We already gave you the lowdown about the end of the 2014 movie year back in our Fall 2014 Movie Preview, but since the holidays are approaching – and people want a reminder of what awaits them at the theater – we’re taking another look at the movies that will be available to fans and families everywhere as they enter the season of good tidings and joy.

There’s also the reality that as the end of the year approaches, so changes the perception of a lot of the movies being released in this fourth-quarter blockbuster season. We learn more from promotional materials, see more in trailers and TV spots, and generally gain awareness of promising (or not so promising) flicks that may not have been on our radar before – or barely made a blip if they did register.

Below you’ll find a breakdown of the November and December 2014 movie releases – which kick off the holiday season with the huge double-whammy of Disney/Marvel’s first animated venture, Big Hero 6, as well as Christopher Nolan’s new sci-fi blockbuster with Matthew McConaughey, Interstellar.

November

Bottom Line: The holiday blockbuster movie season 2014 begins in November – but there are plenty of smaller genre films in the mix as well.

 –

Big Hero 6

Big Hero Six Previews Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Nov. 7th

From Walt Disney Animation Studios, the team behind “Frozen” and “Wreck-It Ralph,” comes “Big Hero 6,” an action-packed comedy-adventure about the special bond that develops between Baymax, a plus-sized inflatable robot, and prodigy Hiro Hamada. When a devastating event befalls the city of San Fransokyo and catapults Hiro into the midst of danger, he turns to Baymax and his close friends adrenaline junkie Go Go Tomago, neatnik Wasabi, chemistry whiz Honey Lemon and fanboy Fred. Determined to uncover the mystery, Hiro transforms his friends into a band of high-tech heroes called “Big Hero 6.”

OUR TAKE: Disney Animation (not to be confused with Pixar) has been churning out some good flicks, and combined with some Marvel-brand superhero action/adventure and a merchandising cash-cow in inflatable robot Baymax, we expect Big Hero 6 to be a big win for Disney, Marvel and audiences alike.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

Interstellar

interstellar reviews Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Nov. 7th

A group of explorers make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.

OUR TAKE: A Chris Nolan sci-fi film starring Matthew McConaughey at the height of his career? We’re in – even if early reviews are less than stellar.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

Jessabelle

Jessabelle movie trailer 2014 1024x682 Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Nov. 7th

Returning to her childhood home in Louisiana to recuperate from a horrific car accident, Jessabelle (Sarah Snook) comes face to face with a long-tormented spirit that has been seeking her return — and has no intention of letting her escape.

OUR TAKE: The trailer looks like a mix of so many other horror movies – and we’re not sure our horror interest will extend beyond the Halloween holiday (at least not for this film).

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

Open Windows

Open WIndows Movie Preview Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Nov. 7th

An actress named Jill (Sasha Grey) refuses to have dinner with Nick (Elijah Wood), a fan who won a date with her in an Internet contest. In return, a guy named Chord (Neil Maskell), posing as Jill’s campaign manager, helps Nick to follow in the footsteps of the actress from his own computer. But Nick soon realizes that he is only a puppet into the manic plans devised by Chord, to hunt down the star.

OUR TAKE: On the surface this looks like a B-movie thriller with the hook of starring a former porn star (Grey). However, a look beneath the surface reveals that it is also the latest work by director Nacho Vigalondo, who impressed many with his stripped-down time travel movie, Timecrimes. That’s certainly a boost.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

Rosewater

Rosewater movie directed by Jon Stewart 2014 Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Nov. 7th

A journalist (Gael García Bernal) is detained in Iran for more than 100 days and brutally interrogated in prison.

OUR TAKE: This is Daily Show star Jon Stewart’s first foray into directing. It seems that not everything is a joke to the comedian behind the news desk.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything Movie Preview Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Nov. 7th

A look at the relationship between the famous physicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and his wife (Felicity Jones).

OUR TAKE: The world knows Stephen Hawking – but not like this. Redmayne (Les Mis) and Jones (Like Crazy) are solid talents to lead this biopic drama – with early buzz pointing to awards considerations for Redmayne’s performances as Hawking.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

Beyond the Lights

Beyond the Light Movie Preview Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Nov. 14th

A talented young musician (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) on the brink of super stardom struggles with the pressure of her new-found success.

OUR TAKE: This one is a curious animal, with a cast that places the likes of Minnie Driver and Belle star Gugu Mbatha-Raw alongside Nate Parker (Non-Stop) and Danny Glover. However, it does look closer to director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s breakout film, Love & Basketball, which will lure a certain audience in.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

Dumb and Dumber To

Dumb and Dumber 2 Trailer Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Nov. 14th

20 years after the dimwits set out on their first adventure, Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey)  head out in search of one of their long-lost children in the hope of gaining a new kidney.

