A Monster Calls (December 23 in limited release)
A dark children’s fable about a young boy with a dying mother (Rogue One‘s Felicity Jones) who befriends a tree-like monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) that acts out the kid’s angriest impulses, this film from director J.A. Bayona left many critics in tears when it premiered at this fall’s Toronto International Film Festival.
Passengers (December 21)
Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt are astronauts who wake up from cryosleep almost a century before they reach their destination—and are thus forced to live their lives together—in this big-budget sci-fi romance.
Fences (December 25)
Adapted from August Wilson’s Pulitzer- and Tony Award-winning play, this character drama from star/director Denzel Washington is already being hailed for its phenomenal lead performances (from Washington and Viola Davis).
Live by Night (December 25 in limited release)
Ben Affleck gets back behind the director’s chair for this period-piece genre film (based, like his Gone Baby Gone, on a Denis Lehane novel) about a 1920s Florida bootlegger (Affleck) who rises to the top of the gangster food chain.
Jackie (December 2 in limited release)
Chilean auteur Pablo Larrain’s thrillingly unconventional portrait of Jackie Kennedy follows the former First Lady during the week following the assassination of JFK. It’s one of the year’s most beautiful, haunting, and complex works.
The Eyes of My Mother (December 2 in limited release)
A chilling black-and-white horror film that split audiences at last January’s Sundance Film Festival, Nicolas Pesce’s aesthetically striking directorial debut concerns a young, deranged woman with a fondness for eyes.
Neruda (December 16 in limited release)
Pablo Larrain’s second release of December 2016 is anotherconvention-upending drama about a famous one-named historical figure: in this case, Chilean poet/politician Pablo Neruda, who in this electric film flees persecution for his Communist beliefs, and is hunted by a noir-ish detective (Gael Garcia Bernal).
Assassin’s Creed (December 21)
Movies based on video games have a less-than-stellar track record. Nonetheless, Michael Fassbender will try to change that history when he headlines this crazy sci-fi period piece, about a thief who—via a high-tech machine—relives his ancestor’s life as a famed assassin.
Paterson (December 28 in NY and LA)
Adam Driver sets aside his Kylo Ren lightsaber to play a Paterson, New Jersey bus driver and aspiring poet in writer/director Jim Jarmusch’s sensitive and evocative character study.