What better way to escape the winter chill than by huddling up in a movie theater with a warm bucket of popcorn and the latest Hollywood releases? This holiday season promises a bit of something for everyone on your Christmas card list—from silly comedies to bloody Westerns to the return of our old friends R2-D2 and C-3PO. And unlike holiday cookies, you can sample as many of these as you like with no adverse affect on your health. (Except for that Chipmunk one, maybe.)
Note: All opening dates are subject to change.
Friday, Dec. 11
In The Heart of the Sea
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson
Based on the true 1820 event that inspired Herman Melville's Moby Dick, this seafaring drama about whales and the whalers who don't really love them is directed by reliable-
Friday, Dec. 18
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip
Stars: Jason Lee, Bella Thorne, Justin Long
Computer-animated rodents (who sing, mind you) drive to Miami to stop their human dad/manager from marrying his girlfriend.
Stars: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler
After the success of Baby Mama, comedy pals Fey and Poehler reunite for this laugher about two adult sisters who decide to throw one last raging house party before their parents sell their family home.
Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens
Stars: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega
I’m not really familiar with the concept. Apparently it has space aliens in it.
Wednesday, Dec. 23
The Big Short
Stars: Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carrell
Four outsider in the world of high-finance who predicted the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s decide to take on the big banks for their lack of foresight and greed. Longtime Will Ferrell collaborator Adam McKay (Anchorman, Step Brothers) directs this dramatic and scathingly funny change of pace.
Friday, Dec. 25
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara
Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, Mildred Pierce) goes back to the '50s for another gorgeous, Douglas Sirk-inspired melodrama—this one about a female department store clerk who dreams of a better life with an older, married woman.
Stars: Will Smith
This extremely self-serious, Oscar-covetting sports drama (based on an article in GQ magazine) stars Will Smith as the “brilliant forensic neuropathologist” who made the first discovery of CTE, a football-related brain trauma.
Stars: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg
Ferrell and Wahlberg reunite after their OK buddy cop comedy The Other Guys. Here, Ferrell is a mild-mannered radio executive who does all he can to be the best stepdad to his wife’s two kids—that is until their freewheeling, motorcycle-riding real father shows up to compete for their affections. Hijinks ensue.
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro
Most of the cast of David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook reunite with the notoriously thorny writer-director for this multigenerational, ensemble comedy-drama about a woman who founds a business empire and must weather betrayals from allies and adversaries alike.
Stars: Luke Bracey, Édgar Ramirez
Somebody in Hollywood thought it was a good idea to remake the 1991 action hit, replacing Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves with the Australian who played Cobra Commander in G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Venezuelan actor Édgar Ramirez. It is almost certainly not a good idea.
Stars: Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz
A retired orchestra conductor receives and invitation from Queen Elizabeth to perform for Prince Philip's birthday. From Paolo Sorrentino, writer-director of the ravishing Oscar winner The Great Beauty.
Friday, Jan. 1
The Danish Girl
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander
Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) directs this prestige pic about the true-life romance between artists Gerda Wegener and Lili Elbe, a transgender woman who was one of the first recipients of sex reassignement surgery in 1930.
Friday, Jan. 8
The Hateful Eight
Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Channing Tatum, Zoë Bell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth
Quentin Tarantino, still in a “spaghetti Western” mood helms this post-Civil War drama about a group of bounty hunters all trying to find shelter during a nasty Wyoming blizzard. The question is, how many will come out alive?
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy
Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores Perros, Babel, Birdman) writes and directs this punishing, survivalist Western about an 1820s frontiersman who sets out on a path of vengeance against those who left him for dead after a bear mauling.