To the kid me, Christmas vacation meant sleeping late, riding horses with my dad all day and eating as many fir-shaped sugar cookies as I wanted. To the adult me, it’s movie time! Don’t get me wrong: I like baking and spending time with family and going to parties, but those things happen year-round. The serious run-up to the Oscars comes but once — coinciding nicely with holiday office closures and stay-indoors weather — and the older I get, the more I savor the decadent luxury of sitting silently in the dark being entertained by talented strangers. Movies are meant to be seen this way, on big screens; the brief Las Vegas run of some award contenders requires frequent trips to the theater. So far this month, I’ve seen SpotlightStar Wars: the Force AwakensThe Hateful Eight and The Big Short; this coming weekend’s plans include Joy and Trumbo. If I had my way, Brooklyn and Concussion would be on the list. But there’s only so much time. Time to sink into a plush seat, popcorn (and beer, if at Galaxy Green Valley) in hand, and rate all the coming attractions thumbs-up or –down as the impatience for the main attraction builds. By the time The Revenant opens here, January 8, I’ll be ready to call it a season and start looking forward to 2016’s most wonderful time of the year.

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