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A Guide To What's In Theaters This Holiday Season

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It's the week of Christmas, which means the studios are dropping some pretty big awards season releases just in time for us to take our folks to the theaters (so we can avoid having to talk to them for two hours), celebrate Jewish Christmas, or help us temporarily escape the weather. Here's a roundup of what's in theaters this week.

NOW PLAYING

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
You might have heard of this one. If you haven't seen it already, sometime during the week might be a good time to catch a matinee since practically everyone else has. And don't be wary of J.J. Abrams' revival of the series, the movie is good!

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Sisters
Two sisters go home to throw one last rager to say goodbye to their childhood home. Unfortunately the reviews for this one have been pretty middling, but it's always nice to see Tina Fey and Amy Poehler together on the screen.

Son of Saul
Currently playing only in Los Angeles and New York (projected on 35mm, to boot), this Hungarian Auschwitz drama by first-time director Lázló Nemes is a horrifying look at the Holocaust from a visceral perspective. Winner of the Grand Prix at Cannes this year, Son of Saul made the short list for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar and is likely the odds-on favorite. (Son of Saul expands to more cities in January.)

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Krampus
Finally, the Christmas-horror movie we've been all waiting for. And the critics say it's not bad!

This week would also be a good time to catch up on awards contenders and critical favorites, including Carol, The Big Short, Creed, Spotlight and Brooklyn.

OPENING THIS WEEK

45 Years
From director Andrew Haigh (HBO's Looking, Weekend), 45 Years stars British screen legends Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as a couple whose forthcoming 45th wedding anniversary gets dampened when the past comes to light. Rampling and Courtenay both won for their performances at the Berlin Film Festival, and Rampling added another trophy from the European Film Awards earlier this month. (45 Years opens in limited release on the 23rd.)

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The Hateful Eight
Leave it to Quentin Tarantino to make the arrival of a new movie a literal event, with the 70mm "roadshow" release of his latest film set to play in only a select number of theaters this Christmas. The snowy Western has made a few critics queasy with its cold-blooded, relentless violence—what else would you come to expect from the modern master of exploitation? Aside from seeing it on an antiquated system, the 70mm roadshow release includes 6 more minutes than the wide-release cut (to be released a week later), alternate footage, and also an intermission. (The Hateful Eight "roadshow" release opens on Christmas with the general release on December 31. Click here for information on what theaters will have the 70mm version.)

Joy
David O. Russell returns with another awards season release that reunites him with his usual cast of players. Jennifer Lawrence plays Joy Mangano, the home-shopping entrepreneur who invented the Miracle Mop. Be on the lookout for Melissa Rivers, who plays her late mother in the film. (Joy opens on Christmas)

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The Revenant
Leo is angling for another shot at Oscar gold, and what better chance at it than with the previous winner of Best Director and Best Picture? Alejandro G. Iñárritu's frontier revenge tale pits Leo against the elements and Tom Hardy, but no, he does NOT get raped by a bear. We don't think that'll hurt his chances. (The Revenant opens on Christmas with a wide release to follow.)

Concussion
Are you ready for some (moralizing about the degenerative effects of) football? Will Smith is Bennet Omalu in the professional sports version of The Insider, the doctor who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brains of former NFL players. Concussion, which we're sure NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is not terribly excited about, is about the lengths the league went to in order to cover up Omalu's discovery. (Concussion opens on Christmas)