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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.

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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).
Invictus
(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.
Avatar
(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.
Nine
(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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