We are now at the end of the decade. Usually December brings the top Oscar candidates and a few heavy blockbusters. This year is no different. If you aren’t sure what’s coming out this month check out the list below.


15. Agora (Amenabar, Dec. 18th)


Synopsis: A historical drama set in Roman Egypt, concerning a slave who turns to the rising tide of Christianity in the hopes of pursuing freedom while also falling in love with his master, the famous female philosophy professor and atheist Hypatia of Alexandria.


Why You Should See It: A big hit in  Spain, the latest from the guy behind the Javier Bardem-starring The Sea Inside, The Others, and the original Vanilla Sky (Open Your Eyes), is looking to get a very small US release this month, something definitely worth checking out.

14. The Last Station (Hoffman, Dec. 23rd)


Synopsis: A historical drama that illustrates Russian author Leo Tolstoy’s struggle to balance fame and wealth with his commitment to a life devoid of material things.


Why You Should See It: With a stellar cast including Helen Mirren, James McAvoy, Paul Giamatti and Christopher Plummer this looks to be quite the Oscar contender.

13. Brothers (Sheridan, Dec. 4th)


Synopsis: Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) returns from being held as a prisoner-of-war in Afghanistan to find that his ex-con brother (Jake Gyllenhaal) has become the man, of sorts, of the household where Sam’s wife, Grace (Natalie Portman) had been living under the assumption that she was a widow.


Why You Should See It: Judging from the trailer this looks like melodrama at it’s finest. Early reviews suggest it’s not as good as the foreign original, but still worth checking out.

12. Everybody’s Fine (Jones, Dec. 4th)


Synopsis: A widower (Robert De Niro) takes an impromptu road trip in order to reconnect with his grown children, only to discover that his family members are living far from perfect lives.


Why You Should See It: It should be interesting to see how De Niro interacts with Sam Rockwell, Kate Beckinsale, and Drew Barrymore in this failed Oscar attempt.

11. The White Ribbon (Haneke, Dec. 30th)


Synopsis: Strange events happen in a small village in the north of Germany during the years just before World War I, which seem to be ritual punishment. The abused and suppressed children of the villagers seem to be at the heart of this mystery.


Why You Should See It: Haneke certainly isn’t for everyone, but his latest won the top prize at Cannes this year and is a front runner for the foreign Oscar trophy.

10. It’s Complicated (Meyers, Dec. 25th)


Synopsis: A romantic comedy in which two men (Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin) vie for the affection of the same woman (Meryl Streep).


Why You Should See It: Nancy Meyer’s latest should prove to have wide appeal among the older crowd with a number of A-list stars enjoying themselves.

9. Crazy Heart (Cooper, Dec. 16th)


Synopsis: A hard-living country music singer (Jeff Bridges) makes a reach for salvation with the help of a journalist (Maggie Gyllenhaal) set in her attempt to find the real man behind the musician.


Why You Should See It: Pushed up by Searchlight in order to contend for Oscars this film features a Best Actor worthy performance by The Dude himself. Many have compared it to The Wrestler, but for country music.

8. Sherlock Holmes (Ritchie, Dec. 25th)


Synopsis: Detective Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and his stalwart partner Watson (Jude Law) engage in a battle of wits and brawn with a nemesis whose plot is a threat to all of England.


Why You Should See It: Guy Ritchie, after a directorial life of smaller British crime dramas and odd Madonna-related projects, finally lands it big time with this blockbuster. His style, mixed with a stellar cast of Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Rachel McAddams and most importantly Mark Strong, looks to be one of the most enjoyable experiences this holiday.

7. Invictus (Eastwood, Dec. 11th)


Synopsis: A look at life of Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) after the fall of apartheid in South Africa during his first term as president when campaigned to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup event as an opportunity to unite his countrymen.


Why You Should See It: There isn’t another film this year that screams Oscars more than this. Clint Eastwood tackling a biographical story with Morgan Freeman playing a historical figure may seem like a snorefest to many, but it will certainly find it’s place among audiences.

6. A Single Man (Tom Ford, Dec. 11th)


Synopsis: In Los Angeles, an English professor whose partner recently passed away tries to go about his day in typical fashion.


Why You Should See It: With massive Oscar buzz attached to Colin Firth, who already won the best actor prize at Venice, this directorial debut from Tom Ford looks beautiful, stylish and mesmerizing.

5. The Lovely Bones (Jackson, Dec. 11th)


Synopsis: Young Susie watches over her family from “the in-between” as they deal with the aftermath of her brutal rape and murder.


Why You Should See It: Peter Jackson returns with a smaller drama, which has since received mixed reviews. The film seems to have a few unique qualities that won’t necessarily sit well with everyone, but for those that connect, they will be engrossed at the spectacle.

4. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Gilliam, Dec. 25th)


Synopsis: A story-telling doctor’s deal with the devil sends him scrambling to save his daughter on the eve of her 16th birthday.


