December will soon be descending upon us. For a lot of people this month will entail building snowmen, sledding down hills of snow, making snow angles and getting tongues stuck to icy poles. Of course those stuck in Ahwatukee won’t be able to appreciate any of these traditional winter activities. But who needs snow when you can spend your Christmas break in a cozy movie theater. Here are several films to look out for this holiday season.


“Hyde Park on Hudson”

This election year has brought us a number of movies about real-life politicians, such as Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” Jay Roach’s “Game Change,” and of course “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” In “Hyde Park on Hudson,” Bill Murray portrays our 32nd President, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Laura Linney also stars as Margaret Stuckley, FDR’s distant cousin with whom he shared a love affair.

Opens Dec. 7.


“Playing For Keeps”

Gerard Butler stars as a former soccer all-star trying to get his meddled life back together in this sentimental drama from Gabriele Muccino, the same man that gave us “The Pursuit of Happyness.” Although Butler can be an appealing actor, am I the only one that has a hard time buying him in sentimental/romantic roles? No matter what part Butler plays, the guy always looks like he wants to chop somebody’s head off. Hopefully “Playing for Keeps” will at least be a step up from the previous romantic comedies starring Butler, “The Ugly Truth” and “The Bounty Hunter.”

Opens Dec. 7.


“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”

Almost 10 years after the original “Lord of the Rings” trilogy came to its grand conclusion, Peter Jackson finally returns to direct “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” In this first entry to the “Lord of the Rings” prequel trilogy, Martin Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins is thrust into a quest involving dwarves, a dragon, treasure, Gollum, and all that other good stuff. I just pray that we don’t have another “Star Wars” prequel trilogy on our hands.

Opens Dec. 14.


“Zero Dark Thirty”

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a year since the U.S. Navy SEAL’s got Osama bin Laden. “Zero Dark Thirty” marks the first theatrical film about the 10-year-long pursuit for the terrorist leader and the mission that resulted in his death. Who better to tackle this material than Kathryn Bigelow, the director of the Oscar-winning “Hurt Locker?”

Opens Dec. 19.


“Jack Reacher”

Tom Cruise stars in this action blockbuster about an infamous super cop that doesn’t play by the rules, Finally. In all fairness though, Cruise has proven time and time again that he can be extremely entertaining to observe in these types of roles. The question is whether “Jack Reacher” will be fun enough to spawn a franchise like “Mission Impossible” or crash and burn like “Knight and Day.”

Opens Dec. 21.


“This is 40”

Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd were easily the best part of “Knocked Up.” It’s only natural that their characters would get their own spin off in “This is 40.” With a supporting cast that includes Jason Segel, Melissa McCarthy, Lena Dunham, Albert Brooks, John Lithgow, and Megan Fox, Judd Apatow’s comedy of reaching mid-life just might rival “Ted” for the funniest movie of the year.

Opens Dec. 21.


“Cirque du Soleil: World’s Away”

Too cheap to afford tickets to a Cirque de Soleil show in Las Vegas? Don’t worry, you can settle for the 3-D motion picture, “Cirque du Soleil: World’s Away.”

Opens Dec. 21.


“Django Unchained”

The new movie from Quentin Tarantino is a cinematic event I look forward to every couple of years. In “Django Unchained,” Jamie Foxx’s Django, a freed slave, sets out to rescue his wife from a Mississippi plantation owner, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. If this salute to the spaghetti Western genre is anywhere near as hilarious, intense, and gruesomely joyous as “Inglourious Basterds,” I for one will be set.

Opens Dec. 25.


“Les Miserables”

After decades of being stuck in production, “Les Miserables” finally makes its way to the big screen. Tom Hooper follows up his Oscar-winning “The King’s Speech” with this adaptation of the hit musical staring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway. Will “Les Miserables” be the first musical to win the Best Picture Oscar since “Chicago” or the next “Nine?”

Opens Dec. 25.


“The Guilt Trip”

Seth Rogan and Barbra Streisand, together at last. Judging from the trailer, “The Guilt Trip” may have the potential to be one of the funnier road trip comedies. At the same time though, it could end up being every bit as obnoxious as an extended car ride with your overbearing mother.

Opens Dec. 25.


“Parental Guidance”

Billy Crystal has proven that he’s fully capable of hosting the Oscars even in his twilight years. But can the guy still carry a feature-length comedy? No matter what the outcome, “Parental Guidance” can’t be anywhere near as bad as something like “My Giant”…right?

Opens Dec. 25.



Dustin Hoffman makes his directorial debut in this comedy about four retired opera singers, played by Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins, and Billy Connolly, that put on an annual concert in memory of Giuseppe Verdi. So if you like classical music and decrepit, British actors, this one’s for you.

Opens Dec. 28.


Ahwatukee native and Desert Vista graduate Nick Spake is a student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for five years, reviewing movies on his website, Reach him at

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.