Whether you need movies to see with your family or by your lonesome as you escape from the pressures of socializing, Hollywood has you covered this holiday season. Here's what to watch out for in the last stretch of the year.
Release date: November 18th Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Colin Farrell Director: David Yates (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) Reason to be excited: J.K. Rowling wrote this spinoff of the original Harry Potter movies herself, in hopes of preserving the tone while transplanting the action to 1920s New York City. With Oscar-winner Redmayne as the wizarding world's preeminent magizoologist, and Yates, who directed many of the original series' best installments, behind the camera, there's reason to buy into this blockbuster's hype. Watch the trailer
Bleed for This
Release date: November 18th Cast: Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, Katey Sagal, Ciarán Hinds Director: Ben Younger (Boiler Room) Reason to be excited: The twist of this year's see-it-with-your-dad boxing movie is that Teller's character, world champion Vinny Paz, shouldn't even be looking at a boxing ring, let alone throwing punches in one. After a severe car accident shatters his bulky frame, Paz decides to defy his doctors and train his way back to the top. Watch the trailer
The Edge of Seventeen
Release date: November 18th Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick Director: Kelly Fremon Craig Reason to be excited: James L. Brooks, director of Broadway News and Terms of Endearment and co-creator of The Simpsons, shepherded this foul-mouthed teen comedy to existence because he was so taken by first-time director Kelly Craig's unique perspective. We've waited patiently for a movie to take over the Mean Girls mantle. This might be it. Watch the trailer
Manchester by the Sea
Release date: November 18th Cast: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Gretchen Mol, Lucas Hedges Director: Kenneth Lonergan (Margaret) Reason to be excited: This seaside story of grief is jagged and intrusive, winding up all the anxieties of everyday life around Affleck's blue-collar Massachusettsian. Teasing why everyone in Manchester-by-the-Sea is so tortured would spoil the stroll, but the movie doesn't miss a step. Giving himself a solid three hours, Lonergan looks at a mournful situation from every angle -- it's the funniest gut-punch you'll experience this year. Watch the trailer
Release date: November 18th Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams, Laura Linney, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Michael Shannon Director: Tom Ford (A Single Man) Reason to be excited: Seven years after his directorial debut, A Single Man, fashion designer Tom Ford steps back behind the camera to construct a relationship thriller that rings of Cormac McCarthy. Only Ford could put together a movie that looks stylish and gritty as hell. Watch the trailer
Release date: November 23rd Cast: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Lizzy Caplan, Matthew Goode Director: Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump) Reason to be excited: In the year's boldest answer to "they don't make 'em like they used to," Pitt stars as spy Max Vatan, who, in 1942 North Africa, encounters French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Cotillard) on a mission behind enemy lines. There's love, there's war, there's probably backstabbing, and there are two famous people reminding us why we occasionally fall hard for movie stars. Zemeckis, a born-and-bred Hollywood tailor, should give this one the old-school push it needs to work. Watch the trailer
Bad Santa 2
Release date: November 23rd Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Brett Kelly, Kathy Bates, Christina Hendricks Director: Mark Waters (Mean Girls) Reason to be excited: What do 13 years do to a Bad Santa? Nothing, apparently. Thornton's Willie T. Stokes looks as awful as ever in this highly anticipated sequel, which swaps the original's director, the off-kilter Terry Zwigoff, for Waters. If Bad Santa 2 has a modicum of the fire emitted from "The Plastics," we'll be OK. Watch the trailer
Release date: November 23rd Cast: Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement Directors: Ron Clements and John Musker (Aladdin) Reason to be excited: We don't blame your gut instinct for damning Disney animated features as "kid stuff," but after Frozen and Zootopia, maybe the Mouse House deserves a little trust? Moana spins a magical adventure out of Oceanic iconography, throwing in original songs by Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda for good measure. Watch the trailer
Release date: November 23rd Cast: Lily Collins, Alden Ehrenreich, Warren Beatty, Matthew Broderick Director: Warren Beatty (Bulworth) Reason to be excited: Beatty spent years developing this movie, touted as a biopic of the aging Howard Hughes. The result looks like more of a screwball rom-com, following two young lovers (Collins and Ehrenreich) as they try to make a relationship work under their employer, the unhinged Hughes (Beatty). Watch the trailer
