With just over three months until the Oscars, the movie landscape looks a little like the early presidential race: a few clear front-runners and countless contenders.
When it comes to movies, though, you can never have too many options. Starting with last weekend’s rollout and continuing through year’s end, Hollywood is featuring its most ambitious dramas, its glossiest biopics, a last-minute entry from Martin Scorsese and even a musical called “La La Land” starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. That film, by the way, is already being called a shoo-in for the best-picture Oscar.
As always, the studios will be competing for ticket sales as well as awards. That means a reliance on recognizable names such as Jennifer Lawrence, Denzel Washington, Will Smith and J.K. Rowling — who made her screenwriting debut Nov. 18 with the release of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”
Speaking of potential box-office gorillas, “Rogue One,” the first stand-alone film in the new “Star Wars” franchise, arrives Dec. 16.
All told, a determined moviegoer could see at least one new Oscar contender each week until Dec. 28 — the last release date of the year — and maybe even find time for a comedy such as “Bad Santa 2.” Here are 27 movies to put on your holiday season watch list.
OUT THIS WEEK
“Allied”: During World War II an intelligence officer (Brad Pitt) and a French Resistance fighter (Marion Cotillard) fall in love. Directed by Robert Zemeckis.
“Bad Santa 2”: Billy Bob Thornton returns as Willy Soke, the reprobate mall Santa, this time planning to knock off a Chicago charity. A tattooed Kathy Bates plays his mother.
“Moana”: An animated Disney adventure about a Pacific island teenager who must fulfill the ancient quest of her ancestors. With the voices of Auli‘i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson.
“Rules Don’t Apply”: In his first directing effort since 1996, Warren Beatty delivers a romantic comedy starring himself as Howard Hughes. With Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich.
“The Comedian”: An aging comic (Robert De Niro) accosts an audience member and must perform community service. With Leslie Mann and Harvey Keitel.
“Jackie”: Natalie Portman is already the subject of Oscar talk for her performance as the newly widowed Jacqueline Kennedy in this film from Chilean director Pablo Larrain. With Peter Sarsgaard.
“Office Christmas Party”: This ensemble comedy with the self-explanatory title stars Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Kate McKinnon and many others.
“La La Land”: Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone play Los Angeles dreamers in this original musical from Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”) and his longtime collaborator, composer Justin Hurwitz.
“Collateral Beauty”: A New York ad executive (Will Smith) copes with a tragedy by writing letters to Time, Love and Death — and gets a response. With Edward Norton and Kate Winslet.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”: The first stand-alone film in the new “Star Wars” series stars Felicity Jones (“Inferno”) as an unlikely rebel who must steal the plans for the Death Star. With Diego Luna and Forest Whitaker.
“The Founder”: Michael Keaton plays Ray Kroc, the man who turned a California hamburger joint called McDonald’s into a global fast-food empire. With Laura Dern and Nick Offerman.
“The Space Between Us”: A teenage boy raised on Mars decides to visit the Earth girl he met online. With Asa Butterfield and Carla Gugino.
“Assassin’s Creed”: This feature film based on the popular video game — about dueling secret societies — features an impressive cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons and Charlotte Rampling.
“Passengers”: Two astronauts on a spacecraft must learn why they woke from hibernation 90 years too early. With Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. Directed by Morten Tyldum (“The Imitation Game”).
“Sing”: An animated musical about five animals who enter a singing contest. With the voices of Seth McFarlane, Scarlett Johansson and Matthew McConaughey.
“Patriots Day”: Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg (“Lone Survivor,” “Deepwater Horizon”) reunite for a drama about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
“Why Him?” An overprotective father (Bryan Cranston) discovers that his daughter (Zoey Deutch) is dating a socially awkward Silicon Valley billionaire (James Franco).
“A Monster Calls”: A lonely preteen befriends an ancient creature in this fantasy-adventure based on Patrick Ness’ novel. With Felicity Jones and a motion-captured Liam Neeson.
“Silence”: Martin Scorsese’s last-minute entry — announced in late September — explores the lives of 17th-century Christian missionaries in Japan. With Liam Neeson, Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield. Based on Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel.
“Fences”: Denzel Washington directs and stars in this drama about a once-promising baseball player struggling to raise his sons in the 1950s. Viola Davis co-stars. Based on August Wilson’s Tony-winning play in a cycle depicting the African-American experience.
“Gold”: Matthew McConaughey plays a prospector searching for gold in the jungles of Indonesia. Based on a true story. With Bryce Dallas Howard and Edgar Ramirez.
“Hidden Figures”: The true story of three African-American women (Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae) who played pivotal roles in NASA’s mission to send John Glenn into orbit. With Kevin Costner.
“Live by Night”: Ben Affleck directs and stars in a Prohibition-era crime drama about a man who double-crosses the mob. With Brendan Gleeson and Elle Fanning.