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Cinematic treats abound this holiday season

Prestige pictures, big-budget blockbusters and even a few comedies are included on the Hollywood studios' end-of-year slate.
by Brandy McDonnell Modified: November 21, 2012 at 1:47 am •  Published: November 23, 2012

The first installment will introduce unassuming hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who is recruited for an epic quest to reclaim the lost dwarf kingdom of Erebor from the wicked dragon Smaug. Along with returning stars Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving and Andy Serkis, “An Unexpected Journey” will feature Middle Earth newcomers Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Billy Connolly and Chickasha-born Lee Pace.

Based on Stephen Rebello's book “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of ‘Psycho'” and set during production of “The Master of Suspense's” groundbreaking film, “Hitchcock” relates the love story between the influential filmmaker (Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins) and his wife and creative partner Alma Reville (Oscar winner Helen Mirren). Scarlett Johansson, James D'Arcy, Jessica Biel and Toni Collette co-star.

Dec. 19

Seth Rogen stars as an inventor who invites his mother, played by the multitalented Barbra Streisand, on a cross-country trek to peddle his new product and reunite her with an old flame in the comedy “The Guilt Trip.”

“Monsters, Inc. 3D” will bring back one of Pixar Animation Studios' most imaginative features and put the adventures of cerulean-furred champion scarer Sulley (voice of John Goodman), his one-eyed, big-mouthed buddy Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and a wayward human tot known as Boo (Mary Gibbs) in three dimensions. The rerelease of the 2001 favorite coincides with next June's long-awaited prequel, “Monsters University.”

Dec. 21

In “Jack Reacher,” Tom Cruise takes on the role of novelist Lee Child's vigilante drifter, an ex-military policeman devoted to righting wrongs. Oscar-winning scribe Christopher McQuarrie (“The Usual Suspects”) writes and directs the crime drama, based on “One Shot,” the ninth best-seller in Child's 17-book series. Cruise's casting has been criticized, since Reacher is described in the books as a 6-foot-5-inch-tall giant with blond hair and ice-blue eyes, which is pretty much the opposite of the movie star's physical appearance. Richard Jenkins, Rosamund Pike and Robert Duvall co-star.

Billed as the “sort-of sequel” to his 2007 blockbuster “Knocked Up,” the R-rated comedy “This Is 40” lets writer/director/producer Judd Apatow (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Funny People”) continue the story of longtime married couple Debbie (Leslie Mann, who played the sister of Katherine Heigl's Alison in “Knocked Up”) and Pete (Paul Rudd).

Academy Award nominee Andrew Adamson (“Shrek,” “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”) writes and directs and three-time Oscar winner James Cameron (“Titanic,” “Avatar”) executive produces “Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D,” which showcases performances from some of the Canadian entertainment company's most sophisticated productions.

Dec. 25

Auteur Quentin Tarantino indulges his love of spaghetti Westerns with “Django Unchained,” the tale of a freed slave (Jamie Foxx) who trains with a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to develop the skills to rescue his long-lost wife (Kerry Washington) from a sadistic plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio). The stellar cast also includes Don Johnson, former Oklahoman Rex Linn and, of course, Samuel L. Jackson.

Director Tom Hooper follows up his Oscar-winning triumph “The King's Speech” with a big-screen adaptation of the smash musical “Les Miserables,” based on Victor Hugo's novel. In 19th century France, ex-prisoner Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) has been running for decades from hard-nosed policeman Javert (Russell Crowe). Although Valjean assumes a new identity, his life truly changes when he promises an ill-fortuned factory worker (Anne Hathaway) that he will care for her daughter, Cossette (Amanda Seyfried).

Set in the generation gap, the comedy “Parental Guidance” stars Billy Crystal and Bette Midler as grandparents whose old-fashioned ways conflict with their three grandchildren's 21st-century sensibilities during an extended visit. Marisa Tomei and Tom Everett Scott play the moppets' helicopter parents.

Jan. 4

Both nominated but never victorious, Bill Murray and Laura Linney look to again contend for Oscar glory with their portrayals of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his cousin and confidant Margaret Suckley in “Hyde Park on Hudson.” The period comedy-drama is set in June 1939 as FDR and wife, Eleanor (Olivia Williams), are hosting the King and Queen of England (Samuel West and Olivia Colman) at their upstate New York home.

In “Promised Land,” Matt Damon reunites with “Good Will Hunting” director Gus Van Sant to play a top corporate salesman sent with his partner (Frances McDormand) to a struggling small town to close the deal for his natural gas company's expansion plans. Damon, who won an Oscar for co-penning “Good Will Hunting,” wrote the drama's screenplay with co-star John Krasinski (“The Office”).

Leatherface again wields his killing-machine in “Texas Chainsaw 3D,” a sequel that continues the terror tale established in Tobe Hooper's 1974 horror classic, with an extra dimension to enhance the bloodletting.

by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
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