Holiday Movie Preview: 23 Intriguing Films (and over 40 Others)

  • Publish Date: November 9, 2011
  • Comments: ↓ 3 user comments

Below, we pick out the most noteworthy films arriving in theaters before the end of the year. And, for good measure, we've added short descriptions of all of the other films also scheduled for release in the next few months (that's over 70 movies in all).

Wednesday, November 9

J. Edgar Watch Trailer

Clint Eastwood's last directorial effort, Hereafter 56, was a rare misstep, and while his new biopic J. Edgar would seem to land him squarely back in Oscar-bait territory, the first batch of reviews suggest another disappointment. Leonardo DiCaprio stars—both with and without a lot of old-age makeup—as legendary (and legendarily power-hungry) FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who ran the Bureau from its inception in 1935 until his death in 1972. The screenplay, which follows Hoover's public and private lives, comes from Dustin Lance Black (Milk), and the cast also features Naomi Watts, Armie Hammer, and Judi Dench.


Director Bertrand Bonello's House of Pleasures LIMITED (also known as House of Tolerance) explores the lives of prostitutes inside an upscale brothel at the dawn of the 20th century.

Friday, November 11

Melancholia LIMITED Watch Trailer

Beginning with its screening at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where some observers saw it as a superior counterpoint to Terence Malick’s Tree of Life 85, and followed by a press conference at which director Lars von Trier’s comments and eventual ban from the festival overshadowed the quality of the film and Kirsten Dunst’s award-winning performance, no film has had such an extended stay in the public eye with so few people actually seeing it. Melancholia has screened On Demand since October 7, but von Trier’s films beg to be seen in a theater, where the images and sound can overwhelm. And that's especially true for Melancholia, in which von Trier delves into his personal struggles with crippling depression in this story of two sisters (Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg) and their reactions to the impending destruction of Earth by the newly discovered planet Melancholia, which is on a collision course. Will the stories surrounding the film diminish the movie itself? That doesn't appear to be the case; Melancholia is already earning some of the best reviews of any movie this year.


Director Tarsem Singh hopes to lure action fans to the Greek mythology-inspired Immortals with impressive 3D visuals, a villainous Mickey Rourke, and the first major look at the future Superman, Henry Cavill.

The comedy Jack and Jill threatens to be twice as bad as the average Adam Sandler movie, as it features Sandler in drag playing twins.

Colin Farrell plays an ex-con who becomes Keira Knightley's bodyguard in writer and debut director William Monahan's gangster story London Boulevard LIMITED .

Darren Lynn Bousman's numerology-obsessed horror thriller 11-11-11 LIMITED is just begging to get an 11 Metascore; given the director's resume, it certainly isn't out of the question.

With Elite Squad II: The Enemy Within NY, director José Padilha takes another action-filled look at corruption and crime in Rio de Janeiro.

Also available now on VOD, the indie dramedy Pete Smalls Is Dead LA stars Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) and comes from writer-director Alexandre Rockwell (best known for the charming In the Soup).

In the documentary Into the Abyss LIMITED, Werner Herzog examines killing and its consequences through interviews of Texas death row inmate Michael Perry.

Parents Brooke Shields and Aidan Quinn suffer an economic setback and move their family—including their spoiled pre-teen daughter—to the country in family adventure The Greening of Whitney Brown LIMITED.

Indie drama Cook County LIMITED looks at the impact of meth addiction on a small-town teenager.

French-language drama The Conquest LIMITED is a fictionalized look at French President Nicolas Sarkozy's rise to power.

Shot guerilla-style in Tehran, the drama Dog Sweat LIMITED focuses on six young Iranians who privately act out against Islamic oppression.

Wednesday, November 16

The Descendants Watch Trailer

Take director Alexander Payne and mega-star George Clooney, put them in Hawaii, and what do you get? A film about a cuckold trying to reconnect with his daughters after his wife is critically injured in a boating accident. Payne again adapts a previously published work—this time, a novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings—and, similar to his previous films Sideways 94 and About Schmidt 85, there’s a road trip element as well. While this latest dramedy may not quite reach the high standard set by those previous films, early reviews are good for Payne’s first feature since 2004, with plenty of the praise going to Clooney’s performance as well as that of big-screen newcomer Shailene Woodley, who plays his daughter.


A 10-year-old girl passes herself off as a boy after moving to a new neighborhood in the French coming of age drama Tomboy NY, the second film from Water Lilies director Céline Sciamma.

Friday, November 18

Tyrannosaur LIMITED Watch Trailer

Actor Paddy Considine makes his directorial debut with this deeply dark drama, which has been picking up awards on the film festival circuit over the past year. Peter Mullan stars as a violent, alcoholic widower who attempts to mend his ways by forming an unlikely friendship with a religious thrift store worker (Olivia Colman), but her own dark past threatens to pull him back into his former life. Don't expect to be uplifted, but do expect strong performances.


A marriage leads to human-vampire sex, which leads to a pregnancy and a whole bunch of trouble for Bella, in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part One, which will conclude with Part Two next fall.

