Catch one of these 14 movies in theaters over Christmas break.

By Rachel DeSantis
December 22, 2016 at 12:12 PM EST
Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm; Dale Robinette; Illumination

Christmas time is here, and as tempting as it is to stay home and watch A Christmas Story for the umpteenth time, it’s also a great time to brave the cold and venture to the movies to catch something a new (or just to force yourself away from the copious amounts of food taking over your kitchen).

Grab your friends and family, your winter coat, and maybe some of the leftover candy from your stocking, because we’ve rounded up the best bets to catch in theaters this week.


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed

Director: Gareth Edwards

Rating: PG-13

EW’s review: “Rogue One would have been a very good stand-alone sci-fi movie if it came out under a different name. But what makes it especially exciting is how it perfectly snaps right into the Star Wars timeline and connects events we already know by heart with ones that we never even considered.” B+

Where to watch: In theaters, wide release


Fences

Starring: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis

Director: Denzel Washington

Rating: PG-13

EW review: “But [Washington’s character] Troy can’t open his eyes — or his heart — enough to see that he’s also walling himself off from everyone who loves him. Washington and Davis’ performances do just the opposite. They invite us in to an intimate place that’s messy and painful and hard to shake. It’s as good as screen acting gets.” A-

Where to watch: In theaters Dec. 25


Sing

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon

Director: Garth Jennings

Rating: PG

EW review: “The eye-popping performances are meticulously animated, and a crowd-pleasing soundtrack helps keep this show on the road. Sing may be a melody we’ve heard before, but it still sounds sweet.” B+

Where to watch: In theaters, wide release


Office Christmas Party

Starring: T.J. Miller, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Oivia Munn, Courtney B. Vance

Directors: Josh Gordon, Will Speck

Rating: R

EW review: “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

Where to watch: In theaters, wide release


Manchester by the Sea

Starring: Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Michelle Williams

Director: Kenneth Lonergan

Rating: R

EW review: “A richly textured, emotionally devastating meditation on grief (a theme that runs through all of Lonergan’s films), Manchester stars Casey Affleck as Lee Chandler, a quiet, put-upon handyman whose older brother (Kyle Chandler) drops dead from a heart attack, leaving behind a 16-year-old son (Lucas Hedges). When Lee returns to the blue-collar Massachusetts town of the title where he grew up to make plans for the funeral, he learns that he’s been named as his nephew’s guardian. It’s a responsibility he has no interest in taking on. Through a carefully measured series of layer-peeling flashbacks, we slowly discover why that is.” A

Where to watch: In theaters, wide release


La La Land

Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling

Director: Damien Chazelle

Rating: PG-13

EW review“Of course, La La Land is more than just a helium-light love story that checks off L.A. tourist attractions on its steady march toward a happily-ever-after sunset. We in the audience (and the characters on screen) have seen too many Hollywood confections to know better. As Mia and Sebastian’s careers start to take off and pull them in different directions, the film goes from sugary sweet to bittersweet and the music cues shift from giddy to melancholy. It would be churlish to give away more about the movie’s third act, but even as the mood of the film dims to a darker shade, Chazelle’s ambition never wavers.” A

Where to watch: In theaters, limited release. Wide release Dec. 25


Nocturnal Animals

Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon

Director: Tom Ford

Rating: R

EW review: “Ford is clearly a cinephile, and elements of other auteurs are all over Animals: the sexmad decadence of Brian De Palma, the formal control of Hitchcock, surreal dabs of David Lynch-ian grotesque. The movie’s lofty narrative ambitions never quite catch up with its aesthetics, but it’s still a fantastic beast of a film, intoxicating and strange.” B+

Where to watch: In theaters, wide release


Hidden Figures

Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe

Director: Theodore Melfi

Rating: PG

Where to watch: Out in limited release on Dec. 25, wide release Jan. 6


Jackie

Starring: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Billy Crudup

Director: Pablo Larraín

Rating: R

EW review: “No amount of bravura filmmaking matters, of course, without a Jackie we can believe in. And Natalie Portman’s First Lady is a revelation, not only technically precise — she nails the fluttery-bird gestures and breathy mid-Atlantic accent, and possibly outpaces the original in cheekbones — but remarkable in its psychological layers.” A-

Where to watch: In theaters, wide release


Patriots Day

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, J.K. Simmons, John Goodman

Director: Peter Berg

Rating: R

EW review: “Berg’s worship of law enforcement and noble male heroes lacks psychological depth — he’s far more interested in celebrating the masculine American identity than examining it — but Patriots Day benefits from a robust, concentrated timeline and sheer bat-out-of-hell pacing.” B-

Where to watch: In theaters, limited release. Wide release Jan. 13


Miss Sloane

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Alison Pill, Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Director: John Madden

Rating: R

EW review: “But Chastain fully commits to her boss-bitch persona, even if we only obliquely learn why she might have chosen such a lonely, mercenary life. And veteran director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) pulls smart turns from his supporting cast, including Gugu Mbatha-Raw as a vulnerable team member scarred by a school shooting, Jake Lacey as the male escort Sloane keeps on the payroll for strings-free sex, and Allison Pill as her watchful would-be protégé. He also sows just enough doubt in Sloan’s motivations that the ending comes as a genuine jolt…” B

Where to watch: In theaters, wide release


Lion

Starring: Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman

Director: Garth Davis

Rating: PG-13

EW review: Lion is one true story but two very different movies. The better one comes first. In late-’80s Central India, a 5-year-old boy named Saroo (Sunny Pawar) gets separated from his older brother. He boards an empty train and is carried away, ending up in Kolkata, where no one speaks his language. Director Garth Davis films Saroo’s odyssey in long shots, over bridges, along train tracks, and by traffic-clogged streets. It’s like the whole world was created just to pass him by. Pawar is quite a discovery, with watchful eyes that can look fearful and strong all at once, and midway through Lion, he pretty much disappears. The film leaps forward two decades, to Australia, where grown-up Saroo (Dev Patel) has been raised by adoptive parents (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham).” B

Where to watch: In theaters, limited release.


Passengers, Collateral Beauty

Bear with us here — these two movies were widely panned by critics, and both featured controversial twists. But if you’re going to be stuck arguing with your family over the holidays anyway, you might as well make it about movies and not politics.

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