OUR TAKE: The first trailer brought accusations that the filmmaking team had lost a step – but we’re hoping that green-band restrictions are simply hiding the true depraved fun of this long-awaited sequel.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

Foxcatcher

Steve Carell and Channing Tatum Foxcatcher Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Nov. 14th

Based on the true story of Mark Schultz, an Olympic wrestler whose relationship with sponsor John du Pont and brother Dave Schultz would lead to unlikely circumstances.

OUR TAKE: Director Bennett Miller (Capote, Moneyball) is known for turning the most unlikely of stories into compelling character drama films. With an intense performance from Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz, an oddball dramatic turn from Steve Carell as du Pont, and Mark Ruffalo as Schultz’ brother, there are definite hints of dark-horse greatness in this film.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

Wolves

wolves red band trailer Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Nov. 14th

Wolves follows the story of Cayden Richards (Lucas Till) – a young, handsome eighteen-year-old with an edge. Forced to hit the road after the death of his parents, Cayden finds his way to an isolated town to hunt down the truths of his ancestry. But in the end, who’s hunting whom?

OUR TAKE: Jason Momoa is about to get some huge mainstream exposure now that he’s playing Aquaman in DC’s superhero movie universe – and considering that this is some pretty pulpy genre fare (werewolf horror) that also involves X-Men: First Class star Lucas “Havok” Till and X2 writer David Hayter, we think Wolves will draw a certain (if not limited) audience.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

hunger games mockingjay part 1 trailer1 Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Nov. 21st

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) reluctantly becomes the symbol of a mass rebellion against the autocratic Capitol.

OUR TAKE: Have you watched the series so far? It got exponentially better when director Francis Lawrence (Constantine) took over the sequel – and he’s back for this two-part final chapter. With the cast now settled deep into their characters, and a bigger budget for a good director to play with, we expect a great start to the end of The Hunger Games.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

The Imitation Game

imitation game benedict cumberbatch Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Nov. 21st

Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), the film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain’s top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II.

OUR TAKE: Math code doesn’t usually entice viewers into theater seats – but Cumberbatch does have a growing circle of fans. Early buzz is this film will only add to his star prestige – as he potentially heads into playing Marvel’s Doctor Strange.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

Reach Me

reach me sylvester stallone Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Nov. 21st

A motivational book written by a mysterious man quickly gains popularity, inspiring a group of people that includes a journalist, his editor, a former inmate, a hip-hop mogul, an actor and an undercover cop to re-evaluate their choices and decisions by confronting their fears in hopes of creating more positive lives.

OUR TAKE: Packing a cast with big names like Sylvester Stallone, Kyra Sedgwick, Thomas Jane, Walking Dead‘s Lauren Cohan, Kelsey Grammer, Terry Crews and Nelly is a nice gimmick – but it doesn’t change the fact that this film feels like one of those intertwining episodic feel-good movies like New Years Eve or Valentines Day. We’ve just traded holidays for self-help subject matter. Not at all depressing.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

VHS: Viral

VHS Viral Glow Faced Body Horror Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Nov. 21st (Theatrical)

In this third installment of the found-footage horror anthology series, we follow fame-obsessed teens who unwittingly become stars of the next (deadly) internet sensation.

OUR TAKE: The VHS series has both found a loyal audience and catapulted a few filmmakers to bigger, better opportunities (see: You’re Next director Adam Wingard). But since this film will have been available On Demand and for Digital Download for awhile when this theatrical release rolls around, we’d advise interested parties to take the cheaper, more satisfying, home theater route.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

Horrible Bosses 2

horrible bosses 2 trailer poster Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Nov. 26th

Fed up with answering to higher-ups, Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day) and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) decide to become their own bosses by launching their own business. But a slick investor (Christoph Waltz) soon pulls the rug out from under them. Outplayed and desperate, and with no legal recourse, the three would-be entrepreneurs hatch a misguided plan to kidnap the investor’s adult son (Chris Pine) and ransom him to regain control of their company.

OUR TAKE: In our humble opinion, Horrible Bosses was one of the better new comedies of the last few years, and it looks like the sequel has found a way to revisit the property without going all Hangover 2 on us. Could be fun.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

The Penguins of Madagascar

The Peguins of Madagascar First Trailer Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Nov. 26th

Super spy teams aren’t born…they’re hatched. Discover the secrets of the greatest and most hilarious covert birds in the global espionage biz: Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private. These elitists of the elite are joining forces with a chic undercover organization, The North Wind. Led by handsome and husky Agent Classified (we could tell you his name, but then…you know). Together, they must stop the villainous Dr. Octavius Brine, from destroying the world as we know it.

