Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 4 – The Films of December

Screen Shot 2012 09 06 at 12.21.47 AM 670x334 Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 4   The Films of December

Having wrapped up our Summer 2012 film coverage with the End of Summer Movie Awards a few days ago, it is time to look forward to Fall and the rest of what 2012 has in store. This has been an extremely enjoyable year for cinema so far, but when one looks at the absolute mountain of titles the industry has coming over the next few months, one has to imagine studios have been saving the best for last.

There are so many films coming out through the end of the year, in fact, that we thought it would be a good idea to put together this handy, four-part guide to the films of the Fall. This preview, publishing throughout the week, is divided into four parts, each exploring one remaining month of the year.

Part 1 explored the cinema of September, Part 2 examined October, Part 3 covered November, and today, we’ll look at the films of December, with a guide to release dates, casts, story information, trailers, and my analysis of how each individual movie may stack up.

It’s our Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 4. Enjoy…

Begin reading on the next page…

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Hyde Park on Hudson

Release Date: December 7th

Directed by Roger Michell; Starring Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Olivia Williams, Olivia Colman, Samuel West

 hyde park on the hudson cast Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 4   The Films of December

How cool would it be if the world of historical fiction took its casting cues from Marvel Studios, and had one performer playing his or her iconic part across multiple movies?

I like the trailer for Hyde Park on Hudson. It’s intriguing and nicely atmospheric, but as I watched, I couldn’t stop thinking how cool it would be if Colin Firth reprised his Oscar-winning turn as King George VI from The King’s Speech here, with Helena Bonham-Carter by his side as Queen Elizabeth. That would be like The Avengers of early 20th century historical dramas, right?

Ah, well. Olivia Colman and Samuel West will do just fine in the parts, and the real attraction here is Bill Murray as President Franklin Roosevelt, a casting decision too daft not to love.

The story here is a cool one: In summer 1939, King George VI became the first British monarch to visit the United States, and hoping to bolster American support for World War II, President Roosevelt greeted him with a stay at his comfortable estate in Hyde Park. I think there’s a lot of dramatic potential there, and given the size of the role, I would not be surprised to see Murray garner an Oscar nomination. This is one to look out for.

Playing for Keeps

Release Date: December 7th

Directed by Gabrielle Muccino; Starring Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman, Judy Greer, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Dennis Quaid

100175 Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 4   The Films of December  

Butler stars as a former Pro-soccer player trying to get his professional, personal, and paternal lives in order after his divorce to Jessica Biel’s character. The poster and promotional description implies Butler plays a womanizer getting it on with all the soccer moms of the team he coaches, while the trailer suggests a much sweeter story about a decent guy trying to be a better father and redeem himself as a husband.

I would not, normally, be inclined to watch either version of the story, frankly, as romantic comedies tend to underwhelm, especially when they go for semi high-concept premises like this one. But I like the trailer quite a bit, the cast is very strong, and Muccino is the rare director who can pull off commercial saccharine sincerely. I am definitely interested to check it out.

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Release Date: December 14th, 2012

Directed by Peter Jackson: Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, and Ian Holm

martin freeman the hobbit Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 4   The Films of December  

Here it is. Not just my most anticipated film of this year, but a film more exciting to me than any released so far this decade. Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy has long been my favorite film of all time, and the prospect of returning to his vision of Middle Earth is, in and of itself, unbelievably exhilarating. But to do so for The Hobbit, a story that is arguably superior to Tolkien’s classic trilogy, with Martin Freeman, the perfect Bilbo Baggins, in the lead role is a prospect so incredibly cool that I can barely function when I consider this film is on the horizon.

And what I have mentioned so far is only the tip of the iceberg. Ian McKellan reprises my single favorite performance of all time as Gandalf the Grey; all thirteen dwarfs are present and accounted for, with incredible make-up and costuming to distinguish them; Howard Shore returns to build on cinema’s single greatest musical score; Andrew Lesnie, brilliant cinematographer of the trilogy, will expand upon his earlier work by shooting in 3D at 48 frames-per-second, something that has never been done before; etc.