Why You Should See It: Terry Gilliam never seems to a get a break, but his latest project is finally coming to the US. Check out Ledger’s final performance, completed by Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law.

3. Nine (Marshall, Dec. 18th)


Synopsis: Famous film director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) struggles to find harmony in his professional and personal lives, as he engages in dramatic relationships with his wife, his mistress, his muse, his agent, and his mother.


Why You Should See It: If the picture above doesn’t persuade you, I’m not sure what will. Maybe Rob Marshall directing Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, and Judi Dench will do the trick.

2. Up in the Air (Reitman, Dec. 4th)


Synopsis: Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is a corporate-downsizing expert whose cherished life on the road is threatened just as he is on the cusp of reaching ten million frequent flyer miles and just after he’s met the frequent-traveler woman of his dreams.


Why You Should See It: One of my favorite films of the year after seeing it at TIFF, I can’t wait to check it out again. Hilarious, charming, and emotional, Jason Reitman’s latest appeals to pretty much every crowd and is a much more mature effort after Juno.

1. Avatar (Cameron, Dec. 18th)


Synopsis: A band of humans are pitted in a battle against a distant planet’s indigenous population.


Why You Should See It: James Cameron’s triumphant return to cinema, after sweeping the 1997 Academy Awards with Titanic, is finally upon us. Many are worried about how much money it will make and if it lives up to the hype, but I’m looking forward to a completely new theatrical experience and a ride that only a few directors can provide.


Did You Hear About The Morgans? (Lawrence, Dec. 11th)


Synopsis: In New York City, an estranged couple who witness a murder are relocated to small-town Wyoming as part of a witness-protection program.


Why You Should Avoid It: The latest from the director of Music and Lyrics and Two Weeks Notice gives me absolutely no reason to expect anything more than a generic, mildly funny romcom. It’s also coming out the same weekend as Avatar, so I highly doubt anyone will be seeing a second film in theaters that weekend, especially not this.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (Thomas, Dec. 23rd)


Synopsis: Alvin, Simon and Theodore must put aside music superstardom and return to school, where they look to win a $25,000 prize in a battle of the bands contest in order to save their school’s music program. But the Chipmunks unexpectedly meet their match in three singing chipmunks known as The Chipettes — Brittany, Eleanor and Jeanette.


Why You Should Avoid It: Another terrible bi-product of a financially successfully first film ($360 million worldwide gross). This is a different director and what looks like a crapshoot of a million terrible ideas. Hopefully children of the world will tell their parents they want to see Princess and the Frog instead this Christmas.

Creation (Amiel, Dec. 25th)


Synopsis: English naturalist Charles Darwin struggles to find a balance between his revolutionary theories on evolution and the relationship with religious wife, whose faith contradicts his work.


Why You Should Avoid It: After seeing this Toronto International Film Festival, what could have been a fascinating story becomes impossibly boring in yet another failed Oscar grab biopic.

Transylmania (Hillenbrand, Dec. 4th)


Synopsis: A horror comedy that follows a group of college kids who travel to Transylvania for a semester at Razvan University, which isn’t as picturesque (or safe) as it appeared on its brochure.


Why You Should Avoid It: This is technically National Lampoon’s Dorm Daze 3….so….yeah.


Serious Moonlight (Hines, Dec. 4th)


Synopsis: When a high-powered attorney (Meg Ryan) discovers her husband (Timothy Hutton) is planning on leaving her for a younger woman (Kristen Bell), she duct tapes him to the toilet in hopes of keeping him hostage until they reconcile. Her plan is complicated by the arrival of the mistress, as well as a pair of burglars.


Why You Should Rent It: Adrienne Shelly’s posthumous screenplay is the directorial debut from Cheryl Hines and the mixed reviews have said the script may not have been quite ready to shoot, but this should still be worth checking out eventually.

Armored (Antal, Dec. 4th)


Synopsis: A newbie guard for an armored truck company is coerced by his veteran coworkers to steal a truck containing $42 million. But a wrinkle in their supposedly foolproof plan divides the group, leading to a potentially deadly resolution.


Why You Should Rent It: Nimrod Antal’s latest looks quite generic, but so did Vacancy and that turned out be fun. This should also give us a glimpse for what we have in store with his next film, Predators.

The Slammin’ Salmon (Heffernan, Dec. 11th)


Synopsis: Cleon Salmon (Michael Clarke Duncan), a former prizefighter turned restaurateur, hatches a plan to repay his debts to a Yakuza gang: for one night, the waiter who sells the most food wins $10,000 — the loser, however, gets a beating from Cleon himself.


Why You Should Rent It: The Broken Lizard group is back with their latest, filmed way back in the beginning of 2008, but finally getting a release now. The mixed reviews out of Slamdance Festival aren’t promising, but if you like their comedy I would say give it a chance.

Do you agree with the list? What are you seeing this month?

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