How appropriate that the roster of cinematic releases heats up just as the temperature drops.
It offers the perfect excuse to hole up in a familiar multiplex or neighborhood art house as the season dishes out its frosty bombardment.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
From November through the end of the year, the studios unleash a potent mix of holiday blockbusters, Oscar hopefuls and quirky sleepers. (A few won’t arrive in our area until next year.)
Here are 10 such movies we are excited to see.
The tagline reads “Ordinary guys. An extraordinary robbery.” But there’s nothing ordinary about the cast assembled for this action-comedy. Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, Matthew Broderick and Gabourey Sidibe headline a group of employees who fall victim to a Ponzi scheme run by a smug business tycoon (Alan Alda). In return, they conspire to rob $20 million from his penthouse apartment. While having director Brett Ratner at the helm (the “Rush Hour” trilogy) is certainly inauspicious, the comedic juice generated by the cast should be worth many laughs. (Friday)
Leonardo DiCaprio makes another stab at having the academy ignore him during awards season. This time he plays J. Edgar Hoover, the complicated, controversial leader of the FBI for half a century. (“Sometimes you need to bend the rules a little in order to keep your country safe,” he boasts in the film’s trailer). Armie Hammer (the twins in “The Social Network”) portrays Clyde Tolson, who was long suspected of being Hoover’s closeted lover. Clint Eastwood directs. (Nov. 11)
Ancient Greece has been kind to the Hollywood studios lately, and they hope to lure the “300” and “Clash of the Titans” crowd with this sword and sorcery epic. Director Tarsem Singh hasn’t made a major studio picture since 2000’s fantasy thriller “The Cell.” But he’s just the type of abstract visualist who can legitimize a story about kingdoms warring over a magic bow. Henry Cavill (Superman in the upcoming “Man of Steel”) portrays Theseus, and the buff and creepy Mickey Rourke plays King Hyperion. (Nov. 11)
Martin Scorsese can’t be accused of making another East Coast mob movie. With “Hugo,” he tackles Brian Selznick’s children’s book about a Parisian orphan (Asa Butterfield) who discovers a mystery that involves his late father, a young girl (Chloe Moretz) and a “Metropolis”-esque robot. It marks the Oscar-winning director’s first foray into an effects-laden, child-friendly feature. (Nov. 23)
It’s not easy being green, but it sure looks like fun being in the new Muppets movie. The rejuvenated musical comedy extravaganza features hordes of celebrity cameos. The Muppets also recruit stars Amy Adams and Jason Segel to join them on a quest to save their beloved old theater from an oil tycoon (Chris Cooper). As the cranky men in the balcony put it best:
Statler: Is this movie in 3-D?
Waldorf: Nope. The Muppets are as one-dimensional as they’ve always been! (Nov. 23)
In the potential “comedy sleeper” slot comes “The Sitter,” courtesy of “Pineapple Express” director David Gordon Green. This R-rated effort finds the reliable Jonah Hill playing a suspended college student who gets cajoled into watching the kids next door.
“I’m not a real baby sitter. I’m more of a sit-on-the-couch, do-whatever-I-say-or-I’ll-kill-you type of baby sitter,” he tells one of the three rugrats before embarking on a perilous adventure with them in tow. (Dec. 9)
‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’
Few sequels show more potential than Guy Ritchie’s follow-up to his 2009 effort “Sherlock Holmes.” That underrated action vehicle made more than $200 million thanks to the inspired casting of Robert Downey Jr. as the titular detective and Jude Law as his pragmatic sidekick, Dr. Watson. Now they take on arch nemesis Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris, the son of Richard Harris). There’s nothing stopping this sequel from eclipsing the original. (Dec. 16)
‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’
Although 2009’s excellent Swedish version of Stieg Larsson’s novel wasn’t exactly in need of being remade, audiences began to take more interest once cast and crew were announced. Director David Fincher reunites with his “The Social Network” actress Rooney Mara and Daniel “007” Craig to give an English-language account of an antisocial hacker and a magazine reporter who partner to solve a 40-year-old mystery. Columbia Pictures is hilariously promoting it as “The feel bad movie of Christmas.” (Dec. 21)
‘The Adventures of Tintin’
Steven Spielberg brings the Belgian globetrotter to domestic audiences in the director’s first-ever animated undertaking. In this “The Polar Express”-style presentation, Tintin (Jamie Bell) and Captain Haddock (motion-capture master Andy Serkis) race against bad guys to find a sunken ship filled with treasure and something more. (Dec. 21)
‘The Darkest Hour’
There’s no shortage of flicks based on the premise of regular folks battling an extraterrestrial invasion on their home turf — “Attack the Block,” “Battle Los Angeles” and “Cowboys Aliens” already came out in 2011. In “The Darkest Hour” the action switches to Moscow. Emile Hirsch (“Into the Wild”) and Rachael Taylor (TV’s “Charlie’s Angels” reboot) headline a cast of young Russians compelled to take on an army of invisible, energy-eating aliens. (Dec. 25)