Movies released during the holiday season are like gifts from Hollywood. They come wrapped with colorful and exciting promotions. But we don’t really know how good they are until we open up our pocketbooks and get in the theater.
This year there appears to be something for everyone, from the kid-friendly animated “Frozen,” based on a Hans Christian Andersen story, to “Grudge Match,” in which aging boxers (Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro) duke it out.
Big-ticket items include “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” with Well Ferrell returning for more silly laughs as TV goof-up Ron Burgundy; and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” another tale in the “Lord of the Rings” saga.
Adults with fond memories of “Mary Poppins” can learn the complicated story of how the film came to be in “Saving Mr. Banks,” with Tom Hanks as Walt Disney.
And moviegoers who what to embrace their inner Scrooge can try director Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” with Leonardo DiCaprio as a Wall Street broker caught in the economic crash.
Other films to look forward to this holiday season include:
“Out of the Furnace” follows a Pittsburgh ex-con and steelworker (Christian Bale) who searches for his missing brother (Casey Affleck) in the grim world of underground brawlers.
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is the second in director Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. With one ring down, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his comrades encounter a lot of CGI-generated things to take back their home from the dragon Smaug.
“Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas” has Madea (Perry) helping a friend pay her daughter a surprise visit in the country for Christmas, where the big lady serves her brand of cheer.
“Nebraska” stars Bruce Dern as an aging, booze-addled father on a road trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son to claim a million dollar sweepstakes prize.
“American Hustle” stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in a comedy about a con man and his seductive British partner forced to work for a dodgy FBI agent in the 1970s. Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner are along for the ride.
“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” takes the obnoxious, insufferable TV anchorman Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) to New York City with his crew (Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and David Koechner) to work for an all-cable news upstart. Pass the scotch and the mustache wax.
“Saving Mr. Banks” is based on the true story of Walt Disney’s (Tom Hanks) long quest to get reluctant author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) to let him make a film of her book, “Mary Poppins.”
“Inside Llewyn Davis” is a new effort from offbeat writers/directors Joel and Ethan Coen. A talented, self-destructive aspiring folk singer (Oscar Isaac) struggles in 1960s Greenwich Village and goes forward like a rolling stone.
“Walking With Dinosaurs 3D” is inspired by the TV series that uses CGI dinosaurs to recreate prehistoric stories, often giving the big lizards almost human motivations. This one follows a trio of young Pachyrhinosauruses who try to survive to adulthood in a hostile world.
“Justin Bieber’s Believe,” a backstage and onstage look a the superstar, is a perfect holiday gift for the Belieber in your family.
“Grudge Match” puts the former “Rocky” star Sylvester Stallone back in the ring as an old prizefighter facing an old rival (Robert De Niro).
“The Wolf of Wall Street” is getting a lot of buzz because it has Martin Scorsese at the helm and Leonard DiCaprio as a fast-living Wall Street stockbroker headed for a crash and burn.
“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” has Ben Stiller as a nerdish guy who daydreams on a big scale. Based on a James Thurber 1939 short story, a 1947 version starred Danny Kaye.
“Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom,” starring Indris Elba in the title role, chronicles the iconic leader’s life from childhood to his imprisonment and through his inauguration as South Africa’s president.
“The 47 Ronin” brings Keanu Reeves back to the big screen in a remake of a Japanese yarn where swords and fists fly with fury.
Movie release dates are subject to change.