OUR TAKE: The Madagascar franchise needs no marketing help by now. Its fanbase is practically guaranteed.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

Monsters: Dark Continent

Monsters Dark Continent Release Date Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Nov. 28th

Ten years on from the events of Monsters, and the ‘Infected Zones’ have now spread worldwide. In the Middle East a new insurgency has begun. At the same time there has also been a proliferation of Monsters in that region. The Army decide to draft in more numbers to help deal with this insurgency.

OUR TAKE: The first Monsters was an unusual indie approach to a giant monster movie – and it either delighted or repelled viewers based on their expectations of the sub-genre. Well, Monsters director Gareth Edwards has moved on to literally bigger things (Godzilla), leaving Dark Continent as one of those studio-produced sequels meant to cash in on brand name. Maybe director Tom Green (Misfits, Blackout) will impress with some new ideas, but we remain skeptical…

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

DECEMBER

 Bottom Line: The month of December is pretty dry until the Christmas Day flood.

The Pyramid

The Pyramid Movie Trailer 2014 Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Dec. 5th

A team of U.S. archaeologists unearths an ancient pyramid buried deep beneath the Egyptian desert. As they search the pyramid’s depths, they become hopelessly lost in its dark and endless catacombs. Searching for a way out, they become desperate to seek daylight again. They come to realize they aren’t just trapped, they are being hunted.

OUR TAKE: As Above, So Below showed us earlier this year that horror films about underground historical sites and ancient mythology can result in a creepy good time. That good faith will extend to The Pyramid, and as the only real horror movie offering in the month, it should do alright for itself.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

 Wild

Reese Witherspoon in Wild Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Dec. 5th

A chronicle of one woman’s 1,100-mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent catastrophe.

OUR TAKE: Dallas Buyers Club director Jean-Marc Vallée teams with Resse Witherspoon for what looks like a female version of Into the Wild. Witherspoon can deliver when given the right material (see: Mud) and with author Nick Hornby adapting Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, the right material may indeed be in Witherspoon’s hands.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

Exodus: Gods and Kings

Exodus Gods and Kings Bale and Edgerton Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Dec. 12th

An account of Moses’ (Christian Bale) hand in leading the Israelite slaves out of Egypt.

OUR TAKE: You can’t have the holiday season without a classic biblical epic, and Ridley Scott has seemingly crafted one that’s as close to the scope of The Ten Commandments as anything we’ve seen. Here’s hoping the final result turned out better than Kingdom of Heaven and/or Robin Hood

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

Inherent Vice

inherent vice joaquin phoenix benicio del toro Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Dec. 12th (Limited)

In Los Angeles in 1970, drug-fueled detective Larry “Doc” Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend.

OUR TAKE: Paul Thomas Anderson adapting a Thomas Pynchon novel seems like an esoteric intellectual match made in heaven. Add in actors like Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Benecio Del Toro, Eric Roberts and Martin Short, and you have something that could be much more lively than the last few PTA movies.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

Top Five

Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson in Top Five Movie 2014 Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Dec. 12th

Chis Rock writes and directs this film about a comedian who tries to make it as a serious actor when his reality-TV star fiancé talks him into broadcasting their wedding on her TV show.

OUR TAKE: Chris Rock is a comedic heavyweight, and his movies (see also: I Think I Love My Wife) manage to be both humorous and insightful in that raw, edgy, Chris Rock way. With supporting cast members like Cedric The Entertainer, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan, Jerry Sienfeld, Adam Sandler and Gabrielle Union, we’ll definitely be giving this a look.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

hobbit battle five armies trailer poster Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Dec. 17th

The Company of Thorin has reached Smaug’s lair; but can Bilbo and the Dwarves reclaim Erebor and the treasure? And, if so, can they hold on to it? Or will their quest plunge the rest of Middle-earth into all-out war?

OUR TAKE: The final chapter in Peter Jackson’s six-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books is a milestone event; although, one that comes with the burden of having to be the best entry in the less-loved Hobbit trilogy. No pressure.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

Annie

annie trailer foxx wallis Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Dec. 19th

Business tycoon and mayoral candidate Benjamin Stacks (Jamie Foxx) launches a campaign to take in Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis), a young girl who has been living with her mean foster mom Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz) since her parents left her as a baby.

OUR TAKE: A more colorful (pun) take on the classic story that some may sneer at, but the cast is solid, Jay-Z is handling the music, and director Will Gluck (Easy A, Friends with Benefits) is known for creating fun contemporary films. This Annie remake may not have such a hard knock life after all.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

The Gambler

gambler movie mark wahlberg Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Dec. 19th (Limited)

A literature professor with a gambling problem runs afoul of gangsters.

