Now this is where things get interesting.

With the onslaught of prestige pictures in full swing, there are plenty of reasons for staunch moviegoers to find themselves investing more money at the box office this season instead of gift-giving (hopefully my mother will like her gifts this year: the AMC rewards dollars I’ll have saved up and a ticket-stub necklace). We finally get to glimpse at some of the major Oscar frontrunners, whose buzz will be either greatly augmented or horribly diminished in light of the major awards announcements from various guilds and critics circles.

There are plenty of reasons for the masses to hit up the local multiplex as well; Hollywood’s lineup includes a slew of franchise hopefuls (Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Adventures of Tintin) and sequels galore (Sherlock Holmes 2, Alvin and the Chipmunks 3, Mission Impossible 89,325).

Below are just some of the many movies I personally am looking forward to, and I know most of the Film Misery staff wants to see as well:

Film Releases

Released on December 2

Steve McQueen’s sophomore effort made its debut this weekend, amidst unanimous acclaim for Michael Fassbender’s lead performance. Slightly less unanimous have been the reviews themselves; the twenty percent of critics who reviewed the film negatively are citing the film’s relatively superficial attempt to tackle the issue of sexual addiction. Still, I loved McQueen’s Hunger, I love Fassbender, and I have a total crush on Carey Mulligan. Nothing can keep me from this one.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Released on December 9

Think about the last time you saw a great – and I mean truly great – espionage thriller. For me, it’s seemed like an eternity. Tinker, Tailor, based on the beloved Le Carré novel, was the recipient of buzz stronger than almost any other movie on the festival circuit this year. Gary Oldman’s performance in particular is being considered a dark-horse contender for this year’s Actor Oscar Race, but the rest of the cast (Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Cirain Hinds) and director Tomas Alfredson (of Let the Right One In fame) excite me as well.

We Need to Talk About Kevin
Released on December 9

Casey C. has been singing the praises of Lynne Ramsay’s festival gem’s lead performance by Tilda Swinton time and again. While I’ve yet to see the movie, I do share his love for the transgressive Oscar Winner (you absolutely must see Julia). The more I read about Ramsay’s film, the more parallels I draw between it and this year’s thematically similar but dramatically intert Beautiful Boy. I’m hopeful that Kevin will challenge audiences more greatly than that one.

Young Adult
Released on December 9

It seems to me there are two kinds of people in this world: those who like Diablo Cody’s writing and those who don’t. My unbridled affection for Juno puts me staunchly in the former category (I’ve admittedly not seen Jennifer’s Body). I’ve also admired each of Jason Reitman’s films, so I’ve a great deal of goodwill coming in to this one. Two friends of mine caught a sneak preview last month and told me it was awful, but considering their taste in movies, I interpret that news almost as words of encouragement.

Released on December 16

I caught God of Carnage, the Yasmina Reza play from which this new Roman Polanski film is adapted, during its run in Minneapolis this past summer. I relished the dialog yet grew frustrated with the performances, which I felt ultimately failed to translate the play’s slowly mounting intensity effectively. I trust each of the four actors hired on to this film adaptation, so I am expecting high levels of tawdry, trashy, Virginia Woolf-esque fun.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Released on December 21

Admittedly, if my excitement for any one of the movies listed here is mitigated, it’s for David Fincher’s latest. I love Fincher and feel he is perfectly suited to the source material, but my affection for last year’s Swedish adaptation of the Stieg Larsson series and for Noomi Rapace’s magnificent performance leave me biased against him. I do believe this adaptation is capable of brilliance in its own right, though, so I am more than happy to give it – and new “Lisbeth” Rooney Mara – the time of day.

The Adventures of Tintin
Released on December 21

Vinny’s middling review of Steven Spielberg’s first foray into 3D animation is discouraging, but only slightly. The truth is that the Beard is one of the few blockbuster filmmakers whose movies I consistently enter with nearly untarnished optimism. The visuals look dazzling, and the action looks kinetic and coherent. Try saying that about the latest Michael Bay movie.

War Horse
Released on December 25

Of the movies listed in this post, the second Spielberg film in a single month is the only one I’ve actually seen. Studio embargoes discourage me from saying what I thought about the movie itself, but I think I can tell you that your reaction to the trailer is likely the strongest indicator of how you will feel about. To Oscar junkies, I personally think War Horse will be one of the strongest contenders in the technical categories, particularly for Sound, Original Score and Cinematography.

A Separation
Released on December 30

I know relatively little about this Iranian film by Asghar Farhadi, except that it completely devastated audiences at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival. Based on the reviews I have read, 2011’s Golden Bear winner promises to be among the year’s most difficult and morally complex films. This may be my most anticipated film of December, and it all but pains me that it will not be coming to my city until January.

Other Notable Film Releases:

Sleeping Beauty – December 2
New Year’s Eve – December 9
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – December 16
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked – December 16
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol – December 21
In the Land of Blood and Honey – December 21
Albert Nobbs – December 21
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – December 21
We Bought a Zoo – December 23
The Darkest Hour – December 25
The Iron Lady – December 30

Film Events

SAG and Golden Globe Nominations

Lots and lots of awards will be coming in over the month, with Critics and Guilds alike naming their favorite films. Arguably the most high-profile, if not necessarily the most revelatory, will be the announcements of the Screen Actors Guild nominations and the Hollywood Foreign Press’ Golden Globe Nominations. I predict right now that Angelina Jolie’s In the Land of Blood and Honey will go down as the one film this year nobody – with the sole exception of the HFP – will remotely care about. You heard it here first, folks.

The SAG nominations will be announced on December 15. The Golden Globe nominations will be announced the very next day, on December 15.

On Film Misery – Our Oscar Frontrunner Predictons

As Guild awards and Critics circle awards continue to shape the Oscar race, we plan to cover each race as fastidiously as possible.  Be sure to follow our coverage throughout the next few months as true frontrunners begin to show up.

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  • Wow now that is a one big busy month :) can’t pick few of the movies but i am looking forward to each and every one. i have already seen Albert Nobbs and A Separation. i am very excited for each of the movie releasing but specially for Shame, Young Adult, War Horse and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

  • Jose

    The only movie I’m really excited for is We need to Talk About Kevin. Of course I’m probably going to have to wait till January to see it, so till then I’ve got:

    The Descendants (its bound to come to my theater within the next 3 weeks
    Melancholia (I’m driving over 220 miles to see it, it better be worth it)
    Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
    Young Adult
    Sherlock Holmes
    The Adventures of Tintin
    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
    and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I’m pretty sure you mean Tom Hardy is the black horse in the supporting actor field because Oldman is in lead.

    And I heard it first about In the Land of Blood and Honey in, good try though.

    • I indeed meant Oldman, but I made the mistake of calling his role a “supporting” one. I made the change, and I appreciate the correction, Jose!

      And to be clear, I didn’t say nobody would know about the existence of ‘In the Land of Blood and Honey;’ merely that it would only be the Hollywood Foreign Press who would remotely care about said existence. I’ll qualify my statement though, in light of what you said, to say only the HFP and EW will actually give that Oscar bait the time of day.

      And regarding Melancholia…whether you end up hating or loving the movie, I have little doubt you likely will not regret seeing it. I really admire your dedication to traveling so far to see it!

  • I suspect you are correct about Angelina Jolie’s film. I was bored about 30 seconds into the trailer.

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