Mark your calendars for these comedies, romances, dramas and animated films coming your way through the end of the year. It's gonna be a busy season, folks!
Doctor Strange (November 4)
Another Marvel movie! Except this isn’t just another Marvel movie. With the introduction of Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), aka the Sorcerer Supreme, to the big screen, the Marvel Cinematic Universe promises a turn towards the supernatural and psychedelic. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams and Mads Mikkelsen round out its Marvel-ous cast.
Mel Gibson returns to the director’s chair, reunited with Braveheart screenwriter Randall Wallace, for a World War II movie with an unbelievable story. Andrew Garfield plays real-life hero Desmond T. Doss, who received the Medal of Honor for saving more than 75 men in battle, despite his religious refusal to carry a weapon.
Remember Troll dolls, with their crazy colorful hair? They’ve finally got their own movie, and it’s a magical musical starring the voices of Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick as a mismatched duo who must save their town. The cast and soundtrack also include singing talents Zooey Deschanel and Gwen Stefani.
In 1967, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of interracial marriage in a landmark case prompted by the perfectly named Lovings. Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga portray the couple, who were run out of Virginia in 1959 after being legally wed out of state, in this acclaimed drama.
Legendary writer Paul Schrader directs what looks to be a darkly funny movie based on the Matthew Wilder novel. It stars Nic Cage and Willem Dafoe as ex-cons hired for one last heist: kidnapping a baby for a mob boss, while trying to stay out of jail.
What if we were able to talk things over with the aliens in 'Independence Day' before they blew up all our landmarks? In this more serious work of science fiction, Amy Adams plays a linguist tasked with communicating with extraterrestrials whose ships suddenly show up around the world.
Visionary director Ang Lee ('Life of Pi') adapts the award-winning novel about an Iraq War hero (newcomer Joe Alwyn) flashing back to his harrowing combat experiences during a victory tour. The all-star supporting cast includes Kristen Stewart as Billy’s sister and Vin Diesel as one of his army brothers.
Jacob Tremblay, everyone’s favorite new child star after his breakout performance in last year’s 'Room,' is back for another movie involving isolation. This time, he’s paired with Naomi Watts, who plays a lonely, reclusive child psychologist. He plays a boy she must rescue during an extreme New England snowstorm.
‘Tis the season for another wild holiday comedy that’ll make us better appreciate our own families over Thanksgiving break. Danny Glover is the patriarch of a dysfunctional clan that includes Mo’Nique, Gabrielle Union and Kimberly Elise, gathered together for the first time since the death of his wife.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (November 18)
The magical world of 'Harry Potter' is back on the big screen with a 1920s-set spin-off starring Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, future author of Hogwarts textbooks. In this J.K. Rowling-scripted tale, the British wizard disrupts relations with American Muggles when he accidentally lets loose a bunch of strange creatures.
In teen movies, siblings are the enemy and friends are essential aids in coping through the pain of high school. So when her bestie starts dating her brother, Nadine (Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld) feels her whole world crumbling. Fortunately, Woody Harrelson is there for hilarious guidance in this coming-of-age dramedy.
One of the most talked about films at Sundance this year, the new drama from Kenneth Lonergan ('You Can Count on Me') features awards-buzz performances from Michelle Williams and Casey Affleck. He plays a man who becomes the sudden legal guardian of his teenage nephew (Lucas Hedges) when his brother dies.
Miles Teller portrays real-life boxing champ Vinny Paz, aka “The Pazmanian Devil,” who wouldn’t let a little thing like a broken neck stop his career following a severe car accident. The amazing comeback story also features Aaron Eckhart as the trainer who helps Paz return to the ring.
The second feature from fashion designer-turned-filmmaker Tom Ford ('A Single Man') stars Amy Adams as a woman haunted by her past when she receives a violent manuscript written by her ex-husband (Armie Hammer). Jake Gyllenhaal costars as the main character of the novel, which plays out alongside her story.
Featuring catchy new music cowritten by 'Hamilton'’s Lin-Manuel Miranda, Disney’s next animated classic takes us to the South Pacific for an oceanic adventure that teams up a little girl with the Polynesian demigod Maui. Dwayne Johnson lends his vocals and his famous raised eyebrow to the mythological hero.
Brad Pitt is back fighting Nazis in a World War II espionage drama from 'Forrest Gump' director Robert Zemeckis. Instead of his Inglourious Basterds, he’s partnered in marriage and mission with a French spy (Marion Cotillard) in Casablanca, a setting that should recall a certain classic romance film.
It’s been a long time since Warren Beatty appeared on the big screen and even longer since he made a movie, so this Old Hollywood-set comedy of his, in which he portrays iconic businessman Howard Hughes, is a real treat. His comeback also stars the new Han Solo, Alden Ehrenreich.
What better way to start the holiday season than with a visit from your favorite foul-mouthed St. Nick? Get the sandwiches ready, because Billy Bob Thornton and Tony Cox are back in this sequel to the raunchy Christmas classic as the worst Santa ever and his equally depraved sidekick.
'Slumdog Millionaire'’s Dev Patel plays a man searching for his family decades after becoming lost in India at age five and adopted overseas by an Australian couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham). Based on Saroo Brierley’s best-selling memoir 'A Long Way Home,' this true story is sure to be a tearjerker.
