Holiday Preview

Will Hollywood Give Us a Good Christmas?

by Danny Minton

    I can’t think of a year when I wasn’t absolutely thrilled by what was coming to the local cineplex over the holidays.  For years Hollywood has saved up its best offerings for a Thanksgiving or Christmas release and while they do this to make it fresh in voters’ minds, it also leads to great times spent in a darkened theater with family and friends while you wind the year down. 

    For the first time in my life, I am less than thrilled at what is on the November and December calendar.  2013 hasn’t been the best year for movies, although there have been some truly great ones.  If I were to bet on it, I would put my money down that we’ve already seen our big Oscar contenders for this year.  With such terrific movies as 12 Years A Slave, Gravity and Captain Phillips, its hard to imagine any of the upcoming pictures will be able to surprise us in the awards season. 

    But I am hopeful.  Every year there are films that sneak up and bat me upside the head.  I’ve no clue what film has that potential this holiday, but here are the ten films that I am most looking forward to seeing in the coming weeks.

10) Anchorman 2. The Legend Continues.  Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and company are back as Ron Burgundy attempts to make a name for himself on cable news.  The early indications are that this could be a really good comedy filled with many more raunchy one-liners for us to copycat for years to come. 

9) August Osage County.  Sure to garner tons of acting accolades, Tracy Letts’s Tony-winning Broadway play is getting the big screen treatment with an all-star cast including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor and many others.  This could easily be the next Steel Magnolias. 

8) The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  Part two in Peter Jackson’s new Hobbit trilogy looks to be yet another grand Tolkien adventure.  While not as rich and sophisticated a story as Lord of the Rings, Jackson’s first third proved worth the buzz and part two looks even better. 

7) The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  This screenplay has seen many names attached through the years, including Steven Spielberg, but finally found a home with director and star Ben Stiller.  I really don’t have a clue why its such a big deal, but i’m anxious to find out.  If the long-time buzz holds true, this could be the surprise smash hit of the holiday. 

6) Walking with the Dinosaurs 3D.  I’m not sure how original this big-budgeted CG dino tale will be but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to see it.  Not necessarily for me but for my three-year-old who knows more about dinosaurs than anyone I’ve ever met.  His desire to see it, and he’s been talking about it for months, has me jonesing to take him. 

5) Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.  This has been an amazing year for films about the black experience.  With such amazing films as 12 Years a Slave, Fruitvale Station, The Butler and Captain Phillips I think we’ve all learned and grown a lot.  While this new film about Nelson Mandela is sure to bring controversy, many, including myself, are looking forward to see this long awaited account of the legendary figure’s life. 

4) Inside Llewyn Davis.  While I have no idea what this film is about, and don’t want to know until I see it, I’ve learned one thing over the last two decades: true the Coen Brothers.  They always deliver a great film, and yes I even liked Intolerable Cruelty. 

3) Her.  Another filmmaker I’ve learned to trust is Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich).  The story follows Joaquin Phoenix as a man who develops an unusual relationship with the voice on his new computer.  I just love weird and wonderful films and I hope this fills the void. 

2) American Hustle.  Combine writer/director David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) with Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner and Robert De Niro and its hard not imagine a huge hit.  I can almost guarantee this will be a much talked-about pic with huge twists and turns that you’ll hate when your friends accidentally give them away. 

1) Saving Mr. Banks.  As a life-long Disney fan and even a former employee,  I have long been waiting to see one of my heroes come to life.  In this new sure to be sappy but sweet comedy, Tom Hanks plays Walt Disney as he tries to convince Marry Poppins writer P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) to allow him to bring her story to life on the big screen.  Of all the films on the horizon, this is the only one that has me a little giddy.