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Holiday movies: A picture gallery

A primer to what's coming to the 'plex over the next six weeks: We divvy up the season's offerings into award contenders (AWD), inspirational movies (INS), adventures (ADV), romances (ROM), family films (FAM) and backstage dramas (BSD)

1 of 21

TANGLED (Nov. 24)
FAM/ADV
Main line: In this animated 3-D film, long-haired Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) comes down from her tower and hooks up with a bandit, her pet chameleon and a horse.
Crossover: Less tower time, more butt-kicking for the rebellious princess.
Noticed: Critics mocked Disney for changing the title from "Rapunzel" to "Tangled" in the hopes of attracting more boys.

HO

2 of 21

THE NUTCRACKER IN 3D (Nov. 24 in Montreal, Nov. 26 in Toronto and Vancouver)
FAM/ADV/INS
Main line: Not Tchaikovsky's ballet, but the story it was based on – with Elle Fanning as the girl, Nathan Lane as her uncle, and John Turturro as the Rat King.
Crossover: A plucky heroine; and one for other little girls to emulate.
Noticed: Appearances, in the trailer, of Nazi soldiers and a rat man with a jetpack suggests the story has been modernized.

3 of 21

BURLESQUE (Nov. 24)
BSD/INS
Main line: In this summit of the divas, singer Christina Aguilera (in her first major movie role) plays an ingénue who moves to Los Angeles and becomes a burlesque star under the tutelage of Tess (Cher).
Crossover: A sort of "Showgirls"-meets-"Cabaret" message about self-belief.
Noticed: First-time director Steve Antin has come a long way from being a child star of "The Goonies" and later one of Jodie Foster's assailants in "The Accused."

4 of 21

LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS (Nov. 24)
ROM/AWD/INS
Main line: Based on James Reidy's memoir, Ed Zwick's film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a playboy pharmaceutical salesman who falls for a prickly young woman (Anne Hathaway) with medical issues.
Crossover: This classic bitter-coated sugar candy could earn Hathaway another Oscar nod.
Noticed: Hathaway and Gyllenhaal are back in bed after their incompatibility problems in "Brokeback Mountain."

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5 of 21

FASTER (Nov. 24)
ADV
Main line: Dwayne (the Rock) Johnson is an ex-con seeking payback for his murdered brother, while being chased by a cop (Billy Bob Thornton) and a hit man.
Crossover: None. This is, after all, the Rock.
Noticed: This is Thornton's first movie since his tantrum on CBC Radio in April of last year.

Chuck Hodes

6 of 21

WASTE LAND (Nov. 25 in Toronto, Nov. 26 in Vancouver)
INS/AWD
Main line: Filmed over three years, this documentary focuses on Vik Muniz, who makes portraits out of Rio de Janeiro garbage.
Crossover: The subjects' lives are changed through the power of art, which appeals to creative Oscar voters.
Noticed: There's already proof that people love this kind of trash: The film has won audience awards at festivals from Berlin to Maui to Vancouver.

7 of 21

MADE IN DAGENHAM (Nov. 26)
INS/FAM
Main line: Sally Hawkins, star of Mike Leigh's "Happy-Go-Lucky," plays a plucky union organizer who battles sexual discrimination in a Ford plant in England in the late sixties.
Crossover: A strong comic cast, including Bob Hoskins and Miranda Richardson, helps the message go down easy for all ages.
Noticed: The theme song is performed by former plant employee Sandie Shaw, who became a pop star.

Susie Allnutt

8 of 21

THE KING'S SPEECH (Dec. 10)
AWD/ROM/INS/BSD
Main line: Colin Firth has a lock on an Oscar nomination with his performance as the stammer-prone Second World War monarch, King George VI, with Geoffrey Rush as his unorthodox speech therapist.
Crossover: The king's sweet love story with the future Queen Mum (Helena Bonham Carter); a larger-than-life hero overcoming personal trials; and performance jitters.
Noticed: After the movie, you can listen to Edward's real speeches on the BBC Archives site and compare pauses.

HO

9 of 21

BLACK SWAN (Dec. 3)
BSD/AWD
Main line: Director Darren Aronofsky's psychodrama follows a ballerina (Natalie Portman) preparing to star in "Swan Lake," in a film that critics have called either brilliant or outlandish.
Crossover: Portman's mad-girl performance has Oscar buzz.
Noticed: The Black Swan Theory refers to statistically improbable game-changing events, of which this movie might serve as an example.

Niko Tavernise

10 of 21

THE TEMPEST (Dec. 10)
AWD/ADV
Main line: A pretty fair writer (Shakespeare), an Oscar-winning star (Helen Mirren as Prospera) and an imaginative director (Julie Taymor) give one of the Bard's least feminist-friendly plays a shake-up.
Crossover: It's the original desert-island romance.
Noticed: After finishing "The Tempest," Taymor co-wrote and directed ye olde Broadway musical "Spider-Man," scheduled to open, after much delay, in January.

