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2015 movies: Holiday movie preview, from 'Star Wars' to 'The Hunger Games'

The holiday season is always a time for big movie releases. From huge action pieces like the new “Star Wars” film, “The Force Awakens” to Oscar bait such as Cate Blanchett’s new drama “Carol,” there’s something for everyone. Here are a sampling of films you need to know about.

THE NIGHT BEFORE, Nov. 20

Three BFFs, played by Joseph Gordon Levitt, Seth
Photo Credit: Sarah Shatz

Three BFFs, played by Joseph Gordon Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anthony Mackie, are reuniting for one last night of depravity in this comedy directed by Jonathan Levine ("The Wackness").

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY -- PART 2, Nov. 20

You say you want a revolution? Jennifer Lawrence
Photo Credit: Lionsgate / Murray Close

You say you want a revolution? Jennifer Lawrence returns for the final installment of the popular dystopian series.

SECRET IN THEIR EYES, Nov. 20

Writer/director Billy Ray (
Photo Credit: Karen Ballard, STX Productions

Writer/director Billy Ray ("Breach," "Shattered Glass") delivers this new thriller about a trio of friends -- two are FBI investigators and the other is a District Attorney -- who spend more than a decade investigating a murder. Starring Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

CAROL, Nov. 20

Very likely to land Oscar nominations, this adaptation
Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company

Very likely to land Oscar nominations, this adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith novel follows a woman working at a department store in the 1950s who falls for an older woman. Starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. Directed by Todd Haynes.

CREED, Nov. 25

The Rocky franchise changes focus, moving to Adonis
Photo Credit: Barry Wetcher

The Rocky franchise changes focus, moving to Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the son of Apollo Creed, as he works to become the new champ. His trainer: Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone, looking old and wearing lots of hats).

GOOD DINOSAUR, Nov. 25

This year's second Pixar movie will have to
Photo Credit: Pixar

This year's second Pixar movie will have to be really spectacular to match the wonderful "Inside Out." This has a young human befriending a dinosaur.

VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN, Nov. 25

James McAvoy is Dr. Frankenstein and Daniel Radcliffe
Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox/ Alex Bailey

James McAvoy is Dr. Frankenstein and Daniel Radcliffe is Igor in this new interpretation of the classic monster story. Directed by Paul McGuigan, who also directed episodes of the BBC's "Sherlock" television series.

JANIS: LITTLE GIRL BLUE. Nov. 27

A documentary about Janis Joplin, the blues-rock hurricane
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Evening Standard

A documentary about Janis Joplin, the blues-rock hurricane who galvanized the late 1960s before her death at age 27. Directed by Amy Berg ("West of Memphis"). - RAFER GUZMAN

THE DANISH GIRL, Nov. 27

Based on a true story, Oscar winner Eddie
Photo Credit: Focus Features

Based on a true story, Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne plays Einar Wegener, an artist who was one of the first people to undergo gender reassignment surgery, becoming Lili. Also starring Alicia Vikander. Directed by Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech").

MACBETH, Dec. 4

Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard star in this
Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company

Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard star in this latest adaptation of the Shakespeare tragedy built along the lines of an action film.

DON VERDEAN, Dec. 11

From Jared Hess, director of
Photo Credit: Lionsgate

From Jared Hess, director of "Napoleon Dynamite," comes this comedy about a biblical archaeologist looking for relics in Israel who gets caught up in a con. Starring Sam Rockwell, Amy Ryan, Jemaine Clement, Danny McBride and Will Forte.

IN THE HEART OF THE SEA, Dec. 11

From director Ron Howard comes a seafaring adventure
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

From director Ron Howard comes a seafaring adventure chronicling an 1820 incident in New England in which a whaling ship encountered a massive whale; the incident would later inspire Herman Melville's "Moby Dick." Starring Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy and Ben Whishaw as the novelist.

THE BIG SHORT, Dec. 11

Based on the book of the same name
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures and Regency / Jaap Buitendijk

Based on the book of the same name by Michael Lewis ("Moneyball," "The Blind Side"), this star-studded film (Steve Carrell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt) tells the true story of four guys who found a way to make big bucks by capitalizing on the financial crisis from 2007 to 2010.

SISTERS, Dec. 18

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey reunite for this
Photo Credit: Universal Studios/ K.C. Bailey

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey reunite for this new comedy about a pair of sisters who have to go back to their parents home to clear our their old room before the house is sold. Also starring Maya Rudolph, Ike Barinholtz, John Leguizamo and John Cena. From "Pitch Perfect" director Jason Moore.

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP, Dec. 18

The Road Chip' Somehow, we're on our fourth
Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

The Road Chip' Somehow, we're on our fourth "Alvin and the Chipmunks" movie. Hasn't Jason Lee suffered enough? Here they're on a road trip to who cares.

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, Dec. 18

In case you hadn't heard, there's a new
Photo Credit: Film Frame

In case you hadn't heard, there's a new "Star Wars" movie coming out, taking place after "Return of the Jedi" and bringing back much of the classic cast, including Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Anthony Daniels and adding in some younger all-stars like Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Lupita Nyong'o. Directed by J.J. Abrams.

POINT BREAK, Dec. 25

The cult favorite Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves
Photo Credit: Alcon Entertainment

The cult favorite Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves movie from 1991 about an FBI agent going undercover as a surfer is remade with Luke Bracey, Édgar Ramírez and Teresa Palmer.

THE HATEFUL 8, Dec. 25

The latest Quentin Tarantino film is a Western
Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company

The latest Quentin Tarantino film is a Western set in post-Civil War Wyoming about bounty hunters and other unsavory types during a blizzard. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bruce Dern, Demian Bichir, Walton Goggins and Channing Tatum.

THE REVENANT, Dec. 25

From Alejandro González Iñárritu, who won three Oscars
Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

From Alejandro González Iñárritu, who won three Oscars for his 2014 film "Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)," helms this Western starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a man out for revenge after being left to die after a bear attack. Also starring Tom Hardy and Domhnall Gleeson. Inspired by a true story.

JOY, Dec. 25

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper reunite with their
Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox via YouTube

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper reunite with their frequent director David O. Russell ("American Hustle," "Silver Linings Playbook") for this biopic about Joy Mangano, the inventor of the Miracle Mop, which looks at her multigenerational family and how she built the company. Also starring Robert De Niro, Édgar Ramírez and Isabella Rossellini.

CONCUSSION, Dec. 25

Based on a true story, Will Smith stars
Photo Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon

Based on a true story, Will Smith stars as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic neuropathologist who was instrumental in the discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease many athletes have suffered after frequent brain trauma.

DADDY'S HOME, Dec. 25

Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, who also starred
Photo Credit: Viacom

Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, who also starred together in "The Other Guys," are brought together again for this film about a stepfather competing with his stepkids' real dad for their love. Also starring Linda Cardellini, Thomas Haden Church and Hannibal Buress.

ANOMALISA, Dec. 30

Charlie Kaufman, the writer of such mindbenders as
Photo Credit: Viacom

Charlie Kaufman, the writer of such mindbenders as "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "Being John Malkovich," writes and co-directs (with Duke Johnson) this stop-motion animated feature about a man in the midst of an existential crisis. Featuring the voices of David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tom Noonan.

ABOUT RAY, Dec. 31

A New York family's teenage daughter is transitioning
Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company

A New York family's teenage daughter is transitioning into becoming a man. Starring Naomi Watts, Elle Fanning and Susan Sarandon.

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