The Five: Must-See December Movies

Well, we've finally reached the end of another long year (and an even longer decade). While some may argue that the best (and most entertaining) films of the year can be found during the summer months, I personally love December because you get the big awards contenders, the cute holiday-themed stuff and a few really hot, big-budgeted buzzed-about flicks. In short, December always brings a little bit of everything to the table, and if we're lucky it sends us into the New Year with a smile…and a list of DVDs we simply must purchase when they arrive in stores.

 
But what's hot this December? Read on to see which five films I think you must see before that magical glowing ball drops in Times Square on January 1st.
 
Avatar (in theaters December 18)
How can I not begin with what is perhaps the biggest film of 2009? Though he hasn't had a film in theaters since Titanic, fans continue to cling on to the belief that James Cameron's Avatar will be well worth the wait. The visionary filmmaker has promised that his film about humans taking on alien avatars in order to swipe a priceless resource from a hostile alien planet will change the way we watch movies forever. Cameron will be introducing a new kind of 3D technology and motion-capture that, according to early buzz, is sure to blow our minds and create a moviegoing experience unlike any we've seen before. Empty promises or the real deal? We'll know in just a few weeks…
One Reason to Watch: Um, have you seen this trailer?
 
Up in the Air (in limited release December 4, wide on December 25)
A shoe-in for multiple Oscar nods, Up in the Air marks the third film from Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking, Juno), who's slowly carving out a very successful career behind the camera. George Clooney stars as a "corporate downsizer", whose job it is to travel from company to company showing them the correct way to fire people. Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga also star in this film about missed connections and lost souls.
One Reason to Watch: Newcomer Anna Kendrick doles out a performance that's sure to make her a household name.
 
The Princess and the Frog (in theaters December 11)
If there's one family film you watch this December, you'll want it to be Disney's The Princess and the Frog. Based on that classic tale about a princess who kisses a frog, the film marks two very special events: 1. It features Disney's first-ever African-American Princess, and 2. With Princess and the Frog, Disney is returning to hand-drawn 2D animation for the first time in several years. The film also features a pretty impressive voice cast full of names like Anika Noni Rose, Keith David and Oprah Winfrey.
One Reason to Watch: The Princess and the Frog reunites Aladdin creators Ron Clements and John Musker. Remember Aladdin?
 
Nine (in limited release December 18, wide December 25)
Another film that's eyeing multiple Oscar nominations is this movie-musical from director Rob Marshall (Chicago) that's based off the Broadway musical and stars Daniel Day-Lewis as a famous film director who's struggling to juggle all the dysfunctional relationships in his personal and professional lives. Expect some superb acting and drop dead gorgeous musical numbers from a film that boasts one of this year's best ensemble casts.
One Reason to Watch: How about I give you seven: Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Kate Hudson, Stacie "Fergie" Ferguson, Sophia Loren and Judi Dench.
 
Sherlock Holmes (in theaters December 25)
Before he returns to robot form in Iron Man 2 next May, Robert Downey Jr. will be tackling another iconic character in this new, updated-with-style version of Sherlock Holmes. Jude Law co-stars as Holmes' trusty sidekick Watson, with Rachel McAdams playing Holmes' love interest, while director Guy Ritchie (Snatch) is sure to serve up a delicious dish full of fast-paced action and quirky international flavor.
One Reason to Watch: Robert Downey Jr. in another action movie? We'll take it!
 
Which films are you looking forward to this December?
 
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