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Here are the Hollywood films that await this holiday season

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

With writers' and actors' strikes finally in the rearview mirror, Hollywood has a clear road ahead as it revs up for the holidays - auto races, comedies, musicals. Here's Bob Mondello's holiday movie preview.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Start with royalty.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AQUAMAN AND THE LOST KINDGOM")

JASON MOMOA: (As Aquaman) I finally got a job. I'm the king of Atlantis.

MONDELLO: "Aquaman 2" (ph) gives us Jason Momoa, all shiny and scaly, and gives him an opponent.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AQUAMAN AND THE LOST KINGDOM")

YAHYA ABDUL-MATEEN II: (As Black Manta) I'm going to kill Aquaman and destroy everything he holds dear.

MONDELLO: That'd be Black Manta.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AQUAMAN AND THE LOST KINGDOM")

ABDUL-MATEEN: (As Black Manta) I'm going to murder his family and burn his kingdom...

MONDELLO: Wait, what?

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AQUAMAN AND THE LOST KINGDOM")

ABDUL-MATEEN: (As Black Manta) ...To ash.

MONDELLO: Aren't they underwater? Well, never mind. "Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom" will no doubt make sense of this while, in drier realms, Queen Bey reigns in "Renaissance," a concert film by Beyonce.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "RENAISSANCE: A FILM BY BEYONCE")

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Everyone - welcome to mother's mind (ph).

MONDELLO: Beyonce promises a look behind her elaborate stage sets.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "RENAISSANCE: A FILM BY BEYONCE")

BEYONCE: When I am performing, I am nothing but free. The goal for this tour was to create a place where everyone is free.

MONDELLO: And while we're talking royalty, probably ought to mention "Ferrari," in which the Formula One racing king is played, appropriately enough, by Adam Driver.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FERRARI")

ADAM DRIVER: (As Enzo Ferrari) If you get into one of my cars, you get in to win.

MONDELLO: Also in it to win? - characters in a couple of other sports-related true stories. George Clooney directs "Boys In The Boat," a chronicle of how working-class college kids turned into a world-class crew team during the Great Depression...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BOYS IN THE BOAT")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Looks like you still owe a balance on this semester.

MONDELLO: ...When they were mostly just looking for a meal.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BOYS IN THE BOAT")

CALLUM TURNER: (As Joe Rantz) So what's that about making some money?

SAM STRIKE: (As Roger Morris) Yeah, the rowing team. If you're on it, you get a part-time job, including a cheap place to live.

JOEL EDGERTON: (As Coach Ulbrickson) Eight-man crew is the most difficult team sport in the world.

MONDELLO: Months of practice later, they would end up...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BOYS IN THE BOAT")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) I don't believe what I'm seeing.

MONDELLO: ...In the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

A more cautionary sports tale, "The Iron Claw," concerns a 1980s wrestling family, the von Erichs, who were pushed hard by their father...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE IRON CLAW")

HOLT MCCALLANY: (As Fritz von Erich) Kerry, I want you to join your brothers in the ring.

JEREMY ALLEN WHITE: (As Kerry von Erich) Yes, sir. I'd love that.

ZAC EFRON: (As Kevin von Erich) Whoo.

MONDELLO: ...Maybe too hard.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE IRON CLAW")

MCCALLANY: (As Fritz von Erich) Now, we all know Kerry's my favorite, then Kev, then David, then Mike. But the rankings can always change.

MONDELLO: Eager to please him, five of his six sons would die before he did - so many tragedies that people talked of a von Erich family curse.

Not the holiday mood you were looking for? Well, rest assured, on other screens, there will be uplift.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WONKA")

PATERSON JOSEPH: (As Slugworth) What's happening? Who wants chocolate that makes you fly?

TIMOTHEE CHALAMET: (As Willy Wonka) Let's find out, shall we? Who's for a Hover Choc?

MONDELLO: Timothee Chalamet...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WONKA")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Nothing to see here - just a small group of people defying the laws of gravity.

MONDELLO: ...In the prequel to Roald Dahl's children's classic.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WONKA")

CHALAMET: (As Willy Wonka) Ladies and gentlemen of the Gallery Gourmet, my name is Willy Wonka.

MONDELLO: This new take on the world's most famous chocolatier comes from the creators of "Paddington."

Other films for family audiences include Studio Ghibli's "The Boy And The Heron," the latest hand-drawn fantasy from the great Japanese animator Miyazaki Hayao.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE BOY AND THE HERON")

KO SHIBASAKI: (As Kiriko) A gray heron once told me that all gray herons are liars. So is that the truth or a lie?

