Holiday movie line-up presents promising box office hits

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows, from left, Katherine Waterston, Eddie Redmayne, Alison Sudol and Dan Folger in a scene from "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them." At a fan event for the upcoming film in London on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, J.K. Rowling revealed that the budding franchise will now stretch to five films. The first, starring Eddie Redmayne, opens November 18. (Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

‘Tis the season to watch movies — a season that usually begins in mid-November and runs right up to Dec. 25. This year, Santa’s holiday movie sleigh is with loaded with promising chestnuts; so don we now our movie-going apparel, and let’s see what’s in our cinematic stocking:

“The Arrival,” Nov. 11  — Red-hot director Denis Villeneuve helms this story of a linguist (Amy Adams) working frantically to understand a powerful alien species with ships all over the globe — to figure out, that is, whether they represent a threat or an opportunity. Villeneuve, who directed 2015’s “Sicario” and the excellent “Prisoners” (2013), also heads up next year’s “Blade Runner 2049,” with Ryan Gosling, Jared Leto, Robin Wright and Harrison Ford.

“The Edge of Seventeen,” Nov. 18 — Hailee Steinfeld stars as an uncool but whip-smart teen whose best friend suddenly starts dating her brother. With Kyra Sedgwick and Woody Harrelson.

“Manchester by the Sea,” Nov. 18 — Casey Affleck has generated plenty of buzz for his performance in this film from writer-director Kenneth Lonergan (“You Can Count on Me”). He plays a blue-collar worker tasked with caring for a nephew when his brother dies unexpectedly. Co-starring Michelle Williams and Kyle Chandler.

“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” Nov. 18 — Two-time Oscar-winner Ang Lee (“Sense and Sensibility,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Life of Pi”) directs this story of an Iraq-war vet hailed as a hero but struggling with horrific memories. Lee’s 3D film features 120 frames per second –yielding five times the usual resolution — which elicited gasps in early screenings. Starring Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel, Steve Martin and Chris Tucker.

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” Nov. 18 — Harry Potter prequel scripted by J. K. Rowling; starring Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”), plus Colin Farrell and Jon Voight.

“Nocturnal Animals,” Nov. 18 — In this story-within-a-story, Amy Adams plays a woman whose ex-husband has written a thriller that seems directed at something awful in her past; the interior story stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon. This limited release might not make it to Lycoming County.

“Moana,” Nov. 23 — Promising animated fare from Disney — the South Seas tale of a Polynesian girl searching for the legendary shape-shifting god Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson). With music co-written by “Hamilton’s” Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also has been tapped for Disney’s live-action update of “The Little Mermaid” — and 2018’s “Mary Poppins Returns,” with Emily Blunt as the titular nanny.

“Allied,” Nov. 23 — Veteran director Robert Zemeckis (“Back to the Future,” “Forrest Gump,” “Flight”) directed this World War II tale starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard as undercover agents who also happen to be spouses. The plot hinges on their supervisors’ growing suspicion that Cotillard’s character is actually working for the Nazis.

“La La Land,” Dec. 16  — Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone — reuniting after their winning romance in “Crazy. Stupid. Love” — star in this colorful-looking, throwback-style musical from director Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”).

•  “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” Dec. 16 — Set before Episode 4 (1977), this spin-off focuses on rebels who’ve stolen plans to blow up the Death Star. With Felicity Jones (“The Theory of Everything”) and Forest Whitaker.

“Collateral Beauty,” Dec. 16 — Sometimes you want to see a movie just for the cast — in this case, Will Smith, Keira Knightley, Edward Norton, Helen Mirren, Michael Pena and Kate Winslet; though the storyline here also is intriguing: a troubled man writes letters to love, time and death and then one day gets a visit from the last of these.

“Passengers,” Dec. 21 — In this hottest-looking holiday release, Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt play two of the many travelers in suspended animation on a 120-year trip to a far-off space colony. Accidentally waking up  90 years early, they realize they will spend their entire lives alone together — and then, something begins to go wrong with their ship. Co-starring Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne and Andy Garcia; directed by Morton Tydlum (“The Imitation Game”).

“Fences,”  Dec. 25 — Based on August Wilson’s Pulitzer-winning play, this film features Viola Davis and Denzel Washington in roles that won them both Tonys in the 2010 Broadway revival. Washington directs as well.

Currently questionable for 2016 are Peter Berg’s “Patriot’s Day,” about the Boston Marathon bombing (with Mark Wahlberg) and Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited “Silence,” starring Liam Neeson and Andrew Garfield — and based on Shusaku Endo’s acclaimed novel about Portuguese missionaries in 17th-century Japan. Both have been delayed and may get moved to January.

In any case, have yourself a movie little Christmas this year.