Release date: November 25th Cast: Jessica Chastain, Sam Waterston, Mark Strong, Gugu Mbatha-Raw Director: John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) Reason to be excited: With the election in the rearview, America can finally turn its attention to pressing issues, and Miss Sloane has a suggestion: gun control. The movie follows a fictional lobbyist (Chastain) mounting a fictional campaign for gun control, a very real problem. Inevitable controversy should make this one a must-see. Watch the trailer
Release date: November 25th Cast: Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, David Wenham, Nicole Kidman Director: Garth Davis (Top of the Lake) Reason to be excited: Based on a true story, Lion stars Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel as Saroo Brierley, who, 25 years after being separated from his mother in India, tracks her down using Google Earth. Take that, Luddites! Watch the trailer
Release date: December 2nd Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Carice van Houten, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Emjay Anthony Director: Brad Peyton (San Andreas) Reason to be excited: Eckhart stars as an exorcist with the ability to enter the subconscious of his patients in order to kick demon ass. A confident Oscar play from the people who brought us Insidious. Watch the trailer
Release date: December 2nd Cast: Natalie Portman, Greta Gerwig, Peter Sarsgaard, Billy Crudup Director: Pablo Larraín (No) Reason to be excited: Admirers of the Kennedys may be shocked by this unfettered, provocative look at the aftermath of JFK's assassination. As her mind drifts back and forth through time -- enveloped by the creepiest music of the year -- Jackie O. recalls the grisly events of November 22nd, 1963, and struggles to chisel her husband's glory into the annals of history. Watch the trailer
La La Land
Release date: December 9th Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, J. K. Simmons, Finn Wittrock Director: Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) Reason to be excited: A throwback to whimsical musicals like Singin' in the Rain and Umbrellas of Cherbourg, La La Land takes a magical-realism approach to romance in the City of Angels. An excuse to get Stone and Gosling ballroom-dancing in a planetarium is a good excuse in our books, and La La Land could turn out to be something even more. Watch the trailer
Office Christmas Party
Release date: December 9th Cast: Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller, Kate McKinnon Director: Josh Gordon & Will Speck (Blades of Glory) Reason to be excited: From the bros who brought us The Hangover and Bad Moms comes the next outrageous party movie that will inspire a terrible decision the next time there's tequila in your vicinity. Office Christmas Party is fully stocked with big-screen comedians and SNL anchors all ready to spike your holiday plans with booze. Watch the trailer
Release date: December 16th Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen Director: Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) Reason to be excited: The title of this new Star Wars prequel is a bit of a double entendre: "Rogue One" alludes to the band of mercenaries assembled by the Rebellion to steal the Death Star plans, but plays into the fact that it's the first Star Wars movie to "go rogue" from the Skywalker "Episode" timeline. Set just before the events of the original 1977 movie, Rogue One stages a war movie inside a universe we all know and love. Watch the trailer
Release date: December 16th Cast: Gary Oldman, Asa Butterfield, Carla Gugino, Britt Robertson Director: Peter Chelsom (Serendipity) Reason to be excited: Set in the near future, Butterfield plays the first human born on Mars -- an accident NASA can't keep secret. When the kid connects with a girl his age via video chat, he mounts a plan to return home. Think a warm and cuddly companion to The Martian. Watch the trailer
Release date: December 16th Cast: Will Smith, Edward Norton, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren Director: David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) Reason to be excited: It's been years since Smith played a "normal guy," but his latest role casts him as a grieving father looking for meaning in the earthbound cosmos. He finds relief by writing letters to concepts like Time, Love, and Death. When the abstracts start presenting themselves before him as tangible people, he freaks. Read as: guaranteed sentimentality for the holidays. Watch the trailer
Release date: December 21st Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Michael K. Williams Director: Justin Kurzel (MacBeth) Reason to be excited: While adapted from a billion-dollar video-game property, Assassin's Creed is something of a passion project for Fassbender, who produced the film and hired his artful Macbeth director to make his blockbuster debut. Merging sci-fi time travel with Crusades-era sword-swinging, Assassin's Creed is one of the grander experiments of the holiday season. Watch the trailer
Release date: December 21st Cast: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne Director: Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) Reason to be excited: There's very little out there on Passengers, a sci-fi movie about a spaceship's120-year journey to an off-world colony. When Pratt and Lawrence's "hibernation pods" open 90 years early... well, something dramatic happens. Probably! We'll be honest: the promise of this pair in a two-hander is enough for us to buy in blind.
