This year may be coming to a close, but the next month and a half will see the release of some of 2012's most buzz-worthy flicks. So -- like a department store on Black Friday -- you need a plan.
Below, our holiday preview gives you the skinny on everything from mother-son road trips to storied musicals to blood-soaked spaghetti westerns. Your Christmas wish list just got a whole lot longer.
Gallery | Holiday Film Guide 2012
- 'Silver Linings Playbook'
Release Date: November 21 Who's In It: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Tucker, Robert De Niro, Julia Stiles What It's About: A man is released from a psychiatric ward into the care of his family, and he hopes to make everything OK with his estranged wife. Things get complicated when a troubled young woman forces her way into his life. Are We Excited: Yes. We've been hearing very good things about this movie, with the electric chemistry between Cooper and Lawrence a surprising treat. Also, De Niro isn't just a cariacture of his former self -- he's actually funny in the role!
- 'Life of Pi'
Release Date: November 21 Who's In It: Irrfan Khan, Gerard Depardieu, Suraj Sharma What It's About: A young man who survives a ship capsizing at sea goes on a remarkable journey. Confined to a life raft on the open ocean, he forms an unlikely connection a scary, hungry Bengal tiger. Are We Excited: Yes. Despite the unheard-of cast, this movie looks absolutely gorgeous, so even if the plot falters a bit, we can bask in its beauty. The book won several awards, so millions of people can't be wrong, can they?
- 'Red Dawn'
Release Date: November 21 Who's In It: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Josh Peck, Isabel Lucas, Jeffrey Dean Morgan What It's About: In this remake of the 1984 flick, America is attacked by North Korea. After most of their town is taken prisoner, a group of high schoolers band together in order to fight the North Koreans and liberate the town. Are We Excited: Yeah, we know: Hollywood is overrun with remakes and sequels and prequels. However, they don’t always turn out to be complete disasters. Nevertheless, the early word on “Red Dawn” has not been good, so our excitement for this film is tepid at best.
- 'Rise of the Guardians'
Release Date: November 21 Who's In It: Chris Pine, Hugh Jackman, Jude Law, Alec Baldwin and Isla Fisher What It's About: Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and Jack Frost team up to protect the world from an evil spirit, hellbent on domination. Are We Excited: Yes. With its many familiar characters, "Guardians" is a great family flick for the holidays. (Santa's in it after all!) And with a laundry list of celebs, the cast is second to none.
Release Date: November 23 Who's In It: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, James D'Arcy What It's About: A biopic of one of the most evocative directors of our time, which chronicles the difficulty of making "Psycho" and the surprising behind-the-scenes love story between Hitchcock and his wife, Alma. Are We Excited: A must see for any Hitch fan. The film gives a unique bird's eye into the making of "Psycho" and the private lives of the director. Plus, Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh? Sold.
- 'Killing Them Softly'
Release Date: November 30 Who's In It: Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta What It's About: Based on the novel by George V. Higgins, the film follows enforcer Jackie Coogan (Pitt), who looks to track down two robbers to held up a mob-enforced poker game. Are We Excited: We were sold from the first trailer, which features a shotgun-wielding Brad Pitt looking to take down the duo responsible for robbing the mob (related: when is it ever a good idea to rob the mafia?). Also, it’s been awhile since we’ve seen James Gandolfini in anything mob-related, so it will be interesting to see his take on a new character.
- 'Playing for Keeps'
Release Date: December 7 Who's In It: Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Dennis Quaid What It's About: After falling on tough times, a former sports star attempts to rebuild his life by coaching his son's soccer team, and ends up attracting some very fetching soccer moms. Are We Excited: A star-studded rom-com can go either way. Let's hope that this is a little more "Love Actually" than "New Years Eve."
- 'Hyde Park on Hudson'
Release Date: December 7 Who's In It: Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Olivia Colman, Samuel West, Elizabeth Marvel, Elizabeth Wilson, Eleanor Bron, Olivia Williams What It's About: A clandestine love story between FDR (Murray) and his distant cousin (Linney), is set against the backdrop of a first visit from King and Queen of England in 1939. Are We Excited: Yes and no. Yes = Bill Murray, in anything, ever. However, with a thinly drawn plot and poor supporting characters, Murray ends up being the only thing "Hyde Park" has going for it.
- 'Stand Up Guys'
Release Date: December 14 Who's In It: Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin What It's About: "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." A gaggle of golden-aged con men reconvene for one last job. Geriatric hilarity ensues! Are We Excited: "Grumpy Old Men" meets "The Godfather." Count us in.
- 'The Hobbit'
Release Date: December 14 Who's In It: Martin Freeman, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Andy Serkis, Christopher Lee, Ian McKellan (and more) What It's About: An adventurous Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, journeys to a mountain with a group of vulgar, raucous dwarves to reclaim a treasure stolen from them. Are We Excited: No explanation needed -- of COURSE we are.
- 'The Guilt Trip'
Release Date: December 19 Who's In It: Seth Rogen, Barbra Streisand, Kathy Najimy, Colin Hanks, Adam Scott What It's About: Streisand, who plays a cheek-pinching mother, and Rogen, her son, decide to go on an unexpected, relationship-bonding road trip. Are We Excited: Jewish mothers everywhere are kvelling; finally a movie for overbearing mommas!
