December Movie Guide

We've got blockbusters and art films aplenty coming this December, but which of them are actually worth your time?

William Bibbianiby William Bibbiani


December is upon us, and you know what that means: every freaking movie that's vying for Oscar consideration is trying to squeeze in a qualifying run over the course of a single month. And that’s not even including big potential holiday blockbusters like Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and The Adventures of Tintin. So hold onto your butts, because this December Movie Guide is going to be a doozy.



Starring: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan

Directed by: Steve McQueen

Opening: December 2


Michael Fassbender follows his award-worthy performance in A Dangerous Method with another psychosexual drama, this time about a sex addict whose life turns upside down when his sister, Drive’s Carey Mulligan, moves in with him.

CraveOnline’s Call: Shame is the first high-profile, Oscar-bait release with an NC-17 rating since Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution in 2007; something Fox Searchlight president Steve Gilula calls “a badge of honor.” You’ve got to give them credit for sticking to their guns, but will it pay off? Shame’s got a great cast and a lot of buzz behind it. We’re suggesting you see it for yourself before you make any judgments.



Starring: Emily Browning, Rachel Blake, Ewen Leslie

Directed by: Julia Leigh

Opening: December 9


Sucker Punch’s Emily Browning stars as a college student who takes odd jobs to make ends meet. Like, really odd jobs. She’s paid to be drugged and unconscious while rich men do whatever they want to her body… except have sex with her.

CraveOnline’s Call: What is it with this weekend? No major studio releases, just two creepy sex thrillers. Oh, who are we kidding… We love it. We might not love Sleeping Beauty though. Advance buzz includes words like “assured” and “impressive technical display,” which aren’t exactly glowing endorsements. Emily Browning’s performance is receiving high marks though, but if you just have a crush on her this might not be the sexiest way to spend your evening. Recommended for indie fanatics.



Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Biehl, Ashton Kutcher, Robert De Niro, Zak Efron, Josh Duhamel, Michelle Pfeiffer, Alyssa Milano, Hilary Swank, Katherine Heigl

Directed by: Garry Marshall

Opening: December 9


An ensemble cast of attractive people cross paths on New Year’s Eve, and fight terrorists. Oh wait, we mean fall in love.

CraveOnline’s Call: We realize that we’re probably not reaching New Year’s Eve’s target audience with this movie guide, but even on its own merits this one looks like a stinker. Garry Marshall has a history of making offensive, arguably sexist movies marketed to women, and we’d be surprised if this was suddenly an exception. If your girlfriend tries to get you to see New Year’s Eve, ask if you can just rent Love Actually instead. She’ll be impressed, and you’ll like it more than you think you will.



Starring: Jonah Hill

Directed by: David Gordon Green, Sam Rockwell, Max Records, Landry Bender, Alex Wolff

Opening: December 9


Jonah Hill stars as a college student who reluctantly agrees to babysit a gaggle of kids, and winds up in a series of presumably hilarious adventures.

CraveOnline’s Call: Can we just call it Adventures in Babysitting 2? It’s an apt title, although it’s clear that The Sitter is geared more towards adults in the theater and not the kids who they left at home with, you know, a sitter. David Gordon Green is sticking with his new comedy career, something he’s proven himself pretty good at with Pineapple Express, and Jonah Hill is still Jonah Hill, pre-21 Jump Street weight loss, so we bet it’s pretty funny despite the obvious 1980s cult classic comparison.


Starring: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Mark Strong and Benedict Cumberbatch

Directed by: Tomas Alfredson

Opening: December 9


Tomas Alfredson follows Let the Right One In, the most critically acclaimed vampire movie ever, with this adaptation of John Le Carré’s classic spy novel. Gary Oldman stars as a Cold War espionage expert pulled out of retirement to find a Russian mole in the British Intelligence division MI6.

CraveOnline’s Call: Yes. Brilliant director, infallible cast, classic novel, primed for Oscar consideration… The studio is obviously very confident about Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and with that pedigree we have no reason to doubt them. We can’t wait.



Starring: Abbie Cornish, James D’Arcy, Andrea Riseborough, Oscar Isaacs

Directed by: Madonna

Opening: December 9


Abbie Cornish plays plays a New Yorker obsessed with the 60-year-old story King Edward VIII (D’Arcy), who abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson (Riseborough), but she discovers that their love affair wasn’t as romantic as she thought. Think of it as a companion piece to The King’s Speech. It opens this weekend for an Oscar qualifying run in Los Angeles and New York, with a bigger release planned for February.

