5 movies to watch over the holidays after The Force Awakens

As you already know, years worth of hype and anticipation have just culminated in one of the biggest movie releases ever, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens living up to the hype to satisfy both critics and audiences alike. But now that you’ve seen JJ Abrams’ resurrection of the storied franchise, you’re not going to just sit around and wait for Episode VIII before you head back to the theater.

The Holiday Season isn’t just about presents and pretty lights, it’s also the most wonderful time of the year for movie fans, and there are plenty of other great films in theaters this weekend that are worth getting off the couch for. To help bring you some extra holiday movie cheer, we’ve put together a list of five films outside the Star Wars universe that you should try to find time for in-between all the sci-fi revelry.

The Big Short

Want to know why you’ve had to cut back on your Xmas budget in recent years? Look no further than The Big Short, an adaptation of Michael Lewis’ book of the same name. The film follows a group of outsiders who saw the financial crisis coming and made a big bet against the risky and unscrupulous practices that had become the norm at some of the world’s biggest banks. With a cast headlined by Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, and Steve Carell, this one has a great story and plenty of star power to spare.

The Revenant (limited release December 25, full release Jan 8)

Betrayed and left for dead, a majestically-bearded, blunderbuss-packing Leonardo DiCaprio marches across the American frontier in a quest to survive and get back to his family. That quest syncs up nicely with the actor’s mission to land the Best Actor Oscar that has eluded him his entire career and, with Birdman Director Alejandro González Iñárritu at the helm, this film may be just the right vehicle to take him to the promised land. While the full release isn’t until January, some lucky moviegoers can see it starting Christmas day, which puts it in Oscar contention this year.

The Hateful Eight

There was a lot of talk about JJ Abrams’ use of practical effects in The Force Awakens, but he’s not the only great movie maker who knows a thing or two about making what’s old new again. Quentin Tarantino’s latest follows a group of dangerous miscreants as they navigate a blizzard in the old west. But apart from Tarantino’s signature brilliant story telling, The Hateful Eight is a feast for the eyes of an entirely different animal. Shot on Panavision Ultra 70mm film (the mecca format for cinephiles that uses the same lenses as Ben-Hur), the film is set to be the widest release on the spectacular format in over 20 years. Starring old Tarantino favorites like Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, and Michael Madsen, you can be sure that this will be a wild ride.

For your viewing pleasure, here’s the official list of all the theaters that will carry The Hateful Eight in 70mm.

The Good Dinosaur

The Holiday season is all about the kids, and since Pixar rarely (if ever) misses, The Good Dinosaur is your best bet if you’re looking for some family fun. The film follows an Apatosaurus named Arlo as he befriends a young human being, and is based on a simple hypothetical: What if the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs millions of years ago had missed? The film is currently in theaters and boasts an relatively high 76 percent on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

Macbeth

If you’re the type that finds traditional Hollywood blockbusters to be “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” then Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth is for you. The film stars Michael Fassbender as Lord and Marion Cotillard as Lady, and tells Shakespeare’s timeless tale of ambition run amok. The adaptation has garnered rave reviews from critics and — though it has only received a limited theatrical release — it’s certainly worth a trip to a smaller, out-of-the-way theater.

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