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The best new movies to see this month

December closes 2018 strong with the effervescent Mary Poppins Returns, along with Oscar hopefuls like Vice and The Mule

Mary Poppins Returns
Mary Poppins Returns
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Looking for the best new movies to see this month? We’re way ahead of you: Here are the biggest and most essential big-screen releases coming to a theater near you over the next four weeks.

Best new movies this month

1
Vox Lux
Movies, Drama

Vox Lux

The indie flip side to A Star Is Born, director Brady Corbet’s rise of a fictional pop icon is endlessly fascinating, mainly for the spectacle of Natalie Portman strutting through her own arena show (and rocking a Staten Island accent). You won’t be humming the tunes afterward, but you will feel the movie’s millennial anxieties. Opens Dec 7

2
Movies, Drama

The Mule

Like the stealth bomber he once played in Firefox, Clint Eastwood has secretly prepared a new drama, one about drug smuggling and America’s porous safety net. The trailer is a mini-masterpiece of suspense, and with the likes of Bradley Cooper, Laurence Fishburne and Dianne Wiest in the cast (not to mention a guilt-ridden Eastwood himself), it’s not a movie we can rule out come Oscars night. Opens Dec 14

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3
Movies, Animation

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Can this new animated Spider-Man actually be the best Spider-Man to date? So the whisperers are saying. Humor, playfulness and irreverence take the lead, and any break from the ponderous tone of most Marvel movies is heroic in itself. You can still love Tobey Maguire on your own time; go in with an open mind. Dec 14

4
If Beale Street Could Talk
Tatum Mangus / Annapurna Pictures
Movies, Drama

If Beale Street Could Talk

Director Barry Jenkins’s return to the big screen after his surprise Academy Award win for Moonlight (yes, it really did end up on top) is an inspiring example of an artist following his own muse. He’s adapted James Baldwin’s 1974 Harlem-set novel into a challenging, diffuse drama that overflows with quietly powerful moments of tenderness. Opens Dec 14

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5
Movies, Family and kids

Mary Poppins Returns

The year’s biggest dare is also its sweetest surprise: Emily Blunt is hypnotically charming in a sequel that’s socially minded, nostalgic and—courtesy some hallucinogenic animation—a swooning contact high. Lin-Manuel Miranda will thrill younger fans, but get ready to shriek at the sight of Dick Van Dyke cutting the rug at age 92. Opens Dec 19

6
Aquaman
Movies, Action and adventure

Aquaman

Have you been holding your breath? (Too bad you can’t breathe underwater.) Two factors have us inordinately stoked: Director James Wan (The Conjuring, Furious 7) has shown himself to be a genius at big-budget Hollywood fun, while star Jason Momoa seems to be taking all this superhero stuff extremely lightly, which is the way to do it. Opens Dec 21

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7
Cold War
Movies, Drama

Cold War

With this monochrome musical spanning two decades and four countries in post-WWII Europe, Poland’s Pawel Pawlikowski has conjured a dazzling, painful, universal odyssey through the human heart and all its strange compulsions. It could be the most achingly romantic film you’ll see this year, or just a really painful reminder of the one that got away. Opens Dec 21

8
Movies, Comedy

Holmes & Watson

Sherlock and his dutiful doctor are back, but really, who cares about them? Nothing will keep us away from this Step Brothers reunion, with Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly brewing up a storm of silliness. Expect Ralph Fiennes—a pisser in movies like In Bruges and The Grand Budapest Hotel—to be the comedy’s secret weapon. Opens Dec 25

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9
Movies, Drama

On the Basis of Sex

This summer, everyone saw RBG, the inspiring profile of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As serendipity would have it, there’s also a dramatization coming out about Ginsburg’s 1970s-era rise to legal prominence, starring The Theory of Everything’s Felicity Jones. If you’re still feeling stung over the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation, you’re going to want to check this out. Opens Dec 25

10
Movies, Drama

Vice

Is Adam McKay the new Oliver Stone? The Big Short maestro already has two Anchorman movies to his name; we’re happy to see him roam into political territory. Utterly transformed into creep-veep Dick Cheney via a small phalanx of makeup artists, Christian Bale has pulled off the most self-negating performance since Gary Oldman became Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. Opens Dec 25

Looking for more great films?

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