The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday December 10th

Coming soon: A guide to theaters this holiday season

After a disappointing summer filled with Hollywood bust after bust (looking at you, “Suicide Squad” … and “Ghostbusters” … and “The Legend of Tarzan” … and “Jason Bourne”… I could go on and on, really), it looks like moviegoers everywhere will finally have reason to celebrate this holiday season. 

The November and December lineup has some highly anticipated titles coming soon, including a handful of films generating Oscar buzz. 

From big franchise movies like “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” to creative originals like the artsy “La La Land,” there’s sure to be something in theaters for everyone. 

So, here I am to be your guide on what movies will be worth your time (and money) over the next two months.

In Theaters Now:

“Doctor Strange” 

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen

The newest addition to the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe. There are two certainties in life: that Marvel will continue to recycle the same story with new heroes, and that they’ll keep striking gold with them every single time. Although I'm a Marvel fan, I’m not really sure what this one is about, but that’s not gonna stop me from seeing it.

“Hacksaw Ridge” 

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Vince Vaughn  

Mel Gibson makes his return to directing with this unorthodox war drama. Based on a true story, “Hacksaw Ridge” follows a World War II soldier who refused to kill, but that doesn’t mean it’s a peaceful movie — the battle scenes have drawn comparison to “Saving Private Ryan.” The movie is receiving some Oscar buzz and may be a sleeper pick for a Best Picture or Best Director nom. 

“Arrival”

Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

I didn’t have much interest in seeing “Arrival” initially, but after debuting to great reviews so far, it’s found its way onto my list. Adams plays a linguist who gets pulled into the military after alien ships appear around the world, and she’s tasked with finding the key to understanding their language. It seems like less of a stereotypical alien invasion and more of a mystery/thriller. 

November 18:

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Colin Farrell

OMG OMG OMG. Sorry, my inner Harry Potter nerd had to freak out for a second. Needless to say, I think we’re all more than excited to get back into the Harry Potter universe, especially after this summer’s little taste with “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” Set before the Harry Potter series, FBAWTFT (wow, they really need a catchy nickname) will give us a look at the magical world in North America. 

“Bleed for This” 

Starring: Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, Katey Sagal

I’m a big Miles Teller fan, so after the disappointment that was “War Dogs” from this summer, I’m hoping he’ll get back to his “Whiplash” self in this movie. Based on the true story of Vinny Pazienza, “Bleed for This” chronicles the boxer's rise, fall and comeback after a near fatal car accident. Plus, throw Aaron Eckhart in there and you know it’s gonna be good. 

“The Edge of Seventeen”

Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick

“The Edge of Seventeen” looks like it’s going to be the whole package. Be prepared to laugh, be prepared to cry, be prepared to cringe at the amount of high school awkwardness you’re about to see. Woody Harrelson is perfect for the father-figure mentor with the dry, sarcastic humor who, deep down, really cares. 

“Manchester by the Sea”

Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges

One of the leading candidates in the Oscar race for Best Picture, “Manchester by the Sea” finally gives Casey Affleck the chance to break out of his older brother’s shadow, portraying a janitor forced to take care of his nephew after his brother’s death. Affleck is currently the favorite for Best Actor, plus look for big performances from Lucas Hedge and Kyle Chandler. You can never go wrong with Coach Taylor. 

November 23:

“Moana”

Starring: Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Disney is hoping to find the new “Frozen” with its next animated musical. Hopefully with music by Lin-Manuel Miranda there will be something just as catchy as “Let it Go,” if not better, I daresay. After the lack of music in “Zootopia” (Sorry, Shakira) Disney fans are in need of some new jams. Also, this might be Miranda's ticket to joining the EGOT club. 

“Allied”

Starring: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard

If you feel like you’ve seen Brad Pitt play a spy that finds out his wife might be an opposing spy, you have. It’s called “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.” I guess since that’s how Brangelina got started, Pitt is trying to repeat his recipe for success. Too bad Marion Cotillard is off the market. However, the plot twist of setting it in World War II is enough to get me into the theater. 

December 16:

“La La Land”

Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling

As of now, “La La Land” is the favorite to win the Oscar for Best Picture, which is the main reason I want to see it. I’m kind of confused on the plot, like, is it a musical? Anyways, it has the same director as one of my favorites, “Whiplash,” plus J.K. Simmons, so I have faith. 

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

Starring: Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Ben Mendelsohn

OMG OMG OMG. Sorry, Harry Potter had his turn and now it’s time for my inner Star Wars nerd. After last year’s return to the galaxy far, far away, fans were left starving for Episode VIII. Sadly, that isn’t until December 2017, so the first spin-off will have to suffice. But, it looks like it will more than just suffice, it looks freaking awesome. 

“Collateral Beauty”

Starring: Will Smith, Keira Knightley, Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren

This is my sleeper pick for best movie of the holiday season. With a star-studded cast led by Will Smith, “Collateral Beauty” will explore love, death and time as personified characters coming to Smith after the death of his child. Plus, I’m a sucker for Will Smith movies. 

December 23:

“Passengers”

Starring: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence

Looks like Bradley Cooper was unavailable this year, so JLaw had to replace him with Chris Pratt. Pratt and Lawrence play two of the thousands of passengers sent on a 120-year journey through space to a new, distant colony. When their sleep chambers malfunction, waking them 90 years too early, it seemingly seals their fates. With arguably the two most #relatable people in Hollywood, the characters should have great chemistry on screen, even in a serious adventure/drama like this. 

“Why Him?”

Starring: Bryan Cranston, James Franco, Zoey Deutch, Adam Devine

I’m expecting this movie to be my guilty pleasure from this list. It looks like your classic crude, slapstick James Franco comedy. You walk into the theater knowing exactly what you’re going to get. A solid hour and a half with some laughs, a couple people getting hit in the face and more than a handful of sex jokes. By no means will this be an Oscar winner, but it won’t be a bad way to spend an afternoon over break. 

@zach_goins

swerve@dailytarheel.com

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