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Our cheat sheet to the movies opening over the Christmas holiday week

Movies are a good way to spend time with — or avoid — family members

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Cold weather, spending time with family (or avoiding family members), extra days off work and better-than-average movies are all good reasons to head for the megaplex during the holidays. Below is a round-up of some of the films Santa will be leaving under the tree Christmas week; these are booked to open between Dec. 21 and Dec. 25, but, as always, check local listings before bundling up and heading out.

Passengers. Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt are the only folks awake on a super-long space journey, so of course they fall in love. Then, there’s trouble with the ship. Morten Tyldum directs this thriller.

Patriots Day. Peter Berg helms an ensemble cast in this docudrama about the Boston Marathon bombings and the investigation that followed.

Assassin’s Creed. In this fantasy actioner adapted from the video game, Michael Fassbender unlocks genetic memories that reveal who he used to be: Aguilar, an assassin in 15th-century Spain.

Sing. They’re just like us, except they’re animated animals. This comedy tracks the trials and tribulations of an assortment of critters trying out for a singing competition.

La La Land. An aspiring actress (Emma Stone) and a jazz musician (Ryan Gosling) spend some time falling in love and dancing, in Damien Chazelle’s colorful romantic-comedy musical set in Los Angeles.

Fences. Denzel Washington stars in and directs this adaptation of the August Wilson play, set in Pittsburgh’s Hill District during the 1950s. The film was shot locally.

20th Century Women. Travel back to Southern California in the late 1970s, where a single mom, her teenage son and some quirky neighbors look to get their shaky lives on track. Annette Bening heads up the ensemble cast in Mike Mills’ dramedy.

Why Him? A dad (Bryan Cranston) freaks out when he meets his daughter’s new boyfriend, a socially awkward Silicon Valley rich guy (James Franco). John Hamburg directs this comedy.

Lion. In this drama from Garth Davis, a young man (Dev Patel), adopted as a child by an Australian family, returns to his Indian homeland decades later to find his lost relatives.

A Monster Calls. A young boy with assorted troubles (sick mom, bullying) seeks the help of a tree monster, in J.A. Bayona fantastical family tale.

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