All hail holiday movies, returning to the big screen this season with a bounty of festive and highly anticipated films featuring a constellation of Hollywood stars


The wait is finally over to see Steven Spielberg’s version of Leonard Bernstein’s 1957 musical masterpiece, adapted from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Timely themes revolve around forbidden love amidst an NYC neighborhood grappling with changes triggered by Puerto Rican immigrants. Tony Kushner adapted the screenplay originally written for the Broadway stage by Arthur Laurents. Ansel Elgort plays Tony, NJ native Rachel Zegler is Maria, and Ariana DeBose plays the fiery Anita.

The versatile Zachary Levi stars as two-time NFL Super Bowl champion and MVP Kurt Warner in this inspirational true tale about the Hall of Famer’s triumph over adversity. From stocking grocery store shelves to the Arena Football League to 12 years in the NFL, Warner, strongly supported by his wife Brenda (Anna Paquin), never gave up his quest to reach the pinnacle of his sport. Also starring Bruce McGill, Dennis Quaid, and Adam Baldwin, who starred with Levi in his first big hit, TV series Chuck.

Early reviews were positive for Ben Affleck’s performance in this heartwarming true story based on Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist J.R. Moehringer’s 2006 memoir, directed by George Clooney. Moehringer ages from childhood into adulthood, guided by his loving bartender Uncle Charlie (Affleck) and the colorful patrons of the tavern he grows up in. Christopher Lloyd plays his grandfather. Actors portraying Moehringer as he ages include Ron Livingston and Tye Sheridan.

Cellini Spread

From Venice With Love
The 78th Venice Film Festival captivated the world this fall. Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to Italian actor, director, and screenwriter Roberto Benigni, and American actress Jamie Lee Curtis. Favorite flicks of critics and audiences are now being released. (All are Rated R):

The Power of the Dog earned Jane Campion the Silver Lion for Best Direction. The drama is based on a 1967 novel about Montana rancher brothers played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Jesse Plemons. Kirsten Dunst also stars. In theaters November 17. Available on Netflix December 1.

È stata la mano di Dio (“The Hand of God”)
Silver Lion, Grand Jury Prize. Academy Award-winning Director Paolo Sorrentino’s autobiographical memoir is set in 1980s Naples. Netflix, December 15.
Parallel Mothers opened the festival and earned Penélope Cruz the Coppa Volpi for Best Actress. Pedro Almodóvar directs and wrote the screenplay for this drama about the experiences of two complex women who give birth in the same hospital on the same day. In theaters December 24.

The Lost Daughter won the Award for Best Screenplay, marked Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut, and had Venice audiences on their feet. Adapted from Elena Ferrante’s novel about a woman’s fateful Italian vacation, the fi lm stars Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, and Peter Sarsgaard. In theaters December 17. Available on Netflix December 31.

Colombia is the location of this musical fi lm from Walt Disney Animation being hailed for its content and diversity, along with its all-new original songs from Grammy and Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda. We learn the Madrigal family lives in a magical hidden house in a colorful town called Encanto. The family is magical, too, except for teenager Mirabel, voiced by Argentinian Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Bob’s Burgers). When the home faces peril, it’s Mirabel’s attributes that are needed most. The voice cast includes John Leguizamo and Wilmer Valderama.