21 of November and December's Most Anticipated Movies

5:00 AM 11/8/2015

by Hilary Lewis

The last two months of the year are filled with franchise flicks ('Star Wars: The Force Awakens,' 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2'), Oscar hopefuls ('Spotlight,' 'Carol,' 'Concussion,' 'Joy' and 'The Revenant') and more eagerly awaited films.

star wars force awakens -H 2015
Courtesy of Lucas Films

The year may be winding down, but awards season is just beginning as a number of Oscar hopefuls are set to hit theaters in the last two months of 2015. Spotlight, Carol, The Danish Girl, The Big Short, Concussion, Joy, The Hateful Eight and The Revenant are just some of the potential contenders rolling out in November and December.

The holiday season also brings a number of eagerly awaited franchise titles like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2. Other anticipated films hitting theaters include comedies like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's Sisters and Seth Rogen's The Night Before and the year's second Pixar release, The Good Dinosaur.

Read on to find out more about some of the most anticipated movies hitting theaters in November and December and plan your moviegoing accordingly.

  • 'Spectre' (Nov. 6)

    The 24th film in the James Bond franchise was also directed by Skyfall helmer Sam Mendes and may feature Daniel Craig's final appearance as 007. The Skyfall follow-up features Bond chasing after shadowy Spectre mastermind Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz). Spectre co-stars Naomie Harris, Monica Bellucci, Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes and Ben Whishaw.

  • 'Spotlight' (Nov. 6)

    Tom McCarthy's star-studded ensemble film tells the true story of the Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize-winning 2001 investigation that revealed a massive cover-up of child abuse by Catholic priests throughout the Boston Archdiocese. Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Brian d'Arcy James, Liev Schreiber and John Slattery star as the Globe editors and reporters. Meanwhile, Stanley Tucci and Billy Crudup play lawyers involved in the abuse cases in the movie McCarthy co-wrote with Josh Singer.

  • 'Trumbo' (Nov. 6)

    Bryan Cranston stars as the famous blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in the Jay Roach-directed biopic also starring Helen Mirren as columnist and Trumbo adversary Hedda Hopper. Starting in the late '40s, Trumbo follows the outspoken Communist as he stands up to Congress, goes to jail and writes Oscar winners like Roman Holiday and The Brave One, without being able to take credit for those, before he finally gets redemption when he receives a screen credit on Spartacus. The film, adapted by John McNamara from Bruce Cook's biography, also features Louis C.K., John Goodman and Diane Lane.

  • 'By the Sea' (Nov. 13)

    Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt play an unhappily married couple in By the Sea, the first movie they've starred in together since 2005's Mr. & Mrs. Smith. The film follows an American writer, Roland (Pitt), and his wife, Vanessa (Jolie), who deal with a crisis in their relationship while staying at a peaceful seaside resort in 1970s France. Jolie wrote, directed and produced the movie, for which she's using her married name "Jolie Pitt."

  • 'Carol' (Nov. 20)

    Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara star in this 1950s-set lesbian love story, about a housewife who begins an affair with a shop clerk and aspiring photographer, based on Patricia Highsmith's novel The Price of Salt. Todd Haynes directed and Phyllis Nagy adapted the book for the big screen.

  • 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2' (Nov. 20)

    The Hunger Games franchise comes to an end this November with the second installment of its final, Mockingjay chapter. As the story concludes, Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss leads the revolution, aiming to kill President Snow (Donald Sutherland). The film also marks the final onscreen appearance of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, playing Plutarch Heavensbee.

  • 'The Night Before' (Nov. 20)

    Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and director Jonathan Levine reteam four years after their cancer dramedy 50/50 for a wild party on Christmas Eve. In The Night Before, Rogen, Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie play a trio of friends ending their annual tradition of spending the holiday together with one last bash. On the way to "the best Christmas party in New York," though, Rogen's Isaac has a bad experience with some cocaine and mushrooms and ends up vomiting in the middle of a church. Lizzy Caplan, Mindy Kaling, Jillian Bell and Michael Shannon co-star in the film, which Levine co-wrote with Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir.

  • 'Secret in Their Eyes' (Nov. 20)

    Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor co-star in this remake of the Oscar-winning 2009 Argentinian film of the same name. Written and directed by Captain Phillips scribe Billy Ray, the film follows a group of FBI investigators who hunt down the elusive killer of Roberts' character's daughter.

  • 'Creed' (Nov. 25)

    The Rocky spinoff stars Michael B. Jordan as Apollo Creed's son, who gets mentored by Rocky Balboa, with Sylvester Stallone reprising his role as the famous boxer. Jordan's Fruitvale Station helmer Ryan Coogler directs with Tessa Thompson playing Jordan's character's love interest.

  • 'The Good Dinosaur' (Nov. 25)

    The second Pixar movie to hit theaters this year imagines a world in which the asteroid that's believed to have killed the dinosaurs actually missed Earth. After the dinosaurs are spared, a lost one meets an orphaned boy. The Peter Sohn-directed film features the voices of Frances McDormand, Jeffrey Wright, Steve Zahn, Anna Paquin and Sam Elliott.

  • 'The Danish Girl' (Nov. 27)

    The transgender drama directed by The King's Speech and Les Miserables helmer Tom Hooper stars Alicia Vikander and Eddie Redmayne as artist Lili Elbe, who was born as Einar Wegener and became the first person to undergo a sex-change operation. Lucinda Coxon adapted David Ebershoff's novel for the big screen. At the Toronto Film Festival, The Hollywood Reporter's awards analyst, Scott Feinberg, predicted The Danish Girl could land a number of Oscar nominations including possibly one for best picture. He also praised the lead actors, saying of Vikander, "this is a career-changing film for her," and arguing that Redmayne could become the first performer to win Oscars in back-to-back years since Tom Hanks did so in the early '90s.

