The holiday season is officially among us. What better way to spend the holidays with your family and friends than in a dark movie theater free of conversation and awkward small talk? Here is a preview of upcoming holiday movies to keep your family and yourself occupied.

"Arthur Christmas"

In this 3-D animated comedy, Aardman Animations of "Wallace and Gromit" and Sony Pictures Animation of "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" team up to tell the story of Santa's son, Arthur. The film looks a bit too similar to the clever Disney Christmas special, "Prep & Landing." But if "Arthur Christmas" can distinguish itself, it may be a contender for one of this year's best animated features. (Opened Nov. 23)


Nobody can deny that Martin Scorsese is among our greatest living directors. The one genre I don't think anyone ever expected Scorsese to tackle though is a children's 3-D adventure. With "Hugo," Scorsese steps out of his mean street comfort zone to bring Brian Selznick's book to life. Judging from the trailer, Scorsese has either made a future family classic or gone overboard with the whimsy. In either case, I think it's safe to say that "Hugo" is a frontrunner for the Best Art Direction Oscar. (Opened Nov. 23)

"The Muppets"

Now this is what I'm talking about. It's hard to think of a movie this year that has had a better ad campaign than "The Muppets." If the movie itself is anywhere near as well produced as the trailers and viral video tie-ins, this may be the Muppets' finest outing since the original "Muppet Movie" in 1979. (Opened Nov. 23)

"The Artist"

"The Artist" may be the toughest sell of any movie this year. Not only is it shot in black and white, but it's also a silent picture. While I'm sure it will be a big hit with critics and the Academy, I'm highly curious to see if "The Artist" can win over mainstream audiences that are drawn to "Transformers." (Opens Nov. 23 in limited release)

"New Year's Eve"

Here's another holiday special from director Garry Marshall starring every actor that wasn't in "Valentine's Day," and even some leftovers like Ashton Kutcher and Jessica Biel. If "New Year's Eve" is as successful as that film, you can be sure to expect more star-studded holiday movies, from Saint Patrick's Day to Thanksgiving. (Opens Dec. 9)

"The Sitter"

After gaining popularity with independent dramas, director David Gordon Green has taken his career in an opposite direction in recent years with stoner comedies. With "The Sitter," it appears that Green has potentially made an R-rated version of "Adventures in Babysitting" with Jonah Hill as the irresponsible sitter. I just hope that Green can redeem himself after the atrocity that was "Your Highness." (Opens Dec. 9)

"Tinker, Tailor,

Soldier, Spy"

"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" is an early Oscar favorite that might score the increasingly underrated Gary Oldman his first Oscar nomination. My only question is, couldn't they have come up with an easier title for people to remember? (Opens Dec. 9)

"Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked"

Way to go parents. You all paid hard-earned money to take your children to see the first two "Chipmunks" movies and now we have to sit through a third. Soon you will be $20 poorer and your child will be one step closer to having ADD. I hope you're all happy with yourselves. (Opens Dec. 16)

"Sherlock Holmes:

A Game of Shadows"

The first "Sherlock Holmes" might have been heavier on explosions than sleuthing and mystery. Yet, it ultimately succeeded due to the great chemistry between Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. Lets hope that the two can sustain the same energy to make the sequel as much fun as the original. (Opens Dec. 16)

"The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn"

Steven Spielberg is back in his adventure mode with "The Adventures of Tintin." This adaptation of the celebrated comic books appears to have the essence of a modern "Raiders of the Lost Ark" with breathtaking motion capture effects. If the film is eligible, it could very well rival "Rango" for the Best Animated Feature Oscar. Of course, the Academy has always been biased against motion capture pictures, such as "The Polar Express" and "Beowulf." In any case, "The Adentures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn" looks like a blast. (Opens Dec. 21)

"The Girl with the

Dragon Tattoo"

The original "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" picture from Sweden was among my five favorite films of last year. As you can imagine, I'm beyond excited to see what director David Fincher will achieve with the American remake, especially with a cast that includes Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara from "The Social Network." I just hope that this film won't cause the foreign version to get completely overlooked by American audiences. (Opens Dec. 21)

"Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol"

I wasn't sure if we needed a fourth "Mission Impossible" movie at first. But with Brad Bird of "The Iron Giant," "The Incredibles," and "Ratatouille" in the director's chair, my enthusiasm is now at its peak. The only question is whether Bird is as talented of a live-action director as he is an animator. (Opens Dec. 21)

"We Bought a Zoo"

It's been a while since Cameron Crowe has made a good film. But it looks like he might have finally found another winner with "We Bought a Zoo." This true story about a father who tries to re-open a suffering zoo may deliver the inspirational movie that audiences desire this time of year. (Opens Dec. 23)

"The Darkest Hour"

I don't know what to make of this thing. There's a bunch of horny teenagers running from aliens that absorb their energy or something. Is anyone really looking forward to this movie? I didn't think so. If you all don't mind I'm just going to skip it and move on. (Opens Dec. 25)

"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"

I honestly haven't been the biggest fan of director Steven Daldry who brought us "The Hours" and "The Reader." But his latest film, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," has me intrigued with its premise of a little boy trying to find the lock that matches a key that his father left after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. This could very well be Daldry's first film that actually deserves an Oscar nomination. (Opens Dec. 25 in limited release)

"War Horse"

In addition to directing what might be the holiday season's biggest blockbuster with "Tintin," Steven Spielberg has also made this year's potential Best Picture winner. "War Horse" tells the tale of a horse who is separated from his owner when he is sent to the tranches of World War I. Spielberg seems poised to win his third Best Director Oscar. (Opens Dec. 25)

• 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


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