By Joey Nolfi
December 08, 2016 at 08:10 PM EST
Glen Wilson; Dale Robinette

The curtain has finally raised on Damien Chazelle’s La La Land, and critics are hailing it as one of the best films of the year as it heads into the thick of awards season. The film releases on Friday amid an already-crowded slate of holdover titles gunning for Oscar attention, though mainstream audiences have a lot to choose from as well. The ensemble comedy Office Christmas Party, featuring Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon, T.J. Miller, and Jason Bateman, debuts to middling reviews as Moana and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them cool down at the box office, though it should satisfy the sweet tooth of moviegoers as its all-star cast navigates holiday-themed hilarity. 

Check out what the critics are saying about this week’s new releases in the reviews below. 

La La Land

Opens Dec. 9 in limited release.

EW’s Chris Nashawaty says:

There have been a handful of lavish, big-studio musicals in recent years. But for the most part, they’ve been bloated Broadway adaptations full of sound and fury. And some moviegoers may, no doubt, feel a little tentative about the genre. But La La Land is the anti-whatever those are. It’s more intimate and personal and affecting…more magical. My advice is to see La La Land and surrender to it. It will make you feel like you’re walking on air too. A

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

Metacritic: 89

Office Christmas Party

Opens Dec. 9.

EW’s Leah Greenblatt says:

Aniston has a great time as the vampy, Krav Maga-ing Bitch Who Stole Christmas, and Miller’s willful idiocy is weirdly endearing. Once he decides to double down and deck the halls with bad decisions, his party feels pretty much like a real one does when it goes off the rails: rowdy, random, a little bit gross. But like most movies that supposedly aim to pee in Santa’s cornflakes, Office isn’t nearly as nihilistic as its veneer; beneath all the criminal mischief and baby-Jesus jokes there’s still heart of gold, or at least a big ball of tinsel. B

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 44%

Metacritic: 44

Frank & Lola

Opens Dec. 9 in limited release.

EW’s Chris Nashawaty says:

Frank & Lola ends up having a few too many convenient coincidences and far-fetched twists to be more than the B-movie it is. Nyqvist (so good in the Swedish Dragon Tattoo films) and Emmanuelle Devos (unforgettable in Read My Lips and Kings & Queen) are deliciously sordid as a kinky European couple with a lax attitude about fidelity. And Poots, who seems one film away from becoming a huge movie star, is terrifically unpredictable — vulnerable one minute and manipulative the next. But it’s Shannon whose wildcard intensity turns Frank & Lola into something more than the script’s collection of hardboiled implausibilities. B-

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 63%

Metacritic: 54

Moana

Now playing.

EW’s Devan Coggan says:

Moana has a lot of the hallmarks of your classic Disney adventure — the goofy animal sidekicks, the feel-good messages — but its heroine is something new, a smart and fiery deviation from your standard European lovestruck princesses. (Thankfully, Moana doesn’t have a love interest.) The result is a pitch-perfect addition to the animated Disney canon. A-

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

Metacritic: 81

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Now playing. 

EW’s Chris Nashawaty says:

The film, directed by seasoned Potter pro David Yates, unspools like a kiddie version of the X-Men flicks. The xenophobic Muggle population (or No-Majs, as they’re called Stateside) live in rabid suspicion of the hidden world of hocus-pocus. And like those films, its phantasmagorical special effects are easy on the eyes. So why does Fantastic Beasts feel so oddly lifeless? Why doesn’t it cast more of a spell? First, there are the performances, which aside from Redmayne’s are surprisingly flat. And second, the thinness of the source material gives the whole film a slightly padded feeling. Rowling, who also wrote the script, nimbly lays out her world, but that world isn’t nearly as rich as the world of Hogwarts. And the villains (chief among them Colin Farrell’s Percival Graves) are stock cinematic baddies. Fantastic Beasts is two-plus hours of meandering eye candy that feels numbingly inconsequential. Maybe this is all necessary table-setting that will lead to bigger payoffs in chapters 2 through 5. I hope so. Because for a movie stuffed with so many weird and wondrous creatures, there isn’t nearly enough magic. B-

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%

Metacritic: 66

Arrival

Now playing.

EW’s Leah Greenblatt says:

Arrival’s endgame can seem obtuse and its emotions submerged, suggesting a film as chilly as its palette of Pantone blues and grays. But it’s all in the service of building to its final revelation — and also of conveying Louise’s enormous loss. She’s her own kind of lonely astronaut, set adrift from everything that once defined her: parent, partner, teacher. With these creatures at least she’s needed; in fact, the fate of the world may rest on it. That’s the movie’s greatest feint, though: Ultimately, it’s far less interested in galactic destiny than the infinite, uncharted landscape of the human heart. A- 

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

Metacritic: 81

Allied

Now playing. 

EW’s Chris Nashawaty says:

Pitt, of course, has played in this sleeping-with-the-enemy sandbox before, in 2005’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith with Angelina Jolie. That film was snarky where this one is more square. But Pitt and Cotillard’s chemistry is just as charged and combustible. You may know exactly where a movie like Allied is leading you, but its two smart, smoldering leads make you want to take the ride. Here’s looking at you, kids. B+

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 60%

Metacritic: 60

Doctor Strange

Now playing.

EW’s Chris Nashawaty says:

When you strip away the Secrets of the East mumbo jumbo and psychedelic special effects, Doctor Strange is a formulaic Marvel origin story, but it’s done with high-IQ wit, all but name-checking the myth of Sisyphus and the kaleidoscopic architectural origami of M.C. Escher. (We’re a long way from the blunt-force shenanigans of HYDRA here.) Doctor Strange is thrilling in the way a lot of other Marvel movies are. But what makes it unique is that it’s also heady in a way most Marvel movies don’t dare to be. It’s eye candy and brain candy. B+

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

Metacritic: 72

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