I see no earthly reason not to be excited for The Hobbit. I know some people are wary, to put it lightly, of Jackson’s decision to split the story into an entire new trilogy. To them, I say shut the f*** up and wait for the damn movies. There is NO reason to worry until the films are actually out, and we see what path Jackson takes. If he has included forty-minute scenes of Bilbo napping to pad out the length, go ahead and complain. I will too. But for now, the facts are that Jackson is a talented and trusted filmmaker, and that there is more than enough material in Tolkien’s expanded universe for a whole trilogy.

So let’s wait and see if Jackson can recapture the magic before jumping to conclusions. So far, every single sign points to an enthusiastic yes, and I can barely wait.

Les Miserables

Release Date: December 14th

Directed by Tom Hooper; Starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Helena Bonham Carter

les miserables movie image hugh jackman Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 4   The Films of December  

Based on one of the greatest stage musicals of all time, Les Miserables is a guaranteed Oscar contender, likely to garner nominations in all major categories and several technical ones as well. Until I watched the spectacular teaser trailer embedded below, though, I was unsure if the film itself would live up to the inevitable accolades. I did not like Hooper’s last film, The King’s Speech, and I worried that the stuffy, uninspired direction that pervaded that film could bring this one down. A stage musical needs a serious cinematic vision to play like a real movie, and I felt unsure whether Hooper is the man to pull it off.

But as I said, I then watched the trailer, and damn…those 90 seconds of footage are more compelling than two whole hours of The King’s Speech by a wide, wide margin. The visuals, the performances, the pure, raw emotion translated through just a couple snippets of footage…this movie looks incredible. The cast, of course, is terrific. It’s absolutely ludicrous that Jackman and Hathaway haven’t starred in film musicals before, given their truly remarkable singing talent, and as the trailer indicates, Miserables will resolve that universal oversight in dramatic fashion. I am truly eager to see this one. At its best, it could very well be one of the highlights of 2012.

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Zero Dark Thirty

Release Date: December 19th

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow; Starring Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Nash Edgerton, Mark Strong, Edgar Ramirez, Jennifer Ehle, Chris Pratt, and Kyle Chandler

 Zero Dark Thirty 01 Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 4   The Films of December

What could possibly make a film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden made by the filmmakers behind The Hurt Locker sound any cooler? A real-life ending to the narrative. That’s what Kathryn Bigelow got when President Barack Obama announced bin Laden’s death last year, and that means this espionage film has a real shot at being the definitive cinematic version of the story.

The cast is great, and I’m especially overjoyed to see Jessica Chastain’s name at the top of the list. The teaser trailer is very oblique, but that makes sense. This is a mysterious story, and I’d rather not know anything about it (save, of course, the ending) until I’m sitting in the theatre, ready to watch. If this can provide half the satisfying surprise Hurt Locker did in 2009, it will be one of the year’s greatest treats.

Monsters Inc. 3D

Release Date: December 19th

Directed by Pete Docter; Starring John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, Jennifer Tilly, and James Coburn

monstersinc Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 4   The Films of December  

I’ll repeat what I said about Pixar’s upcoming Finding Nemo re-release: With Pixar having chosen to move in a more overtly commercial direction in recent years, a 3D re-release of Monsters Inc. is a no brainer. It is one of the greatest of all American animated features, and still widely beloved by parents and children alike. This one makes even more commercial sense than Nemo, with the prequel film Monsters University hitting theatres next summer, and I personally feel this one is an even cooler big-screen experience. So I am interested in checking it out, even if I still don’t think it needs 3D to warrant a re-release.  

Amour

Release Date: December 19th

Directed by Michael Haneke; Starring Jean-Louis Tringtigant, Emmanuelle Riva, and Isabelle Huppert

Amour film still 016 Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 4   The Films of December

It’s hard not to look forward to this dark romantic drama from Michael Haneke, given the incredible reception it received at Cannes (including the prestigious Palme d’Or). The film tells the story of an elderly married couple facing their final days together, as the wife is extremely ill. I hear it is an almost unbearably emotional experience, and one of the most powerfully human films of Haneke’s career. I hope it lives up to the hype. No matter what, this is one to watch out for.

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This is 40

Release Date: December 21st

Directed by Judd Apatow; Starring Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, John Lithgow, Megan Fox, and Albert Brooks

this is 40 1 Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 4   The Films of December

Judd Apatow returns with his fourth directorial feature, a semi-sequel to Knocked Up that follows the characters Rudd and Mann played in the earlier film. I am extremely eager to see this one, not just because Apatow is one of the most interesting and insightful comedy writers around, but because returning to Rudd and Mann’s characters seems like an excellent dramatic decision.

