The last few weeks of 2014 offer up a wide variety of movies, including beloved musicals, epic blockbusters, wacky comedies and awards-hungry dramas. Here’s the lowdown on what should be the 16 biggest movies of the season.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 (Now Playing)
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is through playing games as she joins a plot to overthrow Panem’s repressive government. Based on the box office of the first two ‘Hunger Games’ movies, this film – in theaters now -- is poised to become the biggest hit of the year.
Horrible Bosses 2 (Nov. 26)
For those who prefer to laugh their way through Thanksgiving weekend, this sequel to 2011’s sleeper comedy hit adds Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz to the mix, although we suspect Jennifer Aniston is once again going to steal the show.
Penguins of Madagascar (Nov. 26)
The breakout stars of the ‘Madagascar’ franchise finally get their own spinoff, in which they are recruited into a polar spy organization and tasked with defeating the villainous octopus Dr. Octavius Brine (voiced by John Malkovich).
Top Five (Dec. 5)
Chris Rock writes, directs and stars as a Chris Rock-like movie star fighting a mid-career crisis. He soon meets his match in a journalist (Rosario Dawson) hired to write an article about him. Will sparks fly? We’re guessing yes.
Exodus: Gods and Kings (Dec. 12)
For decades, Cecil B. DeMille’s ‘The Ten Commandments’ has been a TV staple at Easter/Passover. Ridley Scott’s take on the Moses vs. Ramses saga, with Christian Bale as Moses, hopes to snare the Christmas/Hanukkah audience.
Inherent Vice (Dec. 12)
You can always count on auteur filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson to deliver something unique. Here, he adapts Thomas Pynchon’s trippy mystery novel, set in 1970 Los Angeles. A most hirsute Joaquin Phoenix stars as a pothead private eye.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Dec. 17)
Peter Jackson says goodbye to Middle-earth – for the time being – with the third installment of his adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit.’ Expect lots of effects-filled fighting between elves, dwarves, men, orcs and even giant eagles.
Annie (Dec. 19)
Not just a rehash of the 1982 movie (and the hit Broadway musical), this updated version re-christens Daddy Warbucks as “Will Stacks” (Jamie Foxx) and adds some new tunes, but fear not: Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis) will still sing about tomorrow.
The Gambler (Dec. 19)
You may not be familiar with 1974’s ‘The Gambler,’ a drama starring James Caan as a professor with a gambling addiction. In this remake, from the writer of ‘The Departed,’ Mark Wahlberg plays the professor. It’s a safe bet that the stakes have been bumped up to 2014 levels.
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (Dec. 19)
Ben Stiller and many other ‘Museum’ players, including Robin Williams in one of his final roles, return for more antics -- this time in London. UK thespians Ben Kingsley, Rebel Wilson and Dan Stevens join the fray.
American Sniper (Dec. 25)
At 84, director Clint Eastwood is still going strong: This is his second 2014 release (after ‘Jersey Boys’). Bradley Cooper stars as legendary Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle; if the film is as suspenseful as its trailer, we’ll all be sweating bullets.
Big Eyes (Dec. 25)
Tim Burton makes a straightforward biopic about 1950s kitsch painter Margaret Keane (Amy Adams), whose work was passed off by her husband Walter (Christoph Waltz) as his own. Here’s hoping it’s as good as Burton’s last biopic, 1994’s ‘Ed Wood.’
The Interview (Dec. 25)
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is understandably not amused by the premise of this action comedy, in which he’s targeted for assassination by two celebrity journalists (Seth Rogen and James Franco). It should get more laughs stateside.
Into the Woods (Dec. 25)
Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Tony-winning musical, which upends classic fairy tales, gets a dream cast including Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine and Johnny Depp. If our wish comes true, this movie will be great.
Selma (Dec. 25)
It’s hard to believe that there have been no major big-screen biopics about Martin Luther King, Jr. until now. David Oyelowo steps into the great man’s shoes in this retelling of King’s historic 1965 civil rights marches in Selma, Alabama.
Unbroken (Dec. 25)
Angelina Jolie’s second feature as a director stars British actor Jack O’Connell as all-American hero Louis Zamperini, who ran in the 1936 Olympics, survived a plane crash in WWII and became a prisoner of war in Japan. This film was tailor-made for awards.