More than ever, we are compelled to turn to entertainment for escapism. With all the social strife and political turmoil that unfolded throughout 2016, the movie theater is the destination for being transported away from reality for a few hours and entering into a different state of mind. As the year finally winds down, this winter season’s selection of December offerings promise to excite you, challenge you, inspire you, make you laugh, make you cry, make you sing and dance in your seat, and ultimately, make you fall in love with the magic of the movies. Here are ten films opening in wide and limited release during the week of Christmas 2016.
From the creators of Despicable Me, this fun animated family film shines the spotlight on a group of talented anthropomorphic animals who can sing and dance like nobody’s business. When his theater is on the brink of closure, koala Buster Moon (Matt McConaughey) stages a singing competition to save it. Five top contenders emerge, including a crooner mouse (Seth MacFarlane), a shy teen elephant (Tori Kelly), a super mom pig (Reese Witherspoon), a young gorilla with a gangster father (Taron Egerton), and a punk-rock porcupine (Scarlett Johansson), all looking for their big break to change their lives.
Mega stars Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt star in this sci-fi action-thriller about Jim Preston and Aurora Lane, two passengers who are on a 120-year journey to another planet when a spaceship malfunction results in their hibernation pods awakening them prematurely by 90 years. Alone together with the lives of thousands of passengers in jeopardy and in their hands, they must uncover the mystery and save the ship from destruction.
Based on the popular video game, Assassin’s Creed borrows elements of the franchise’s mythology and incorporates them into the journey of Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) who, through technology that gives him access to his genetic memories, experiences the adventures of his great ancestor, Aguilar de Nerha, during the Spanish Inquisition. Lynch discovers he is a descendent of the secret society known as the Assassins and utilizes Aguilar’s skills to combat with the powerful rival group, the Templars, in the present day.
When Ned (Bryan Cranston) and his family go to visit his daughter Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) over the Christmas holiday, he comes face to face with his worst nightmare: her no-filtered Silicon Valley billionaire boyfriend, Laird Mayhew (James Franco). Soon enough, Ned learns that Laird intends to propose to Stephanie, and he becomes determined to sever the charms Laird has cast over his entire family. Physical comedy hi-jinks and inappropriate moments are sure to ensue.
Directed by Martin Scorsese, Silence tells the spiritual trials and tribulations of two Jesuit missionaries (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) in the seventeenth century who travel to Japan, where the religion of Christianity is forbidden, in search of their missing mentor (Liam Neeson). This film, which is an adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel, is the product of a project nearly thirty years in the making.
Live By Night
Directed, written, co-produced and led by Ben Affleck, Live By Night is a crime drama set during the Prohibition era. In this ambitious effort, Affleck is Joe Coughlin, a Boston police captain’s son who becomes a bootlegger and later, a notorious gangster in Ybor City in Tampa, Florida. Zoe Saldana, Elle Fanning, and Brendan Gleeson also star in supporting roles in this gritty dive into the criminal underworld.
A Monster Calls
In this adaptation of the acclaimed children’s fantasy book by Patrick Ness, 12-year old Conor (Lewis MacDougall) is forced to deal with his mother’s (Felicity Jones) terminal illness with the aid of The Monster (Liam Neeson), a yew tree that shares fairy tales exploring the themes of courage, loss, and faith. This tearjerker also stars Sigourney Weaver as Conor’s grandmother.
Based on August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play and directed by Denzel Washington, Fences is a family drama that follows the story of every-man Troy Maxson (Washington), a former baseball player who now works as a garbage collector in 1950s Pittsburgh, and his complex relationships with his wife, Rose (Viola Davis) and his son, Cory (Jovan Adepo). The team-up of acting tour de forces Washington and Davis is a box office draw within itself.
In a year of breaking glass ceilings and challenging racial barriers, this film about the untold side of history involving the team of African-American women who helped propel America forward as frontrunners in the space race in 1962 is relevant today in 2016. Mathematicians Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) provided the integral data needed for NASA to achieve one of their most successful missions—launching the late John Glenn into orbit around the Earth. At the film screening at the White House, Hidden Figures received First Lady Michelle Obama’s official seal of approval.
La La Land
Starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, La La Land is about Mia, an actress, and Sebastian, a jazz musician, and their aspirations to make it big in the city of stars. Set in modern-day Los Angeles, this original movie-musical about the ups and downs of chasing after your wildest dreams is a love letter to Hollywood, the hopeless romantics, and above all, the fools who dare to dream. A film festival favorite and already a critical darling with rave reviews across the scoreboard, La La Land is sure to sweep the awards circuit come 2017.
Will you be seeing a movie at the theater during the Christmas holidays? Let us know in the comments.