Sometimes it's hard to keep track of which movies are coming soon to theaters, the movies playing in theaters already, and which upcoming movie releases are actually worth seeing. With that in mind, we've put together a simple guide of the biggest and best movies movie releases hitting theaters in December 2016.
Are there are other December movie releases you're stoked for? Share your tips and thoughts in the comments section.
Jackie Kennedy was arguably the most popular First Lady of all-time, an icon in her own right. Set in the immediate aftermath of JFK's assassination, Pablo Larraín's biopic follows Jackie (Natalie Portman) balancing private and public grief with a magazine interview designed to be a PR opportunity.
Jackie does not pretend JFK's widow was a saint, instead presenting a portrait of a very intelligent woman who did what she could to survive. Variety's 5-star review describes it as a "brilliantly-constructed, diamond-hard character study". A Best Actress nomination at this year's Oscars is almost guaranteed.
Directed by Pablo Larraín, starring Jackie Kennedy, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig and Richard E. Grant. Jackie hits theaters December 2.
2. 'La La Land'
In case you hadn't noticed, musicals aren't exactly in vogue anymore, and stories about actors and musicians trying to make it in L.A. are wildly overdone. But throw Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling together (they're like J-Law and Bradley Cooper, except likeable), put Whiplash director Damien Chazelle behind the camera and add a few instantly-memorable tunes ("Audition" and "City of Stars" are both killer), and you have a film which is anything but your typical musical.
This is a love story, but it's also the story of what happens when success and happiness fall out of sync. Chazelle spent years trying to get it made — and considering La La Land has an insane 91/100 on Metacritic, I'd say it was worth it.
Directed by Damien Chazelle, starring Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, John Legend and J.K. Simmons. La La Land hits theaters December 9.
3. 'Miss Sloane'
A ruthless female careerist with a messy personal life makes enemies in a world dominated by men. If the basic premise of Miss Sloane is hardly original (it's basically Scandal) the difference is that this movie has Jessica Chastain in another whirlwind performance. Chastain is impossible to take your eyes off, and seeing her lobbyist go toe-to-toe with Washington's old boys club is a total thrill. Miss Sloane has a decent 65/100 on Metacritic.
Directed by John Madden, starring Jessica Chastain, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, John Lithgow and Mark Strong. Miss Sloane hits theaters December 9.
4. 'Nocturnal Animals'
How much damage can the pages of a book possibly inflict? The answer, Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) discovers in Nocturnal Animals, is more than you'd think. Twenty years after leaving her first husband, Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal), Susan receives the the manuscript of his debut novel, a violent Texan noir which appears to be a metaphor for their own relationship, perhaps even an act of vengeance. As she reads, her own life begins to unravel.
Seven years after the Oscar-nominated A Single Man, Tom Ford has done a superb job of crafting a multi-layered thriller which stuns visually and delivers major chills. If you like movies designed to make you think, films which offer various meanings and interpretations, there's plenty to deconstruct in Nocturnal Animals.
Directed by Tom Ford, starring Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Laura Linney. Nocturnal Animals expands nationwide on December 9.
5. 'Star Wars: Rogue One'
If blockbusters are more your thing than Oscar fare, the biggest of the year is still to come — Rogue One is the first Star Wars spin-off, familiar in some ways (brunette female heroine) and fresh in others (there's no focus on Jedi here, or the Skywalker family).
Set between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope, Rogue One follows Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and a group of Rebels on their mission to steal the plans for the Death Star, the Empire's planet-destroying super-weapon. Of course, this is Star Wars so everybody is related in implausible ways, and Jyn's own father (Mads Mikkelsen) is responsible for designing the Death Star. It's hard to say exactly what vibe Rogue One is working with, but hopefully it'll be as much a crowd-pleaser as The Force Awakens. Oh, and Vader is back, just in case.
Directed by Gareth Edwards, starring Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn and Forest Whitaker. Rogue One arrives December 16th.
6. 'A Monster Calls'
It's hard to place A Monster Calls in one specific genre — J.A. Bayona's movie is a kind of dark fantasy movie with fairytale elements, but also a drama dealing with themes of death and grief. Lizzie (Felicity Jones) is terminally ill, and her son Conor (Lewis MacDougall), struggling to cope, strikes up a sort-of friendship with a monster who resembles a giant humanoid tree, like Groot except way more verbal.
It's definitely not just for kids, and if anything adults might find as much if not more to enjoy here. It also looks a bit grim for Christmas, but hey ho.
Directed by J.A. Bayona, starring Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, Liam Neeson and Lewis MacDougall. A Monster Calls hits theaters December 23.
Between The Martian, Star Wars, Arrival and a host of movies out next year including Ridley Scott's Alien: Covenant, it seems space is firmly back in fashion, so it's no surprise that genre hybrids like the sci-fi/romance Passengers are popping up.
Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt are two passengers on board the Starship Avalon, which is 30 years into a 120 year voyage to a distant planet. All of the 5,259 humans on board have been "hibernating" in pods when two of those pods malfunction. The trailer clumsily drops a pretty major hint about the film's big twist, but Passengers still looks like good fun, aesthetically pleasing if a little lifeless. Bonus points for Michael Sheen playing a bartending robot.
Directed by Morten Tyldum, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Laurence Fishburne and Michael Sheen. Passengers hits theaters December 21.
8. 'Assassin's Creed'
Wherever you stand on video game movies (and most people stand in the "they're all a pile of crap" camp), Assassin's Creed could be the first in a long time to turn the genre's terrible reputation around and actually pay respect to the popular game it's based on. It is only loosely based on the game, though, with an all-new storyline in which Michael Fassbender's Callum Lynch, the descendant of a 15th century assassin, is forced to use advanced tech to relive his ancestor's memories in order to learn the skills necessary to battle the Templars in the present day.
This movie sounds so high-concept, it's either going to be brilliant or a disaster of epic proportions. Either way, you'll probably want to see it.
Directed by Justin Kurzel, starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Brendan Gleeson and Jeremy Irons. Assassin's Creed hits theaters December 21.
Denzel Washington is both in front of and behind the camera for Fences, a drama set in '50s Pittsburgh which explores racial barriers in America at a time when black baseball players like Troy (Washington) played in their own league, the Negro League. If it seems shocking today that that's a thing that happened, Fences looks like a movie filled with uncomfortable truths and thrillingly raw performances. Expect it to be a frontrunner when this year's Oscar nominations are announced.
Directed by Denzel Washington, starring himself, Viola Davis and Stephen Henderson. Fences hits theaters December 25.
10. 'Live By Night'
When not busy sulking as Bruce Wayne or murdering everyone in sight as Batman over at DC, Ben Affleck has been putting the finishing touches on his passion project, Live By Night, an adaptation of the period gangster-noir novel by Dennis Lehane. Clearly in the mould of movies like L.A. Confidential, this ambitious, visually-dazzling crime flick follows Joe Coughlin (Affleck), a police captain's son trying to keep hold of his humanity as he becomes one of Florida's most powerful mobsters.
Anyone who saw the Best Picture-winning Argo knows that Affleck is a hugely talented director, and although critics haven't seen Live By Night yet, the trailer looks very promising indeed. Expect this one to be a big Oscar contender in the new year.
Directed by Ben Affleck, starring himself, Zoe Saldana, Elle Fanning, Sienna Miller, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina, Miguel and Scott Eastwood. Live By Night gets a limited release on December 25 before opening wide in January.
Which new movie are you most stoked to see in December?