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A Holiday Movie for Every Stocking

The age-old dilemma: What movie will Dad not hate? Is there any film the whole family can agree on? And, oh, God, please say it’s not Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. No ho-ho! The nine below offer something for everyone. Best of all, they come wrapped in Oscar buzz.


Movie Plot Main Attraction Best Shot for Oscar Nominations Target Audience
Up in the Air
(December 4)
Director: Jason Reitman
A satire about a “career-transition counselor” who fires people, accrues gobs of air miles, and seduces a fellow commuter. George Clooney, in many suits. Picture, Director, Actor (Clooney) Guilty executives, laid-off workers, and women who have fantasized about being stuck in an airport with Clooney (so pretty much all of them).
(December 11)
Director: Clint Eastwood
South Africa hosts the 1995 Rugby World Cup, and Nelson Mandela works with the team’s white captain to unite their post-­apartheid country. Morgan Freeman, saintly yet again; Matt Damon, ripped yet again. Picture, Actor (Freeman). Long shot: Supporting Actor (Damon) People who like some message with their popcorn; Mandela admirers; the ten or so rugby fans in America.
The Lovely Bones
(December 11)
Director: Peter Jackson
A 14-year-old girl (Saoirse Ronan) who has been brutally murdered watches her friends, family, and murderer (Stanley Tucci) from the afterlife. Jackson’s netherworld. Director (Jackson), Supporting Actor (Tucci). Long shot: Supporting Actress (Ronan) The 8 million readers of Alice Sebold’s novel.
A Single Man
(December 11)
Director: Tom Ford
In 1962 Los Angeles, a gay professor (Colin Firth) mourns the death of his partner and is stalked by a handsome student. Firth’s parade of handsome lovers, dressed exquisitely in Ford-designed sixties clothing. Actor (Firth), Supporting Actress (Julianne Moore) Mad Men fanatics, fashionistas, gay men.
(December 18)
Director: James Cameron
A paraplegic war vet gets a new, blue alien body, visits an alien planet, falls for a blue girl, and goes native. The bleeding, $230 million edge of motion-capture. Cinematography. Long shots: Picture, Director Sci-fi geeks, spectacle hunters, former alien abductees.
(December 18)
Director: Rob Marshall
Film adaptation of a Broadway-musical version of Fellini’s 8 1/2 (phew!). Auteur has midlife crisis and reconnects with women he screwed (in every sense). Daniel Day-Lewis sings! Penélope Cruz strips! Fergie in a film with Sophia Loren and Judi Dench! Actor (Day-Lewis), Supporting Actress (Dench, Cruz) Anyone who loved Moulin Rouge and Chicago, plus the sophisticated straight guy who appreciates eye candy.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
(December 25)
Director: Terry Gilliam
A con artist falls in with a magical group of traveling performers—and into a supernatural wager between the Devil and a mystical doctor. Heath Ledger’s final performance. Long shots: Director (Gilliam), Actor (Ledger) Film geeks, Ledger fans, Tom Waits (the Devil) fanatics.
Sherlock Holmes
(December 25)
Director: Guy Ritchie
The latest minting of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s mastermind (Robert Downey Jr.) and his faithful assistant, Dr. Watson (Jude Law). Rehabbed Downey Jr. as ­Holmes, who fueled his investigations with a “7 percent solution” of injectable cocaine. Actor (Downey). Long shot: Supporting Actor (Law) Mystery nuts; lads who like fisticuffs with their deductive reasoning, and lassies who like it with pecs.
It’s Complicated
(December 25)
Director: Nancy Meyers
A sixtysomething mother (Meryl Streep) with three adult children is seduced by an old friend (Steve Martin) and her ex-husband (Alec Baldwin). A Streep-Baldwin-Martin love triangle can only be hilarious—yes, even within the cheesy confines of a Meyers film. Supporting Actor: (Baldwin). Long shot: Screenplay (Meyers) Scientifically engineered to pacify the whole family (John Krasinski for the kids!).


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