Director John Madden (of 'Shakespeare in Love' fame) has assembled one of his best casts yet for this thriller, a tale of a Washington D.C. lobbyist who values winning above all else. Jessica Chastain plays the title character, but she's backed up by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mark Strong, John Lithgow and many other familiar faces.
Aaron Eckhart and 'Game of Thrones' star Carice Van Houten star in this supernatural horror film from 'San Andreas' director Brad Peyton. This is a demonic possession movie with a twist: what if a scientist could enter the mind of a possessed person and take the fight straight to the demon?
If Liam Neeson can play the tough-as-nails parent who will stop at nothing to retrieve a child from a vicious kidnapper, why not Halle Berry? Her mother character may not have a "special set of skills," but she has something even more powerful: a mother's rage. Don't piss off moms, kidnappers... especially when they're played by Halle Berry.
The latest film from acclaimed director Pablo Larraín, 'Jackie' tells the story of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in the time after President John F. Kennedy's assassination. The film has received universal praise from the film fest circuit, propelling star Natalie Portman to the forefront of the Oscar conversation.
It's a familiar concept for a comedy: a bunch of seemingly reasonable people throw a party and things quickly get out of hand. But with a cast that includes Kate McKinnon, Olivia Munn, Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, Jennifer Anniston and countless other comedic talents, 'Office Christmas Party' looks to breathe new life into the "adults behaving badly" genre.
Already positioned as an early front-runner for Oscar gold, 'La La Land' looks to combine the charm of old Hollywood musicals with a modern and (thanks to stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone) sexy touch. 'Whiplash' made director Damien Chazelle a talent to watch, but this could cement him as a modern great.
Will Smith's attempt to reinvent himself as an actor began when he played a "bad guy" in 'Suicide Squad' earlier this year and it continues with 'Collateral Beauty,' a sentimental drama about an advertising executive struggling with his child's death. No matter the genre, Smith has always showcased total command of the screen and this should be no different.
'Rogue One' is the first of its kind, a 'Star Wars' spin-off that isn't part of the main series but exists as a stand-alone story. Felicity Jones stars as Jyn Erso, a Rebel soldier who leads a team on a suicide mission to steal the Death Star plans, setting the stage for the events of the original 1977 film.
'The Space Between Us' is a drama with a nifty science fiction twist: the first boy born on Mars (Asa Butterfield) visits Earth for the first time and gets to experience he world we know so well as a curious outsider. Britt Robertson, so wonderful in 'Tomorrowland,' plays the Earth girl he befriends on his journey.
Hollywood has not been kind to video game adaptations over the years, but 'Assassin's Creed' could be the movie to change that. This blend of science fiction and historical action reteams Michael Fassbender with 'Macbeth' director Justin Kurzel, a promising combination for a tale of pseudo-time travel that leaps between the near future and the Spanish Inquisition.
'Passengers' is a movie that feels genetically engineered to steal your heart at a glance. Here's a high-concept science fiction adventure that is also a sweeping romance that also stars Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, the Internet's boyfriend and the internet's girlfriend, respectively. This could be the kind of movie that ultimately ends up appealing to just about everyone.
Combine one of the most jaw-dropping voice casts ever assembled for an animated movie with a downright adorable concept and you have the family movie to beat this December. Matthew McConaughey stars as a koala who plans to restore his theater to glory by hosting a singing competition... half of Hollywood costars as the animals who come out to participate.
Many comedies are built on odd couples, but you don't get much odder than Bryan Cranston and James Franco. The simple set-up, Franco's wealthy hipster wants to propose to the daughter of Cranston's uptight father, feels like a fine foundation for watching these two very different (and very funny) actors bounce off one another.
Was Liam Neeson born to voice a gravel-voiced tree monster who helps a young kid come to grips with his mother's terminal cancer? ‘A Monster Calls’ looks to make a strong argument for that, with Sigourney Weaver and Felicity Jones offering back-up to newcomer Lewis McDougall in the latest film from ‘The Impossible'’s J.A. Bayona.
Fences (December 28)
Denzel Washington steps behind the camera for the first time in almost a decade for this adaptation of August Wilson's iconic play about race relations in 1950s America. While Washington has the star power, the secret weapon here may be the great Viola Davis, who is ready generating Oscar talk for her performance.
The great Martin Scorsese is back with this film about faith and inhumanity. Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver play Jesuit priests who travel to 16th-century Japan and face persecution while searching for their missing mentor (Liam Neeson). Combine that cast with one of our finest living filmmakers and you have a film that demands attention of everyone with an interest in cinema.
One part 'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre' and one part 'The Wolf of Wall Street,' 'Gold' finds an unrecognizable Matthew McConaughey finding gold in the jungles of Indonesia and struggling to hold on to his fortune back home. Director Stephen Gaghan's latest film looks to combine jungle adventure and corporate drama, a fascinating mixture.
The latest film from director Mike Mills, '20th Century Women' follows a group of women as they navigate life in 1970s California. Since those women are played by Annette Benning, Alia Shawkat and Elle Fanning (and because their director made the wonderful 'Beginners'), their various adventures should be well worth your time.