Holiday movies: ‘Rogue One,’ 'Passengers,' 'Fences,' more

The holidays are here, and with that come some of the biggest movie releases of the year.

From important dramas to new space operas to fanciful musicals, here are the big movies you need to have on your radar.

'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' (Nov. 18)

Welcome back to the world of "Harry Potter" with this new adventure, which is set in America many years before the Boy Who Lived lived, and is built around Newt Scamander (Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne), the author of the title textbook. David Yates, who helmed the final four "Potter" films, directs, and J.K. Rowling herself wrote the screenplay.

'Moana' (Nov. 23)

The title young woman (voiced by newcomer Auli'I Cravalho) and a demigod (Dwayne Johnson) team up for an adventure. From the directors of "Aladdin" and the production house that's turned out a lot of Disney's recent animated hits like "Frozen," "Big Hero 6" and "Zootopia."

'Jackie' (Dec. 2)

Natalie Portman stars as first lady Jacqueline Kennedy following the murder of her husband in this biopic from Pablo Larrain. It explores how the graceful woman dealt with the horrific tragedy while keeping her family together. Also starring Peter Sarsgaard, John Hurt, Billy Crudup and John Carroll Lynch as President Lyndon Baines Johnson.


'La La Land' (Dec. 9)

This Los Angeles-set movie musical starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling follows the courtship of an actress and a musician. It's written and directed by Damien Chazelle, who previously directed another music film, "Whiplash," which won three Oscars. Expect even more veneration for this one.

‘Office Christmas Party’ (Dec. 9)

Jennifer Aniston is a horrible boss again in this ensemble comedy where she plays a CEO planning to shut down a division run by her brother, played by T.J. Miller, who has a plan to throw a giant party to save the company. The loaded cast also includes Kate McKinnon, Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn and Courtney B. Vance.

'All We Had' (Dec. 9)

Katie Holmes makes her feature film directorial debut with this drama about a mother (Holmes) and her teenage daughter (Stefania LaVie Owen) who find themselves in a small town making a new life for themselves.

‘Solace’ (Dec. 16)

Sir Anthony Hopkins plays a psychic brought in to help the FBI find a serial killer in this thriller also starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish and Colin Farrell.

‘Neruda’ (Dec. 16)

From director Pablo Larrain, who also has another biopic, "Jackie," out in December, this film looks at the life of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (Luis Gnecco) in the 1940s when he was sought for being a communist.

‘The Founder’ (Dec. 16)

Grab a Big Mac and fries and settle in to watch this film about Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), who went from a milkshake mixer salesman to building the fast food juggernaut McDonald's, weaseling it away from the McDonald brothers (played by Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch). Directed by John Lee Hancock ("The Blind Side").

'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' (Dec. 16)

This "Star Wars" standalone film is the first of what will likely be many movies set in that universe, which will tell stories outside the main episodic plots. "Rogue One" is set before "A New Hope" and focuses on the Rebels who capture the plans for the Death Star. While this features a new cast of characters, including Felicity Jones' Jyn Erso and Diego Luna's Captain Cassian Andor, you can also expect to see the return of perhaps the greatest screen villain of all time, Darth Vader.

‘Collateral Beauty’ (Dec. 16)

First we saw Will Smith play with a Rubik's Cube in "The Pursuit of Happyness," and now he's playing with dominos in this New York-set drama about an executive dealing with tragedy in his past who is visited by three figures who try to help him to find his way to a better place. Also starring Keira Knightley, Kate Winslet, Edward Norton, Michael Pena and Helen Mirren. From "The Devil Wears Prada" director David Frankel.

‘Barry’ (Dec. 16)

This Barack Obama movie focuses on his time in New York City when he was attending Columbia University in the early 1980s. Devon Terrell plays the future president.

‘Assassin’s Creed’ (Dec. 21)

Could this be the first great video game adaptation? It certainly has the pedigree with a cast featuring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons and Michael Kenneth Williams. The plot is a bit complicated, set in two time periods, and Fassbender plays both a man in current times as well as his ancestor, an assassin in the 15th century.

‘Patriots Day’ (Dec. 21)

Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg's second collaboration this year to be based on a true story chronicles the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the search to find the culprits. Also starring Melissa Benoist, Michelle Monaghan and John Goodman. Wide release Jan. 13.

‘Sing’ (Dec. 21)

A koala (voiced by Matthew McConaughey, of course) puts on a singing competition to save his theater in this animated musical. Also featuring the voices of Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, Nick Offerman and more.

‘Passengers’ (Dec. 21)

Two of the biggest box office draws these days, Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, star in this sci-fi film about a spaceship on its way to a far-off planet, carrying thousands in sleep chambers on a 120-year mission. The duo play two passengers who wake up 90 years early and have to deal with a catastrophic problem with the ship. From director Morten Tyldum, who got an Oscar nomination for "The Imitation Game."

‘Why Him?’ (Dec. 23)

This comedy, from "I Love You, Man" writer/director John Hamburg, features Bryan Cranston as a father visiting his daughter (Zoey Deutch) at Stanford University, where he meets and grows to loathe her boyfriend (James Franco), an internet billionaire. Also starring Megan Mullally, Adam Devine and Keegan-Michael Key.

‘I, Daniel Blake’ (Dec. 23)

An injured carpenter and a singer mother find kinship as they deal with the benefits system in this acclaimed drama from director Ken Loach. Starring Dave Johns and Hayley Squires.

'A Monster Calls’ (Dec. 23)

From "The Impossible" director J.A. Bayona comes this fantasy drama about a boy who elicits help from a tree monster when his mother is stricken with a terminal illness. Starring Felicity Jones, Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver and Liam Neeson as the monster, naturally.

‘Silence’ (Dec. 23)

A new Martin Scorsese film is always a cause for celebration. This drama follows a pair of Jesuit priests (Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield) in the 17th century, who are in Japan looking for their missing mentor (Liam Neeson) in a land where Christianity is banned.

‘Live By Night’ (Dec. 25)

Ben Affleck directs and stars in his second adaptation of a Dennis Lehane novel ("Gone Baby Gone" was the first), a Prohibition Era drama about an up-and-comer on the Boston crime scene looking to make a name for himself.

‘Fences’ (Dec. 25)

Denzel Washington stars and directs this drama based on a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning play by August Wilson from 1987. The film, taking place in Pittsburgh in the 1950s, follows a former Negro League ballplayer as he takes care of his family and deals with a tragic moment from his past. Both Washington and his co-star Viola Davis also starred in the 2010 Broadway revival of the play, which won them both Best Acting Tony Awards. The show also won Best Revival.

‘Hidden Figures’ (Dec. 25)

The ace cast of Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae play a trio of mathematicians who help NASA in the early days of the space race, in this film based on a true story. Wide release on Jan. 6.

‘Toni Erdmann’ (Dec. 25)

This German-Austrian comic drama, a festival favorite, follows a father with a penchant for wacky humor trying to reconnect with his straight-laced daughter.

‘20th Century Women’ (Dec. 25)

Set in California in 1979, a mother (Annette Bening) and two other women (Greta Gerwig and Elle Fanning) help raise her teenage son (Lucas Jade Zumann). Written and directed by Mike Mills ("Beginners").

‘Paterson’ (Dec. 28)

Adam Driver plays Paterson, a bus driver and poet working in Paterson, New Jersey, in this comic drama from auteur Jim Jarmusch.