With December comes the push for award season, but there’s a lot of other entertainment being released this month as well. Of course, the big movie for many will be the new “Star Wars,” which looks to extend the brand outside of the episodic entries. And while there’s not a lot of Christmas fare being put out this year, there is the potential new holiday favorite “Office Christmas Party.” There’s also the possible sci-fi heights of “Assassin’s Creed” and “Passengers,” which both appear to be something special and come with many bonafides behind and in front of the camera. The rest of the month’s offerings are awards bait material, but there’s something unique and exciting about most of them, whether it’s the powerful acting of “Jackie,” the stylish thrills of “Live By Night,” or even just the return of Martin Scorsese with “Silence.”
Who: Natalie Portman, John Hurt, Peter Sarsgaard, Billy Crudup and Greta Gerwig
What: Following the assassination of JFK, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith and define her husband’s historic legacy.
When: December 2nd
Why: The film circuit has been abuzz about Natalie Portman’s performance in this film, directed by Pablo Larraín, with many festivalgoers already predicting an Oscar for her turn as the former First Lady. The film appears to be an actor’s dream, with a meaty script for the actress that allows her to showcase a lot of different emotions at a volatile time in Kennedy’s (and the country’s) life. Add to that a real sense of style that exudes from every frame of the trailer, and it appears like “Jackie” may be a real Oscar contender on multiple fronts while also telling a compelling story that is oft-overlooked in history lessons.
Who: Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, Olivia Munn, Kate McKinnon and Jennifer Aniston
What: When his uptight CEO sister threatens to shut down his branch, Clay throws an epic Christmas party in order to land a big client and save the day.
When: December 9th
Why: This combination of so many funny people in one film has the potential to be a horrible car crash a la “Rat Race” or a possible holiday classic of excess and hilarity. Though the cast is stacked with hilarious folks, each ready to crank the outrageousness up to 11, it’s just a matter of whether it will be too much or the perfect blending of talents and styles that will deliver some quotable lines for many holidays to come. The directors made the tepid comedies “Blades of Glory” and “The Switch” previously, but this relatable and potentially over-the-top premise bodes better than those two films.
Who: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and John Legend
What: A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.
When: December 9th
Why: It’s the follow-up effort from Damien Chazelle, who’s amazing “Whiplash” blew audiences away in 2014. That alone would be reason enough to check out this film, but the fact that it’s a dramedy musical and stars some of the most charismatic actors working today makes it all the more enticing. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling have already proven to have great chemistry in “Crazy Stupid Love,” and Chazelle has shown himself to be an interesting director that can get amazing performances from his cast. That combination, plus the buzz surrounding the film as a soothing balm of romance and hope, makes it seem like this could be another hit for the young filmmaker.