Coming Soon: A Moviegoer’s Guide to December

december

Let’s not ignore the elephant in the room: December may normally be all about awards season, but this year, the real draw is “Star Wars.” Although there are several major contenders – from the likes of Quentin Tarantino, David O. Russell and Alejandro González Iñárritu – scheduled for release at the end of the month, the highly anticipated seventh installment in the “Star Wars” film series is what everyone will be talking about during the holidays. For the few people that don’t care about “Star Wars,” there are plenty of great movies to discover this month, but for everyone else, it’s going to be awfully hard to concentrate until after December 18th.

“Krampus”

Who: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, Allison Tolman and David Koechner
What: A boy who has a bad Christmas ends up accidentally summoning a Christmas demon to his family home.
When: December 4th
Why: Michael Dougherty’s 2007 horror anthology “Trick ‘r Treat” is one of the most underrated movies in the genre, but sadly, it doesn’t look as if “Krampus” will be following in its footsteps. While his directorial debut relied on a smart mix of humor and horror, Dougherty’s new film seems genuinely confused about what kind of movie it wants to be. The trailer doesn’t really establish a definitive tone, swinging from one extreme to the other, and that could ultimately prove problematic for its marketing campaign, which already has the unenviable task of selling a horror movie during the holiday season.

“In the Heart of the Sea”

Who: Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson and Ben Whishaw
What: Based on the 1820 event that inspired Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick,” a whaling ship is preyed upon by a sperm whale, stranding its crew at sea for 90 days.
When: December 11th
Why: It’s not very often that you see a film’s release date moved to a more competitive time of year, but Warner Bros.’ decision to push “In the Heart of the Sea” from last March to December (one week before the release of “The Force Awakens”) speaks volumes of the studio’s confidence in the Ron Howard-directed historical epic. Though Chris Hemsworth has yet to prove himself as a viable leading man without the built-in audience of the Marvel movies, his latest collaboration with Howard promises to showcase what he’s really capable of as an actor, provided the CG-heavy thrills don’t get in the way.

“The Big Short”

Who: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Brad Pitt and Marisa Tomei
What: Four outsiders in the world of high-finance who predicted the housing collapse of the mid-2000s take on the big banks for their lack of foresight and greed.
When: December 11th
Why: It’s hard to believe that the same guy behind goofball comedies like “Anchorman,” “Step Brothers” and “Talladega Nights” is responsible for this hard-hitting drama about the housing market crash. Perhaps even more strange than McKay’s involvement, however, is the fact that a movie starring four Oscar winners and two nominees was able to fly under the radar for long. Though it’s hard to imagine “The Big Short” having much of a chance at any of the major awards because of that (after all, momentum is everything), this is shaping up to be one of the best surprises of what is already a jam-packed month.

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