'Tis the season when the best films of the year hit theaters. So, take a break from the holiday mayhem and catch a great movie. After having checked it twice, the following made my wish list ...
‘ZERO DARK THIRTY’
Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow's ("The Hurt Locker") fact-based film, chronicling the 10-year search for Osama bin Laden, is rumored to be riveting. Jessica Chastain stars as an "insanely-focused" CIA agent in charge of bringing down the world's most wanted and elusive mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. "Mission (actually) Accomplished." Dec. 19
A couple in their 80s, who've been together for 60 years, face the test of love when one becomes gravely ill. Director Michael Haneke, who's known for making extremely controversial films ("Funny Games"), gets "uncommonly tender" in this examination of the cruelties of nature and the undying love between two human beings. Dec. 19
The incredible, true story of a Spanish family of five who survived the 2004 tsunami that claimed more than 230,000 lives. Director J.A. Bayona worked closely with the actual matriarch of the family, even returning to the Thai resort where they were vacationing when it hit. The trailer was so visually powerful it left me in tears. Starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. Dec. 21
No one dishes up delicious dialogue the way Director Quentin Tatantino does. He's also a genius at casting. I can't wait to see Jamie Foxx as a slave-turned-bounty-hunter by a dentist (Christoph Waltz) in this spaghetti-western set in the 1880s. Bonus: Leonardo DiCaprio also stars as an evil plantation owner named Calvin Candy. Too cool. Dec. 25
‘WEST OF MEMPHIS’
"New and startling revelations" are brought to light in this documentary about the notorious West Memphis Three. In 1994, three teenagers were framed and convicted of murdering three young boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. All of them were released from prison last year due to public outcries. This expose of justice not being served should help further exonerate the victims. Directed by Amy Berg and produced by Peter Jackson. Dec. 25
This film is receiving more press than the fiscal cliff. It prompted a standing ovation at the premiere and has, just about, every A-list actor in Hollywood in its credits. Personally, I'm not into musicals but, after seeing a promo on the making of this enduring tale of dreams, hope and love — I'm game. The wonderful Tom Hooper, who won an Oscar for "The King's Speech," directs. Dec. 25
If you're unfamiliar with the term "fracking,' you won't be after viewing this film about environmentalists versus corporations. Will small-town America sell out to a conglomerate for money at the cost of destroying the land that they inhabit? Matt Damon was slated to direct and had to pass, but stars opposite John Krasinski, as Gus Van Sant takes the helm. Dec. 28
Russell Crowe looks smarmy as a corrupt New York City mayor who has his wife (Catherin Zeta-Jones) followed by ex-cop (Mark Wahlberg). Judging by the trailer, it looks as though ex-cop gets in way over his head and might have to take the fall for something he didn't do. Directed by Allen Hughes in his first feature film. Jan. 18
Killer trailer. Killer cast. Killer look. Los Angeles cops (Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin) are on a mission to take down East-Coast mafia kingpin, Mickey Cohen (a severely scary Sean Penn). The release was delayed because a scene in the film was eerily akin to the massacre at the Aurora, Colorado movie theater in July. Directed by Ruben Fleischer ("Zombieland"). Jan. 11
Because Jessica Chastain is such a great actor, and is virtually unrecognizable in the trailer, I'm intrigued. Two sinister-looking siblings, left alone in the forest for five years, are taken in by their aunt and uncle. Were they really alone and have they brought unseen company? Looks very spooky. Andres Muschietti directs. Jan. 18
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