Left to right: Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard star in “Macbeth.” Photo by Jonathan Olley/The Weinstein Company

Take a look how many new movies are stampeding into theaters between now and the New Year. Just open the doors and get out of the way.

Nearly two dozen movies are scrambling for attention this holiday season, some of which have already opened. That would be challenging enough for moviegoers and multiplexes, but one is a Star Wars flick. There may not be enough screens and spare time between shopping and parties to go around.

Our annual Holiday Movie Preview is here to help. As usual, dates are subject to change and box office bargains are rare.

Gift-wrapped in gold

Here’s the real reason for the movie season: high-profile productions bent on making waves during awards season. Some won’t open locally until 2016 but each is a contender.

In the Heart of the Sea

Or, as many folks believe it’s titled, Moby Dick. Director Ron Howard tackles the real whale behind Melville’s myth, with Chris Hemsworth on harpoon. Dec. 11


Shouldn’t we call this The Scottish Movie? Michael Fassbender, left, plays Shakespeare’s roaring tyrant, with Marion Cotillard, right, as scheming Lady M. Dec. 11

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Perhaps you’ve heard of this one. Fans believe the movie event of 2015 will be the most extraordinary experience of their lifetimes. But that’s what people said about The Phantom Menace. Dec. 18

The Big Short

Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale and Brad Pitt play Wall Street wolves, hedge fund managers betting on the housing bubble to burst. Based on the book by Michael Lewis (Moneyball). Dec. 23


This year’s little movie that might be an Oscar force, like Whiplash last year. Brie Larson and the extraordinary Jacob Tremblay are a mother and son whose entire world is a garden shed where they’re held captive, and where she gave birth to him. One of 2015’s best. Dec. 25


Ostensibly a biography of Miracle Mop creator Joy Mangano, but since David O. Russell writes and directs, we’ll guess there’s something deeper here. Jennifer Lawrence plays Joy, with key roles for her Silver Linings Playbook co-stars Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper. Dec. 25

The Hateful Eight

At his best, Quentin Tarantino figuratively throws rats in a barrel and watches them eat each other. This time it’s a snowbound cabin in the frontier Rockies, where Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kurt Russell aren’t half the problem. Dec. 25


Will Smith stars as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a neuropathologist who discovered a brain trauma caused by football collisions. Opening as the NFL heads into playoffs, Concussion is bound to be a conversation piece. Dec. 25

Something to snack on

Then there are Hollywood’s stocking stuffers -- nothing to cherish forever but fine for killing time between meals. Batteries and award chances not included.


A Gremlins-style spin on the German folk monster Krampus, who terrorizes children not believing in Christmas. Toni Collette and Adam Scott are the suburban couple whose son (Clearwater Beach native Emjay Anthony) unleashes the beast. Dec. 4


Tina Fey and Amy Poehler together again. We want to go to there. Dec. 18

Alvin and the Chipmunks:

The Road Chip

There are now more Chipmunk movies than Chipmunks. The fourth one in the kiddie series heads to Miami (a.k.a. Georgia with incentives and a spray tan). Me, I want a Hula Hoop. Dec. 18

Daddy’s Home

And a mild-mannered stepfather (Will Ferrell) isn’t happy about it. Mark Wahlberg plays the deadbeat dad back in his children’s lives, sparking a madcap game of one-upsmanship. Brawn vs. brainless, just like The Other Guys. Dec. 25

Point Break

Remaking the 1991 cult classic for a Go-Pro generation. Surfing alone isn’t extreme enough for today’s Bodhi (Edgar Ramirez) and Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey). Their caper features wingsuits, rock climbing, motocross, snowboarding and croquet (I made up the last one). Dec. 25