The threat of another polar vortex aside, there is plenty to look forward to as 2014 comes to a close, especially in theaters. So when you’re not stuffing yourself silly with turkey and all the fixings or baking cookies for that annual exchange, set aside some time to take in a movie or two this holiday season. The door-buster deals and warmed-up leftovers can wait!
Now In Theaters
If you liked “Gravity,” then you’ll love “Interstellar,” this year’s space-age drama featuring recovered rom-com leading man Matthew McConaughey, elite actress Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway (my doppelganger), Casey Affleck (whom I prefer over his brother, Ben) and class act Michael Caine. Available in IMAX and 3-D (I recommend both).
Big Hero 6 (PG)
Whether you are man, woman or child, if you haven’t seen this feel-good animated feature yet, you’re missing out. And if your kids are aspiring scientists like my nephews, then make sure they see this comic book-based tale, set in the future, and featuring robots, of course!
The Theory of Everything (PG-13)
Eddie Redmayne is Oscar-worthy in this biopic about world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking and his wife, played by lovely English actress Felicity Jones. You’ll feel smarter for having seen it. (Trust me.)
Dumb and Dumber To (PG-13)
You will feel dumber for having seen THIS movie. (But it will be worth it.) Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels reprise their roles as the least intelligent men you will ever meet.
Steve Carell takes a career-changing step in his role as Olympic wrestling trainer/rich man/crazy person John du Pont, joined by a very convincing Channing Tatum and an equally impressive Mark Ruffalo (who proved he could take on more complex characters in this year’s “Begin Again”). A must-see based on a true story.
This movie needs no introduction. If you’ve read the books, then you know what happens in this continuation of the Katniss/Peeta/Gale/District 13/President Snow saga. If not, you’ve got to watch the film to find out. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing the late Philip Seymour Hoffman on the big screen one last time. Opens Nov. 21.
Bad managers? I’ve had a few. But I never dealt with them as hilariously as Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day do in this sequel. Supervisors-from-hell Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Aniston are back, along with laughable ex-convict Jamie Foxx, in this continued story of corporate misadventure. (Where’s HR when you need them?) Captain Kirk, er, Chris Pine, joins the cast, as well. Opens Nov. 26.
The Imitation Game (PG-13)
I like eggs benedict almost as much as I like Benedict Cumberbatch, who is taking both big and small screens by storm. If you’re intrigued by “The Theory of Everything,” then make room for this biopic, as well, which focuses on the life and work of English math genius Alan Turing, who cracked WWII codes (like, um, eggs). Keira Knightley (who’s been on a quiet comeback), Matthew Goode (who was fantastic opposite Nichole Kidman and Mia Wasikowska in “Stoker”) and the superb Mark Strong (“Low Winter Sun”) also star. Opens Nov. 28.
I remember when you had to book a trip to Epcot to see a 3-D movie. Right now, you can view three dimensions of multiple films in local theaters, including this next installment in the “Madagascar” franchise. Benedict Cumberbatch (aka Mr. Popular), the strange-but-talented John Malkovich and Ken Jeong (better known as Mr. Chow from “The Hangover”) are among the voices in this wacky animated release about super spies and undercover hijinks. Opens Nov. 26.
Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon gets dirty, literally, in this film based on the international bestseller about a woman who leaves her reckless life behind to hike more than 1,000 miles on the Pacific Coast. (I guess I should stop complaining about the walk from the parking garage to my office every day.) Prepare to be inspired. Opens Dec. 5.
If you read my October column, then you know that I don’t love Nicolas Cage, but for the sake of action flick fans, I’m including the actor’s latest offering here—also because its title comes from the Dylan Thomas poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.” (What can I say? I was an English major.) If you like CIA/terrorist plots, then this thriller’s for you. Opens Dec. 5.
Exodus: Gods and Kings (PG-13)
Move over, “Ben Hur.” Sorry, “Noah.” The only film that comes close to the sheer scope of this biblical epic is “Gladiator,” which would be 1,000 times more amazing had it been made today. “Exodus” recounts the tale of how Moses (played by Batman, er, Christian Bale) led hundreds of thousands of slaves out of Egypt, against all odds. This picture is sure to win awards for cinematography and direction (Ridley Scott). Aaron Paul (of “Breaking Bad” fame), alien-hater Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley (whom I will forever see as Gandhi) lead the cast of this perfectly-timed blockbuster. Opens Dec. 12.
Top Five (R)
A slew of A-list comedians joined forces to make this pic centered around funny man Chris Rock—they include Adam Sandler, Kevin Hart, Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Seinfeld, Romany Malco, Cedric the Entertainer, Sherri Shepherd, Tracy Morgan (who is still recovering from that near-fatal car accident) and Whoopi Goldberg. Newlywed Gabrielle Union and Rosario Dawson (who soon will appear in “Clerks III”) also star in this comedy about reality TV shows. (Speaking of, is anyone else watching the train wreck that is “True Tori”?). Opens Dec.12.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Not rated)
Who: Bilbo and friends (including Benedict Cumberbatch). Where: Middle Earth, of course. Why: To fight for freedom! When: Opens Dec. 17. (Need I say more?)
The late Robin Williams (whom I still can’t believe is gone) plays opposite Ben Stiller in this follow-up film, which brings your favorite historical characters to life, per usual, for a little educational laughter. Social Studies teachers, take your students to this one! Opens Dec. 19.
The Interview (R)
Nothing says “Christmas Day” like a screwball comedy about TV talk show hosts who count Kim Jong-un among their viewers and set out to interview the North Korean dictator on his own soil. “This Is the End” is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen, honestly, so I’m expecting big things from “The Interview,” which reunites partners in crime James Franco and Seth Rogen (who also paired up for “Pineapple Express”). Opens Dec. 25.
Into the Woods (PG)
I adore Anna Kendrick of “Pitch Perfect” fame. Add equal parts Emily Blunt (who had me at “hello” in “The Devil Wears Prada”), Chris Pine (again), king-of-quirkiness Johnny Depp and the one-and-only Meryl Streep, and you get this witchy fairy tale based on classics such as ‘Little Red Riding Hood,” “Cinderella” and “Rapunzel.” Not to be confused with “The Woods” (see above) or “Maleficent” (in which Angelina Jolie also takes a walk on the dark side). Opens Dec. 25.