As we roll into the final month of the year, Oscar season is nearly upon us.
We’ve gathered the winter movies you should see, including blockbuster hopefuls from directors Ridley Scott and Peter Jackson along with award-worthy performances from Matthew McConaughey and rising star Benedict Cumberbatch.
Released: Oct. 10
Why to see it: One of the most critically acclaimed movies of the year, the film follows a young musician (Miles Teller) as he trains under his teacher (J.K. Simmons) to do whatever it takes to become a top jazz drummer. Early reviews from Sundance called Simmons' performance the 'role of his career.' Teller blew audiences away in 'The Spectacular Now,' and it's refreshing to see him in another meaty role following a string of juvenile romantic comedies.
Release Date: Nov. 7
Why see it: Director Christopher Nolan's latest is one of the smartest movies of the year -- and one of the most ambitious -- as it launches audiences through wormholes and black holes with Matthew McConaughey in the driver's seat. Fans were won over by a humorous monolithic robot named TARS and an unexpected cameo from a big star more than halfway through the film. Sure, the space epic came out in November; however, it's playing in IMAX theatres until the release of 'The Hobbit' sequel later this month. This is one that will leave you thinking long after you leave the movies.
Good news science lovers: It also pleased critics including popular astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Wide release date: Nov. 7
Why to watch: See this for Eddie Redmayne's performance as Stephen Hawking alone. The film will undoubtedly leave you with some questions about Hawking's life; however, Redmayne gives a miraculously moving performance as the theoretical physicist that will move you to tears. Felicity Jones is also exceptional as Hawking's wife Jane.
Release Date: Nov. 14
Why see it: Every single one of director Bennett Miller's ('Moneyball,' 'Capote') films has been nominated for multiple Oscars, and 'Foxcatcher' is poised to continue his impressive streak. Based on the true life of Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), the movie follows the athlete as he teams up with the eccentric millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell) to train for the 1988 Seoul Olympics. After a lengthy delay, the film debuted at Cannes to tons of praise last May.
Release Date: Nov. 21
Why see it: Jennifer Lawrence is captivating once again as a broken girl on fire in the darkest 'Hunger Games' yet. Donald Sutherland returns as Katniss' cold and calculating foe while the late Philip Seymour Hoffman dazzles in one of his final onscreen performances. The first of a two-part finale, 'Mockingjay' holds the title for highest-grossing opening weekend of the year.
Release Date: Nov. 28
Why to see it: Fresh off his Emmy win, Benedict Cumberbatch ('Sherlock') stars as Alan Turing, the English mathematician responsible for cracking the Enigma code during World War II. The script was featured on 2011's Black List, a yearly compilation of the best unproduced screenplays,
so we've been waiting a while for this one.
Release Date: Dec. 12
Why to see it: We're interested in director Ridley Scott's next potential blockbuster because it reunites him with 'Alien' actress Sigourney Weaver for a third time and shows Christian Bale in another brooding, heroic role, this time as Moses. So far, the biblical epic has mixed reviews, and Scott has received some flak over having a mostly white cast in the film. 'Breaking Bad' fans can get excited for Aaron Paul in a starring role, too.
Release date: limited Dec. 12; wide release Jan. 9
Why to see it: The latest from director Paul Thomas Anderson ('There Will Be Blood') is a fun, goofy crime comedy that follows Larry 'Doc' Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix), a hippie private investigator, who looks into the disappearance of an ex's boyfriend. 'Inherent Vice' reunites Phoenix with 'Walk the Line' costar Reese Witherspoon while also starring a huge cast including Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro.
Release Date: Dec. 17
Why to see it: Director Peter Jackson's 'Hobbit' trilogy, based on the children's book of the same name, comes to an end in December. If you skipped out on the first two 'Hobbit' installments, this is the one in which all of the action goes down. As the title hints, the film will feature an all-out 45-minute battle.
We're looking forward to the real scene stealer: more of Benedict Cumberbatch's motion-capture performance as the villainous dragon Smaug. He'll double as another villain, The Necromancer, who appeared briefly in the previous film as well.
Release date: Dec. 25
Why to see it: Based on the Tony Award-winning Broadway play revolving around a couple rendered childless from a witch's curse, the Disney musical is from the minds of Rob Marshall ('Chicago') and Stephen Sondheim ('West Side Story'), and it also has an all-star cast including Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Johnny Depp, and Oscar-winner Meryl Streep. If you're not convinced, check out Streep singing as a devilishly wicked witch.
Release date: Dec. 25
Why to see it: Angelina Jolie's second turn as a director is already gaining Oscar buzz. The World War II film focuses on the true-life story of Olympic track star Louis 'Louie' Zamperini who survives both a plane crash and living on a raft for over a month before being held as a Japanese prisoner of war.
Release date: limited release Dec. 25; wide release Jan. 9
Why to see it: The film, about Martin Luther King Jr.'s marches from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, is being called one of the best films of the year. The premiere showing of the film, which was produced by Oprah Winfrey and Brad Pitt, in Los Angeles received a standing ovation. British actor David Oyelowo is the main draw as King. So far, the film is sitting at 100% on the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.
Release Date: Dec. 31
Why to see it: The film follows Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) and his wife, Anna, (Jessica Chastain) as they immigrate to the US and try to expand their heating oil company in New York City in 1981, considered the most violent year in the history of the city. Early reviews for the crime drama praise director J.C. Chandor ('All is Lost') for giving a brutally gritty and honest look at a couple trying to achieve their American dream.
Release Date: Nov. 7
Why to see it: One word: Baymax. The cuddly, white robot seen in every preview ad for Disney's latest provides both laughs and heart to a film that otherwise may feel like a kid's Avengers setup. Loosely based on the comic with the same title, 'Big Hero 6' takes place in a fictional hybrid of San Francisco and Tokyo and focuses on a young robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada and his group of friends as they plan to take down a mysterious villain.
Make sure you stay after the credits for a bonus scene with Stan Lee.
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