Maybe this is a sign that movie theater chain AMC is giving smaller, acclaimed films a showing before the Godzilla of December movies, "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," opens Dec. 15, but the critically praised movies "Lady Bird" and "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" arrive at Waco's AMC Classic Galaxy 16 on Friday.

Both have won attention because of the performances of their lead actors, Saoirse Ronan as a senior looking at life after high school in "Lady Bird" and Frances McDormand as a mother intent on shaming her small town's law enforcement into investigating the rape and murder her daughter in "Three Billboards." Greta Gerwig, who makes her directing debut with "Lady Bird," also is earning praise for finding freshness in what otherwise might be a familiar teen story.

In past years, these are the sort of smaller movies that crop up in January in Waco, films that make critics' year-end Top 10 lists or generate pre-Oscar buzz. Seeing them now makes me wonder if this shrinks prospects for January movie-going, but, hey, these movies are arriving in Waco, so no grounds for quibbling.

Given that "Star Wars" will soon suck the oxygen out of movieplexes by shrinking the number of screens available to new movies, the time may be now to see these two.

Tribune-Herald entertainment editor