Movies That Make the Holiday Season Memorable

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The first of three films based on an adaptation of the 1937 novel by J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a prequel to The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. It will star Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield and Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug. Several actors from The Lord of the Rings will reprise their roles, including Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood & Orlando Bloom. Bilbo Baggins (Freeman) is swept into a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug.

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
November 16th, 2012

Movies That Make the Holiday Season Memorable

-- December is a big new-release month for Hollywood. At this time of year, people generally have extra holidays, most of which they spend in movie theaters. This December has movies for everyone: some highly anticipated and others just plain fun.

The three most highly anticipated movies of the month, and perhaps of the year, are "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," "Django Unchained," and "Les Misérables." These movies are so entirely different from one another that movie fans might want to see all three this month.

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

This movie is based on J.R.R. Tolkien's book "The Hobbit, or There and Back Again." The events in this movie take place in time before the "The Lord of the Rings." That trilogy by director Peter Jackson is held in such high regard by fans that "The Hobbit" will surely draw huge crowds to the theaters. "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is the first of three films that tell the story of Bilbo Baggins' journey to the Lonely Mountain to retrieve the stolen ring.

"Django Unchained"

Directed by Quentin Tarantino, this film tells the story of a freed slave on a mission to rescue his wife from a plantation owner. The film stars Jamie Foxx as the freed slave and Leonardo DiCaprio as the plantation owner. Although this might seem like odd casting, previews suggest that these two actors excel in the roles.

"Les Misérables"

This movie is based on the long-running musical of the same name. The main characters of Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert are played by Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe. Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried play Fantine and her daughter, Cossette. Theatrical musicals often don't translate well to the movie screen so it is interesting to see how the audiences will receive this film.

For people who would like to take in a film on a serious topic, director Kathryn Bigelow's new feature, "Zero Dark Thirty," is the one to choose. Bigelow's first movie, "The Hurt Locker" (2009), won Best Picture and Best Director Oscars that year. This new film is about the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden after the 2001 World Trade Center attacks.

Perhaps "Zero Dark Thirty" is being released this December in order to be eligible for the 2012 Academy Award nominations. Academy rules state that in order for a movie to qualify for nomination, it must be released before the end of the year. Two films that are being given a limited release to qualify for the awards are "Stand Up Guys," a comedy starring Al Pacino, and "Promised Land," a drama directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Matt Damon. In order to see either of these before next year, movie fans will have to be in New York or Los Angeles, as these are the only two cities where the movies will be shown. They will go into full release early in 2013.

Surprisingly, the traditional movie genres of the season, children's movies and Christmas movies, offer slim pickings this year. In fact there is only one movie that can be called a children's movie and that's "Dino Time." "Dino Time" is a 3-D animated feature that is rated PG and is about three kids who travel back in time and who are taken in by a dinosaur family. As far as Christmas movies go, although "The Fitzgerald Family Christmas" might sound like it would be a child-friendly movie, it is, in fact, an adult-oriented story about family estrangement and reunion. Unless kids want to see the re-release of "Monsters, Inc.," it might be a good idea to stock up on such Christmas classics as "The Polar Express," "A Christmas Story," and "Miracle On 34th Street" to get entertained at home this season.

Instead of traditional Christmas fare, the movie studios have released a number of comedies and action-thrillers this December, including:

* "Cheerful Weather for the Wedding" with Felicity Jones and Luke Treadaway
* "Deadfall" with Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde
* "Hyde Park on Hudson" with Bill Murray and Laura Linney
* "Jack Reacher" with Tom Cruise
* "Parental Guidance" with Billy Crystal and Bette Midler
* "Playing for Keeps" with Gerard Butler and Jessica Biel
* "Save the Date" with Lizzy Caplan and Alison Brie
* "The Guilt Trip" with Seth Rogan and Barbra Streisand
* "This is 40" with Jason Segel and Paul Rudd

It won't be hard to find a movie to enjoy this December with so many new releases to choose from. The movie studios have been hard at work doing what they do best, making new movies to entertain families before the end of the year.