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Hollywood's Winter Wonderland 

Will holiday films soar or sink?

The summer movie season underwhelmed and the fall movie season underperformed, so fingers crossed that the year-end holiday movie season will save the day. Certainly, it's off to a good start both commercially (the blockbuster Doctor Strange) and critically (the award-worthy Arrival).

Here, then, is a checklist of the remaining films coming down the pike during the waning weeks of 2016, including the limited releases that will go wide in January.

Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa 2 (Photo: Broad Green)
  • Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa 2 (Photo: Broad Green)

NOVEMBER 23: In the World War II tale Allied, an intelligence officer (Brad Pitt) and a resistance fighter (Marion Cotillard) fall in love, only to have their union tested by potentially damaging secrets ... The whiskey-swigging Willie (Billy Bob Thornton), his diminutive friend Marcus (Tony Cox) and the pudgy, now adult Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly) all return in the more-naughty-than-nice sequel Bad Santa 2 ... The drama Loving centers on the real-life couple of Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), who fought against Virginia's racist law prohibiting their interracial marriage by taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court ... Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda contributes the tunes to Moana, a Disney animated effort about a Polynesian princess (voiced by Auli'i Cravalho) who tries to save her people with the help of a demigod (Dwayne Johnson) ... A chauffeur (Alden Ehrenreich) and an aspiring actress (Lily Collins) contemplate having an affair behind the back of their employer, eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty), in Rules Don't Apply.

DECEMBER 2: Narrated and co-produced by Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Daisy Ridley, the documentary The Eagle Huntress follows 13-year-old Aisholopan as she strives to become a mighty hunter in her Mongolian community ... After the death of his brother, a janitor (Casey Affleck) returns to his Massachusetts hometown to take care of his nephew (Lucas Hedges) and work out issues with his ex-wife (Michelle Williams) in Manchester by the Sea.

DECEMBER 9: Jessica Chastain stars as the title character in Miss Sloane, a drama about a Washington, D.C. lobbyist who faces an unexpected challenge from a special interests organization ... An unhappy woman (Amy Adams) married to a womanizing lout (Armie Hammer) receives a disturbing manuscript from her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal) in the psychological thriller Nocturnal Animals ... Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston and Ghostbusters' breakout star Kate McKinnon star in Office Christmas Party, a comedy about a struggling company hosting an epic party for its clients.

Will Smith and Helen Mirren in Collateral Beauty (Photo: Warner Bros.)
  • Will Smith and Helen Mirren in Collateral Beauty (Photo: Warner Bros.)

DECEMBER 16: In Collateral Beauty, an emotionally devastated man (Will Smith) writes letters to Love, Death and Time and is surprised when all three (Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren and Jacob Latimore, respectively) reply personally ... Director Gareth Edwards (2010's so-so Godzilla reboot) has been entrusted with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, centering on the efforts of a group of rebel fighters (Felicity Jones, Diego Luna and others) to steal the schematic plans for the Empire's formidable Death Star ... The Space Between Us centers of the life of the first person born on Mars, a young boy (Asa Butterfield) who grows up on the Red Planet and only comes to Earth for the first time once he's in his late teens.

Michael Fassbender in Assassin’s Creed (Photo: Fox)
  • Michael Fassbender in Assassin’s Creed (Photo: Fox)

DECEMBER 21: Yet another movie based on a video game, Assassin's Creed stars Michael Fassbender as a man whose connection to a 15th century secret society allows him to transform into a skilled assassin ... Dev Patel, Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman head the cast of Lion, based on the true-life tale of a lost Indian boy who's adopted by an Australian family and later in life decides to search for his real parents ... Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Scarlett Johansson are among those lending their vocals to Sing, an animated feature about a koala trying to save a beloved theater in dire need of repair.

DECEMBER 23: In Passengers, two space travellers (Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt) learn to cope when they emerge from their deep sleeps 90 years ahead of schedule ... An overprotective father (Bryan Cranston) visits his daughter (Zoey Deutch) at Stanford and immediately forms a dislike for her oddball boyfriend (James Franco) in the comedy Why Him?

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land (Photo: Lionsgate)
  • Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land (Photo: Lionsgate)

DECEMBER 25: Directed by Denzel Washington and adapted from August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play by the author himself, Fences stars Washington as a garbage collector seeking to take care of his family while also reflecting on his brief career as a baseball player ... A prospector (Matthew McConaughey) braves the jungles of Indonesia in the hopes of striking it rich in Gold, an adventure yarn co-starring Bryce Dallas Howard and Edgar Ramirez ... A jazz musician (Ryan Gosling) and an actress (Emma Stone) pursue their dreams in the City of Angels in the musical La La Land.

LIMITED: A lonely boy (Lewis MacDougall) acquires companionship in the form of a gargantuan creature (voiced by Liam Neeson) in A Monster Calls (January 6) ... A pair of 17th century Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) embark on a dangerous journey when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor (Liam Neeson) in Martin Scorsese's Silence (January 6) ... For the first time since helming the Best Picture Oscar winner Argo, Ben Affleck returns to the director's chair for Live by Night, an adaptation of Dennis Lehane's novel about a notorious gangster (Affleck) operating during the Depression. (January 13) ... Patriots Day is a based-on-fact look at the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, focusing on the participation of a police sergeant (Mark Wahlberg), a nurse (Michelle Monaghan) and others present on that fateful day. (January 13) ... In the summer of 1979, a single mom (Annette Bening) turns to two of her neighbors (Elle Fanning and Greta Gerwig) to help her raise her teenage son (Lucas Jade Zumann) in the comedy-drama 20th Century Women (No Local Date).

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