  • 'The Big Short' (Dec. 11)

    Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling star in Adam McKay's big-screen adaptation of Michael Lewis' best-seller about the men who made millions from the global financial crisis and those who tried to stop it. Adam McKay directed from a screenplay that he co-wrote with Charles Randolph. Paramount surprisingly announced in September that The Big Short would be released sooner than expected, in December. The true-life drama set against the backdrop of the housing and credit bubbles also features Melissa Leo, Marisa Tomei and Finn Wittrock.

  • 'In the Heart of the Sea' (Dec. 11)

    Chris Hemsworth reteams with his Rush director Ron Howard in this true story of the sinking of the Essex by a disgruntled whale, which inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick. The movie is also based on Nathaniel Philbrick's book of the same name about the aftermath of the tragedy and how the crew fought to survive. Hemsworth plays first mate Owen Chase alongside Ben Whishaw's Melville. Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson and Tom Holland round out the cast.

  • 'Sisters' (Dec. 18)

    In Sisters, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler star as sisters who decide to throw an epic party in their childhood home before their parents sell it. The comedy, directed by Pitch Perfect's Jason Moore, features a number of other SNL connections, with alums Maya Rudolph and Paula Pell co-starring and writing the script, respectively, and current cast member Kate McKinnon also in the cast. The Mindy Project's Ike Barinholtz plays Poehler's love interest.

  • 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' (Dec. 18)

    Christmas comes early for Star Wars fans, who will finally be able to see J.J. Abrams' eagerly-awaited, highly-secretive sequel a week before the holiday. Although little is known about the film's plot, interest in seeing the movie is so great that when advance tickets went on sale on Monday, several online retailers experienced outages on their way to breaking records for the most advance ticket sales in 24 hours. The last two trailers similarly scored record numbers of views, so it's unlikely you haven't seen them. How much money will The Force Awakens make at the box office? Will you be able to get a ticket? Where's Luke Skywalker? At least some of these questions should be answered when the movie — starring John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver alongside returning stars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill — hits theaters.

  • 'Where to Invade Next' (Dec. 23)

    Michael Moore's latest documentary features the filmmaker "invading" various countries to learn how the U.S. could improve its own prospects. Where to Invade Next is being distributed by a new label headed by former Radius-TWC chiefs Tom Quinn and Jason Janego and Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League and is set to hit theaters in New York and L.A. on Dec. 23 for an Oscar-qualifying run before getting a nationwide release on Jan. 15.

  • 'Concussion' (Dec. 25)

    Will Smith's Dr. Bennet Omalu takes on the NFL in this dramatic thriller based on a true story about Omalu's discovery of football-related brain trauma CTE and fight to have the truth be known. Peter Landesman wrote and directed the movie, and the NFL, which was not involved with Concussion during production, has said it will engage in the debate generated by the film. Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks, Paul Reiser, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Luke Wilson co-star.

  • 'The Hateful Eight' (Dec. 25)

    Quentin Tarantino's post-Civil War Western focuses on eight travelers stranded together during a blizzard. Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Michael Madsen, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Channing Tatum and Bruce Dern star. The film has been beset by a few issues on its way to the big screen, including a script leak and legal fight with Gawker that ended with Tarantino withdrawing his lawsuit against the media company. And the controversy's not over yet as the country's five largest police department unions have vowed to boycott Tarantino's films following his comments at a rally protesting police brutality.

  • 'Joy' (Dec. 25)

    Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro reunite with their Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle director David O. Russell for this film about an ambitious wife and mother (Lawrence) who founds a business empire. Isabella Rossellini, Virginia Madsen and Edgar Ramirez co-star in the film about family, love, loyalty and betrayal.

  • 'The Revenant' (Dec. 25)

    Leonardo DiCaprio said he slept in animal carcasses, ate raw bison liver and endured freezing cold and possibly hypothermia to film Alejandro G. Inarritu's The Revenant. The film, co-starring Tom Hardy and Will Poulter, is a harrowing survival story based on the experiences of fur trapper Hugh Glass in the early 19th century. Inarritu — who with Mark L. Smith adapted Michael Punke's 2002 novel of the same name, subtitled A Novel of Revenge — insisted on filming the movie in sequence, outdoors and only using natural light. Inarritu has defended these choices as part of what will make his Birdman follow-up epic, but the movie's budget has already exceeded $95 million, THR reported, with insiders predicting it will reach or surpass $135 million. Moviegoers can decide if it was all worth it when the movie hits theaters at the end of the year.

  • 'Anomalisa' (Dec. 30)

    Charlie Kaufman's co-directed, Kickstarter-funded stop-motion animation film received critical praise when it made its way through the Venice, Telluride and Toronto film festivals. Paramount scooped up the title after its Toronto screening and set an end of year release date in New York and L.A., letting it qualify for an awards run. THR's David Rooney said in his review: "Whether in his screenplays for Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, or his directing debut, Synecdoche, New York, Charlie Kaufman's surreal, cerebral chronicles of despair, obsession and failure are like nothing else out there. So it was a given that his first animated feature, Anomalisa, co-directed with stop-motion specialist Duke Johnson, was going to be another idiosyncratic entry in a small but wildly distinctive body of work. However, that doesn't nearly do justice to the beguiling poignancy and emotional nuance of this funny-sad, haunting meditation on depression, disguised as a melancholy love story."