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Your Essential Guide to This Holiday Season's Must-See Movies

Your Essential Guide to This Holiday Season's Must-See Movies

Like movies? Yeah, us too. 2015 has been an above average year for movie fans and it’s not even over. Great movies of all shapes, sizes, styles, and budgets have released, exciting fans and critics alike. Giant blockbusters like Mad Max: Fury Road, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Jurassic World thrilled moviegoers and filled theaters weekend after weekend. Smaller standouts like Dope and Ex Machina didn’t pack the house, but were powerful in their own ways. The best part is some of 2015’s most hyped films haven’t even landed yet. You can check the year’s highlights here, but we’re not here for a recap. We’re not here to tell you about what you have seen. We’re here for the future (that’s been a popular subject around here lately). When I say “future,” I mean I’m going to tell you why you should be hyped about the next two months of movies that will bring 2015 to a cinematic close. Here are some films of various size and subject matter that we’re excited about, and why you should be excited too.

The Good Dinosaur :: November 25

I wanted to start y’all off with the sweet and fun stuff. The Good Dinosaur is Disney and Pixar’s next big adventure that I’m sure will evoke tears for all ages and inspire positive, thought-provoking Facebook posts. Based on what you can see in the trailer, the story revolves around a lonesome dinosaur who befriends a feral cave-kid. They protect each other from the harsh realities of pre-historic life despite their inherent differences. Already sounds like some heartwarming shit, huh? Actually, I’m already getting choked up. The cast is full of acting veterans like Jeffrey Wright, Steve Zahn, and Sam Elliot who are sure to bring distinct performances. Peter Sohn, the director, is making his feature length directorial debut. He got his start on the Pixar short Partly Cloudy, so he’s got experience at the helm of animated adventures. Disney and Pixar haven’t let me (or anyone else) down thus far, so I’m pretty stoked for them to tug at my heart strings once more.

Creed :: November 25

I’m really excited about Creed! You could even say I’m waiting for this movie with arms wide open… Sorry, I had to. That’s out of the way now, so seriously, I’m excited about this movie! Raging Bull aside, the Rocky films are the most recognizable boxing stories to be told on the big screen. I’m not a huge fan/follower of said series, but Michael B. Jordan is a great young actor who I think will end up being one of Hollywood’s next all time greats. I’m interested to see what he can add to the legacy of the series. MBJ’s casting drew me in, but his connection to the hero of the story is what hooked me. Rocky trains the son of Apollo Creed?! His name is ADONIS Creed?! That’s what’s up! Clair Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad) makes an appearance and Big K.R.I.T.’s song “Life” plays in the trailer. All that great stuff aside, we’re finally seeing Stallone in what appears to be an age appropriate role. Count me in.

The Revenant :: December 25 (or January 9)

Holy shit. Have y’all seen this trailer? I feel like I’m out of breath every time I watch it. Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy are two of our generation’s best and they’re back on the big screen together (they were both in Inception). Not only will we get to watch two of Hollywood’s premier talents go at it, but they’re being directed by Alexander Iñárritu, who’s coming fresh off an Oscar win for Birdman. The story here is based off the true exploits of Hugh Glass, an American frontiersman who became a legend. He survives a bear attack, is left for dead, then travels broken and battered to find the men who abandoned him. This dude was harder than your favorite rapper says he is. The cast is superb. You know Leo goes for that Oscar with everything he does, and he’ll be backed up by Hardy and Domhnall Gleeson. The cinematography looks immense and expansive. The action feels beyond intense. If you find the right theater, this drops Christmas Day. If I can, I’ll be watching this right after I see The Hateful Eight and right before I re-watch Star Wars. If not, it lands everywhere January 9th.

Legend :: November 20

Speaking of Tom Hardy, you can see him play one character in The Revenant, or you can watch him play twins in Legend, the story of Britain’s infamous Kray Twins. I’m into this for a handful of reasons, the first and second of which being Tom Hardy. I’m a self-professed Tom Hardy fanboy. I’ll watch anything he does, so Legend gives me double the reason to see it. Emily Browning also stars in the film, and she’s as easy on the eyes as she is charming. Gangster/True Crime films are also in my wheelhouse, so they got me there with the film focusing on the notorious run of the Kray brothers as they take over London in the ’60s. From arson to racketeering, the Kray Twins did it all. Their front as nightclub owners gave them the pull and the status, while their more illicit activities gave them the money and the power. These guys were huge, befriending Hollywood celebs like Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra (who might as well have just been a mobster with all the connections he’s got). I’ll probably see this twice.