Our Take: We all know what happens when Mark Wahlberg runs afoul of anyone – but Wahlberg as a literature professor? Last time he was head of the class we got The Happening. Of course, Jessica Lange, Brie Larson, John Goodman and Michael K. Williams (The Wire) are the sort of actors that bring legitimacy to a film like this.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Night At The Museum Stevens Stiller Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Dec. 19th

Larry (Ben Stiller) leaves New York City for London on a quest to save the magic before it is gone forever.

OUR TAKE: By this third chapter you should know if you enjoy Shawn Levy’s historical magical adventure series – but the fact that this film contains one of Robin Williams’ last onscreen performances will lend the project the clout of morbid curiosity.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

American Sniper

american sniper trailer poster Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Dec. 25th

A Navy SEAL recounts his military career, which includes more than 150 confirmed kills.

OUR TAKE: Clint Eastwood (taking over for Steven Spielberg) directs Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller in a film based on the real life experiences of SEAL sniper Chris Kyle. Biopics can be boring, but this has the makings of an interesting and intense character drama with larger thematic implications.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

Big Eyes

big eyes adams burton Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Dec. 25th

A drama centered on the awakening of the painter Margaret Keane (Amy Adams), her phenomenal success in the 1950s, and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband (Christoph Waltz), who claimed credit for her works in the 1960s.

OUR TAKE: A feminist-minded biopic drama with the charming and talented Amy Adams at its center. If that doesn’t interest you, this might: Big Eyes is a Tim Burton film that does NOT have Johnny Depp in it. Could be the filmmaker’s best dramatic work since Big Fish eleven years ago.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

The Interview

the interview trailer rogen franco Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Dec. 25th

In the action-comedy The Interview, Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) run the popular celebrity tabloid TV show “Skylark Tonight.” When they discover that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a fan of the show, they land an interview with him in an attempt to legitimize themselves as journalists. As Dave and Aaron prepare to travel to Pyongyang, their plans change when the CIA recruits them – perhaps the two least-qualified men imaginable – to assassinate Kim Jong-un.

OUR TAKE: This movie was enough to push America to the brink of war with North Korea; we GOTTA see what all the fuss was about. Hopefully there are some genuinely good laughs in there, too.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

Into the Woods

into woods meryl streep Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Dec. 25th

Into the Woods is a modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales in a musical format that follows the classic tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel – all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch who has put a curse on them.

OUR TAKE: Meryl Streep as a Disney witch is enough of a hook on its own; add in Pitch Perfect star Anna Kendrick, Johny Depp, and other stars like Emily Blunt, Chris Pine, James Corden and Lucy Punch, and what you have is a bonafide Disney tentpole film that will clean up big during the holiday block.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

Selma

Selma Movie Preview Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Dec. 25th (Limited)

A biopic about Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo), Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) and the civil rights marches that changed America.

OUR TAKE: It is now semi-standard practice for an Oscar-bait historical drama to release (at least in limited range) on Christmas Day. Will Selma be the next Lincoln? Director Ava DuVernay doesn’t have enough films behind her for us to call it at this point.

 

Unbroken

unbroken movie jack o connell Screen Rants 2014 Holiday Movie Preview


Dec. 25th

A chronicle of the life of Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell), an Olympic runner who was taken prisoner by Japanese forces during World War II.

OUR TAKE: Angelina Jolie is still looking for a big breakout as a filmmaker – and this biography of the late (and great) Zamperini has been a cultural fixation since the book’s release. With subject matter that is more inspirational and heartwarming than the dark days of the Civil Rights Movement, Unbroken could overshadow Selma as the historical drama to see this Christmas.

(WATCH THE TRAILER)

Conclusion


It seems as though holiday season 2014 will successfully pull us out of the doldrums of the fall season, offering fans some big (even promising) cinematic experiences that are actually worth a trip to the theater. Christmas day alone will offer us more films than any one person can handle (eight choices from various genres), so this year, it will truly be all about choice.

What is it YOU are looking most forward to? Kid-friendly fare like Big Hero 6Annie or Night of the Museum 3? Comedy offerings like Dumb and Dumber To, Horrible  Bosses 2, or The Interview? Or are you mostly in for the big blockbusters like Interstellar, Mockingjay, The Hobbit and Exodus?

Finally, for those trying to get an early hop on the 2015 Oscar season, will you be checking out films like UnbrokenSelma and Foxcatcher? Let us know in the comments.

Follow me and talk movies @screenrant or @ppnkof