HO

11 of 21

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER (Dec. 10)
FAM/ADV
Main line: In the third book of C.S Lewis's Narnia series, the Pevensie children and their cousin travel by sea to the edge of the world.
Crossover: A swashbuckling yarn, including a dragon-fighting sequence.
Noticed: Though Simon Pegg has replaced Eddie Izzard as the voice of the mouse Reepicheep, Aslan the lion still growls with Liam Neeson's brogue.

12 of 21

THE TOURIST (Dec. 10)
ADV/ROM
Main line: In this Hitchcock-style wrong-man thriller, Johnny Depp is a Midwestern math teacher and Angelina Jolie is the glamorous stranger he meets on a train.
Crossover: The two best sets of cheekbones in the business, onscreen together at last.
Noticed: Speaking of wrong men, Tom Cruise was attached to the role before Depp came aboard.

HO

13 of 21

RABBIT HOLE (Dec. 17)
AWD/INS
Main line: Two stars (Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart) pull out all the stops as grieving parents in John Cameron Mitchell's adaptation of David Lindsay-Abair's Pulitzer-winning play.
Crossover: A message of getting through, but not over, grief.
Noticed: "Sex and the City's" Cynthia Nixon shed her chick-flick image by earning a Tony in the Broadway production of the play.

HO

14 of 21

TRON: LEGACY (Dec. 17)
ADV/FAM
Main line: In this distant sequel to the 1982 film, Sam Flynn (Garret Hedlund) enters the same virtual world where his game-designer father, Kevin (Jeff Bridges), disappeared years before.
Crossover: Dad can tell the kids all about computer games in the olden days.
Noticed: The original "Tron" was inspired in part by the primitive video game Pong.

HO

15 of 21

YOGI BEAR (Dec. 17)
FAM/INS
Main line: This feature, a mix of live action and computer-generated imagery, follows the adventures of the picnic-basket-thieving “smarter than the average bear” Yogi (the voice of Dan Aykroyd) and his sidekick, Boo-Boo (Justin Timberlake).
Crossover: Yogi gets all environmentalist to save his beloved Jellystone park.
Noticed: The average bear is estimated to be as smart as a three-year-old human, making that an ideal viewer for the movie.

HO

16 of 21

HOW DO YOU KNOW (Dec. 17)
ROM/AWD
Main line: Reese Witherspoon stars as a former softball player torn between two guys, played by Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd, in the first comedy in six years from writer-director James L. Brooks.
Crossover: It could be time for another of Brooks's witty, rambling relationship movies to break the calcified rom-com formula.
Noticed: Brooks has directed nine actors in Oscar-nominated performances, but had no luck with Adam Sandler in "Spanglish."

HO

17 of 21

TRUE GRIT (Dec. 22)
AWD/INS
Main line: The Coen brothers' adaptation of Charles Portis's novel "True Grit" stars last year's Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges as a curmudgeonly lawman hired by a teenage girl to track down her father's murderer.
Crossover: The classic Western look emphasizes underachievers fighting long odds.
Noticed: Bridges wears his eye patch on the right, the opposite of John Wayne, who won an Oscar for the same role in the 1969 version of the movie.

HO

18 of 21

LITTLE FOCKERS (Dec. 22)
FAM/INS
Main line: Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) and his wife (Teri Polo) have a baby, making them a father and mother Focker.
Crossover: Viewers are reminded that every dysfunctional family is improved by having a baby.
Noticed: The first film, "Meet the Parents" (2000), was a remake of a little-seen 1992 film, which failed to use the surname Focker.

19 of 21

GULLIVER'S TRAVELS (Dec. 22)
FAM/ADV
Main line: Jack Black plays a mail clerk turned travel writer who gets captured by Lilliputian people and enjoys being looked up to for a change.
Crossover: Gulliver does battle with a Transformers-style robot and watches a Kiss tribute band.
Noticed: Jonathan Swift coined the word Yahoo to refer to the kind of character Black frequently plays.

Photo credit: hy*draulx

20 of 21

BARNEY'S VERSION (Dec. 24)
AWD/ROM
Main line: Paul Giamatti could well get an Oscar nomination for his boisterous performance as Barney Panofsky, the incorrigible but romantic hero of Mordecai Richler's final novel.
Crossover: An appealing performance from Rosamund Pike, as Barney's last wife, Miriam, reveals Barney's tender side.
Noticed: Set over decades, the movie follows not only Barney's changing loves but moving hairline.

Takashi Seida

21 of 21

ENTER THE VOID (Dec. 30)
ADV/INS
Main line: Gaspar Noé's provocation follows a drug dealer (Nathaniel Brown) who is killed in Japan, then appears as a ghost watching over his striptease-dancing sister ("Boardwalk Empire"'s Paz de la Huerta).
Crossover: The promise of a posthumous second chance.
Noticed: The director says he was inspired to make this film after watching the 1947 point-of-view film "Lady in the Lake" while stoned on magic mushrooms.

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