This year, there are a lot of movies coming out during the holiday season. There are the big ones: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Les Misérables; as well as the other big ones that just haven’t gotten as much press: The Guilt Trip, Playing for Keeps, Jack Reacher, and This is 40. With the overabundance of movies in theaters this season, it might be hard to narrow down the choices, let alone make a final decision. So this is a guide that should be of some use because the time will inevitably come when your family decides to go see a movie—or you go out with friends/significant other because you’ve spent enough time with your family. Here are some short summaries and a chart to help you make a decision before you’re holding up the line with your debate between The Hobbit and Les Mis.
Although I’m kidding when I say Playing for Keeps (Dec. 7), The Guilt Trip (Dec. 19), This is 40 (Dec. 21), and Jack Reacher (Dec. 21) aren’t big movies, it has to be said that there is no way they can stand up to the long-anticipated prequel of a hugely popular trilogy or the movie adaptation of a beloved musical. While these movies might be good (personally, I’m looking forward to Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up semi-sequel, This is 40), they can’t compete with the movies I’ve featured here.
Rise of the Guardians – Nov 21
Based on William Joyce’s The Guardians of Childhood series, as well as Reel FX and Joyce’s The Man in the Moon short film, Rise of the Guardians is an animated movie revolving around a group of fantastical creatures known as the Guardians. The group includes Santa (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Sandman, and the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher). Jack Frost, voiced by Chris Pine, is chosen to join their ranks in order to fight the boogeyman: Pitch Black, voiced by Jude Law.
Since Rise of the Guardians has been out for a few weeks, you may have seen it already. If you haven’t, I certainly recommend it (saw it, loved it!). On Rotten Tomatoes, Guardians has a 73% from critics and 84% from the audience. Who can pass up a movie that combines all the pillars of the holidays into one butt-kicking movie? Plus it’s entertaining for kids and adults alike. Don’t feel creepy going to see this flick without kids, though I wouldn’t go alone either.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Dec 14
Co-written and produced by the man who brought us The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first movie in another J. R. R. Tolkien inspired trilogy, this time based on The Hobbit. For those who don’t know, The Hobbit tells the story of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Frodo’s uncle who was seen in The Fellowship of the Ring, and how he came into possession of the ring in the first place. The story includes a slew of dwarves, a wizard and a dragon; although it might sound unbelievable, it’s nothing compared to what you hear at The Green Dragon pub.
Jackson’s first Tolkien trilogy was fantastic and did exceptionally well at the box office. If you’re wondering whether I’m a fan, I may or may not have spent an entire day watching all three extended DVD editions of the LotR trilogy; (I definitely did.) But I’m not the only one who is excited, which can be seen by the huge number of advance tickets sold since presale began in November. Whether you’re eagerly awaiting The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (and the next two films in the series) or you couldn’t care less, it might be worth a watch just to see how this new 48 frames per second film technique looks on screen.
Les Misérables – Dec 25
Victor Hugo’s classic tale of post-revolution France has been told in many different ways since its publication in 1862, most notably of which is the musical. This movie adaptation of the musical stars Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, an ex-convict; Russell Crowe as Javert, a police inspector; Anne Hathaway as Fantine, a Parisian woman; and Amanda Seyfried as Cosette, Fantine’s illegitimate daughter. The story follows the four characters as they struggle to survive in 19th century France. For this movie, the director, Tom Hooper, decided to have the actors sing live on set instead of lip-syncing to prerecorded tracks.
Though I’ve been on a six year break with Les Mis since one of my high school French teachers made us read and watch at least a dozen incarnations of the beloved story, I’m actually excited about reuniting with Jean Valjean, Javert and the whole gang this month. I’ve been excited to see how the live singing technique will translate to film since I saw the featurette on the subject, especially since this might not be a technique that will be used often if Russell Crowe’s 40 takes of a song are any indication.
Django Unchained – Dec 25
Set in the pre-Civil War United States, Quentin Tarantino’s new Western film stars Jamie Foxx as the titular character, Django, a freed slave and bounty hunter. The film also stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin J. Candie, a cruel plantation owner; Christoph Waltz as Dr. Shultz, a fellow bounty hunter; and Kerry Washington as Broomhilda, Django’s wife. The movie follows Django as he attempts to rescue his wife from Candie’s plantation with the help of Dr. Shultz.
Like other Tarantino films, Django is rated R for violence and those who have seen the early screenings can attest that it delivers in violence. However, Tarantino pointed out, the brutality depicted in the film is nothing compared to what slaves actually dealt with. Washington, whose character is whipped during one scene, said acting through those scenes of brutality was hard. Despite Tarantino’s tendency toward excessive violence, I have been looking forward to this movie since the first trailer was released earlier this year. Besides, how could you possibly turn down a movie that stars Leo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson? (I sure can’t.)
No matter what you decide to see, this year’s holiday season is certainly going to be a good one for movie lovers and Hollywood alike. So if your wallet allows it, I’d recommend seeing more than one movie this holiday season.