Holiday Film Guide

Devin D. O'Leary
9 min read
Holiday Film Guide
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The leaves are turning, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s are looming. The holiday season is upon us! Hollywood hopes you will take a break during your endless holiday shopping in the coming weeks to stop by the mall theater and buy a ticket for one of the following films.

November 6

The Box

Category: Horror thriller

Stars: Cameron Diaz, James Marsden

Story: In this creepy, “Twilight Zone”-ish tale, a mysterious man offers a financially strapped couple an odd proposition. All they have to do is push a button inside a box and two things will happen: They will receive $1 million, and someone somewhere in the world will drop dead.

Disney’s A Christmas Carol

Category: Animated fantasy

Stars: The voices and creepy CGI avatars of Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Cary Elwes, Robin Wright Penn and Bob Hoskins

Story: According to a cursory search, this is like the sixtysomethingth adaptation of Charles Dickens’ holiday classic—but the first to feature 3-D computer-generated motion capture technology. Which is, undoubtedly, what Dickens had in mind when he wrote the thing back in 1843.

The Fourth Kind

Category: Horror thriller

Stars: Milla Jovovich, Elias Koteas

Story: Here’s another faux “based on a true story” horror movie in which a female psychologist interviews people in a small Alaska town who all claim to have been abducted by aliens. Allegedly the interview footage is real. Allegedly.

The Men Who Stare at Goats

Category: War comedy

Stars : George Clooney, Ewan McGregor

Story: This one’s (very loosely) based on a true story as well. But what a story! A reporter in Iraq crosses paths with a loony character who claims to be part of a secret military project to create soldiers with psychic powers.

November 13


Category: Disaster porn

Stars: $250 million dollars’ worth of special effects. … Plus John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Woody Harrelson and Danny Glover. But really, who cares about them?

Story: The world blows up but good.

Pirate Radio

Category: Rock ’n’ roll comedy

Stars: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy

Story: This tune-filled comedy concentrates on an eccentric disc jockey who breaks British law in the early ’60s to broadcast American rock.

November 20

The Blind Side

Category: Sports drama

Stars: Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw

Story: What’s a seasonal film guide without an inspiring true-life sports drama? Here, a hardheaded Texas housewife adopts a homeless African-American teen and helps him become an All-American offensive left tackle.

Planet 51

Category: Animated sci fi

Stars: The voices of of Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Gary Oldman and John Cleese

Story: In this CGI-animated toon, an astronaut lands on an alien world only to find it inhabited by ordinary, green-skinned suburbanites who regard him as a monstrous invader.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Category: Horror romance

Stars: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner … basically all those people plastered to your 13-year-old daughter’s bedroom wall

Story: After the vampire attack that nearly took her life, plain-Jane strange-magnet Bella finds herself falling for another moody young hunk. Spoiler alert: This one turns out to be a werewolf!

November 25

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Category: Animated fairy tale

Stars: The voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson

Story: Wes Anderson ( Bottle Rocket, Rushmore ) changes gears and tries his hand at directing a stop-motion animated adaptation of the classic Roald Dahl children’s book about a too-clever fox battling some angry chicken farmers.

Gentleman Broncos

Category: Comedy

Stars: Jemaine Clement, Jennifer Coolidge

Story: From the makers of Napoleon Dynamite comes this equally left-of-center comedy about a teenager who attends a fantasy convention only to learn that one of his ideas has been stolen by a famous novelist.

Old Dogs

Category: Comedy

Stars: John Travolta, Robin Williams

Story: From the people who brought you Wild Hogs comes this wacky comedy about two post-middle-aged business partners whose lives are turned upside down when they are suddenly, and for extremely contrived reasons, placed in charge of rambunctious 7-year-old twins! How wacky is that? I know: totally wacky .

Ninja Assassin

Category: Martial arts action

Stars: Rain

Story: Korean pop star (and Stephen Colbert archenemy) Rain stars in this style-heavy karate film about … well, the title kinda says it all. Despite appearances, it’s not based on a video game.

