Screens Monthly: What to Watch in December

December means holiday parties and traveling to see family and last-minute gift shopping...any free time you may have is quickly filled up by the demands of the season. If, by chance, you find yourself with a few open hours this month and are looking to escape the frenzy in a cinema, Chicago theaters offer all kinds of opportunities to do just that. This month, check out a local awards show, travel with the Gene Siskel Film Center, ring in the holiday season with Music Box Theatre or get lost (again) in a galaxy far, far away with the latest Star Wars. And if none of that sounds like your style, there's even more to choose from. Read on for our recommended movie plans for the month. Image courtesy of Wolfe Releasing

December 1

The Disaster Artist - Have you ever heard of a movie called The Room? No? You're not missing much; suffice it to say it's a film so bad it's become a cult hit beloved for its awfulness. The Disaster Artist is the movie we didn't know we needed about making the movie we love to hate. Or is it hate to love? Regardless, James Franco stars as Tommy Wiseau, who is convinced he'll be a movie star someday and who, when his big break never comes, decides to make a film himself. The rest, of course, is cinematic history. The Disaster Artist opens in Chicago on December 1.

December 3 - 10

Gene Siskel Film Center On Location - We posted earlier about the Film Center's plans to close in December for some welcome upgrades (new seats!), and throughout the first week in December you can join them on the road for screenings around the city. At locations including the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel and the Logan Center for the Arts, you can catch a few of the films the Film Center has featured throughout the year. Check out the full line-up here.

December 4

Teach-In at Facets - Head over to Facets for a dose of film feminism with their Teach-In series, this month on the topic of "Why aren't there more women in film?" Good question. The Cinematheque screens Ida Lupino's Hard, Fast and Beautiful followed by a discussion with film professor Therese Grisham, who approaches the art from a feminist, gender-based perspective. The event is free, and the discussion is sure to be interesting. Get your ticket here.

December 5

Princess Cyd on DVD/Digital - Princess Cyd (pictured above), the latest from Chicago-based filmmaker Stephen Cone (Henry Gamble's Birthday Party), arrives on digital platforms (a la iTunes) and home video (yes, DVDs are still a thing). If you didn't catch the film during its festival and theatrical runs, make plans for a movie night in with this heartfelt, female-centric drama about youth, love and family. Find it on iTunes here.

December 9 - 24

34th Annual Christmas Double Feature at Music Box Theater - The essential holiday movie tradition, Music Box Theater again this year presents a holiday double feature and sing-a-long, with screenings every weekend of the classics White Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life. Surely you've seen these holiday stand-bys, but if you've never seen them in the Music Box's classic theater, have you really seen them at all? Tickets go fast for this annual tradition, and as the perfect festival outing for out-of-town guests visiting for the holidays, be sure to get yours early right here.

December 14

Star Wars: The Last Jedi - It was recently announced that Rian Johnson will create his own three-film series in the Star Wars franchise; Episode VII marks the world's first chance to see what he's got up his sleeve when it comes to light sabers and The Force. The highly anticipated next episode in George Lucas's generation-defining brand, The Last Jedi opens on about a million screens on December 14, and if you don't want to be left out of the cultural zeitgeist, you'll go see it on one of them (or more). Select theaters will even be presenting the film on limited 70mm prints; unfortunately, none in Chicago. If you wanna see it in all its oversized, analog glory, you'll have to head to Indianapolis, where it's playing at the IMAX at the Indiana State Museum.

December 25

Phantom Thread - Paul Thomas Anderson (or, PTA to those in the know) gifts us all with a new movie on Christmas Day. What's more, Daniel Day-Lewis (or, our generation's best actor) has said it will be his final film. As if those two factors weren't enough to convince you to head to the theater, check out the trailer below, which will surely seal the deal. It's lush and intense and captivating, and that's just the trailer. Set in the 1950s, the film (written by Anderson) follows fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis) and his relationship with the woman who disrupts his routine (and his world).
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Lisa Trifone