Spectre :: November 5

Is Idris Elba too street (too black) for Bond? Is this Daniel Craig’s last Bond flick? Right now, who cares? We get more Bond! If Star Wars and The Hateful Eight weren’t coming out this year, Spectre would be my most anticipated movie of 2015. Daniel Craig’s run as 007 has totally reinvigorated my appreciation of Bond movies. His grittier, less refined rendition of Bond has been explosive on numerous levels, and Spectre looks to continue that. It also looks to continue Skyfall’s idea of tackling Bond’s past, which is a notion that I think is really cool. The other reason I’m head over heels for this? CHRISTOPH WALTZ. From the moment I heard him speak—his perfectly delivered and immediately cruel lines in Inglorious Basterds—I thought to myself, “This guy is a Bond villain.” Years later, he’s proving me right. Much like the idea of exploring James’ past, an ensemble cast (Craig, Waltz, Whishaw, Fiennes) is a mostly new concept for Bond flicks, but they’re two things I can totally get behind.

P.S. One word Bond titles are totally back in style.

Concussion :: December 25

Get your tissues and/or shirt sleeves ready, Will Smith is making THAT face. You know which one I mean. That face he did in the one scene from Fresh Prince that everyone remembers. Yeah, that one. That’s Will’s “give me an Oscar” face, and it looks like Concussion will be another film that displays Smith’s greatness on the silver screen. Based on a true story, Smith will portray Dr. Bennet Omalu, the man who discovered a disease linked to repetitive brain trauma often occurring in football. The movie will explore his discovery of the issue and his lopsided battle against the NFL. The NFL basically owns a day of the week during football season, so it will be interesting seeing how this doctor went to war with them over their health and safety standards. The film features OGs Alec Baldwin and Albert Brooks. Smith’s co-star, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, not only has a killer name, but will also appear in Star Wars Episode VIII. Will Smith is one of my favorite actors of all time, I’ll be seeing this. I won’t be seeing it on opening day ‘cos it’s releasing the same day as The Revenant and The Hateful Eight, but I’ll be seeing it. (Side note : Rest in peace, James Avery aka Uncle Phil.)

The Big Short :: December 23

Remember how less than ten years ago (almost) everyone went broke and (almost) everything sucked? Somebody’s making a movie about those times, and about a handful of guys who tried to prevent those dark times. They should probably be considered American heroes. If somebody would’ve told me five years ago that in 2015 I’ll be excited to see a movie about how the recession started, I’d call them a moron. I curse like a sailor, so I’d probably call them a fuckin’ moron. Lo-and-behold, it’s 2015 and I’m excited to see a movie about how the recession started. Not only is it based on a true story about our great country’s great economic failings, but it also stars some of the biggest actors of our time. It would be a big deal if Brad Pitt was in it. It would be impressive if Steve Carrell was in it. It would be interesting if Christian Bale was in it. If Ryan Gosling was in it, people would go crazy. Well, ALL FOUR OF THEM are in this movie! The cast is bonkers, and on top of that Adam McKay is directing. If that name sounds familiar it’s because McKay usually co-writes and directs all Will Ferrell’s movies. Crazy right? We’ll see.

The Hateful Eight :: December 25

Quentin Tarantino is my favorite director. I love almost everything he’s done. He’s a movie nerd. He pushes the limits. He’s a master of dialogue. I wish people spoke how he wrote. When the original script for The Hateful Eight leaked and he “cancelled” the movie, I was disappointed to say the least. When he said the movie was back on, I was elated! Fans get another original script from QT, and another western at that. We get another star-studded cast featuring Kurt Russell, Sam Jackson, Bruce Dern, Channing Tatum, and more. Film buffs will also appreciate the fact that the movie is being filmed in 70mm! It’s literally going to be HUGE. A couple of the lenses they shot with were used to film Ben Hur! That’s the last time something this big was filmed. Tarantino has said the setting/style is somewhat a combo of Reservoir Dogs’ (mainly) one location filming and Django Unchained’s western vibes, which is awesome to hear. To me, Tarantino can do no wrong (Death Proof wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible). I plan on spending a good chunk of Christmas Day in a theater alternating between this and Star Wars re-watches.

Star Wars :: December 18

Do I even need to type anything here? Didn’t think so… May the Force be with all of you, always.

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