The Road

Category: Sci-fi drama

Stars: Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron

Story: Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning exercise in abject depression gets a big-screen adaptation. A father and son wander across the face of post-apocalyptic America trying not to starve to death, get killed or be eaten alive by cannibals.

December 4


Category: Crime drama

Stars: Matt Dillon, Laurence Fishburne, Skeet Ulrich

Story: A newbie guard for an armored car company gets talked into participating in a $42 million heist. You guessed it: Things go wrong.


Category: Drama

Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman

Story: A young man comforts his older brother’s wife and children after big bro goes missing in Afghanistan. At the very least, this heavy drama will prove that Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire are not the same person.

Everbody’s Fine

Category: Comedy drama

Stars: Robert De Niro, Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell, Drew Barrymore

Story: A lonely widower embarks on a Christmas road trip to reconnect with each of his grown children in this holiday dramedy.

Up In The Air

Category: Romantic comedy

Stars: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Jason Bateman. … George, take a rest, big guy. Give some other poor actor a chance this holiday season.

Story: A jet-setting corporate executive whose job it is to fly around the world and fire people finds unexpected romance with a fellow frequent-flyer.

December 11


Category: Sports drama

Stars: Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon

Story: Clint Eastwood directs this unusual biopic about South African leader Nelson Mandela. Rather than exploring the whole Apartheid-jail-presidency thing, the script focuses on Mandela’s efforts to bring the 1995 Rugby World Cup to South Africa.

The Lovely Bones

Category: Crime thriller with a dash of fantasy

Stars: Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg, Susan Sarandon

Story: Peter Jackson ( The Lord of the Rings ) adapts Alice Sebold’s best-selling novel about a young woman who watches the hunt for her killer from heaven.

The Princess and the Frog

Category: Animated fairy tale

Stars: The voices of Anika Noni Rose, Terrence Howard, Angela Bassett and John Goodman

Story: Disney finally adds an African-American princess to its toy line with this Jazz Age New Orleans take on the old fairy tale.

December 18


Category: Science fiction

Stars: Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldana

Story: A mere 12 years after Titanic , James Cameron comes out with a follow-up, this $100 bazillion CGI-saturated sci-fi epic about Earthbound soldiers waging a war on a savage, faraway planet via robotic avatars.

Did You Hear About the Morgans?

Category: Romantic comedy

Stars: Hugh Grant, Sarah Jessica Parker

Story: Get ready for some fish-out-of-water hilarity when a ritzy New York couple sees a murder and is relocated to a podunk Wyoming town as part of a witness-protection program.

The Young Victoria

Category: Costume drama

Stars: Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson

Story: Anglophiles, get ready for big costumes and grand romance in the epic dramatization of the turbulent first years of Queen Victoria’s rule.

December 25

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

Category: Partially animated musical comedy

Stars: Jason Lee and David Cross are back, possibly to prove they have no shame.

Story: How much did you love the live-action/CGI 2007 version? How funny do you find the word “squeakquel”? Your answer to both those questions will largely determine your excitement for this family film. For those on the fence, you should know that Brittany, Jeanette and Eleanor—a.k.a. The Chipettes from The Chipmunks 1983 cartoon series—are here now, too.

It’s Complicated

C ategory: Romantic comedy

Stars: Alec Baldwin, Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, John Krasinski

Story: A reformed womanizer finds himself dealing with empty-nest syndrome while possibly romancing his ex-wife.


Category: Musical

Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Penélope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren

Story: Joining the likes of such movies-turned-musicals-turned-movie-musicals as Hairspray and The Producers , the stage adaptation of Federico Fellini’s pseudo-biopic 8 1/2 gets turned back into a movie. (Now with singing and dancing!)

Sherlock Holmes

Category: Historical action comedy

Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law

Story: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s calculating hero gets a serious action-movie makeover courtesy of Madonna’s ex-husband (he directed Snatch ) and the dude who played Iron Man.

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