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9 must-see movies

The month of December offers a full slate of films to enjoy.

MJ (Zendaya) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) jump off a bridge in "Spider-Man: No Way Home," opening Dec. 17, 2021 in theaters. Matt Kennedy / Sony Pictures / TNS

After you've finished eating your turkey leftovers and watching "House of Gucci" (opening Nov. 24), brace yourself: This year, unlike last year, lots of big movies are headed for the multiplexes for the holiday season. Here are 9 that might be worth getting up from the couch — all of these, unless otherwise noted, are opening in theaters only.

"West Side Story" (Dec. 10)

Delayed from its initial planned release last December, Steven Spielberg's remake of the Broadway-musical-turned-1961-film stars Ansel Elgort as Tony, Rachel Zegler as Maria, and the great Rita Moreno (Anita in the original film, six decades ago) as Valentina, owner of Doc's. Note for ballet fans: The dance numbers will be created by choreographer Justin Peck of New York City Ballet, influenced by Jerome Robbins' original dances.

"Being the Ricardos" (Dec. 10, on Amazon Prime Video Dec. 21)

Yes, Aaron Sorkin went and cast Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball when Debra Messing is, you know, right there. But I'm trying to reserve judgment until I've actually seen this film, which has a fascinating subject: the complicated on-and-off-screen life of Ball and husband Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) at the time of their sitcom "I Love Lucy."


"Spider-Man: No Way Home" (Dec. 17)

Peter Parker's superhero identity was revealed at the end of 2019's "Spider-Man: Far From Home" (I know, a lifetime ago, right?). In this film, from director Jon Watts, Marvel Comics forces collide as Peter/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) asks for help from Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). Possibly a good pairing?

"Nightmare Alley" (Dec. 17)

Guillermo del Toro follows up his Oscar-winning "The Shape of Water" with this adaptation of William Lindsay Gresham's 1946 novel (previously filmed in 1947). Bradley Cooper plays a ruthless carny, Cate Blanchett a psychiatrist with her own dark side. Also on hand: Rooney Mara, Toni Collette and Willem Dafoe.

"The Lost Daughter" (Dec. 17, on Netflix Dec. 31)

Maggie Gyllenhaal makes her directing and screenwriting debut — a prizewinner at the Venice Film Festival — with this adaptation of an Elena Ferrante novel about a woman who becomes obsessed with a young family she watches on the beach. Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, Jessie Buckley and Ed Harris star.

"The Matrix Resurrections" (Dec. 22 in theaters and on HBO Max)

Seventeen years after the third "Matrix" film, Neo (Keanu Reeves), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) are back; this time, there's a red pill involved. Lana Wachowski directs, and the cast also features Jada Pinkett Smith, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris and Priyanka Chopra Jonas.


"The Tender Bar" (Dec. 22, on Amazon Prime Video Jan. 7)

For years I've intended to read J.R. Moehringer's much-praised memoir "The Tender Bar," about growing up on Long Island and finding refuge from chaotic family life at a local pub. Now clearly I'll need to get around to it: George Clooney directs the movie version, with a screenplay from William Monahan ("The Departed") and starring Ben Affleck and Tye Sheridan.

"The Tragedy of Macbeth" (Dec. 25, on Apple TV+ Jan. 14)

Really, all I have to do here is tell you that this Shakespeare classic stars Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, and you'll be all in, right? I know I am. Joel Coen directs, in shadowy black and white, and the trailer looks wonderfully shivery.

"Cyrano" (Dec. 31)

In a year full of movie musicals, here's an unlikely wild card: an adaptation of the 2018 stage musical "Cyrano" (itself based on the 1897 Edmond Rostand play "Cyrano de Bergerac"), starring Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett and Kelvin Harrison Jr. Music and lyrics are by the indie rock band The National. Could be fun?

(c)2021 The Seattle Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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