The Eyes of My Mother (December 2 in limited release)
A chilling black-and-white horror film that split audiences at last January’s Sundance Film Festival, Nicolas Pesce’s aesthetically striking directorial debut concerns a young, deranged woman with a fondness for eyes.
Jackie (December 2 in limited release)
Chilean auteur Pablo Larrain’s thrillingly unconventional portrait of Jackie Kennedy follows the former First Lady during the week following the assassination of JFK. It’s one of the year’s most beautiful, haunting, and complex works.
La La Land (December 9)
Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to Whiplash is a swoon-worthy romantic musical that earned raves upon its premiere at the Venice International Film Festival and seems primed to earn a handful of Oscar nominations, including for lead actress Emma Stone (here starring opposite Ryan Gosling).
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (December 16)
The first stand-alone film set in the Star Wars universe, Rogue One will focus on a motley crew of rebel fighters tasked with stealing the plans for the Death Star that Luke Skywalker eventually destroyed in Episode IV: A New Hope.
Neruda (December 16 in limited release)
Pablo Larrain’s second release of December 2016 is another convention-upending drama about a famous one-named historical figure: in this case, Chilean poet/politician Pablo Neruda, who in this electric film flees persecution for his Communist beliefs, and is hunted by a noir-ish detective (Gael Garcia Bernal).
Passengers (December 21)
Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt are astronauts who wake up from cryosleep almost a century before they reach their destination—and are thus forced to live their lives together—in this big-budget sci-fi romance.
Assassin’s Creed (December 21)
Movies based on video games have a less-than-stellar track record. Nonetheless, Michael Fassbender will try to change that history when he headlines this crazy sci-fi period piece, about a thief who—via a high-tech machine—relives his ancestor’s life as a famed assassin.
Patriots Day (December 21 in limited release)
Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg’s second movie of 2016 (after Deepwater Horizon) is this based-on-real-events drama—co-starring John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, J.K. Simmons, and Michelle Monaghan—about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
A Monster Calls (December 23 in limited release)
A dark children’s fable about a young boy with a dying mother (Rogue One‘s Felicity Jones) who befriends a tree-like monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) that acts out the kid’s angriest impulses, this film from director J.A. Bayona left many critics in tears when it premiered at this fall’s Toronto International Film Festival.
Silence (December 23 in limited release)
A two-and-a-half hour epic about two 17th Century Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who are persecuted for their beliefs while journeying to Japan to find their mentor (Liam Neeson)? If that plot synopsis doesn’t immediately grab you, be aware that this historical feature is the latest passion project from legendary director Martin Scorsese.
Gold (December 25)
Matthew McConaughey may again contend for an Academy Award courtesy of this wild-looking action-adventure, in which he stars as a shady businessman who strikes it rich—and then winds up in big-time trouble—after discovering gold in the Indonesian jungle
Fences (December 25)
Adapted from August Wilson’s Pulitzer- and Tony Award-winning play, this character drama from star/director Denzel Washington is already being hailed for its phenomenal lead performances (from Washington and Viola Davis).
Live by Night (December 25 in limited release)
Ben Affleck gets back behind the director’s chair for this period-piece genre film (based, like his Gone Baby Gone, on a Denis Lehane novel) about a 1920s Florida bootlegger (Affleck) who rises to the top of the gangster food chain.
Toni Erdmann (December 25 in limited release)
A grown woman is forced to deal with her bizarre father—who loves pranks involving fake identities—in this unconventional comedy-drama from acclaimed German filmmaker Maren Ade.
Paterson (December 28 in NY and LA)
Adam Driver sets aside his Kylo Ren lightsaber to play a Paterson, New Jersey bus driver and aspiring poet in writer/director Jim Jarmusch’s sensitive and evocative character study.