Animated sequel Happy Feet Two focuses on Mumble's son Erik and a new threat to the world of the Emperor Penguins; George Miller returns as director.

Director and star Joshua Leonard plays a man willing to lie about the health of his child so he can get a day off from work in The Lie LIMITED.

The black comedy Rid of Me LIMITED finds an awkward married woman (Katie O'Grady) trying too hard to fit in with her husband's friends, and rediscovering herself in the process.

Though relatively unknown in the States, the internationally famous Belgian comic series Largo Winch serves as the source for The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch LA/NY, a French-language action thriller starring Kristin Scott Thomas as the villain.

Documentary In Heaven, Underground NY looks at Germany's Weissensee, the oldest Jewish cemetery still in use in Europe.

The subtitled documentary Garbo: The Spy LIMITED looks at the life of Juan Pujol, a double agent ultimately working for the Allies in the second World War.

James Franco narrates a documentary look at modernist designers Charles and Ray Eames in Eames: The Architect and the Painter LA/NY, the husband and wife duo who themselves dabbled (quite successfully) in film.

Wednesday, November 23 Thanksgiving weekend

The Artist LIMITED Watch Trailer

One of the biggest surprises—and one of the few surefire crowd-pleasers—at Cannes this year tells the story of a silent film star (played by the festival’s best actor winner, Jean Dujardin) whose career wanes as talkies gain acceptance, while an extra from his films, played by Berenice Bejo, becomes a star. Director Michel Hazanavicius previously worked with Dujardin and Bejo on OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies 62, but no one expected a silent film shot in black and white to win the hearts of modern filmgoers. We're still not sure that a broader audience will be willing to take the plunge, but if the pundits are right, you can expect a Best Picture nomination in January.

A Dangerous Method LIMITED Watch Trailer

Director David Cronenberg returns to filmmaking for the first time since 2007’s Eastern Promises 82 and delivers a surprisingly restrained look at the beginnings of psychoanalysis and the relationship between Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), his patient Sabrina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) and his mentor Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen). Based on a true story and adapted from John Kerr’s book, the film received mixed reviews on the fall film festival circuit.

Hugo Watch Trailer

Few films have been receiving better buzz in recent weeks than Martin Scorsese's Hugo, a live-action, 3D adaptation of the illustrated children's novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret. The director doesn't usually venture into family-friendly territory—and it is his first time ever working with 3D—but perhaps he should try both more often; the 3D effects are reportedly outstanding, and the words "magical" and "dazzling" have been popping up in early reviews after preview screenings. A historical adventure with elements of fantasy and comedy (not to mention numerous homages to classic cinema), Hugo takes place chiefly within a Parisian train station in the early 1930s and stars Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley, and Sacha Baron Cohen.

The Muppets Watch Trailer

The first Muppet movie since the Clinton administration certainly has a monster publicity push behind it. But it also has the benefit of an intriguing cast and crew, highlighted by writers Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and director James Bobin (Flight of the Conchords), Muppet fans all. The getting-the-gang-back-together storyline finds Kermit and co. working to save their theater from destruction by an evil oil magnate played by Chris Cooper. Segel, Amy Adams, and Rashida Jones round out the human cast (joined by stars ranging from Zach Galifianakis to Ricky Gervais in cameos), while Flight of the Conchords member Bret McKenzie co-wrote many of the original songs for the film.

My Week with Marilyn LIMITED Watch Trailer

Last year, Michelle Williams earned her second Oscar nomination for portraying a woman in a crumbling marriage in Blue Valentine. This year, she could earn her third for taking on the challenge of playing icon Marilyn Monroe, though early reviews suggest the film around her may not be quite as strong. Set in 1957 during the filming of her movie The Prince and the Showgirl, My Week with Marilyn focuses on the relationship between Monroe and assistant director Colin Clark (played by Tony-winner Eddie Redmayne), who spent a week touring Britain with the star. Kenneth Branagh co-stars as Showgirl's star and director Laurence Olivier, while Dougray Scott plays Monroe's then-husband Arthur Miller. Emma Watson, Julia Ormond, and Judi Dench round out the cast.


Aardman Animation (Wallace and Gromit) bring their distinctive style to Arthur Christmas, the story of how Santa's youngest son tries to make every good child happy on Christmas.

Woody Harrelson re-teams with The Messenger director Oren Moverman for a dramatized look at the LAPD's infamous Rampart LIMITED corruption scandal, which is already generating some Oscar buzz for Harrelson's performance.

Continue reading ...

On the next page, we preview films arriving in December.

Comments (3)

  • evanhenry  

    I love this movie! It is quite different than regular one.
    Kitchen Cabinet Design

  • RickFlairbombed  

    "We need to talk about Kevin" is the most intriguing of all these films. Johnny Greenwood was screwed out of a much deserved film score for There Will Be Blood, and John C. Reilly playing a serious role in what sounds like a very bleak film will be worth seeing. Unfortunately it's a limited release, but if it gets enough acclaim, could move to more mainstream theaters.

  • Happymonk  

    I've already seen Tin-Tin, it is very good. I'm surprised it's taken this long for it to come out in America (and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, that's already stopped showing in the UK).

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