2011 Holiday Movie Preview

2011 Holiday Movie Preview

The last two months of the year are the best for movie lovers. It’s not that summer movies don’t have their place, but I’ve had enough of super heroes for one year. So bring on the holidays filled with movies of every kind, from comedies to dramas and those important Oscar contenders, and did someone say puppets?

Nov. 18 marks the beginning of the end for the “Twilight” series as “Breaking Dawn – Part I” premieres. The vampires and werewolves will face off again as Kristin Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner return. Teenage girls will swoon, and repeat visits to the theater will drive box office sales to a healthy profit for this franchise nearing its conclusion, with one more installment to go in 2012.

Also on Nov. 18, Alexander Payne, the brilliant mind behind “Sideways,” returns with “The Descendants” starring George Clooney as family man living in Hawaii who learns his comatose wife was cheating on him. The buzz is Clooney is fantastic in the part, so put this one on Oscar watch.

The Thanksgiving holiday brings more offerings than just turkey and dressing. “The Muppets” return with Jason Segel and Amy Adams, who will share the screen with Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzy Bear and a new Muppet, Walter. Expect to hear a lot of familiar voices coming out of those puppets including Jack Black, Emily Blunt and a slew of actors who wanted in on the fun. Opening Nov. 23.

The highly anticipated “Hugo” also opens Nov. 23. From director Martin Scorsese and in 3D, this is based on the novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick. Set in Paris in the ’30s, it involves an orphan (Asa Butterfield) who inherits a broken automaton. Scorsese has said he was inspired by French filmmaker Georges Melies in the creation of this film.

Clocking in a few weeks early is “New Year’s Eve” on Dec. 9. From the mind of Garry Marshall, this is the virtually the same treatment he gave “Valentine’s Day” a few years ago. The compilation cast of thousands includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Lea Michele, Sara Jessica Parker and Ashton Kutcher. Intersecting story lines and lots of sap make this a cheery, cheesy holiday offering.

Also on Dec. 9, John Le Carre’s definitive spy novel “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” comes back to the screen in what looks to be a riveting remake updated with Gary Oldman in the part of George Smiley, the MI6 operative brought out of retirement to spirit out the double agent. The all-star cast includes Colin Firth, last year’s Oscar winner for “The King’s Speech.”

On Dec. 16, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law return for “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.” Expect more Victorian high jinks and sleuthing with director Guy Ritchie at the helm once again. Of note: Swedish actress Noomi Rapace guest stars, but it’s hard to recognize her without body art and face piercings in the role she originated — Lisbeth Salander in the “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” the Swedish-filmed trilogy.

Another popular franchise returns on Dec. 16 as Tom Cruise revives “Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol.” Co-starring Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner, word is the plot is still as undecipherable as the first three films were, but the only thing that will stop this from making money is if audiences no longer buy the aging Cruise as super cool secret agent Ethan Hunt.

Dec. 21 brings perhaps the biggest opening of the season when the American version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” finally arrives. Directed by David Fincher and starring Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara in the coveted role of Lisbeth Salander, the punk cyber-smarty, you can expect this story to stick to Stieg Larsson’s best-selling book just like the Swedish version, but without the subtitles. This is make or break for all involved with two more films in the trilogy yet to go. Early reports say it delivers and then some.

Christmas Day brings two more films that will most likely end up with numerous Oscar nominations and one of these could very well be the Best Picture winner. First up is Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of “War Horse.” Based on Michael Morpurgo’s novel and inspired by the hit British play (now on Broadway as well), this is three-hanky story of a boy and his horse set against the backdrop of World War I. Fabulous cinematography and an inspiring story based on true events equals a box officer winner.

But “War Horse” will have stiff competition from “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” a post-9/11 story starring Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks and young newcomer Thomas Horn. Directed by Stephen Daldry (“The Hours”) from the Jonathan Safran Foer novel, it is an emotional story of a boy who roams New York looking for a matching lock to fit the key his father left behind when he died in the terrorist attack. Again, expect tears and laughter — just like a typical holiday family gathering.

The field is so crowded with great films coming up in the next two months that there wasn’t enough room in this space to list them, which leaves us all something to look forward to.