The best parts of Knocked Up involve those two, as their mid-life marital crisis was painted in intimate, honest strokes, almost as if Apatow were confessing his own deep-seated fears and flaws through the actors. Expanding their story to a full feature is an excellent idea, and if Apatow can once again tap into that deep reservoir of meaningful, dramatic character work and organic, insightful humor, This is 40 could easily be one of the year’s best.

Jack Reacher

Release Date: December 21st

Directed by Christopher McQuarrie; Starring Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall, Werner Herzog, and Richard Jenkins

jack reacher tom cruise Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 4   The Films of December

I know fans of Lee Child’s literary thriller series are underwhelmed by Tom Cruise’s casting in Jack Reacher because of the actor’s height – he is one of the shortest men in Hollywood, while Reacher is partially defined by his massive, hulking figure – but I myself am confused for other reasons.

Namely, I do not understand by the attempt to start yet another action franchise with Cruise at the center, especially when the Mission: Impossible series is still going strong. He’s fifty years old now, and while that certainly doesn’t mean he should stop acting, it does mean there are probably younger, equally deserving unknowns who could use a role like this to propel them to stardom (and may have Reacher’s mammoth physical status to boot).

Plus, while Cruise may get people into the theatre, it will be tough to sell him as this character when most viewers have such strong preconceived notions about the kinds of roles he plays, an issue a lesser-known actor would not have faced.

I’m sure Cruise will do an excellent job – he always does – and I think Christopher McQuarrie is an interesting choice for director. I’m even ecstatic about the idea to cast Werner Herzog as the villain. That alone should be worth the price of admission. But starting another Tom Cruise action franchise just strikes me as an odd idea, and I don’t know if the project itself has enough inherent appeal to audiences to really get off the ground.

Not Fade Away

Release Date: December 21st

Directed by David Chase; Starring James Gandolfini, John Magaro, Bella Heathcote, Christopher McDonald, Molly Price, Lisa Lampanelli, Jack Huston, and Brad Garrett  

NotFadeAway1 Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 4   The Films of December  

David Chase, arguably the father of TV’s current golden age thanks to his landmark work writing The Sopranos, makes his feature directorial debut here with the story of a teenager forming a rock n’ roll band in his New Jersey hometown in the 1960s.

Details on the project are still relatively scarce, but Chase’s name alone is enough to pique my interest, and the cast is a compelling mix of well-known character actors and newcomers. The film will debut at this year’s New York Film Festival in October, and early word is it could be a surprise Oscar contender. Either way, I’m eager to see what Chase has in store.

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Django Unchained

Release Date: December 25th

Directed by Quentin Tarantino; Starring Jaime Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Walton Goggins, and Samuel L. Jackson

 Django Unchained Leo Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 4   The Films of December

Has Tarantino ever turned around and made another movie this fast in his whole career? Inglorious Basterds still feels new, and yet here we are on the precipice of what looks like another Tarantino masterpiece. The director certainly seems to have found a comfortable, confident groove as of late, and every frame of Django Unchained we’ve seen so far suggests this is Tarantino working at the top of his craft, telling a story he has plenty of enthusiasm for with a cast that is truly worth celebrating.

I, for one, could not be more excited. Tarantino is one of my very favorite filmmakers, and while what we’ve seen of Django certainly bears his distinctive stamp, it also looks a little unlike anything he’s ever attempted before. His versatility is, of course, one of his best traits, and the quick turnaround time between Basterds and this indicates he has no shortage of creativity.

Early script reviews almost unanimously agreed this could be his best screenplay to date, and I honestly don’t know a single person who disliked the outstanding initial trailer. It seems this is destined to be one of the highlights of 2012, a cinematic Christmas present of the highest order.

The Guilt Trip

Release Date: December 25th

Directed by Anne Fletcher; Starring Seth Rogen, Barbara Streisand, Yvonne Strahovski, and Adam Scott

 the guilt trip01 Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 4   The Films of December

I do not have dramatically high expectations for this comedy – Anne Fletcher has never directed anything particularly impressive, and I find writer Dan Fogelman’s work a bit hit-and-miss – but I really like the cast, and that will be enough for me to give it a watch.

