November brings exciting movie releases

Josh Hutcherson (left) and Jennifer Lawrence promote one of the most highly anticipated film releases this season, _The Hunger Games: Catching Fire_. (credit: Courtesy of Gage  Skidmore via Flickr) Josh Hutcherson (left) and Jennifer Lawrence promote one of the most highly anticipated film releases this season, _The Hunger Games: Catching Fire_. (credit: Courtesy of Gage Skidmore via Flickr)

With Christmas displays up since two weeks before Halloween, the holiday movie season is almost upon us a little sooner than usual. The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is one of the biggest times of the year for Hollywood, with studios releasing everything from Oscar bait to big-budget epics and family films. While it may be hard to see everything on your list this season, here are a few films that are definitely worth the trip to the theater.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Nov. 22

The second film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’s popular book series, The Hunger Games, finds Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) once again facing seemingly insurmountable odds. After winning the 74th Hunger Games, she is given little time to rest with next year’s games on the horizon and rebellion brewing in the districts. Katniss and her fellow winner, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), both hope to survive the ever-growing tensions across the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem. Featuring a supporting cast including Woody Harrelson and Philip Seymour Hoffman that complement the youthful leads, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire should be a strong continuation of the series.

Inside Llewyn Davis
Dec. 6

Inside Llewyn Davis, the latest release from stellar writer/director pair Joel and Ethan Coen, focuses on young folk singer Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) as he searches for guidance and direction amidst the early 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene. Based on the life of folk singer Dave Van Ronk — who was overshadowed in history by friends such as Bob Dylan — the film boasts a solid cast that includes Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan, and John Goodman. If you’re looking for a peek into this film beyond the trailer, check out the already released soundtrack, produced by legend T Bone Bur nett, featuring both covers of folk songs from the era as well as original material.

Saving Mr. Banks
Dec. 13

Saving Mr. Banks tells the story of how Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) convinced author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) to sign over the film rights to her beloved character Mary Poppins, which she did with great reluctance that eventually turned to great regret. While the Disney Company’s hand in the making of the movie may be a sign that there will be heavy Walt Disney worship and multiple scenes that inexplicably take place at Disneyland, the film has already garnered a lot of early acclaim. Featuring a supporting cast that includes Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, and Colin Farrell, Saving Mr. Banks may just be the childlike tug your heartstrings will need this holiday season.

Dec. 18

Written and directed by Hollywood iconoclast Spike Jonze, Her tells the story of Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a lonely man who falls in love with the female voice (Scarlett Johansson) from an advanced computer operating system. Jonze, whose previous films include Adaptation, Being John Malkovich, and Where the Wild Things Are, has a certain knack for telling these kinds of quirky tales, and Her will mark his solo screenwriting debut. In addition, the film’s soundtrack comes courtesy of none other than indie rock icons Arcade Fire, solidifying Her’s stance as the most hipster movie you’ll see this holiday season.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Dec. 20

It’s been nine years, but the Channel 4 News Team is lathering on the Sex Panther and downing a last glass of scotch to return for a new adventure. Details are hush-hush, but the sequel, once again written by star Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay, will see the return of the original cast as well as a nearly endless list of supporting roles and cameos that includes Kanye West, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Harrison Ford. Among the films to be released this holiday season, none looks more fun than Anchorman 2. Look for this film to shed a little afternoon delight on otherwise bleak winter days.

The Wolf of Wall Street
Dec. 25

Based on the memoir of the same name, The Wolf of Wall Street is the story of how young Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) fell under the spell of the bustling ’90s Wall Street, started a trading firm called Stratton Oakmont, made millions using highly illegal trading schemes, and thought he was utterly invincible throughout. As anyone would probably guess, the FBI wasn’t quite as taken in by his charm as others were. With the dream team of DiCaprio, director Martin Scorsese (The Departed, Goodfellas), and a screenplay by Boardwalk Empire creator Terence Winter — as well as a stellar supporting cast that includes Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey — The Wolf of Wall Street promises the sky and will most likely deliver. If you can only see one movie this holiday season, it should be this one.