Release date: December 23rd Cast: James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Zoey Deutch, Megan Mullally Director: John Hamburg (I Love You, Man) Reason to be excited: Hamburg broke out with his script for Meet the Parents, and this holiday season, he inverts the premise to put dads on the losing end. Franco plays a tech-industry hotshot readying to marry the daughter of Cranston, who snaps into protective mode. Hijinks ensue, and considering the pedigree, worthy hijinks. Watch the trailer
A Monster Calls
Release date: December 23rd Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell, Liam Neeson, Lewis MacDougall Director: J. A. Bayona (The Impossible) Reason to be excited: Bumped from its original October release date to an awards-friendly holiday spot, this Spielbergian drama finds a boy dealing with his mother's terminal cancer by conjuring -- or encountering? -- a Groot-ish monster, voiced by Neeson. Watch the trailer
Release date: December 23rd Cast: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Ciarán Hinds Director: Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street) Reason to be excited: Scorsese has been talking up his adaptation of Shūsaku Endō's novel, about two 17th-century Portuguese Jesuit priests who travel to Japan to retrieve their elder, since the mid-'90s. He's finally delivering the religious epic just in time for awards season -- where it will invariably shake up the competition.
Release date: December 25th Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Édgar Ramírez, Bryce Dallas Howard Director: Stephen Gaghan (Syriana) Reason to be excited: McConaughey went fat, bald, and slovenly for his role in this dramatic thriller, described as Treasure of the Sierra Madre with a Wolf of Wall Street twist. Gaghan's been quietly working on the movie for a number of years, so we're crossing our fingers it's... gold. Watch the trailer
Release date: December 25th Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner Director: Theodore Melfi (St. Vincent) Reason to be excited: There is no space race, no Project Mercury, no John Glenn, first American astronaut to orbit the Earth, without the three African-American mathematicians recruited by NASA to help win the space race. Hidden Figures digs into the under-discussed racism of the US space program with some of today's best working actors. Watch the trailer
Live by Night
Release date: December 25th Cast: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Zoe Saldana Director: Ben Affleck (Argo) Reason to be excited: Adapted from Dennis Lehane's novel of the same name, the latest from writer-director-Batman Affleck chronicles the transformation of a 1920s Bostonian into one of America's most notorious bootleggers. With period decor, noir grimaces, and plenty of firepower, Live by Night may turn out to be Oscar material, but should give Affleck and his A-list cast plenty to chew on. Watch the trailer
20th Century Women
Release date: December 25th Cast: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Lucas Jade Zumann, Billy Crudup Director: Mike Mills (Beginners) Reason to be excited: Drawing comparisons to Almost Famous and Michael Chabon novels, this familial story of discovery teeters on the cultural brink that is 1979 Santa Barbara. Mills is a master of the melancholy comedy, so we suspect his autobiographical throwback should deliver on laughs and tears. Watch the trailer
Release date: December 25th Cast: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Jovan Adepo, Stephen Henderson Director: Denzel Washington (Antwone Fisher) Reason to be excited: Washington's directorial career is hit or miss, but bringing playwright August Wilson's poetic examination of race and class to the big screen sounds as exhilarating as any Michael Bay movie. Washington and Davis played the roles on Broadway in 2010 and picked up Tonys for their performances. Expect them to find some Oscar love, too.
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Matt Patches is Thrillist’s Entertainment editor. He previously wrote for Grantland, Esquire.com, and Vulture. Find him on Twitter @misterpatches.