SOMA SANTOKI: (As Mahito Maki) A lie.

MASAKI SUDA: (As The Gray Heron) A truth.

MONDELLO: And if anime herons aren't your thing, how about vacationing computer-animated ducks in "Migration"?

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MIGRATION")

ELIZABETH BANKS: (As Pam Mallard) This isn't about migration. It's about adventure.

MONDELLO: An adventure that does not go as planned.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MIGRATION")

KUMAIL NANJIANI: (As Mack Mallard) What is that?

KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY: (As Delroy) Duck a l'orange.

TRESI GAZAL: (As Gwen Mallard) What's duck a l'orange?

AWKWAFINA: (As Chump) It's you with l'orange on top.

MONDELLO: While we're talking food, I should mention "The Taste Of Things," a French feast for the senses, starring Juliette Binoche as a woman in love with her kitchen partner, but perhaps even more in love with the food they prepare.

Other romances include the literally haunting "All Of Us Strangers," which brings together two troubled men in a nearly empty high-rise.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ALL OF US STRANGERS")

ANDREW SCOTT: (As Adam) This is a new feeling - you and me into the world together.

MONDELLO: While they get together, the comedy "Anyone But You" does its best to separate warring exes at a destination wedding until another ex shows up.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANYONE BUT YOU")

SYDNEY SWEENEY: (As Bea) Maybe we should just tell everyone we're together.

GLEN POWELL: (As Ben) What?

SWEENEY: (As Bea) It would solve that problem for me, and you clearly want Margaret.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As Margaret) Ben.

SWEENEY: (As Bea) She sees you're with me. She wants what she can't have.

POWELL: (As Ben) Let's do it.

MONDELLO: What could possibly go wrong?

Less-romantic comedies include a literary satire, "American Fiction," about a Black author who can't seem to get traction with publishers.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AMERICAN FICTION")

JOHN ORTIZ: (As Arthur) They want a black book.

JEFFREY WRIGHT: (As Thelonius 'Monk' Ellison) They have a black book. I'm Black, and it's my book.

ORTIZ: (As Arthur) You know what I mean.

MONDELLO: He does. So as a joke, just for his agent...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AMERICAN FICTION")

ORTIZ: (As Arthur, reading) I be standing outside in the night.

WRIGHT: (As Thelonius 'Monk' Ellison) You said you wanted Black stuff. That's Black, right?

ORTIZ: (As Arthur) I see what you're doing.

MONDELLO: But the agent sends it out...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AMERICAN FICTION")

ORTIZ: (As Arthur) We sold your book.

WRIGHT: (As Thelonius 'Monk' Ellison) No.

MIRIAM SHOR: (As Paula) We believe Mr. Leigh has written a bestseller.

WRIGHT: (As Thelonius 'Monk' Ellison) This is a joke.

MONDELLO: ...And the lies start piling up.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AMERICAN FICTION")

SHOR: (As Paula) Now, is Stagg a pseudonym?

WRIGHT: (As Thelonius 'Monk' Ellison) Yeah.

ORTIZ: (As Arthur) Mr. Leigh can't use his real name.

ADAM BRODY: (As Wiley) Can I ask what you were in for? Was it murder?

WRIGHT: (As Thelonius 'Monk' Ellison) You said that - not me.

MONDELLO: "American Fiction" is garnering Oscar talk and prompted enough laughs to win the Toronto Film Festival's People's Choice Award. And no less literary is a film that pits "Chronicles Of Narnia" author C.S. Lewis against the father of psychiatry, played by Anthony Hopkins.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FREUD'S LAST SESSION")

MATTHEW GOODE: (As C.S. Lewis) Dr. Freud.

ANTHONY HOPKINS: (As Sigmund Freud) Sit, please. Not there - that's the transformation couch. You be careful (laughter).

MONDELLO: It's called "Freud's Last Session."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FREUD'S LAST SESSION")

HOPKINS: (As Sigmund Freud) Why would you come here to see me if you disagree so passionately with my views?

GOODE: (As C.S. Lewis) You've insisted all your life that the very concept of God is ludicrous.

HOPKINS: (As Sigmund Freud) Yes.

GOODE: (As C.S. Lewis) Clash between God and Satan.

HOPKINS: (As Sigmund Freud) Ah, but I did not say whose side I was on.

