It’s hard to imagine a timelier movie about freedom of the press than “The Post.” Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep star in Steven Spielberg’s riveting drama about the Washington Post’s behind the scenes struggles leading up to the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971. It’s suspenseful even though we know the outcome. That’s no small feat.
If you’re a lover of musicals, Hugh Jackman has a Christmas gift for you. “The Greatest Showman” is a colorful, whimsical fable based on the life of famed circus founder, P.T. Barnum. It may take you a moment to adjust to hearing contemporary pop tunes sung by characters in the 1800s, but like “Moulin Rouge,” it somehow works. There’s little that’s historically accurate here, but a talented cast, creative filmmaking and tunes from the guys who gave us “La La Land” add up to cinematic joy for fans of the genre. If you DON’T like musicals, stay far, far away, because you’ll think the rest of us are all suckers.
A rare misfire for filmmaker Alexander Payne, “Downsizing” is an awkward sci-fi fable about people, like Matt Damon, who are shrunken to doll size to help the environment. It’s neither an entertaining comedy nor an effective social commentary. Don’t believe the ads.
Gary Oldman’s electric performance as Winston Churchill is the main attraction of “Darkest Hour,” a drama about Britain’s internal political turmoil leading up to WWII. The narrative takes some ill-advised turns, but it’s fairly effective thanks to Oldman’s inspired turn that works even under a ton of latex makeup.
Also opening this week, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” is an uncalled for sequel starring Dwayne Johnson. “Pitch Perfect 3” is yet another sequel about the a cappella singers who reunite for a USO tour. “Hangman” is a serial killer thriller starring Al Pacino and “Pitch Perfect 3’s” Brittany Snow.