Ten Best Movies Of December - That Aren't Star Wars
Not a Jedi in training? It's ok, we've got you covered.

By Lee Valentine Smith

It's December and it's cold outside. You could stay in and binge-watch Netflix, but don't do that again. Get out and see a film in a theater, the way the Good Lord intended. The experience of seeing a film in an actual movie theater along with a receptive audience, a Coke, some candy and big tub of popcorn is the stuff of pure holiday magic. Of course the newest Star Wars episode will be the big box-office behemoth, as it opens smack dab in the middle of the month. For those who love it, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in the capable hands of Rian Johnson, looks as epic and breathtaking as anyone would hope. The lovely Daisy Ridley gets schooled in the Jedi ways from Mark Hamill. Adam Driver, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac offer plenty of Episode VIII zest, as expected. But what if Star Wars just isn't your thing? It's ok! Your friends here at INsite have selected the other best movies of the season.

The Disaster Artist (December 1)
The dependably quirky James Franco stars in this deliciously offbeat comedy-drama about the men who made the equally odd 2003 film The Room. Over the years, the film has garnered a dedicated cult following because of its rather dubious quality. It's often called the "Citizen Kane of bad movies," but can movie about a bad movie be as bad? Or better? Odds are, with Franco leading a solid cast of characters, it'll be enjoyable. Dave, the other Franco, is able support and Seth Rogen and Alison Brie are worth the price of admission.

I, Tonya (December 8)
Margot Robbie stars in this made-in-Georgia vehicle about ex-spouses Tonya Harding and Jeff Gilooly. Remember them? Gilooly hired a man to break Nancy Kerrigan's leg at the National Figure Skating Championship in 1994. With today's daily TMZ trash-wallows, the story seems a bit tame in comparison, but the film should have legs (sorry) due to a wonderful supporting cast, including Julianne Nicholson, the ubiquitous Bobby Cannavale, Allison Janney and Lynne Ashe.

Ballad of Lefty Brown (December 17)
Once an overdone genre in the '70s, the good ol' gritty western is a bit of a rarity these days. Bill Pullman anchors this made-in-Montana drama as the titular character, a sort of a Grubby Hayes duffer who blurs the lines of law and order as the Wild West slowly edged toward modern gentrification. Peter Fonda, who knows a thing or two about authentic and often unconventional westerns, and the reliable Kathy Baker co-star in this beautifully photographed horse opera.

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle (December 20)
Taking up the familiar story twenty years after the events of its predecessor, the board game is now a video game. Four teenagers give it a try and end up stranded in the jungle as they play the game. It's not Shakespeare, but it'll likely make the franchise another ton of money. Stars Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Jack "School of Rock" Black and Kevin Hart are as likeable as ever.

The Greatest Showman (December 20)
Now that the Ringling Brothers circus has pitched out its tent, this musical drama starring Hugh Jackman recounts the origins of the troupe. Led by the irascible showman and scammer P. T. Barnum, the circus and its troupe of assorted characters lends itself to the charming score. With strong performances from Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya, this could be the La La Land of the moment.

Pitch Perfect 3 (December 22)
Here's the (pitch) perfect alternative to Star Wars. For the third and final installment in the tuneful trilogy, Anna Kendrick, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Hailee Steinfeld, Alexis Knapp, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee and Chrissie Fit lead a gleeful cast. From the early previews, the energy level easily tops the other two films making number three a fitting final call for the popular series.

Downsizing (December 22)
Taking the tiny house craze a little bit too far, Downsizing features a couple who physically shrink in size in order to start a new life in an unusual new community. Remember the old Steve Martin comedy bit, "let's get small?" Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Jason Sudeikis, and Kristen Wiig lead the big production with proper proportions of comedy and pathos.

The Post (December 22)
In the era of epic commercial blockbusters, finally there's a film for adults who just aren't excited about outer space or blow-'em-ups. But there's fireworks a-plenty for the politically minded viewer in Stephen Spielberg's latest film. A cover-up spanning four U.S. Presidents drives Kay Graham, the country's first female newspaper publisher (Meryl Streep), and its editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), to battle the government to expose the scathing Pentagon Papers. A great cast supports the tale of the Washington Post including star turns from Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bruce Greenwood and Matthew Rhys. It's the "All The President's Men" for tumultuous 2017.

Father Figures (December 22)
Last year, Office Christmas Party was the R-rated raunch-fest of the season, this year the title goes to Father Figures. Owen Wilson, Ed Helms, J. K. Simmons, Katt Williams and yes, Terry Bradshaw are along for the raucous ride. It's a decidedly thin plot centering on two fraternal twin brothers and their mother (Glenn Close). A modern-day road movie about the search for their real father plays out like a buddy comedy with the usual dirty jokes and prerequisite foul language. Snickering teenagers might like it but definitely don't take grandma to this one.

Phantom Thread (December 25)
The sensitive twin of Father Figure, Phantom Thread is for the more discerning theater-goer. In 1950s London, a famous dressmaker (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his sister (Lesley Manville) dress the royal family, heiresses, debutants and dames with The House of Woodcock line of fine threads. The very proper, very British tale of love and business co-stars Lesley Manville, Richard Graham, and Vicky Krieps with a musical score by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead.



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