Good gravy, Marie! It’s gonna be an awfully busy final month of 2016 at the movies. Not that we should be surprised, as this time of year is often overstuffed as studios make their final play for awards season hopefuls as the Oscars draw near.

Do keep in mind that several of the entries in this month’s loaded final list are debuting in limited release, and won’t go wide until across the country until January. While this list could’ve been even longer, I decided to whittle the choices down to a relatively more manageable number at 15. Make sure to check out the robust honorable mentions list as well, because there’s plenty of good or at least interesting looking titles that fell to that section because of space issues. With that in mind, I sure hope you see some great stuff before the year is up.

eyes-of-my-mother

“The Eyes Of My Mother”
Synopsis: A young, lonely woman is consumed by her deepest and darkest desires after tragedy strikes her quiet country life.
What You Need To Know: Earlier this year, “The Eyes Of My Mother” turned heads when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, with the horror movie continuing to ride the strong buzz it earned all year long across the festival circuit, which doesn’t happen often with genre films. This chilling arthouse film, though surely small in stature and reach, is one to seek out if you want something different from the norm this time of year. Coming from Borderline Films (“Christine,” “James White,” “Simon Killer“) and directed by Nicolas Pesce, ‘Mother’ stars Kika Magalhães, Will Brill, Flora Diaz, Paul Nazak, Clara Wong, Diana Agostini, and Olivia Bond, with the story centering on a little girl, and a childhood incident that resonates years later.
Release Date: December 2nd (Limited)

ThingsToCome_02

“Things To Come”
Synopsis: A philosophy teacher experiences later-life upheaval following a divorce.
What You Need To Know: 
Nestling in the top few movies of the year for almost everyone who’s seen it (read our rave from Berlin earlier this year), Mia Hansen-Løve’s follow-up to the great “Eden”  is a stunning, joyously humanist character portrait elevated to instant classic status by the astonishing turn by Isabelle Huppert, who basically pwns 2016. A warm and nuanced study of a woman facing career and personal setbacks and tragedies, yet doing so with resilient, forthright independence and humor, it’s the kind of film that overcomes the specificity of its setting (amid upper-middle class French intelligentsia) with the universality of its insights. Hansen-Løve’s “Eden” is a huge favorite around here, but it’s possible she’s made something even more valuable with “Things to Come” and certainly proves herself one of the keenest and most perceptive observers of life experienced in its various stages. We cannot recommend this Berlin Best Director-winning film highly enough.
Release Date: December 2nd (Limited)

jackie-natalie-portman-movie-jackie-18

“Jackie”
Synopsis: Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and define her husband’s historic legacy.
What You Need To Know: For those who may roll their eyes at what may appear to be a by-the-numbers biopic and/or a vanity project for star Natalie Portman, we recommend you look closer. As per our review, it implies a “broad, prestige Oscar-bait biopic.” But, “’Jackie‘ is not that movie. It may be a portrait of a very famous American, starring a very famous Oscar-winning actress and it may be in English, but “Jackie” is a Pablo Larraín film. Let’s all thank our lucky stars.” Indeed, the Chilean auteur has been killing it of late with one great film after another (he’s got another on the final list, plus this year’s earlier release of “The Club“). With a great lead performance from Portman, a perfectly atonal and bizarre score from Mica Levi (“Under The Skin“) and an overall tone that’s far stranger than the norm, this is one that proves it’s always worth giving something a chance, even if it sounds boringly familiar on the surface.
Release Date: December 2nd (Limited)

“La La Land”
Synopsis: In modern-day L.A, an aspiring actress falls in love with a jazz pianist.
What You Need To Know: After one of the most striking directorial breakthroughs in years, Damien Chazelle had pretty much his choice of projects to do. His follow-up, which opened strong in the Fall festival season (our glowing review) and has been declared the Oscar frontrunner ever since. In some ways a return to the vibe of his low-budget debut “Guy And Madeline On A Park Bench,” in that it’s an honest-to-god original musical, something that you don’t see much of these days. With songs by “Whiplash” composer Justin Hurwitz, and the deeply appealing couple of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone headlining, it’s something of a cross between “The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg” and “New York, New York” with many other famous musicals from the genre’s heyday. This one really does live up to the hype.
Release Date: December 9th (Limited)