Winter is a great time for movies. Not only is it too cold to do anything else but stay indoors and lounge in front of a screen, we’re also barreling toward awards season, which means studios are pumping out their heavy-hitters for the year for maximum close-to-Oscars exposure.
Whether you’re looking to escape your family for a few hours, or you just can’t handle watching another Christmas movie, we’ve rounded up the best new movies coming out over this holiday season.
From the controversial but Oscar-tipped Green Book to this year’s take on Get Out and an update of the classic heist movie, these are the films to bring you into 2019. Browse our selection below and then let us know what you’re hyped to watch this holiday season.
If Beale Street Could Talk
Following up his 2017 Oscar winner Moonlight, director Barry Jenkins is back with his latest film, If Beale Street Could Talk. Based on the 1974 James Baldwin novel of the same name, the movie follows Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt (Stephen James), who is wrongly accused of rape, and his pregnant fiancée Clementine “Tish” Rivers (Kiki Lane), who fights to clear his name. The movie also features Regina King, Teyonah Parris, and Atlanta‘s Brian Tyree Henry.
Warning: if you found the missed possibilities in Moonlight heartbreaking, If Beale Street Could Talk will have you in a puddle.
While the holidays are a time when a lot of people will do anything to avoid discussing politics with seldom-seen relatives, Vice is one movie worth stepping back into the real world for. The film depicts how former Vice President Dick Cheney (an incredibly transformed Christian Bale) rewrote the VP’s remit with help of wife Lynne (Amy Adams).
Made by Anchorman and The Big Short writer-director Adam McKay, Vice uses a similar dramedy mix to the latter to show Cheney’s rise to power, reminding us of the impact the Bush-Cheney presidency had on the world, one that still resonates today.
Set in the ’60s, Green Book is the real-life story of famous black pianist Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), who hires white driver Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) to help him navigate the segregated American south.
Like last year’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Green Book has sparked controversy. Despite being nominated for five Golden Globes, tipped for Oscar nominations, and being warmly received by a number of critics, others have called it “crude, obvious, and borderline offensive” and said that “I saw Green Book” could qualify as the new “I have a black friend.” Even before the reviews, star Mortensen sparked controversy by using the N-word at a Q&A to promote the film.
But Green Book‘s divisiveness is exactly why you should see it (and to see Ali, obviously). In a time of social media-driven hot takes that can kill a work of art before anyone has even seen it, it’s important to engage with the work itself and form your own opinion.
Tyrel follows Tyler (Jason Mitchell), who tags along with friend Johnny (Christopher Abbott, aka Charlie from Girls) on a guys’ trip to the Catskills. Once there, Tyler realizes that he’s the only black guy on the trip and that Johnny’s friends, including Michael Cera and Caleb Landry Jones (best known as the brother in Get Out), are a pretty intense gang of bros.
Fitting somewhere between Get Out and Goat, Tyrel explores how Tyler deals with race relations and his outsider status in such an alcohol-fueled, testosterone-heavy atmosphere. The result is one of this year’s most relevant and uncomfortable films.
Heist films are a classic Christmas watch (Die Hard says this is a scientific fact), but when its a heist movie co-written by Gone Girl‘s Gillian Flynn and directed by 12 Years a Slave‘s Steve McQueen, it’s a no-brainer.
Add to that an absolutely stacked cast that includes Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya, and Brian Tyree Henry, Widows is set up to be one of the movies of the year. The film tells the story of four women whose criminal husbands are killed on a job. To get themselves out of debt, the four titular widows (Davis, Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo) decide to carry out their own heist based on their dead husbands’ plans.
Nothing beats watching someone push themselves to their physical limit while you’re still in a cozy post-turkey haze. Creed II picks up with Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) preparing to avenge his father Apollo’s death by fighting Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), son of Rocky IV‘s Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren). In Creed’s corner is Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), who helps him prepare for the fight, and girlfriend Bianca (Tessa Thompson).
Unfortunately, OG Creed director Ryan Coogler (now best known for Black Panther) hasn’t returned for the sequel (although he executive produces), but Creed II does get bonus points for its soundtrack, which features Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell, A$AP Rocky, and Nicki Minaj.
When you’re finished reading, peep our holiday gift guide.