December is here and with it are some promising movies and performances that are worth checking out. Whether winter break gives you free time to hit a movie theater or you prefer catching a new Netflix movie at home, this list has you covered. December releases are also the last movies eligible for the 2020 Oscars, so for those of you who are fans of the Academy Awards, pay close attention to the gems of this month. 

Speaking of gems...

1. Uncut Gems (Out December 13th)

Uncut Gems follows the story of Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a charismatic New York City jeweler and compulsive gambler who makes high-stakes bets and is always on the lookout for the next big score. At the same time, he needs to protect his business, life and family from the risks he takes.

Adam Sandler is my favorite actor, so I couldn’t help but put Uncut Gems on the top of my list. While most people know Sandler as a comedy actor, he is great in drama movies as well. Sandler’s movies are not for everyone, but even if you are not a fan of him, I would still recommend this movie directed by the Safdie brothers. Watching Sandler in a dark crime thriller will hopefully reveal another dimension of his talent.

2. Marriage Story (Out now on Netflix)

Directed and written by Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story is exactly that: a compassionate and honest story about a married couple (Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson) going through a divorce process while striving to still keep their family together.

A pure movie drama inspired by life itself and the way divorce affects it, Marriage Story might not seem to feature an unusual plot, but it does promise some powerful performances by Driver and Johansson. The latter may be what makes this movie worthy of your time.

3. Bombshell (Out December 20th)

Based on the real scandal, Bombshell tells the story of the women (Margot Robbie, Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman, among others) who took on former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, accusing him of sexual harassment. 

Bombshell has an excellent female cast and an empowering story to tell, focusing on some important issues -- sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the workplace -- that are even more crucial when they take place within powerful empires like Fox News, where the validity of survivors’ stories is tested more due to unequal power structures. If you are also a fan of intense, slow-brewing dramas, this movie directed by Jay Roach and written by Charles Randolph seems to be a great fit for you. 

4. Richard Jewell (Out December 13th)

Richard Jewell is named after the American police officer and security guard (Paul Walter Hauser) who discovered an explosive mechanism during the 1996 Olympic Games, saving thousands of lives. Jewell was initially praised as a hero but was later considered a suspect by the FBI and the press falsely reported him to be a terrorist.

Directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Billy Ray, Richard Jewell is a story of what happens when what is conveniently reported as fact by the government and media obscures the truth. And despite the fact that false terrorism (threat) reports most commonly happen towards non-white populations, Eastwood and Ray have chosen to tell the story of a white man. While their choice is controversial, I believe it is still worth paying attention to this movie and the narrative that its creators present. 

5. The Two Popes (Out December 20th on Netflix)

The Two Popes presents the imagined conversations between the conservative Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) and his liberal future successor Cardinal Bergoglio/Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce) behind the Vatican walls, where these two very different men strive to find a common ground between tradition and progress, paving a new path for the Catholic Church and its billions of followers around the world.

This movie, directed by Fernando Meirelles and written by Anthony McCarten, extends beyond religion and the Catholic Church. It focuses on faith and self-doubt, regret and vulnerability, and eventually, life and friendship. No matter your religion or spirituality, The Two Popes is a movie worth watching and the performances of Hopkins and Pryce have already fascinated both critics and the public.

6. 1917 (Out December 25th)

1917 traces the seemingly impossible mission that was given to two young British soldiers, Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) during the First World War. While racing against time, they must cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will prevent 1,600 of their fellow soldiers, including Blake's own brother, from walking into a deadly trap.

Complemented by outstanding visual and special effects, the intense and breath-taking scenes featured in the trailer already give us an adrenaline rush and an idea of what to expect of the movie. Directed by Sam Mendes and written by Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns, 1917 seems to be a modern but classic war movie which, if you are a fan of the genre, you will probably enjoy.

Contact contributor Myrsini Manou-Georgila at myrsini.manougeorgila@richmond.edu.