HYDE PARK ON HUDSON – Oh, Bill Murray. Sweet, sweet Bill Murray. Why are you slumming for an Oscar? What possessed you to play Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a glib retelling of King George IV’s 1939 visit to the United States? You sure look like you had fun rolling around in front of the camera, but this is beneath you. Oh, well. At least it isn’t Ghostbusters 3. (12/7)
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY – Tolkien fans, rejoice! Peter Jackson returns to Middle-earth in the first of what will be three prequels to his Lord of the Rings trilogy. Martin Freeman stars as Bilbo Baggins, Ian McKellen reprises Gandalf, and a handful of familiar faces also appear. (12/14)
LES MISÉRABLES – Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) directs a star-studded adaptation of the famous Broadway musical. No joke, it’s chock-full of celebrity: Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried and Sacha Baron Cohen. (12/14)
ZERO DARK THIRTY – Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) sets her eyes on the CIA’s hunt for Osama bin Laden, putting a Hollywood sheen on the famous Abbottabad raid. Expect an intense film accompanied by insufferable protests. Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton and Mark Strong star. (12/19)
AMOUR – Michael Haneke’s latest looks like an absolute heartbreaker. In it, a retired man struggles to maintain a loving relationship after his wife suffers a debilitating stroke. Haneke is a bleak, disturbing provocateur and a damn good filmmaker, so Amour will be a grim beauty. (12/19)
MONSTERS, INC. 3D – Something to ponder: Are Pixar movies actually better when they’re in 3D? (12/19)
JACK REACHER – Okay, I lied before. This is the worst film title of 2012. I can’t even type it without laughing. Sorry, I have the mind of a 13-year-old boy. (12/21)
THIS IS 40 – Three things we know about this (sort of) sequel to Knocked Up: Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann will be adorable, Melissa McCarthy will steal almost every scene, and with Judd Apatow in the director’s chair, it will be an hour too long. (12/21)
ON THE ROAD – It’s the season of adaptation, huh? Jack Kerouac’s beat novel gets the star treatment and, luckily, it’s in the capable hands of Walter Salles, the Brazilian director behind The Motorcycle Diaries. Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Garrett Hedlund star. (12/21)
THE IMPOSSIBLE – Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts star in the true story of a vacationing family that survived the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Sure, more than 230,000 people died in one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history, but let’s not think about that. There’s a heartwarming story of love’s power to endure here, people! (12/21)
DJANGO UNCHAINED – Quentin Tarantino’s racial injustice revenge tour continues in the Deep South, where Jamie Foxx plays a freed slave hired by a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to hunt down a gang of ruthless killers. This spaghetti western-inspired “southern,” as Tarantino has called it, looks to be every bit as violent, stylized and cartoonishly fun as Inglourious Basterds. (12/25)
NO RELEASE DATE SET, BUT WORTH WATCHING FOR
WUTHERING HEIGHTS – Emily Brontë’s 1847 romance is brought, once again, to the big screen. There’s one wrinkle, though: For the first time, Heathcliff (James Howson) is black.
STORIES WE TELL – This is an odd, wonderful sort of documentary. Filmmaker Sarah Polley turns the camera on herself and her family – namely, the complicated marriage from which her family sprouted. Polley’s insistence on making her private life so public invigorates the portrait of her family, which has helped make Stories We Tell a darling of the festival circuit.
THE ICEMAN – Michael Shannon stars as Richard Kuklinski, a notorious Mafia hit man who killed more than 100 men between 1948 and 1986 while raising his family in suburban New Jersey. Ray Liotta, Winona Ryder and Chris Evans co-star.
MUD – Matthew McConaughey’s year of reinvention closes out with Mud, a Mark Twain-inspired coming-of-age drama from Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter), where two boys stumble upon a fugitive and vow to help him escape the bounty hunters hot on his trail. If Stand By Me were made for an art-house crowd, it’d look like this.
THE COMPANY YOU KEEP – Robert Redford stars and directs this political thriller about a former Weather Underground militant who cleans up and raises a family, until a reporter exposes his true identity. Is this what passes as thrilling for Baby Boomers? Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie and Brendan Gleeson co-star.