Who: Will Smith, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, Edward Norton, Keira Knightley, Michael Peña and Naomie Harris
What: Retreating from life after a tragedy, a man questions the universe, only to learn how even loss can reveal moments of meaning and beauty.
When: December 16th
Why: This film could either be a touching story of loss and redemption or a huge misfire. The cast is certainly packed tight with talent, which looks to elevate director David Frankel’s (“The Devil Wears Prada,” “Marley & Me”) movie beyond its hokey premise. But the spirituality angle may be of interest to people, and if the filmmakers can land it correctly, it could be the tearjerker of the month that makes families weep together this holiday season. So whether or not it works, the film looks like it may be memorable either way – it just depends on if that will be a good memory or a bad one. But with Will Smith anchoring this stellar cast, there’s a good chance it will connect with many people and really touch some lives.
Who: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen, Ben Mendelsohn, Riz Ahmed, Forest Whitaker, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang and James Earl Jones
What: The Rebellion makes a risky move to steal the plans to the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.
When: December 16th
Why: This is the big release of the month, as fans have been salivating for this story for years, and even more so after “The Force Awakens” rejuvenated the “Star Wars” franchise last year. A multinational cast leads this story about stealing the plans for the Death Star that proves so vital to the climax of “A New Hope.” And while audiences know how the story will turn out, it’s the journey that looks incredibly exciting and visually different than previous “Star Wars” movies. You can thank director Gareth Edwards for that, who has proven capable of delivering spectacle and emotion with films like “Monsters” and “Godzilla.” Will this be as bad as the other movies that take place before the original trilogy, or will it be the rebirth of prequels under the new regime?
Who: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Michael K. Williams and Jeremy Irons
What: When Callum Lynch explores the memories of his ancestor Aguilar and gains the skills of a master assassin, he discovers that he is the descendant of a secret society.
When: December 21st
Why: If “Rogue One” is the biggest film of the month, “Assassin’s Creed” is the biggest question mark. It’s a video game adaptation, which already puts it in murky territory, as there has yet to be a successful one (even the “good” video game movies are graded on a steep curve). It also has labyrinthine plot that involves past lives, future worlds and all manner of other possible landmines that the filmmakers need to successfully incorporate. But it does have a stellar cast of incredibly talented performers who tend to only choose interesting projects, so that is promising. And if it can break the curse of the video game adaptation while also being a thrilling movie with some eye-popping visuals, then perhaps audiences will be all the better for it.