The film tells the story of an inventor (Rogen) who takes his mother (Streisand) on a trip across America, trying to market his products while reuniting his mother with a long-lost love. Rogen is, of course, a comedic gem, and though I have no great affection for Streisand, she and Rogen could make for an interesting pairing.

I’m more excited to see Chuck star Yvonne Strahovski, who would be Hollywood’s most famous leading lady if there were any sense in the world. The presence of Parks and Recreation star Adam Scott is also always a plus.

Parental Guidance

Release Date: December 25th

Directed by Andy Fickman; Starring Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, and Marisa Tomei

marisa tomei parental guidance Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 4   The Films of December

I again see little inherent value in this project, as Fickman is a generally detached commercial director and the story – Crystal must take care of his three granddaughters using his “old-school” style of parenting – sounds rather rote. But I am usually willing to give Crystal a chance, and I like some of the supporting cast as well. Until we see a trailer, though, I have no strong feelings on this one either way, other than that I hope it’s decent.

That concludes our Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! What films are you most excited for? Sound off in the comments!

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  • http://twitter.com/jerrylambert Jerry Lambert

    stupid slideshows ruin everything

    • http://twitter.com/tmack894 Tee Mack

      I think these are done to increase click throughs….

  • Marcos Machado

    The only movie on this list that is really worth watching is Michael Haneke’s “Amour”. All the others range from simply non-relevant to complete bullshit.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jasonkucherawy Jason Kucherawy

      Film snob.

    • Sarah Dovahkiin Roswell

      Please pull your head out of your ass long enough to read The Hobbit.

    • CF

      Les Miserables and The Hobbit are non-relevant in your opinion??? What kind of movies do you like?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/7INJNV36HTWH7NSN6GS3ZCF6FU Carl

    Anyone have a list of the films? I’ll be damned if I’m clicking through all those dumb slides.

  • Mike

    You didn’t like The King’s Speech, and yet, you expect anyone to take what you write about movies seriously? Good luck with that.

    • ghjghj

      the kings nigs mor elike it

    • http://www.facebook.com/robertskight Robert Kight

      The King’s Speech was incredibly boring, and uninspired, so… yes.

  • Ella

    It´s JACKMAN, not JACKSON.

    • Adam Night

      Samuel L Jackman? I’ve been saying it wrong all this time! Oh, the embarrassment!

  • James ‘Seraph’ Eagle

    Oh no, I have to click some slides, MY PATHETIC LIFE IS OVER THERE ARE BUTTONS, DAMNIT. BUTTONS!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jimmy-Holloway/100000057561416 Jimmy Holloway

    Ugh, moving on to book three of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series and I still can’t get over the choice of Tom Cruise. Maybe if every chapter didn’t emphasize his height, and huge hands…..

  • Peter

    Maybe do some research next time, because saying Jackman SHOULD have starred in a musical by now is king of neglecting the fact that he got his start in theatre and actually just did a one man show on broadway.

  • L

    You forgot Cloud Atlas

    • Greg dinskisk

      That’s October.

  • varney

    I know Jack Reacher. Tom Cruise is not Jack Reacher.

  • http://twitter.com/armenevrensel armen evrensel

    Also Space Milkshake is coming.

  • Jon

    Nice plug for Obama in there

  • spencer

    goosepimples for Les Miserables

  • filmfac.com

    Great list, I can’t wait for Django Unchained, The Impossible and Zero Dark Thirt

  • S S

    Les Miserables comes out on December 25 (for various reasons, they moved the release date, but mainly so it would not compete with any other major films — like The Hobbit).

    Les Miserables and The Hobbit are the two I am most excited for. I have seen the Les Mis stage show 4 different times, and needless to say, I am a HUGE fan of the Lord of the Rings series.

  • http://twitter.com/tmack894 Tee Mack

    None of these films excite me.

  • Tangibulla

    Crap website, self-indulgent reviews. Who cares?

  • Banana

    Skyfall?

  • http://www.facebook.com/Tsun420 Daniel Wood

    All these movies look horrible except the Hobbit. Even the Tarantino one.