THE HOBBIT PART II: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG - December 13th
Watch the The Hobbit Part II: The Desolation of Smaug trailer here.
More Bilbo, more Gandalf, more Dwarves, more Orcs plus Wood Elves, a big-ass Dragon, and the return of Legolas to screens? And the dragon is played by star Martin Freeman's "Sherlock" bro Benedict Cumberbatch, no less? Of course I'm there. It seems fairly clear that the Hobbit trilogy is ultimately going to be a different thing than LOTR was - more of a Middle Earth Rollercoaster thing than all the portent and solemnity of before - and so long as I have as much fun as I did with the first one I'm okay with that. Plus, we get to find out if the universe tears in half if Orlando Bloom and Luke Evans share a scene together...
ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND CONTINUES - December 20th
Watch the Anchorman: The Legend Continues trailer here.
Yes, I'm psyched for this for the same reason everyone else is. Anchorman being a straight-up modern comedy classic. But let's get real for a minute: I'm a little worried about how little of Christina Applegate's Veronica Coringstone is in the trailers for the sequel so far. She may have had the least showy part in the original, but I maintain that she was the film's secret weapon. If she's been somehow sidelined for this one in favor of just re-focusing on all the more quotable characters, well... I'm sure it'll still be funny, but definitely not as funny.
SAVING MR. BANKS - December 20th
Tom Hanks is Walt Disney (no, really - roll that around in your head for a minute) and Emma Thompson is Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers in a story focusing on the complicated relationship that developed between the two notoriously headstrong creators as they hashed out the details of Walt's now-famous adaptation of her famous books. This should be really interesting: Travers is a fascinating character (seriously, look her up - she was pretty awesome) whose decidedly offbeat life has been eclipsed by Mary's fame today, and while the eccentric Disney's one-of-a-kind way of running a movie studio is the stuff of Hollywood legend it's very rarely been filmed. "Disneystalgia" is a potentially big subgenre just waiting to break, with Tomorrowland (a top-secret Brad Bird/George Clooney project that may involve 'mysterious secrets' related to the Disney park of the same name) now in production and a screenplay called The Magic Kingdom (in which the characters/attractions at Disneyland come to life) still kicking around looking for a director.
THE MONUMENTS MEN - December 20th
During WWII, it was the officially policy of the U.S. Army that the survival of historic, artistic and cultural treasures of Axis-occupied countries was vital to maintaining post-war stability. A specialized unit comprised of historians, professors, and art experts was established and commissioned by the army to rescue and catalog paintings, sculptures and other priceless art treasures that had been stolen by the Nazis. They also worked to "flag" buildings, museums and statuary of historic value so that Allied bombers would know what not to destroy during bombings, ultimately saving countless irreplaceable artifacts that might otherwise have been lost to history. They were real, they were awesome, and now George Clooney is directing and starring in a long-overdue movie about them.