It may be winter, but it’s spring in the hearts of moviegoers during one of Hollywood’s most important seasons. Here come the prestige films looking for Oscar validation, art house gems, blockbuster family films and “Horrible Bosses 2”: and “Dumb and Dumber To” for those with absolutely no interest in Oscar validation.
Here is a guide to some of the holiday season’s most anticipated films:
Interstellar (Nov. 5): It doesn’t get any bigger than Christopher Nolan’s geek-out science fiction adventure starring Matthew McConaughey stars as an astronaut charged with leaving his family behind on Earth to save our dying planet. This is what IMAX was created for.
Big Hero Six (Nov. 7): If you thought the “Guardians of the Galaxy” was obscure, meet young robotics prodigy Hiro, and his crime fighting buddies who team up to save San Fransokyo in this Disney animated adventure based on the Marvel Comics characters.
The Theory of Everything (Nov. 7): Eddie Redmayne is another Best Actor frontrunner as Stephen Hawking in this biopic set during his graduate days at Cambridge. Felicity Jones costars as future wife Jane Wilde.
Foxcatcher (Nov. 21): Steve Carell reportedly gives one of the year’s most revelatory performances as millionaire John du Pont, who sets himself up as an Olympic wrestling coach to two brothers (Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum).
Horrible Bosses 2 (Nov. 26): The homicidal trio is back along with Christoph Waltz, who makes the mistake of betraying them, triggering an ill-fated kidnapping scheme. A foul-mouthed Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx reprise their roles.
Penguins of Madagascar (Nov. 26): The scene-stealing penguins get an animated feature of their own. The voice cast brings on Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1 (Nov. 21): Julianne Moore joins an already exceptional ensemble headed by Jennifer Lawrence as the indomitable heroine Katniss. Sadly, these are the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final screen performances.
Wild (Dec. 5). Reese Witherspoon is earning Oscar buzz as Cheryl Strayed, whose memoir charts her 1,100 hike along the Pacific Crest Trail following the end of her marriage and death of her mother.
Inherent Vice (Dec. 12): From the director of “The Master” comes this Lebowski of a 70s-set noir based on Thomas Pynchon’s book. Joaquin Phoenix stars and just dig this supporting cast: Martin Short, Maya Rudolph, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Benicio de Toro and Reese Witherspoon.
The Imitation Game (Dec. 12): An Oscar nomination is assured for Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, who was pivotal in cracking the Nazi’s Enigma code. The trailer makes this look like an inspiring romance (Keira Knightley costars). Not a spoiler alert, but it’s not, is all I’m saying.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Dec. 17) This is the season of the Cumberbatch. In the conclusion of Peter Jackson’s trilogy based on the beloved Tolkien saga, he voices a dragon.
Annie (Dec. 19) Tomorrow has finally come. Quvenzhané Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild) stars as the irrepressible foster child who is “adopted” by a New York billionaire (Jamie Foxx) who is running for mayor and in need of an image makeover.
Mr. Turner (Dec. 19): Timothy Spall was named best actor at the Cannes Festival for his masterful portrait of landscape painter J. M. W. Turner in Mike Leigh’s meticulously observed biopic.
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (Dec. 17): Different museum, same CGI-enhanced hijinks, Joining the historical figures as Ben Kinglsey as a pharaoh and Dan Stevens, late of “:Downton Abbey,” as Sir Lancelot. Comedian Rebel Wilson also stars as a British security guard not keen on Americans.
Into the Woods (Dec. 25) Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Johnny Depp and Chris Pine star in Stephen Sondheim’s subversive fairy tale musical. Advance press suggests that Rob Marshall’s screen adaptation is not as dark or gloomy as its stage counterpart.
Unbroken (Dec 25): Angelina Jolie directed this dramatization of Laura Hillenbrand’s riveting account of Olympian track star Louis Zamperini who survived being lost at sea and internment in a Japanese POW camp.
Your turn: What movies are you most looking forward to this holiday season?