It’s such a weird December for films. The month is usually dominated by Oscar bait (of which there is plenty) and big, exciting blockbuster tentpoles, but this December feels strangely lacking. There are no superhero movies. No Scorsese flicks. Pixar is sitting this one out. DiCaprio is nowhere to be seen. I’m sure that one or two December films will break out, but it feels like a lackluster holiday month, and it’s hard to muster that much enthusiasm for anything other than Marco Polo on Netflix. I’m feeling very detached from Oscar season this year. The spirit, so far, eludes me.
But whaddya gonna do? Sit at home, spend time with your family, watch Big Bang Theory reruns? It’s December! We go to the movies, goddamnit, because we’re American.
Here’s ten movies we can either look forward to seeing, or dread them because we know we’ll end up seeing them anyway.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies — Nobody wanted three Hobbit films, but those of us who contributed to the $700 million worldwide box-office of the second movie are still going to go because we are completist. We will bitch and moan, but curiosity and the need for resolution will compel us to go anyway.
Unbroken — I think we’re supposed to be excited about Unbroken because it’s directed by Angelina Jolie, but it looks like a bland pastiche of other Oscar films. There’s a reason it’s leading among Oscar contenders in our Oscar bait rating system.
Annie — It’s the Christmas Day all-ages film. If you have a kid not old enough to see Into the Woods yet, you’ll probably end up watching this because there are no animated features this month, and it seems like a better alternative than Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (RIP Robin Williams).
Exodus: Gods and Kings — I have no idea what compels us to see movies like these other than huge spectacles and big, plodding action sequences, but plenty of us will end up seeing it, if only to have a more informed basis for our whitewashing complaints. I don’t remember the last time I was this unenthusiastic about a Christian Bale film.
The Interview — The Interview is the month’s big comedy offering, and while the trailer suggests a few laughs, it also takes Rogen out of his real-world element. It’s a little too high concept, and I’m not sure if James Franco fatigue will ever fully dissipate. It also looks like a movie where the trailer gives away all the good lines.
Inherent Vice — Paul Thomas Anderson’s film could be this year’s American Hustle, or it could be another The Master, a movie that we’re more excited about seeing than actually watching. Paul Thomas Anderson has gotten a little self-indulgent lately, but at least there’s a comedic element to this one. It’s one of a couple of films we’ll also see Reese Witherspoon in, including Wild, which looks like Eat, Pray, Love: Hiking Edition.
The Gambler — Seeing Brie Larson, John Goodman, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Jessica Lange in a fuck you movie, it’s hard not to get excited. Yet, as much as I want to take it seriously, Mark Wahlberg’s hair is really putting a damper on things.
Selma — True story, Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights battles (in the wake of Ferguson) and Oprah: These inspirational true stories always do a number on me during the holiday season. Manipulate away.
American Sniper — Clint Eastwood has been on something of a cold streak for the last several years, but I admit I’m legitimately excited to see Bradley Cooper and that Southern accent wage war with his conscience. Like Gone Girl, it seems to have the perfect blend of entertainment value and filmmaking pedigree.
Into the Woods — This is a movie I can honestly get excited about: A musical that strives to entertain, and if awards come to it, it’s just gravy. Johnny Depp looks ridiculous, but Meryl Streep and Anna Kendrick can easily overcome that with what hopes to be a clever, buoyant holiday good time in theaters.