CraveOnline’s Call: Wallis Simpson was a racist and possible Nazi-sympathizer (she made a high profile visit to Adolf Hitler, who said “she would have made a good queen”), so yes, we’re willing to bet that her life’s story isn’t as romantic as Abbie Cornish thought. We’re not going to tell you to see W.E., since advance buzz isn’t great, but we have to admit that we’re beguiled by the prospect of seeing a film about such a bizarre historical figure directed by Madonna, who reportedly thanks Leni Riefenstahl in the closing credits. If nothing else, we’ll confident that W.E. is fascinating.



Starring: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly

Directed by: Lynne Ramsey

Opening: December 9


Tilda Swinton plays a woman coming to terms with the actions of her son, who went on a high school killing spree. Another Oscar qualifying run, We Need to Talk About Kevin goes wide in January.

CraveOnline’s Call: Excellent cast, strong director, dark material. If you can stomach the subject matter, this promises to be a superior drama… but can it keep that promise? Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, who got totally screwed out of an Oscar for There Will Be Blood on a technicality, contributes the score. We’re betting this is worth seeing the performances alone.



Starring: Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Patton Oswalt

Directed by: Jason Reitman

Opening: December 9


Charlize Theron plays a recent divorcee who returns to her hometown to rekindle her high school romance with Patrick Wilson. He’s married, and a father, and she doesn’t care. Director Jason Reitman reunites with his Oscar-winning Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody in the hopes that lightning will strike twice.

CraveOnline’s Call: We like Diablo Cody’s writing more than most people, and Jason Reitman is a talented director, but we can’t tell from the trailer how frightening Young Adult is supposed to be. Is Theron’s shameless desire to destroy Wilson’s marriage supposed to be endearing, or is this a darker story than the quirky trailer lets on? We’re willing to see it and find out, if only because it looks like Patton Oswalt has his biggest live-action movie role to date.


Starring: Jason Lee, David Cross, Justin Long, Anna Faris, Alyssa Milano

Directed by: Mike Mitchell

Opening: December 16


Alvin and the Chipmunks get “chip”-wrecked. What, you want us to draw you a diagram?

CraveOnline’s Call: They invented suicide pills for a reason. If your kids force you to see this, especially in theaters, we suggest taking one.



Starring: Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz

Directed by: Roman Polanski

Opening: December 16


Two sets of parents meet to resolve a fight between their children, only to find themselves trapped in a heated confrontation of wills.

CraveOnline’s Call: For some people, just hearing the name “Roman Polanski” makes them want to punch somebody. But if you’re able to put that aside for 90 minutes you’ll find Carnage – which we’ve already seen but haven’t reviewed yet – to be a spectacularly acted, insightful indictment of the pettiness that lies beneath the façade of maturity. It’s based on a play, and it feels like it, but it’s excellent anyway.



Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Josh Holloway, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames and Tom Wilkinson

Directed by: Brad Bird

Opening: December 16 (IMAX only), December 21 (everywhere)


In a story that feels very similar to the first Mission: Impossible movie, Tom Cruise and his team of espionage experts go rogue to prove that they didn’t bomb the Kremlin.

CraveOnline’s Call: “Directed by Brad Bird.” These are the only four words you need to concern yourself with. It’s his first live-action feature, but when his animation resume includes The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille, that means jack squat. We. Can’t. Flipping. Wait. Plus: The Dark Knight Rises preview is included in IMAX theaters. A “Must See” on many levels.



Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry

Directed by: Guy Ritchie

Opening: December 16


The biggest wide release of the weekend, Sherlock Holmes 2, finds Downey’s hero solving the murder of the Crown Prince of Austria and tangling with his greatest nemesis, Doctor Moriarty (Jared Hess), who was conspicuously absent from the first film.

CraveOnline’s Call: While we liked Sherlock Holmes when it came out, we haven’t given it a moment’s thought since. It’s nice to see Fringe and Mad Men star Jared Harris get a high-profile role, and this is Noomi Rapace’s first chance to prove herself in America after starring in the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but really, the only reason we give a damn is because Downey’s going to trade barbs with Stephen Fry, who plays his smarter older brother Mycroft. That statement screams “Wait for Blu-Ray” to us.


Starring: Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Andy Serkis

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Opening: December 21


Hergé’s classic comic book series comes to life – sort of – in Steven Spielberg’s first motion-capture animated film. Tintin (Bell) is a young adventurer who teams up with the grumpy Captain Haddock (Serkis) to uncover the lost treasure of Haddock’s ancestors.

