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These are the big, new movies worth seeing in theaters before 2019 is over

With the holiday season approaching, Newsday film critic Rafer Guzmán talks about four movies that you need to see before the year ends. (Credit: Newsday / Shelby Knowles)

Let the Oscar scramble begin!

At least three American movies seem to be leading the race for best picture: Martin Scorsese's gangster epic "The Irishman," Quentin Tarantino's cinematic love-letter "Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood" and Noah Baumbach's modern-day divorce drama "Marriage Story." Recently, an unusual dark horse, the South Korean thriller "Parasite" — a critical hit and an art-house success — has gained momentum.

Through the end of the year, though, more films will start jockeying for position. "Bombshell," an exposé of the Fox News sexual misconduct scandal that features Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly, strikes a number of topical notes, as does Clint Eastwood's "Richard Jewell," the true story of a heroic security guard who was painted as a villain in the media. "Cats," a musical extravaganza, could fill a nominee slot taken by "Les Misérables" and "La La Land" in past years. Perhaps the most promising title is Greta Gerwig's "Little Women," a lavish-looking period piece with two currently hot stars, Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet, that could put Gerwig in Oscar competition against Baumbach, her partner.

Here are the 21 major movies left to see in 2019, in order of release date:

Nov. 22

21 BRIDGES An NYPD detective (Chadwick Boseman, "Black Panther") tries to track down two cop killers and uncover a conspiracy while authorities close every bridge in Manhattan.

A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD Tom Hanks plays the iconic children's television host Fred Rogers. Come on, who else were they going to cast? Inspired by Tom Junod's 1998 profile of Rogers for Esquire magazine.

FROZEN II Disney's follow-up to "Frozen," the billion-dollar, Oscar-winning smash from 2013, finds the warmhearted ice princess Elsa searching for the origins of her magical powers. With the voices of Idina Menzel, Josh Gad and Kristen Bell.

DARK WATERS Mark Ruffalo plays an attorney who connects a series of deaths to the DuPont corporation. Based on a true story. The unlikely director is Todd Haynes, of "Velvet Goldmine."

Nov. 27

QUEEN & SLIM On a first date, a black man and woman become fugitives after he kills a police officer in self-defense. With Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith.

KNIVES OUT When a famous crime novelist turns up dead, his family members are grilled by detectives at his mansion. With Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Toni Collette and Michael Shannon. Rian Johnson, of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," wrote and directed.

Dec. 6

PLAYMOBIL: THE MOVIE An animated film based on the plastic Playmobil figures, with the voice of Daniel Radcliffe as a dashing secret agent. Also with Jim Gaffigan and Anya Taylor-Joy ("The Witch").

THE AERONAUTS Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, of "The Theory of Everything," re-team to play a meteorologist and a balloon pilot, respectively, who undertake a dangerous mission in 1862. Reports that Jones' character is based on a man — professional balloonist Henry Coxwell — has caused some controversy.

Dec. 13

RICHARD JEWELL The true story of a security guard (played by Paul Walter Hauser) who discovered a bomb at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, only to become a suspect. With Sam Rockwell and Olivia Wilde. Directed by Clint Eastwood.

JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL This follow-up to the 2017 hit "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" reunites Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart and Jack Black as video-game avatars — this time with rather different personalities. Also starring Danny DeVito and Danny Glover.

BLACK CHRISTMAS A new version of the 1974 cult favorite about a serial killer who stalks sorority girls. With Imogen Poots. Directed by Sophia Takal.

BOMBSHELL How Fox News anchors Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) and Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) brought down network chief Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) on charges of sexual misconduct.

UNCUT GEMS Adam Sandler has earned early raves for his performance as Howard Ratner, a gambling addict operating in New York City's Diamond District, in this drama from the Safdie Brothers ("Good Time"). Also with Long Island's Idina Menzel.

A HIDDEN LIFE The story of Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl), an Austrian farmer and Catholic who refused to fight for the Nazis during World War II. Terrence Malick, of "The Tree of Life," wrote and directed.

Dec. 20

CATS The Broadway smash inspired by T.S. Eliot's poems gets the Hollywood treatment. With James Corden, Judi Dench, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson and Taylor Swift. Tom Hooper, of "The King's Speech," co-wrote and directed.

STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER The ninth and final film in the main "Star Wars" series reunites the original cast — Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega and others — and brings back director J.J. Abrams ("Star Wars: The Force Awakens"). The late Carrie Fisher, as Leia Organa, will also appear. Disney recently announced a "hiatus" on any new "Star Wars" films.

Dec. 25

LITTLE WOMEN Writer-director Greta Gerwig adapts Louisa May Alcott's 1868 novel. Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan plays the ambitious Jo March. Also with Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Timothée Chalamet and Meryl Streep.

SPIES IN DISGUISE An animated comedy in which a secret agent (the voice of Will Smith) is transformed into a pigeon. Also with Tom Holland, Rashida Jones and Ben Mendelsohn (of "Captain Marvel").

JUST MERCY Michael B. Jordan ("Black Panther") plays a lawyer trying to free a man wrongfully convicted of murder (Jamie Foxx). Based on a true story.

1917 During World War I, two young British soldiers must deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack. With Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay. Sam Mendes, of "Skyfall," co-wrote and directed.

Dec. 27

CLEMENCY In the wake of a botched execution, prison warden Bernadine Williams (Alfre Woodard) begins questioning her commitment to the death penalty.

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