December's here, and that means what it does each year: high-profile film releases aiming for Academy Award gold. Hollywood is jamming theaters with star-studded dramas and genre pictures in the hopes of generating buzz that will carry them to the Oscar podium. If that weren't enough to motivate you to drop everything and run to the multiplex, the studios are also delivering their usual batch of big-budget comedies, family, and action films to make sure that no demographic goes unnoticed. Oh yeah, and there's also a small little film coming out on December 18–something about a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
The Bard's classic about the perils of ambition gets a blistering, brutal update courtesy of Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard as, respectively, the general intent on becoming the new King of Scotland and the wife who pushes him to seize power by whatever means necessary.
When, spurred by his family's holiday bickering, a young boy gives up on Christmas and unleashes an unholy demonic spirit in this off-the-wall Yuletide horror-comedy.
Spike Lee takes aim at a wide range of social issues–including, most controversially, the black-on-black gun violence plaguing Chicago–with this rambunctious, roiling modern adaptation of Aristophanes' ancient Greek play "Lysistrata."
In the Heart of the Sea (12/11)
Ron Howard takes to the high seas for this film based on a 19th Century tale of a stout ship captain (Thor's Chris Hemsworth) forced to confront a whale of near-mythical size–a story that was reportedly the basis for Herman Melville's Moby Dick.
The Big Short (12/11)
Will Ferrell's usual directing partner Adam McKay tries his hand at drama with this ripped-from-recent-headlines film about the 2007 to 2010 American banking crisis, which boasts an illustrious cast that includes Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (12/18)
J.J. Abrams brings back Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewie, and introduces a cast of new characters, for this insanely anticipated seventh entry in the sci-fi series.
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are estranged sisters who, on the eve of their parents selling the family home, reunite to clean out their childhood bedroom and opt to throw one last, wild going-away party in this comedy from Pitch Perfect director Jason Moore.
Son of Saul (12/18)
This acclaimed Hungarian import delivers a grim, harrowing portrait of WWII survival via its tale of a Jewish prisoner at Auschwitz who strives to give his dead son a proper, secret burial.
45 Years (12/18)
Past secrets rise to the surface to destabilize a long-married couple in this assured drama, which boasts a masterful lead performance from the always-formidable Charlotte Rampling.
The Hateful Eight (12/25)
Quentin Tarantino's highly anticipated Western concerns a band of outlaws (including Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, and Michael Madsen) who find themselves pitted against each other while holed up in a remote, snowbound cabin.
The Revenant (12/25)
A year after winning multiple Oscars for Birdman, director Alejandro González Iñárritu makes another bold splash with this visually stunning based-on-real-life tale of a explorer (Leonardo DiCaprio) attempting to survive in the snowy wilderness after suffering a bear attack and betrayal at the hands of a comrade (Tom Hardy).
Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle auteur David O. Russell again teams with his favorite leading lady, Jennifer Lawrence, as well as Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper, for this story inspired by the life of Joy Mangano, who overcame personal and professional obstacles to hit it big with her invention, the "Miracle Mop."
Daddy's Home (12/25)
Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg reunite for the first time since 2010's The Other Guys for this absurdist meek vs.macho comedy about a wimpy stepfather forced to protect his family role after his wife's badass ex-husband returns to town.
Will Smith exposes the pitfalls of playing football–and, specifically, the irreversible brain damage it can cause–in this timely sports-related drama.
The best animated film of the year–and perhaps the best film, period?–is this mature, heartbreaking stop-motion drama from Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Synecdoche, New York) about a man on a business trip whose life is transformed through a chance encounter.
Christmas is coming, we also prepared Christmas movies and gifts for you:
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