‘Widows’ (Nov. 16)
Stars: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Liam Neeson
Director: Steve McQueen
The skinny: Almost five years after grabbing the best picture Oscar for “12 Years A Slave,” McQueen returns with his twisty take on the heist film genre, featuring a group of wives who plan an ambitious job to pay off their dead spouses’ debts. “How do I make a car chase or action sequence exciting for people who’ve seen these things 1,010 times?” the director says. “It’s what Stanley Kubrick said: Everything has been done. Our job is to try to make it better.” Key to the story is the gang’s leader Veronica (Davis), who’s extremely confident and strong but has “depth of vulnerability,” McQueen says.
‘Creed II’ (Nov. 21)
Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson
Director: Steven Caple Jr.
The skinny: Again under the tutelage of Rocky Balboa (Stallone), boxing champ Adonis Creed (Jordan) is getting his biggest test yet: Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), the son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) – the same guy who killed Adonis’ dad, Apollo (see: 1986’s “Rocky IV”). “The stakes are much higher within the fight and even outside of the ring,” Caple says. While young Drago is a heavyweight brawler, “Creed is all about technique and speed, everything that Rocky taught him.” And when Rocky sees Ivan, his old Russian nemesis? “It’s kind of like, ‘I don’t want this to happen. I don’t want to see a flashback of ’86.’ He has his doubts about this fight, for sure.”
‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ (Nov. 21)
Stars: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Taraji P. Henson
Directors: Phil Johnston and Rich Moore
The skinny: Video-game baddieturned-hero Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by Reilly) and his best pal Vanellope (Silverman) go from the arcade to cyberspace in the animated sequel. And while’s she’s gung-ho on going online, he’s a lot more wary, which causes some friction. “Ralph loves her so much. He’s so grateful to have a friend after all those years of being an outcast that he’s kind of holding on a little too tight,” Reilly says. “The challenge for him is how to become a real friend: What does a real friend do when their friend wants to grow? And in classic Wreck-It Ralph fashion, he makes some colossal blunders along the way, almost destroying the world, literally, by stupid ideas.”
‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ (Dec. 14)
Stars: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld
Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman
The skinny: What’s better than one Spider-Man? Two Spideys, as “SpiderVerse” brings together the classic hero Peter Parker (voiced by Johnson) with newer half-black, half-Hispanic kid Miles Morales (Moore). When jaded Peter inexplicably shows up in spunky Miles’ New York City, they become friends when Peter begrudgingly accepts the teen’s help to get home. “Peter buoys Miles and absolutely vice versa,” Persichetti says. “Miles’ discovery of his powers and his enthusiasm for being sort of a selfless hero ... helps re-inspire Peter to become a better version of what his best self once was as Spider-Man.”
‘Mary Poppins Returns’ (Dec. 19)
Stars: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw
Director: Rob Marshall
The skinny: The practically perfect nanny (Blunt) returns in a musical sequel to again help the Banks family in 1930s London after a tragedy. One guy happy she’s back is friendly lamplighter Jack (Miranda), who apprenticed under Bert (Dick Van Dyke from the 1964 “Poppins”) and recalls her appearance from 25 years earlier. “The Banks kids have grown up and think they made up their adventures with Poppins,” Miranda says. “They’ve convinced themselves those were just fantasies we had as children. But Jack’s never forgotten.” And with Miranda a hardcore fan of the original film, “it is not the toughest, from an acting perspective, to be pinching myself that I was going on adventures with Mary Poppins.”
‘Aquaman’ (Dec. 21)
Stars: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson
Director: James Wan
The skinny: Underwater despot King Orm (Wilson), aka Ocean Master, isn’t the nicest guy but he’s got a cool trusty steed: a tylosaur, “which is a prehistoric crocodile,” Wilson says. The ruler of Atlantis – and half-brother to superhero Arthur Curry (Momoa) – is the main antagonist of “Aquaman,” who plans an assault on the surface world after mankind has polluted his oceans.
Aquaman is “really easygoing and the life of the party and dead set on not being a leader at the beginning,” Wilson says. “I just want to act as a foil to that.”
‘Bumblebee’ (Dec. 21)
Stars: Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr.
Director: Travis Knight
The skinny: The 1980s-set “Transformers” spinoff prequel is the comingof-age tale of teen girl Charlie (Steinfeld) and her robot buddy who shape shifts into a Volkswagen Beetle. Knight’s mission was “try to show that rock-’em, sock-’em robots can actually have a heart and soul,” says the director.
‘Vice’ (Dec. 25)
Stars: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Sam Rockwell
Director: Adam McKay
The skinny: “If you look at the great figures in American history, I don’t think there’s ever been anyone with such quiet focus who changed the course of history like this guy did,” McKay says of Dick Cheney (Bale), former vice president to George W. Bush (Rockwell) and subject of the comedy/drama. “Vice” tracks Cheney’s political rise over five decades: “He’s a little bit like a zelig figure who’s just there when stuff’s happening, and then other times, he’s central to what’s happening.” McKay’s intention was to create “a portrait of a man and a portrait of what power does to a man, but it was also a portrait of the country. Depending on your perspective on the world, either sadly or in a great way, it fit like a puzzle piece.”
Emily Blunt is the perfect nanny in “Mary Poppins Returns.”