CraveOnline’s Call: Normally we’re not big on motion-capture movies, but we’ll make an exception for The Adventures of Tintin, which looks for all the world like a rip-roaring adventure the likes of which we haven’t seen from Spielberg since 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. And with a screenplay co-written by Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, it certainly seems like we can’t lose.



Starring: Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Robin Wright, Stellan Skarsgard, Christopher Plummer

Directed by: David Fincher

Opening: December 21


An adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s best-selling novel and the hit Swedish film of the same name, finds a journalist (Craig) and an antisocial computer hacker (relative newcomer Rooney Mara) teaming up to solve a decades-old murder.

CraveOnline’s Call: We have no doubt, whatsoever, that David Fincher will direct the hell out of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The question on our minds is, did we really need him to? Even if the American remake is better than Niels Arden Oplev’s original Danish adaptation, it’s still telling basically the same story; it’s even set in the same country. And only time will tell if Rooney Mara can erase the memory of Noomi Rapace’s portrayal of Lisbeth Salander, which was unforgivably snubbed for an Oscar nomination last year. All those concerns aside, of course, we’re still going to see it…



Starring: Goran Kostic, Zana Marjanovic, Rade Serbedzija

Directed by: Angelina Jolie

Opening: December 23


A Serbian soldier (Kostic) reunites with a Bosnian Lover (Marjanovic) when she becomes a prisoner in his camp.

CraveOnline’s Call: Actually, it’s written and directed by Angelina Jolie, which presents us with a nifty sociological exercise. On one hand, here is a beautiful leading lady who is making an oh-so-sincere drama about starcross’d lovers in a foreign war zone. On the other hand, Jolie is actually an ardent world traveler and humanitarian who probably knows a lot more about the strife in foreign lands that we do. We want to call this a vanity project, but objectively we have to focus on what we’ve seen in the trailer, which looks, well… oh-so-sincere, and not particularly original or engaging. Sorry, Angelina. It’s nothing personal.



Starring: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Elle Fanning

Directed by: Cameron Crowe

Opening: December 23


Matt Damon plays a single father who buys a zoo and romances Scarlett Johansson. Finally, a movie we can all relate to!

CraveOnline’s Call: We’d love to give Cameron Crowe the benefit of the doubt, but the “feel good story of blah-blah-blah” trailer for We Bought a Zoo looks a little too “feel good” and “blah-blah-blah” for our tastes. Yes, it’s a heartwarming story about courage overcoming… Oh man, we can’t even finish that sentence. We’d love to be proven wrong, but if this is how they’re selling the film, we’re going to take our business elsewhere.


Starring: Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella

Directed by: Chris Gorak

Opening: December 25


A group of American tourists in Moscow fight to survive a hostile invasion by energy-based alien life forms.

CraveOnline’s Call: It looks a little goofy, but in a fun way. We give them credit for taking a familiar alien invasion tale and trying to make it new again with difficult-to-film energy aliens, but can it sustain itself over a feature length running time? We doubt it, but we’re geeky enough to get our tickets anyway. If you’re not, you’d best steer clear.



Starring: Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Thomas Horn, Max von Sydow, Viola Davis, John Goodman, Jeffrey Wright, James Gandolfini

Directed by: Stephen Daldry

Opening: December 25


A young boy (Horn) copes with the death of his father (Hanks) after 9/11 by searching New York City for the lock that fits a mystery key he left behind.

CraveOnline’s Call: Stephen Daldry has directed three feature films before this – Billy Elliot, The Hours and The Reader – and they were all nominated for Best Picture. So if you’re an Oscar fiend like we are, this is a “Must See.” But ten years down the road, are we finally ready to embrace a movie that dramatizes the events of September 11th? We’ve had good films (United 93) and bad films (World Trade Center) already, but none of them have really caught on with audiences so far. Perhaps the time has come, if Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close can steer clear of the schmaltz.



Starring: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Opening: December 30


Set during Word War I, a young man (Irvine) enlists in the military to save his horse, who was sold to the Cavalry and sent to the trenches in France.

CraveOnline’s Call: It’s Saving Private Ryan‘s horse. Hmm… Nationalism Velvet? Uh… It’s Steven Spielberg, and he’s in Oscar mode again, less then a fortnight after Playtime Steven Spielberg finally got a little fresh air in The Adventures of Tintin. This sure looks "exciting" and "magical," but our hearts are unmoved by the saccharine trailer for the filmmaker’s latest triumph of the human spirit. Rein it in, okay Steven?


Disclaimer: Release dates (and our opinions) are subject to change.