Holiday movie season offers something for all tastes

Oscar hopefuls

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
The Cold Warriors:
Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Mark Strong
Calling the shots: “Let the Right One In” director Tomas Alfredson
The skinny: Adapted once before into a seven-part BBC miniseries starring Alec Guinness, John le Carré’s 1974 spy novel arrives on the big screen featuring Oldman as George Smiley, the British intelligence operative recalled from retirement to hunt down a Soviet mole.
Rated R

Opens Dec. 16

The Iron Lady
The Brits: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Harry Lloyd, Anthony Head
Calling the shots: “Mamma Mia!” director Phyllida Lloyd
The skinny: Streep’s annual Oscar campaign begins with this drama about former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s rise to power. But the former PM’s children have dismissed the film as “some left-wing fantasy.”
Rated PG-13

Opens Dec. 16

The girls: Adepero Oduye, Kim Wayans, Aasha Davis, Afton Williamson
Calling the shots: Dee Rees
The skinny: Rees makes her feature debut with an expanded take on her award-winning 2007 short about an African-American teen growing up in Brooklyn, embracing her identity as a lesbian. A standout at Sundance, “Pariah” is generating Oscar buzz for Oduye and cinematographer Bradford Young, who renders the heartbreaking drama a vibrant spectacle.
Rated R
Opens Dec. 28


The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
The voices:
Daniel Craig, Jamie Bell, Simon Pegg, Cary Elwes, Nick Frost
Calling the shots: Steven Spielberg
The skinny: “I read a French review of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ and it kept comparing my movie to something called ‘Tintin,’ so I got a book in French,” says Spielberg of the popular cartoon series he and co-producer Peter Jackson will bring to the big screen this winter. “I didn’t know anything about ‘Tintin,’ and I don’t read French, but I could understand the story based on the illustrations and the amazing artwork, the characters, the humor, the plot. It felt like a cousin to ‘Raiders,’ so there is a commonality.”


Rated PG

Opens Dec. 21

War Horse
The searchers: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, Peter Mullan, David Thewlis
Calling the shots: Steven Spielberg
The skinny: Spielberg’s second holiday offering is “Horse,” inspired by the Tony Award-winning stage adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s best-selling 1982 children’s novel. Newcomer Irvine plays a young man who risks life and limb to rescue his beloved steed from the killing fields of the first World War.
Rated PG-13
Opens Dec. 25


Funny people


The Sitter
The players:
Jonah Hill, Sam Rockwell, Ari Graynor, Erin Daniels, J.B. Smoove
Calling the shots: David Gordon Green
The skinny: Green rebounds from the disappointment of this spring’s “Your Highness” with what’s being billed as the raunchiest, most profane baby-sitting comedy in modern movie history. Whether that’s enough of an achievement to elevate Green to the ranks of the giants of cinema is debatable, but it should be good for some laughs.
Rated R

Opens Dec. 9

New Year’s Eve
The lovebirds: Robert De Niro, Ashton Kutcher, Carla Gugino, Lea Michele
Calling the shots: Garry Marshall
The skinny: Less a sequel to last year’s laughably overwrought “Valentine’s Day” than a soulmate of sorts, “Eve” finds the Bronx-born Marshall going home again — nearly — with a romantic comedy set in Manhattan that does for estrogen what “The Expendables” did for testosterone. The star-laden cast includes Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Jessica Biel, Halle Berry and Sarah Jessica Parker, among many others.
Rated PG-13

Opens Dec. 9

Young Adult
The players:
Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, J.K. Simmons, Elizabeth Reaser
Calling the shots: Jason Reitman
The skinny: Can screenwriter Diablo Cody (“Juno”) recapture the hearts and minds of Oscar voters after her sorely underrated “Jennifer’s Body” turned up DOA at the box office? “Adult,” a rumored awards contender about a ghostwriter (Theron) who returns home to reignite the flame with a now-married ex (Wilson), should serve notice whether Cody’s offbeat humor and quirky dialogue still resonate with the Academy’s crypt keepers.
Rated R

Opens Dec. 16



Prequels, sequels, remakes

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked!
The voices: Jason Lee, David Cross, Jenny Slate, Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney, Amy Poehler, Anna Faris, Christina Applegate
Calling the shots: Mike Mitchell
Critics be damned! The cash-earning cartoon characters are back in their third animated feature-length film, this time with the “Shrek Forever After” director at the helm. The story follows the adventures of the Chipmunks and Chipettes whose luxury cruise vacation goes awry.
Rated G

Opens Dec. 16

Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol
The daredevils:
Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Paul Patton, Ving Rhames
Calling the shots: Brad Bird
The skinny: Look to “Protocol” as yet another referendum on Cruise’s seemingly fading star power, but also as an early test for Bird, a two-time Oscar winner (for Pixar’s “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille”) yet to work his magic outside the world of animation. (The director’s next live-action project, the long-rumored “1906,” examines why The City was so ill-prepared for that year’s devastating earthquake.)
Not yet rated

Opens Dec. 16


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
The players: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry
The skinny: Loosely based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Final Problem,” which the author ranked fourth on his list of the top 12 Holmes-and-Watson adventures, “Shadows” reteams Downey and Law in a bitter struggle against their confounding adversary Professor Moriarty, played by “Mad Men” star Harris.
Not yet rated

Opens Dec. 16

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The hunters: Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård
Calling the shots: David Fincher
The skinny: Does the world need another “Tattoo” so soon after three spirited Swedish-language adaptations of the late Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium” trilogy arrived in the U.S. just last year? Probably not, but at least we’re assured a high level of quality control, with two-time Oscar-nominee Fincher (“The Social Network”) surrounding his cyberpunk heroine (Rooney Mara) with sure-handed veterans Plummer, Skarsgård and 007 himself.
Not yet rated

Opens Dec. 21


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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

New Year's Eve

The Sitter

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