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Season’s Greetings From the Silver Screen

Preview of Upcoming Films

3268711507With Thanksgiving behind us, it is time to put up the Christmas lights. Joining the stars atop trees are the stars from Hollywood, who will be gracing the silver screen. With an enticing mixture of comedy, drama, and highly-anticipated epics, this holiday season is bound to draw the crowds through the 25th.

Bill Murray opens the season on Dec. 7 as Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the smart comedy Hyde Park on Hudson. Directed by Roger Michell, the story follows Margaret Stuckley (Laura Linney), friend and distant relative of FDR, as she spends the weekend with the president and the royal family from England. The quirky president breaks several rules of etiquette while attempting to build strong relations with the King and Queen, including having an affair. A stunning scenic setting coupled with a heartwarming tale of friendship reminds audiences of the importance of the past during this holiday season.

While Hyde Park on Hudson receives a raising of eyebrows, Peter Jackson’s latest Tolkien installment will have Lord of the Rings fans running to the theaters at midnight on Dec. 14. Bringing back Ian McKellen as the beloved wizard Gandolf, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey seeks to revive the franchise that ended almost a decade ago. Martin Freeman (as Bilbo) and Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield) join veterans Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving for the long-awaited prequel. In this first chapter of the trilogy, Bilbo Baggins is visited by thirteen dwarves and a wizard who convince him to take part in an adventure. Their destination: the Lonely Mountain, erupting with dwarvish treasure guarded by the dragon, Smaug. To recreate Middle Earth, the cast and crew returned to New Zealand and Weta Workshop, promising another epic trilogy.

Of course, it would not be the holiday season without a raunchy, no-holds-barred comedy. This is 40, tag-lined “the sort of sequel to Knocked Up,” follows Pete and Debbie as they navigate the dangerous combination of marriage and middle-age. Played by the originals, Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann, the film brings in the usual jokes and cliché events that keep the audiences laughing. Rudd and Mann are hopefully able to save the show by reawakening the chemistry they displayed back in Knocked Up. This is 40 also ties in director Judd Apatow’s favorite actors from I Love You Man and Bridesmaids, Jason Segel and Melissa McCarthy (respectively). Coming out Dec. 21, the film will appeal to those too old for the family films.

A few days later, on Christmas, an all-star cast brings the drama of the stage to the screen in Les Miserables. Directed by Tom Hooper and adapted from the tome of a novel by William Nicholson, this holiday treat is drawing as many eyes as The Hobbit. In short, the story, set in 19th-century France, chronicles the life of parole-hopping Jean Valjean as he runs from police official Javert. Throw in a distressed mother, a seemingly orphaned child, and a young romance and Les Miserable easily fills the three-hour traffic of the stage. Hugh Jackman, Russel Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Amanda Seyfried and Sacha Baron Cohen create perhaps the most star-studded chorus in Hollywood history. With emotionally overwhelming songs and an incredible over-the-top set, this production of Les Miserables will certainly be the best.

In the shadow of Les Miserables comes Quentin Tarantino’s vision of a western. Django Unchained goes back to the 1800s in the southern United States as bounty hunter Dr. King Shultz takes on Django, a slave, as his apprentice in order to kill a trio of malicious brothers. In return for Django’s assistance, Shultz agrees to free him and help the slave find his estranged wife. Jaime Foxx, as Django, is accompanied by Christopher Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Don Johnson, and Samuel L. Jackson. The cast blends perfectly into Tarantino’s signature cocktail of dark comedy shaken with a double dose of violence. Those looking to add some action to the holidays are given a Christmas miracle in Django Unchained.

Other films coming out during the holiday season include: Save the DateAny Day Now and In the Hive (appearing Dec. 14), Monsters Inc. 3DZero Dark Thirty and The Guilt Trip (premiering Dec. 19), Jack ReacherCirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away 3DOn The Road and The Impossible (hitting the screen Dec. 21), Parental Guidance and West of Memphis (opening Dec. 25), Promised LandQuartet and Allegiance (released on Dec. 28).

Families and home-bound college students that hit the vacation lull will have a theater full of options this December. Whether exciting adaptations or a fresh script, the audience will not be disappointed.

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