- 'Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D'
Release Date: December 21 Cast: Erica Linz, Igor Zaripov What It's About: The film is an original story told through Cirque du Soleil performances Are We Excited: Yes. If you've been to a Cirque performance before, you'll know how gorgeous and spectacular they can be. Transferring it to the big-screen (in 3D, no less), is a logical next step.
- 'Monsters, Inc 3D'
Release Date: December 19 Who's In It: John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Mary Gibbs, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn What It's About: Sully and Mike are back -- and bigger (get it?) than ever! Here, the beloved 2002 flick gets a spiffy 3D revamp. Are We Excited: Yes. As though you need another excuse to watch 'Monsters, Inc.' again.
- 'Zero Dark Thirty'
Release Date: January 11, 2013 Who's In It: Taylor Kinney, Jessica Chastain, Kyle Chandler, James Gandolfin What It's About: A close look at the hunt for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks, along with his death at the hands of Navy SEAL Team 6. Are We Excited: Yes. Director Kathryn Bigelow has proven herself to be a more-than-able director, and her take on the inside function of this Navy team should be fascinating. If "The Hurt Locker" is any indication of what to expect, we're anticipating a glut of suspense and sweat.
- 'On the Road'
Release Date: December 21 Who's In It: Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Kirsten Dunst, Steve Buscemi What It's About: Sal Paradise, a young writer, along with Dean Moriarty and Marylou, travel back and forth across the country, encountering new people and different experiences. Are We Excited: Many purists think it’s sacrilegious to adapt a book like Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” However, we’re excited to see this tale of 1950s Americana finally come to life on the big screen, particularly with “Motorcycles Diary” director Walter Salles at the helm.
- 'Jack Reacher'
Release Date: December 21 Who's In It: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall, Werner Herzog What It's About: The film follows Cruise as the titular character, a former Army cop-turned-drifter who follows no laws except his own. Here, Reacher returns to the fray in order to help out an ex-military sniper who’s been accused of murdering five people. Are We Excited: Though different on paper (the character was created by author Lee Child), in the trailer, Reacher seems similar to another of Cruise's characters: Ethan Hunt from the “Mission: Impossible” franchise. However, it’s always fun to see the star running around and kicking butt. Not to mention, Werner Herzog plays the villain, which is just awesome.
- 'This Is 40'
Release Date: December 21 Who's In It: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Megan Fox, John Lithgow, Iris Apatow, Maude Apatow, Melissa McCarthy, Robert Smigel, Charlene Yi, Albert Brooks What It's About: The "sort of sequel" to "Knocked Up" revisits the hilariously difficult relationship of Debbie (Mann) and Pete (Rudd). Are We Excited: 100 percent excited. Rudd and Mann stole the scenes in 2007's "Knocked Up," and from the scatologically heavy trailer, "This is 40" is poised to deliver even more side-splitters.
- 'Django Unchained'
Release Date: December 25 Who's In It: Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Don Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson What It's About: Jamie Foxx is Django, a slave who agrees to help a bounty hunter track down the ruthless Brittle Brothers. In exchange, the bounty hunter will helphim free Django’s wife, Broomhilda, from the evil plantation owner Calvin Candie (DiCaprio). Are We Excited: Two words: Hell. Yes. This is Quentin Tarantino we’re talking about, and the man has never directed a bad movie. This time around, he’s tackling slavery, spaghetti-western style. Things that we can expect: witty one-liners, massive shoot ‘em ups and and an awesome soundtrack. Why? Because that’s signature QT, and it’s what’s helped him develop an enormous cult following.
- 'Les Miserables'
Release Date: December 25 Who's In It: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen What It's About: The famous French Revolutionary tale finds a new voice on the big screen. Are We Excited: Absolutely. With an acclaimed director -- Tom Hooper, who earned Best Director for "The King's Speech" -- and a vocally spellbinding cast, "Les Mis" is silencing skeptics and garnering a lion's share of awards buzz.
- 'Parental Guidance'
Release Date: December 25 Who's In It: Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei, Tom Everett Scott, Bailee Madison What It's About: Crystal and Midler play grandparents who find themselves out of their element when they're charged with taking care of their technologically-savvy grandchildren. Are We Excited: Definitely -- Crystal and Midler are the perfect older couple. And Marisa Tomei as their daughter? Someone give this casting director a medal.
- 'Promised Land'
Release Date: December 28 Who's In It: Matt Damon, John Krasinski, Frances McDormand, Rosemarie DeWitt, Scoot McNairy What It's About: Corporate salesmen (Damon, McDormand) wander into an economically depressed town and attempt to buy the drilling rights to their properties, but are met with opposition. Are We Excited: With a killer cast and director (Gus Van Sant), this meh-sounding drama will probably end up singing.
Release Date: December 28 Who's In It: Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon, Pauline Collins What It's About: A gaggle of retired opera performers reunite for a theater fundraiser. Hilarity ensues. Are We Excited: Definitely. It's Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut, and with Maggie Smith and Billy Connolly starring, how can you lose?