Your 2016 Holiday Film Guide
Assassins, vampires, rebel scum and singing animals
Thanksgiving is on the plate, and that means it's time for a big, fat serving of holiday films. These movies—crammed into theaters between the holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve—are typically a schizophrenic mix of family film fodder and Oscar bait. This year-end is no exception, giving viewers a choice between cheap horror reboots and Pulitzer Prize-winning narratives.
Note: All dates are subject to change.
Hey, if Liam Neeson can go all badass to rescue his kidnapped daughter, Halle Berry can go all badass to rescue her kidnapped son.
La La Land
In this joy-filled, jewel-toned musical, an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) and a jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling) fall in love in modern-day Los Angeles. It's a total tonal departure from the writer/director who gave us 2014's powerhouse drama Whiplash.
Jessica Chastain (The Help), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Concussion) and Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes) star in this political thriller for British director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). Chastain plays a ruthless lobbyist who is notorious for her desire to win at any cost, even when it puts her own career at risk.
Tom Ford (yes, the famous fashion designer) writes and directs this dark thriller about an art gallery owner (Amy Adams) haunted by a violent novel that her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal) wrote, a book she interprets as a veiled threat.
Office Christmas Party
When his office is threatened with closure, a branch manager throws an epic, out-of-control Christmas party. Jason Bateman (“Arrested Development”), Jennifer Aniston (“Friends”), Kate McKinnon (Ghostbusters), T.J. Miller (“Silicon Valley”) and Olivia Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse) are among the ensemble cast.
Will Smith stars in this existential drama about a successful New York advertising executive who suffers a great tragedy, retreats from life and seeks answers from the universe by writing letters. Keira Knightley, Kate Winslet, Edward Norton and Helen Mirren round out the Oscar-hungry cast.
Disney releases its first Star Wars spin-off movie with this space-spanning caper flick which revolves around the efforts of a roguish anti-hero (Felicity Jones from The Theory of Everything) and a ragtag bunch of rebels to steal the plans for the original Death Star. Yup, this one takes place just prior to the events of Star Wars: Episode One—A New Hope.
The Space Between Us
A teenage boy, unexpectedly born on Mars to an astronaut, travels to Earth for the very first time and ends up running away on a life-changing adventure with a street smart gal.
Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class) straps on the VR goggles to star in this adaptation of the hit video game series. In it, he plays a futuristic dude who kinda-sorta time travels while exploring the memories of his ancient ancestor. This involves lots of jumping off roofs and stabbing people in the back as part of a secret society of assassins.
Some 25 years after getting lost on the streets of Calcutta and being adopted by a kindly Australian couple, a young Indian lad returns home to find his long-lost family. Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman and Dev Patel star in this classy adaptation of Saroo Brierley's autobiography, A Long Way Home.
A Monster Calls
Spanish director J.A. Bayona, who gave us the the moody 2007 horror chiller The Orphanage, is back with this dark fantasy about a tree monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) who helps a young boy cope with his mother's cancer.
In this sci-fi drama, Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence play a couple of colonists being transported across the galaxy to a faraway world along with a few thousand other people. Mysteriously, our two protagonists find themselves awakened from suspended animation 90 years too early.
Singing competitions are popular. Computer-animated movies are popular. So the studio behind Despicable Me decided to combine them both. Assorted animals—voiced by the likes of Matthew McConaughy, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson and John C. Reilly—sing various songs by Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Leonard Cohen and Carly Rae Jepsen.
Denzel Washington and Viola Davis star in this adaptation of August Wilson's Pulitzer and Tony-winning play about a faded baseball player trying to make ends meet as a trash collector in 1950s Pittsburgh. Could an Oscar be next in line?
Bryan Cranston is an exasperated father trying to cope with his daughter's annoying boyfriend (James Franco) over the holidays in this manic comedy.
Amityville: The Awakening
Bella Thorne and Jennifer Jason Leigh star in this horror flick about a single mother who moves her family into a haunted house, unaware of its bloody history. Are you kidding, lady? There have been at least 20 films about this damn house, including Amityville Death House, Amityville: A New Generation, Amityville 3-D and Amityville Dollhouse.
Martin Scorsese directs this historical drama (based on the novel by Japanese master Shusaku Endo). Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver star as a group of Jesuite priests who face violence and persecution when they travel to 17th century Japan to find their missing mentor (Liam Neeson).
Kate Beckinsale returns as gun-sliging vampire death dealer Selene, fighting to end the eternal war between Lycans and Vampires, in what everyone swears is the final of these five Underworld films (six if you count the animated shorts collection “Underworld: Endless War”).