'Tis the season to be heading to the cinema.
Whether it's to avoid plundering relatives, the crush of bargain-hungry mall shoppers or to catch the latest award-season entry, watching a movie (or three) over the holiday season has become a joyful tradition as much as decorating the tree, the giving of gifts or sleeping off a big turkey dinner.
And for movie buffs, the final days of 2015 are certainly packed with blockbusters ("Star Wars: The Force Awakens," "The Hateful Eight"), seasonal frights ("Krampus"), indie gems ("Youth," "45 Years"), award bait ("The Revenant," "Joy," "The Danish Girl") and familial laughs ("Sisters").
'The Danish Girl' (Nov. 27)
Eddie Redmayne is sure to lock down another best actor Oscar nomination for his role as Lili Elbe, the first person to believed to have undergone sex reassignment surgery in the 1930s. Redmayne delivers a stunning portrayal of the transgender pioneer alongside co-star Alicia Vikander as Elbe's emotional support and wife, the portrait artist Gerda Wegener. Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech") directs.
'Legend' (Nov. 20)
Tom Hardy does double duty as London's most notorious gangsters: twin brothers Reggie and Ron Kray. Directed by Brian Helgeland ("L.A. Confidential," "Mystic River"), "Legend" charts the rise and fall true story of the Krays, who dominated organized crime in the East of London during the 1950s and 1960s.
'Krampus' (Dec. 4)
Here's a holiday film that will have you second guessing bad thoughts about visiting family members. According to European legend, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic creature who punishes misbehaving children during the Christmas season. In "Krampus," it's a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers – inparticular young Max (Emjay Anthony), who is disillusioned by the holidays and turns his back on Christmas. Also starring Adam Scott and Toni Collette.
'Youth' (Dec. 4)
Directed by Paolo Sorrentino, "Youth" follows a retired orchestra conductor (Michael Caine), his daughter (Rachel Weisz) and his film director best friend (Harvey Keitel) as they holiday together in the Swiss Alps. This visually stunning film explores familial ties, the mental and physical effects of aging, the binds of lifelong friendship and the passions that propel us through the decades.
'The Big Short' (Dec. 11)
Based on the 2010 book of the same name by Michael Lewis, "The Big Short" charts the financial crisis of 2008 and the group of investors who bet against it and won big. Featuring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Marissa Tomei, Brad Pitt, Melissa Leo, Karen Gillan and Selena Gomez.
'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' (Dec. 18)
For many, "The Force Awakens" is not only the most highly-anticipated release of 2015, but of the last decade. Director J.J. Abrams ("Lost," "Star Trek") returns us to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away to revisit the cast of the original "Star Wars" trilogy (Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill) in a sequel set some 30 years after "Return of the Jedi." Also along for the intergalactic ride are newcomers Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Adam Driver, who will be tasked with carrying the franchise forward in future installments.
'Sisters' (Dec. 18)
A different take on aging and familial ties to "Youth" (above), the re-teaming of former "SNL" players Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as siblings who decide to throw one final party before their parents sell the family home is played straight for laughs. Along for the ride are co-stars John Cena, Maya Rudolph, James Brolin, Dianne Wiest, John Leguizamo, Kate McKinnon and Dan Byrd.
'45 Years' (Dec. 23)
Already receiving award season buzz, "45 Years" stars Charlotte Rampling as Kate Mercer and Tom Courtenay as Geoff Mercer, a couple whose impending titular wedding anniversary celebration is rocked when news from Geoff's past surfaces unannounced. Directed by Andrew Haigh ("Weekend"), "45 Years" gently examines a rock-solid relationship under stress from a distant past.
'Where to Invade Next' (Dec. 23)
Arriving just as the 2016 presidential campaign really starts to heat up, patriotic provocateur Michael Moore's latest explores just what it will take to make America great once again. In this docu-comedy, Moore ("Fahrenheit 9/11," "Bowling for Columbine") "invades" other nations in an effort to discover what they have to offer in contrast to the United States.
'The Hateful Eight' (Dec. 25)
Controversial filmmaker Quentin Tarantino delivers his eighth film which follows a group of bounty hunters and fugitives in post-Civil War Wyoming who encounter each other while sheltering from a blizzard in a mountain-side stagecoach stopover. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Bruce Dern, Tarantino's update on the classic western tale features music composed by Ennio Morricone ("The Good, the Bad and the Ugly").
'Point Break' (Dec. 25)
This action thriller is a remake of the 1991 flick of the same name starring Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves. This time around young FBI agent Johnny Utah is played by Luke Bracey and instead of infiltrating a gang of robbing surfers, he must go undercover to expose a gang of thieves who participate in extreme sports.
'Concussion' (Dec. 25)
Based on a 2009 GQ exposé, "Concussion" stars Will Smith as real-life forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu who must fight the National Football League when his research on brain injuries uncovers CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy)—a football-related brain trauma—in a pro player. Also stars Alec Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Albert Brooks.
'The Revenant' (Dec. 25)
This vengeance-fueled epic features Leonardo DiCaprio as 1800's frontiersman Hugh Glass, who is left for dead by his hunting team after he is mauled in a brutal bear attack. With revenge in his heart, Glass sets out through the icy terrain to track down John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), the man who abandoned Glass and betrayed his family. Also starring Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter and Lukas Haas, "The Revenant" is directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu who won the best picture and director Academy Awards for "Birdman" in 2015.
'Joy' Dec. 25
From David O. Russell, the director of "Silver Linings Playbook" and "American Hustle," comes the comedy-drama "Joy" starring Jennifer Lawrence. Inspired by the life of Joy Mangano, the creator of the "Miracle Mop" and president of the Ingenious Designs company, the film charts Joy's life from age 10 to 40 as she becomes matriarch of her family. "Joy" features returning Russell players Bradley Cooper, Elisabeth Rohm and Robert De Niro.