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12 films to brighten the holidays

Although it’s only Halloween, the holiday movie season is just about upon us. Starting with “Megamind” and continuing through late-December arrivals like “True Grit,” there should be more than enough cinematic treats. Here are 12 for your consideration.

“Due Date” (Friday): Will the energetic comedic styles of Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis complement each other? You can find out in this raucous road trip that casts the “Iron Man” star as a father-to-be who catches a cross-country ride with an aspiring actor played by Galifianakis. It’s directed by Todd Phillips of “The Hangover,” so will there be tigers and Mike Tyson? Just hoping.

“Morning Glory” (Nov. 10): Think morning news shows can’t get any more ridiculous than they already are? Think again. This romantic comedy follows the young producer (Rachel McAdams) of a lagging national morning show who has the bright idea of teaming a stern anchor (Harrison Ford) with a veteran of the lighter morning style (Diane Keaton). Will this be a clash of the on-air titans? Can McAdams find love with Patrick Wilson, another producer in the high-pressure TV world? Stay tuned.

“Unstoppable” (Nov. 12): Fasten your seat belts. Director Tony Scott knows how to keep an action movie running like a well-oiled machine. And the super-cool cast — Denzel Washington, Chris Pine and Rosario Dawson — has charisma to spare. Now for the story line: Washington and Pine try to stop an unmanned runaway train from wreaking havoc. Gee, there’s nothing like a nice, relaxing railroad trip.

“127 Hours” (Nov. 19): Director Danny Boyle, who triumphed with “Slumdog Millionaire,” is poised for another success with this harrowing drama about a real-life mountain climber who is trapped by his arm in a remote canyon. The early reviews for James Franco’s performance have been so good, he probably won’t have much time for soap opera appearances for a while.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” (Nov. 19): Can this really be the beginning of the end of the movies based on the best-selling book series? Time flies when you’re attending Hogwarts, or at least it has for Harry and his fans. The first installment of the final chapter starts with Harry, Ron and Hermione on a precarious adventure to … well, you’ve read what happens already. So just savor the chance to see the actors growing up gracefully in one of the most beloved film franchises ever.


“Burlesque” (Nov. 24): Cher is back on the big screen. Need we say anything else? The setting is a Los Angeles nightclub owned by the fabulous diva. Christina Aguilera also stars as a newcomer to L.A. who dreams of being onstage in the club’s glamorous musical revue. The cast includes Kristen Bell, Stanley Tucci, Eric Dane and Julianne Hough of “Dancing With the Stars.” Let’s hope it’s the next “Moulin Rouge.”

“The King’s Speech” (Nov. 24): Colin Firth is King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth, who became Britain’s monarch after his brother Edward abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson. Geoffrey Rush is the speech therapist who helps him conquer a stammer. Firth, who was nominated for an Oscar this year for “A Single Man,” could be in the running again for his performance as the man who ruled England during World War II.

“The Company Men” (December): Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones and Chris Cooper star as three men who lose their jobs to corporate downsizing. Kevin Costner plays Affleck’s brother-in-law, who gives him a job building houses. Like “Up in the Air,” this drama could be a perceptive meditation on the current state of the economy.

“The Tourist” (Dec. 10): An American tourist (Johnny Depp) is thrown into a world of mystery and peril after meeting an alluring woman (Angelina Jolie). As in “Salt,” Jolie is a stunningly beautiful action star. And Depp trades his pirate costume for a modern look.

“Black Swan” (Dec. 10): Don’t expect the traditional melodrama of “The Turning Point” in this portrait of a ballerina (Natalie Portman) in the fiercely competitive world of dance. The trailer, which focuses on Portman and a rival dancer, Mila Kunis, makes this psychological thriller with tutus look elegantly stylish and scary. It’s the latest movie from director Darren Aronofsky, who brought an unflinching eye to “The Wrestler.”

“Little Fockers” (Dec. 22): The dynasty introduced in “Meet the Parents” and “Meet the Fockers” continues to provide the laughs — and son-in-law/father-in-law tension — as Ben Stiller reunites with a cast that includes returning actors Robert De Niro, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner, Owen Wilson, Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman and newcomers Jessica Alba, Laura Dern and Harvey Keitel.

“True Grit” (Dec. 25): The 1969 original with John Wayne won an Oscar for cinema’s legendary cowboy star. But expect something completely different from Joel and Ethan Coen, the directing and writing team from “Fargo” and “No Country for Old Men.” They should bring their trademark style to this adaptation starring Josh Brolin and Matt Damon, and Jeff Bridges in Wayne’s role as Rooster Cogburn. If anyone knows grittiness, it’s the Coen brothers.



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