MONDELLO: The question of sides doesn't come up in awards contenders dealing with the Holocaust. "Zone Of Interest" offers a harrowingly ordinary portrait of a Nazi officer's family life just outside Auschwitz.

Steve McQueen's documentary "Occupied City" looks at World War II Amsterdam.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "OCCUPIED CITY")

MELANIE HYAMS: (As narrator) In 1941, they started rounding people up. In 1942, the deportations began.

MONDELLO: And Wim Wender's "Anselm" uses 3D to plunge us into the work of German artist Anselm Kiefer, who spent decades grappling with Germany's past.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "ANSELM")

UNIDENTIFIED NARRATOR: Without the help of architects or engineers, Kiefer and his assistants have turned this 200-acre site into one of the most jaw-dropping works of art in the world.

MONDELLO: Other documentaries range from the self-explanatory "Radioactive: The Women Of Three Mile Island" to "Pianoforte," which takes us to Warsaw...

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "PIANOFORTE")

ALEXANDER GADJIEV: Nobody likes competitions...

MONDELLO: ...For a behind-the-scenes look...

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "PIANOFORTE")

GADJIEV: ...And everybody does it.

MONDELLO: ...At the 18th International Chopin Competition.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "PIANO FORTE")

GADJIEV: I mean, how can you compete in music?

MONDELLO: And then, in what you'd have to call an appropriate last-minute flourish for the year of "Barbie," there are quite a few films centering on women. One is a fierce comedy called "Poor Things," which is almost indescribable. Though if you called it a comic mashup of "Frankenstein..."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "POOR THINGS")

WILLEM DAFOE: (As Dr. Godwin Baxter) She's an experiment.

EMMA STONE: (As Bella Baxter) Good evening.

DAFOE: (As Dr. Godwin Baxter) Her brain and her body are not quite synchronized.

MONDELLO: ...And a feminist "Cinderella," you wouldn't be wrong.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "POOR THINGS")

KATHRYN HUNTER: (As Swiney) A woman plotting her course to freedom. How delightful.

MONDELLO: "Poor Things" is from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, creator of "The Lobster" and "The Favourite." Like those films, it overflows with weirdness.

Then there are three woman-centered thrillers, "Eileen," in which the title character becomes obsessed with a sultry prison psychiatrist played by Anne Hathaway...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "EILEEN")

ANNE HATHAWAY: (As Rebecca) People are so ashamed of their desires.

MONDELLO: "...Shayda," in which an Iranian mother seeks protection from her abusive husband...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SHAYDA")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As character) The judge has issued Hossein temporary access.

ZAHRA AMIR EBRAHIMI: (As Shayda) I don't...

LEAH PURCELL: (As Joyce) It means Hossein can see Mona alone, unsupervised.

MONDELLO: ...And "The End We Start From," in which new mom Jodie Comer...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE END WE START FROM")

JODIE COMER: (As Mother) Where am I?

(LAUGHTER)

COMER: (As Mother) There I am. There I am.

MONDELLO: ...Has to face down an environmental catastrophe when her water breaks at about the moment the world's ecosystem breaks.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE END WE START FROM")

COMER: (As Mother) Where am I?

MONDELLO: Women's stories are also the subjects of two musicals - "Waitress..."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WAITRESS")

SARA BAREILLES: (As Jenna) I got 14 pies to make that ain't going to make themselves.

MONDELLO: ...A filmed version of the Broadway stage production that is still touring...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WAITRESS")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, singing) Looking around at the...

MONDELLO: ...And a freshly reimagined "The Color Purple."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE COLOR PURPLE")

FANTASIA BARRINO: (As Celie) It's time I be free from you and then turn to creation.

COLMAN DOMINGO: (As Albert "Mister" Johnson) I'd die before I let that happen.

BARRINO: (As Celie) Good. That's just the going-away present I've been needing.

TARAJI P HENSON: (As Shug Avery) Ooh.

DANIELLE BROOKS: (As Sofia, laughter).

MONDELLO: The story of Nettie, Celie and Shug started out as a beloved book, morphed into a movie, a Broadway smash, and now comes back to film...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE COLOR PURPLE")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #6: (As character) Drinks on the house.

MONDELLO: ...As a movie musical just in time to color the holidays purple.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE COLOR PURPLE")

HENSON: (As Shug Avery) Sweet, loving God.

MONDELLO: I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE COLOR PURPLE")

BARRINO: (As Celie, singing) Push it if you want to come in. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.
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