From “La La Land” to “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” to “Hidden Figures,” there’s enough movie-going to fill more than 12 days of Christmas.
It’s the holiday season, bringing with it a sleighful of movies. Here are some highlights — enough to fill 12 days, and then some. (Note, as always, that Seattle release dates are tentative and as changeable as the weather.)
12 Oscar hopefuls
The Technicolor musical “La La Land” (Dec. 16) has racked up nothing but love at festivals around the world; same goes for the coming-of-age drama “Moonlight” (now in theaters), the fact-based tale of a grieving first lady, “Jackie” (Dec. 21), the emotional family drama “Manchester By the Sea” (Dec. 2), and the appropriately named story of a historic marriage, “Loving” (now in theaters).
Period dramas — often Oscar bait — include the currently-in-theaters dramas “Allied,” which stars Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard in a World War II setting, and “Rules Don’t Apply,” with Warren Beatty as Howard Hughes. Coming soon: “Live By Night” (Jan. 13), set in Prohibition-era New England; and “Hidden Figures’ (Dec.23), about a trio of African-American female mathematicians at 1960s NASA.
“Fences” (Dec. 23), based on August Wilson’s play about a former Negro leagues baseball player now a garbageman, stars Oscar favorites Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. “Lion” (Dec. 21) follows a young man from the streets of Calcutta to a new home in Australia, and “The Founder” (Jan. 20) features “Birdman” star Michael Keaton as McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc.
11 popcorn movies
Better get extra napkins: A little movie called “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” arrives Dec. 16. Also expected to attract long lines: the Harry Potter prequel “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (in theaters now), the fantasy adventure “Assassin’s Creed” (Dec. 21), and the space-travel thriller “Passengers” (Dec. 21).
Kate McKinnon, who lit up “Ghostbusters” last summer, stars in the comedy “Office Christmas Party” (Dec. 9); Jessica Chastain headlines a political thriller about a D.C. lobbyist, “Miss Sloane” (Dec. 9); and a grieving, squabbling family gathers for the holidays in “Almost Christmas” (now in theaters).
Will Smith and Keira Knightley lead an all-star cast for “Collateral Beauty” (Dec. 16), a drama about recovering from tragedy. “The Space Between Us” (Dec. 16) follows a human born on Mars on his return to Earth; “A Monster Calls” (Jan. 6) introduces us to a grieving boy’s fantasy world; and “Bad Santa 2” (Nov. 23) is, I suspect, very much like the raunchy 2003 original.
10 no-doubt nominees
Want to check a few boxes off on your Oscar predictions this holiday season? Check out the performances of Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga in “Loving”; Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams and Lucas Hedges in “Manchester by the Sea”; Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris in “Moonlight”; Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in “La La Land” and — though you’ll have to wait until January for the movie to come here — Annette Bening in her best role in years as a 1970s California mom in “20th Century Women.”
9 to-watch directors
For those who like to keep an eye on up-and-coming filmmakers, this season offers an intriguing handful to watch: Kelly Fremon Craig, first-time writer/director of “Edge of Seventeen” (in theaters now); Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, Oscar-nominated for “A Separation” and back with “The Salesman” (Jan. 27); Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín, making his English-language debut with “Jackie.” And two young filmmakers, each with his third feature: Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”) and Damien Chazelle (“La La Land”).
That’s not to say the season is without familiar faces: We’ll see new work from a trio of actor/directors — Beatty (“Rules Don’t Apply), Ben Affleck (“Live By Night”) and Washington (“Fences”). And Martin Scorsese, who’s been making films since before Jenkins, Chazelle and many of the others mentioned in this category were born, returns with a drama set in 17th-century Japan, “Silence” (January TBD).
8 true-life stories
You couldn’t make these up — and they didn’t: “Hidden Figures,” “Jackie,” “The Founder,” “Loving,” “Lion,” “Patriot’s Day’ (a drama about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing coming in January), the boxing drama “Bleed for This” (now in theaters) and the documentary “The Eagle Huntress” (now in theaters).
7 Oscar winners
Among previous Academy Award winners who’ll be gracing this season’s screens: Washington (who won for “Glory” and “Training Day”) in “Fences”; Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”) in “Jackie”; Octavia Spencer (“The Help”) in “Hidden Figures”; Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”) in “Passengers”; Marion Cotillard (“La Vie en Rose”) in “Assassin’s Creed” and “Allied”; J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”) in “Patriot’s Day” (Jan. 13) and “La La Land”; and Nicole Kidman (“The Hours”) in “Lion.”
Ang Lee’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” (now in theaters) began its life as a novel by Ben Fountain; likewise Paul Verhoeven’s rape revenge drama “Elle” (Dec. 23) is based on the French novel “Oh …” by Philippe Djian. “Live by Night” is based on Dennis Lehane’s novel; “Silence” is based on a 1966 work by Japanese author Shusaku Endo; “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” was adapted by J.K. Rowling from her own Hogwarts “textbook”; and “Fences” originated as Wilson’s play, the sixth in his 10-part “Pittsburgh Cycle.”
5 costume feasts
Oscar-winning costume designer (and former Seattleite) Colleen Atwood designed the fanciful frocks for “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them”; other costumes you might walk out humming include the 1940s fashions of “Allied,” the 1920s looks from “Live By Night,” the 1960s sheaths and pillbox hats of “Jackie,” and the primary-color-splashed fashions of “La La Land.”
You will, without doubt, need a handkerchief for “Manchester by the Sea” (particularly a heartbreaking late scene between Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams that could wring tears from a stone), “Arrival” (now in theaters), “Jackie” and the wistful “La La Land.”
3 family films
For all ages: Disney’s island adventure “Moana” (now in theaters), featuring songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton”) and the voice of Dwayne Johnson; and “Sing” (Dec. 21), an animated comedy about a singing competition and featuring the voices of McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon. And, for slightly older kids: the PG-13 rated “A Monster Calls.”
2 goofball comedies
Comedies are in short supply this season (why?), but laughter can potentially be found at “Office Christmas Party” and “Why Him?” (Dec. 23), a comedy about a father (Bryan Cranston) who develops an instant dislike of his daughter’s boyfriend (James Franco).
And 1 holiday treat
Saving the best for last? “It’s a Wonderful Life,” 70 years young this Christmas, will have its annual holiday run — in 35mm! — at the Grand Illusion Cinema in the University District starting Dec. 9. “Merry Christmas, movie house!” And happy moviegoing, to all.