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The 2013 Holiday Movie Guide

Ah, the Holidays; a time where we all come together under the guise of goodness and cheer, only to harbor negative thoughts toward unruly family members and depression from watching bank accounts steadily deplete.

Nah, I’m being somewhat facetious. As the song goes, the Holidays really can be the most wonderful time of the year, a time when we can cast aside worries and celebrate a new beginning. But, that doesn’t mean they don’t come complete without their stresses, and it’s likely that once all is said and done, you’ll be looking for a way to unwind with family and friends during the next few weeks. From action thrillers to animated delights, this holiday season is loaded with a significant amount of good movies sure to get you that relaxation fix and re-instill that good old Holiday cheer. Or, at least help you briefly forget the awful things your Uncle said at the table.

Here’s a list of the top films set to release over the next four weeks:

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (PG-13)

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The second installment in the wildly popular Hunger Games series, Catching Fire takes us back to Panem to see Katniss and Peeta struggling to make appearances around the country as rumblings of revolution slowly build. Things take a turn for the worse as the Hunger Games themselves enter into their 75th year, bringing with it an all-new set of rules that sees the two star-crossed “lovers” thrown back into the arena with other past victors. Only this time, things feel a bit…different.

It had a few issues, but I loved the heck out of Catching Fire and felt like it improved on the formula of the original in nearly every way. For all of my thoughts, check out the review here.

Frozen (PG)

Still from film Frozen

An adaptation of the classic fairy tale The Snow Queen, Frozen tells the story of Anna and Elsa, two sisters with different personalities. When Elsa’s strange magical ability to conjure snow and ice proves to be too dangerous for her to handle, the two girls are kept isolated in their castle to prevent anyone in the surrounding kingdom from discovering the secret. But when it is finally outed on her coronation day, Elsa’s abilities leave the kingdom in an unseasonably deep freeze that Anna takes upon herself to end.

With a charming premise, interesting themes, great visuals, and clever musical numbers, Frozen is a magical film that anyone of all ages can enjoy. Classic Disney magic combines with modern sensibilities to create one of the best animated films of the year. For more, check out my review here.

Dallas Buyers Club (R)

EXCLUSIVE: Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto film scenes together for The Dallas Buyers Club in New Orleans.

Dallas Buyers Club tells the story of Ron Woodroof, a Texas man who is diagnosed with HIV and given only a mere 30 days to live. Set in the 80’s, the film’s story takes place before much was known about the disease and follows Woodroof as he seeks treatment for his condition by whatever means necessary and meets a group of people in his same situation who call themselves the Dallas Buyers Club. Matthew McConaughey stars in the film about drive, resilience, and the will to live.

Out of the Furnace (R)

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Russell Baze is a man with problems. Along with working a job at the steel mill and taking care of his ailing father, he also has to track down and seek justice for his brother Rodney when the man falls into some dangerous crime rings. A dark look at family and justice, Out of the Furnace is a film about family that will leave you with more solemn feelings than the warm fuzzies. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however, as the film boasts an impressive cast made up of talent such as Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, and Zoe Saldana.

Inside Llewyn Davis (R)

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The latest from the Cohen brothers (Fargo, No Country for Old Men), Inside Llewyn Davis tells the story of a folk artist attempting to make a career out of his music in the 1960’s while struggling to overcome daunting obstacles in his life.

With Oscar buzz and a legendary directorial team behind it, Llewyn Davis promises to be one of the more memorable and poignant films of 2013.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (PG-13)

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Part Two in Peter Jackson’s return to Middle-Earth, The Desolation of Smaug returns to our hero Bilbo’s journey with Thoren Oakenshield and company on their way to overthrow the evil dragon Smaug and reclaim the riches of their people. Starring Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, and Martin Freeman, The Desolation of Smaug brings us a healthy dose of high fantasy mixed with action and that classic Lord of the Rings lore we’ve come to love so much.

Look for The Desolation of Smaug on December 13th.

American Hustle (R)

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From the mind of David O. Russell (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook) comes American Hustle, a film telling the story of con man Irving Rosenfield and his partner Sydney Prosser as they work with an FBI agent that eventally leads them into an underworld filled with the Mafia and Jersey goons.

With an all-star cast made up of Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jeremy Renner and headed by the mind behind The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle has some well-deserved buzz surrounding it and is set to please audiences on opening day.

Saving Mr. Banks (PG)

Saving Mr Banks

Saving Mr. Banks takes us back in time to see Walt Disney attempt to convince writer P.L. Travers to let him adapt her story of Mary Poppins for the big screen. Travers, however, is reluctant to allow her precious story to be corrupted by Hollywood and proves difficult for Disney to work with until the two are able to understand each other.

With a timeless feel-good story and the likes of Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson in the leading roles, Saving Mr. Banks is a film that has some Oscar buzz and is sure to please audiences of all ages.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

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Will Farrell returns as the intrepid Ron Burgundy as the top-rated news anchor works with his band of cohorts ( to tackle the nation’s first 24-hour news channel.

Starring Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, and Christina Applegate alongside Farrell, stay classy with Burgundy on December 18th.

Her (R)

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A romantic comedy with an odd twist, Her takes a look at the life of writer Theodore Twombly and the love he shares with a computer operating system meant to serve his every need.

Joaquin Phoenix stars in the film alongside Scarlett Johanssen as the voice of the OS-in-love, releasing in limited theaters on December 18th.

The Wolf of Wall Street (R)

From director Martin Scorsese comes The Wolf of Wall Street,  film that enters into the inner workings of Wall Street and details the exploits of banker Jordan Belfort in the 1990’s. Leonardo DiCaprio stars in the adaptation of Belfort’s memoir along with Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, and Jean Dujardin.

The Wolf of Wall Street releases on Christmas Day.

47 Ronin (PG-13)

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Join Keanu Reeves in this action Samurai film as he plays the role of Kai, a masterless samurai who joins forces with 47 other ronin as they attempt to get revenge on the evil lord who killed their master.

Promising stunning visuals in 3D, 47 Ronin is likely to help you get your action fix this Christmas.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (PG)

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Life gets a bit more interesting for humdrum magazine editor Walter Mitty when he retreats into his own daydream worlds of fantasy where he is the hero. That is, until his job and the job of his co-worker (Kristen Wiig) is threatened, forcing Walter to exit his own head and engage in an adventure in real life that will ultimately change him.

Oozing with optimism, Ben Stiller directs and stars in the adaptation of the 1939 story by James Thurber set to release on Christmas Day.

Grudge Match (PG-13)

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Robert DeNiro and Sylvester Stallone star in Grudge Match, a comedy about two has-been boxers that decide to meet in the ring for one final grudge match to settle their differences.

The film promises comedy in the blue corner and heart in the red once it releases on Christmas Day.

August: Osage County (R)

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Tragedy brings the strong women of the Weston family back to the midwest and together again in August: Osage County, a film about family and the people we live with. Starring the likes of Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Juliette Lewis, and Ewan McGregor, the stage adaptation is one that will likely be a hit with those who enjoy an interesting and engrossing film about family.

August: Osage County releases on Christmas Day.

Lone Survivor (R)

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The film adaptation of the best-selling book, Lone Survivor recounts the experience of four US Navy SEALS whose mission to take out a high-level Taliban member was foiled when the enemy ambushed them in Afghanistan.

Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, and Ben Foster star in a film filled to the brim with tension, action, and the gross realities of war. The film opens in limited release on Christmas Day.