Blockbusters aren’t just for summer anymore. Now it’s the holiday season’s turn to unleash its biggest movies on us with Bond, Bilbo Baggins, bin Laden and Bella all making appearances:
Stars: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon
Twitter premise: Trippy time-traveling yarn about living multiple, inter-connected lives. #itsathinker
Why you want to see it: Some of the respected reviews went far enough to use the words visionary and ground-breaking. Star Tom Hanks called it the best movie he’s ever done, conveniently forgetting The Money Pit.
Or perhaps skip it: My buddy who saw it at the Toronto Film Festival referred to it as a “poopsicle.” This is going to be the most divisive movie of the year. You probably won’t find two people who interpret it the same way, and it’s going to inspire actual fights. If you’re not in the mood for that kind of movie, Paranormal Activity 4 might be your best bet.
Box office prediction: $105 million. This is a weird time to release this movie, right before Halloween and about to be swallowed up by the movies of the holiday season. But it should crack $100 million on the strength of Hanks alone.
Release: Nov. 9
Stars: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench
Twitter premise: Bond, Bond, Bond, Bond. #bond
Why you want to see it: Because critics and James Bond fans who have seen the early screenings are having trouble containing themselves talking about how this is one of the best Bond movies ever. And let’s just face facts — James Bond is cool.
Or perhaps skip it: If you like something resembling reality in your action stunts. That’s never been a key point in any Bond movie.
Box office prediction: $225 million.
Release: Nov. 9 (limited), Nov. 16 (wide)
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, David Strathairn, Tommy Lee Jones
Twitter premise: Stephen Spielberg’s profile of one of our greatest presidents. #novampiresthistime
Why you want to see it: You’re kind of forced to stand up and take notice when Spielberg and Day-Lewis get together for a movie.
Or perhaps skip it: This is strictly a historical piece, so don’t go in expecting Lincoln to time travel to the present day and stage a White House coup or something. At least not until the deleted scenes on the Blu-ray. You may also wanna skip it in case you end up sitting next to me, in which case you’d audibly hear me say about a zillion times, “Thank you Illinois, the land of Linc-oln.”
Box office prediction: $65 million. Good idea of counter-programming, but destined to be swallowed up Bond and Bella. Speaking of which …
THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN, PART 2
Release: Nov. 16
Twitter premise: The end of one of the most surprisingly successful pop culture franchises ever. #notasecondtoosoon
Why you want to see it: You’ve subjected yourself to the first four movies and you’re invested. That’s got to be it, right?
Or perhaps skip it: If you’re a man, are over 30, have a brain or possess good taste. Any of the above probably precludes you from seeing it. The rest of you? Have a blast.
Box office prediction: The above three paragraphs are lashing out from jealousy that a Clue franchise could never get off the ground. $300 million.
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
Release: Dec. 14
Stars: Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch and a bunch of people from the Lord of the Rings trilogy like Ian McKellan, Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom and Hugo Weaving
Twitter premise: Blah blah Hobbit, something something Middle Earth, something Gandolf something. #thatsallyouneedtoknow
Why you want to see it: Because director Peter Jackson decided it was time to come back to the world of The Hobbit after launching one of the most successful and satisfying trilogies that’s ever been made. If he says it’s time, then it’s time.
Or perhaps skip it: Still not sold on the trailer, other than to be scared by the faint voice of Gollum. When will that ever not be terrifying?
Box office prediction: $325 million, the biggest movie of the season.
ZERO DARK THIRTY
Release: Dec. 19
Stars: Chris Pratt, Jessica Chastain
Twitter premise: How we got bin Laden, or at least how we think we got bin Laden. #goteam6
Why you want to see it: It’s director Kathryn Bigelow’s follow-up to her modern war movie classic, The Hurt Locker. She’s back in somewhat familiar territory with the first pass on the decade-long story of the hunt for bin Laden.
Or perhaps skip it: Spoiler! Bin Laden dies.
Box office prediction: $40 million. Hey wait I haven’t even seen the latest trailer for this yet. Let’s take care of that …
Release: Dec. 21
Stars: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins
Twitter premise: Popular book character comes to life on the big screen, with Cruise in the title role.
Why you want to see it: This potential adult action franchise along the lines of Jason Bourne has been in various stages of production for the past decade or more, with Cruise finally getting it a green light. He claimed the action title of the last holiday season with the latest Mission: Impossible movie.
Or perhaps skip it: Maybe you’ve seen Tom Cruise do one or two too many of these by now.
Box office prediction: $140 million.
THIS IS 40
Release: Dec. 21
Stars: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann
Twitter premise: Quasi-sequel to Knocked Up, focusing just on the Rudd-Mann couple. #wheresseth
Why you want to see it: If you liked Knocked Up but hated Katherine Heigl in it. So that’s pretty much everyone.
Or perhaps skip it: The last sequel made without the main star/stars returning was Evan Almighty. That could have gone better.
Box office prediction: $85 million. Director Judd Apatow’s name doesn’t carry the weight it did a couple of years ago.
Release: Dec. 25
Stars: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio
Director: Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction)
Twitter premise: Bounty hunter needs slave from the deep South to find his latest bounty huntee. Lots of blood, Tarantino-style. #cantwait
Why you want to see it: Because Tarantino is the best, craftiest storyteller working in Hollywood today.
Or perhaps skip it: At this point, you know darn well whether you can stomach one of his movies or not.
Box office prediction: $110 million, slightly less than Inglourious Basterds because Foxx is no Brad Pitt.
Release: Dec. 25
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway
Twitter premise: If you see one musical stage adaptation about the French Revolution this season, see this one. #vivalaresistance
Why you want to see it: Wait a minute … have we really not had a true musical nominated for best picture since Chicago won in 2002? A DECADE?! How did that happen? Well, it’s not going to happen much longer. This is a cinch for a nomination.
Or perhaps skip it: You might not want to ruin the memories of South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut.
Box office prediction: $50 million. The market for musicals has just dried up in the last few years.