Holiday Movie Favorites – ‘Tis the Season to Race for Gold at the Box Office

November 2012 View more

NMAG1112_ArtsAs a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association, films are an important aspect of my life. My days are filled with screenings, celebrity interviews, and keeping an eye on movie news. As with many families, mine has holiday favorites that are watched each and every year such as, “Home Alone” and “A Christmas Story.” My personal favorite being “It’s a Wonderful Life.” However, the holiday season is not only a time for the classics.

Top Holiday Movie Picks

In between shopping, wrapping gifts, and holiday parties, you may want to jaunt over to the local cineplex as the end of the year is primetime for movies vying for Academy Award nods and this year is no exception. With Oscar winning directors such as Tom Hooper, Peter Jackson, Kathryn Bigelow, James Cameron, and Quentin Tarentino all premiering films in December, moviegoers are in for a sweet holiday treat. Below you’ll find a list of films that will be opening in the Chicago area.

“Les Miserables” (Dec. 7) A British musical drama based on the long running successful play of the same name. Directed by Tom Hopper, the story is set in 19th century France, against a backdrop of sacrifice, love, passion, and survival of the human spirit. The cast includes Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, and Helena Bonham Carter.

“Playing for Keeps” (Dec. 7) Gerard Butler stars in this romantic comedy as a former down on his luck soccer star that attempts to redeem himself by coaching his son’s soccer team. Jessica Biel, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Uma Thurman also star.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (Dec. 14) Peter Jackson directs this classic fantasy tale of Bilbo Baggins, whose quest is to recover the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from Smaug, a terrifying dragon. The cast includes Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, and Elijah Wood.

“Zero Dark Thirty” (Dec. 19) Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” won six Oscars in 2009. Here she directs another military action thriller that centers on the hunt for the world’s most dangerous man, Osama bin Laden. Stars Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Edgar Ramirez, and Mark Strong.

“Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds” (Dec. 21) Have you ever wondered what a Cirque Du Soleil performance is all about? Here’s your chance to discover the magic, as audiences will experience an up close performance in 3D as award-winning filmmaker James Cameron, directs.

“Not Fade Away” (Dec. 21) David Chase of the HBO Soprano series, writes and directs this coming of age film set in the 60s, centering on a New Jersey group of friends who form a rock band and reach big time fame.

“This is 40” (Dec. 21) Comedy writer and director Judd Apatow continues the lives of two characters from the film “Knocked Up.” Stars Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel and Plainfield’s own Melissa McCarthy.

“Django Unchained” (Dec. 25) Quentin Tarantino writes and directs a Western film that follows Django (Jamie Fox), a freed slave, while he treks across America with a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz). The film also stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kerry Washington.

“The Guilt Trip” (Dec. 25) A comedy starring Barbara Streisand and Seth Rogen, as mother and son, who embark on a road trip to sell his latest invention. Anne Fletcher of “The Proposal” directs.

“Parental Guidance” (Dec. 25) Stars Billy Crystal and Bette Midler as grandparents who end up caring for their daughter’s three children while she travels for work. Will they use modern day parenting skills or resort to their old-school ways?