review: “First, the good news. Justice League is better than its joylessly somber dress rehearsal, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Now the ‘but’… you knew there was a ‘but’ coming, right? But it also marks a pretty steep comedown from the giddy highs of Wonder Woman. When Gal Gadot’s proto-feminist Amazonian avenger got her solo showcase earlier this year, there were a lot of DC partisans who finally had a reason to feel bullish about the state of their union. Following the exit of Christian Bale in 2012, it was the first real glimmer of hope that maybe the studio was headed in the right direction. That the future was bright. Justice League won’t extinguish that hope. Not by a long shot. But it also doesn’t quite translate into a winning streak either. It’s a placeholder in a franchise that’s already had too many placeholders.” C+

Where to watch: In theaters now (buy tickets)


Starring: Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay, Daveed Diggs
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Rating: PG

Review: “There’s no movie genre more fraught with mixed emotions than the humble tear-jerker. If you’re a filmmaker, getting a theater full of complete strangers to sob on command is no small feat. It may seem easy, but in truth it’s a sort of middlebrow magic act that’s a lot harder than people give it credit for. On the flip side, for those of us in the audience, we demand more than simple manipulation. We want to feel that the tears we shed are earned, not pried out of our ducts with a crowbar. We want subtlety in exchange for our precious sniffles. Stephen Chbosky’s new three-hankie drama, Wonder, is not a subtle movie. Let’s be absolutely clear about that. Hell, an adorable dog dies in the middle act for no essential reason to the plot. So it’s a minor miracle that the film works as well as it does. You’re guaranteed to spend nearly two hours with a lump the size of a nectarine in your throat without resenting it.” B+

Where to watch: In theaters now (buy tickets)

Thor: Ragnarok

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch
Director: Taika Waititi
Rating: PG-13

Review: “There’s a lot more to the bloated story, but honestly, none of it is very interesting. In fact, it’s endless. You don’t care what’s happening or what’s going to happen next. We’re just led from place to place for a hash of foggy reasons that no one will ever remember 10 minutes after leaving the theater. But that’s not really the point of this movie. Ragnarok is basically a Joke Delivery System — and on that score, it works. The movie is fun. So to recap: Taika Waititi was mostly the right director for the job. Chris Hemsworth is hilarious. Tessa Thompson is going to be a star. And while Ragnarok’s story is an aimless mess, you won’t stop laughing. In other words, it’s a…” B

Where to watch: In theaters