Must-See Movies to Close Out 2019

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Bombshell
Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman & Margot Robbie. Credit: Lionsgate

Filmmaker Jay Roach follows Recount and Game Change with another gripping ripped-from-the-headlines drama in Bombshell, the true story about the women of Fox News who sued their boss Roger Ailes for sexual harassment. Opening December 20 and starring Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie and John Lithgow as Ailes, it’s a timely tale for the #MeToo era. Roach, who was raised Southern Baptist, converted to Judaism before he married musician Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles in 1993.

Opening the same day is Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the third film in the saga for writer and director J.J. Abrams. This film marks the conclusion of the epic nine-part series. It picks up a year after the events of The Last Jedi as what’s left of the Resistance fights the First Order, and the Jedi vs. Sith conflict reaches its ultimate climax. Abrams, who is Jewish, is married to Katie McGrath, a Catholic public relations executive and mother of their three kids. Now that this franchise is complete, Abrams is shifting focus to several others: He plans to produce more Star Trek and Mission: Impossible movies and a Cloverfield sequel.

Adam Sandler is getting raves and Oscar buzz for his starring role in Uncut Gems, due in theaters December 13. He plays a Jewish jeweler with a gambling problem that gets him deeper in debt—and in more serious trouble—as the film progresses. Written and directed by Josh and Benny Safdie, it co-stars Idina Menzel as Sandler’s wife. Off-screen, Sandler is married to Jackie Titone, who converted to his Jewish faith before they wed in 2003.

Jumanji
Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black & Karen Gillan. Credit: Columbia Pictures

You can also catch Jack Black reprising his role alongside Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan in Jumanji: The Next Level on December 13. It’s another wild adventure inside the infamous video game. Black, whose father converted to Judaism to marry his Jewish mother, has been married to musician Tanya Haden, who is not Jewish, since 2006. They have two sons, Samuel, 13 and Thomas, 11.

Little Women
Saiorse Ronan & Timothée Chalamet. Credit: Columbia Pictures

On December 25, Timothée Chalamet reunites with his Lady Bird co-star Saoirse Ronan and director Greta Gerwig in Little Women, the eighth screen adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic Civil War-era novel. Chalamet, who is Jewish on his mother’s side, has a busy year ahead. He has Dune and The French Dispatch set for release in 2020, when he’ll film Find Me, the sequel to Call Me by Your Name. In April, he’ll make his London stage debut in the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama 4000 Miles, about a young man whose cycling trip includes a visit to his grandmother.

 

British director Sam Mendes, the son of a Catholic father and Jewish mother, is winning raves for his World War I drama 1917, which also hits theaters December 25. It’s about two young, inexperienced British soldiers tasked with crossing enemy lines to deliver a vital message that would save the lives of 1600 men—including the older brother of one of them—at the possible cost of their own.

 

Rashida Jones, who can now be heard in the Netflix animated movie Klaus, also lends her voice to Spies in Disguise, a computer-animated comedy about a spy who is accidentally transformed into a pigeon, due out December 25. Jones, the daughter of the late Jewish actress Peggy Lipton and producer Quincy Jones, also has On the Rocks opening January 1 and another animated comedy, the Fox series Duncanville, set to premiere February 16.

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About Gerri Miller

Gerri Miller writes and reports from Los Angeles about celebrities, entertainment and lifestyle for The Jewish Journal, FromtheGrapevine.com, Brain World, HeathCentral.com, and others. A New York native, she spent a summer working at Kibbutz Giv'at Brenner in Israel and attends High Holy Day services at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood every year.