13 must-see movies hitting cinemas this Christmas and New Year

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Festive blockbusters, feel-good comedies and family spectaculars are all coming to a cinema near you over Christmas and New Year. And with award season on the way, we can also look forward to high-calibre drama from the Oscar front-runners.

With some of the most-anticipated movies of the year arriving over the next six weeks, Mark Butler takes a look at 13 new flicks you won’t want to miss.

Hobbit 2
[Here Be Monsters - Martin Freeman in The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug]

Frozen

Who’s in it?
Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff

When’s it out?
December 6

What should we expect?
Suitably wintry wonder from the kings of animated movies – complete with thrills, spills, and plenty of singing numbers.

Go on…
An epic adventure featuring a plucky princess, a resourceful reindeer and a hapless snowman, this new Disney hit appears to be a bona fide fantasy extravaganza.

It’ll be good then?
It seems so. Critics absolutely loved it in the US, with some even going so far as to label it the best Disney outing since The Lion King. In order words, it should be ideal family entertainment.

Kill Your Darlings

Who’s in it?
Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Ben Foster

When’s it out?
December 6

What should we expect?
Sex, drugs, jazz, gravelly-voices galore – and the further distancing of Radcliffe from his Harry Potter alter-ego.

Go on…
A biopic about the origins of the Beat poets, Radcliffe stars as Allen Ginsberg, with William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Lucien Carr also central to the dizzying drama that unfolds.

It’ll be good then?
Compelling, certainly. Our review at the London Film Festival this year summed it up as an “ultimately unsatisfying yet spirited stomp through a wild and dramatic story”.

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

Who’s in it?
Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom

When’s it out?
December 13

What should we expect?
Epic battles, giant spiders, and a slippery dragon voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch.

Go on…
The second instalment in Peter Jackson’s new fantasy-action trilogy ups the ante somewhat: with Bilbo, Gandalf and co crossing paths with familiar faces and new foes on their eventful and nerve-jangling quest.

It’ll be good then?
Quite possibly. The trailers hint at plenty of the bombast and spectacle we’ve come to expect, while Cumberbatch’s voice-acting as Smaug sounds positively delightful.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Who’s in it?
Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Harrison Ford

When’s it out?
December 18

What should we expect?
More surreal, socially-inept chaos from the same news team that delivered jazz flute solos, unveiled the worst aftershave in the world and killed a man…with a trident.

Go on…
Ron Burgundy is back, in this eagerly anticipated sequel to 2004′s ever-quotable comedy classic. This time he and his friends are in New York during the ’80s, with plenty of opportunity for gleeful anarchy and dreadful faux pas.

It’ll be good then?
We certainly hope so. The trailer has a good few laughs, and Ford should add extra clout as a legendary newscaster. Other impressive additions to the cast include John C Reilly, Kristen Wiig, and James Marsden.

American Hustle

Who’s in it?
Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper

When’s it out?
December 20

What should we expect?
An absorbing, skillfully-executed crime flick based on an amazing FBI anti-corruption operation in the ’70s and ’80s – complete with outfits as dazzling as Anchorman‘s.

Go on…
Bale and Adams star as lovers and con artists who are recruited to infiltrate the murky Mafia underworld, in this latest high-profile drama from David O Russell (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook).

It’ll be good then?
Its pedigree is appetite-whetting to say the least. Russell has become an Oscar darling, while the decidedly impressive cast also includes Robert De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner.

The Harry Hill Movie

Who’s in it?
Harry Hill, Julie Walters, Julian Barratt

When’s it out?
December 20

What should we expect?
Breakdancing nans, machine-gun toting chickens, and vomiting hamsters.

Go on…
The first big-screen outing for the beloved off-the-wall comedian, the saga – apparently based on a real story – sees the big-collared funnyman embark on a road trip to Blackpool, pursued by a ”lunatic vet” and forming a liaison with an “undersea shell person”.

It’ll be good then?
If you’re a fan of Hill, for sure. It looks to have the same kind of surreal silliness that made TV Burp such a hit, while Walters seems admirably game for a laugh as the hero’s rollercoaster-riding gran.

Walking With Dinosaurs 3D

Who’s in it?
John Leguizamo, Justin Long, Tiya Sircar

When’s it out?
December 20

What should we expect?
Eye-widening CGI and compelling prehistoric ‘wildlife documentary’ from the creators of the hit BBC series of the same name.

Go on…
Following a trio of dinosaurs from infancy to adulthood, this ambitious big-screen odyssey aims to completely immerse the viewer in a vivid depiction of a land before time.

It’ll be good then?
Visually it looks astounding, while the story spun by the narrative looks suitably absorbing. Kids and general dino-philes should be in seventh heaven.

47 Ronin

Who’s in it?
Keanu Reeves, Rinko Kikuchi and Hiroyuki Sanada

When’s it out?
December 26

What should we expect?
An adrenaline-pumping blend of lavish CGI and gritty samurai showdowns, as Reeves slices and dices his way through feudal Japan.

Go on…
A fictional take on the real-life story of a group of warriors who sought revenge for their murdered master, this compelling action flick features a Who’s Who of Japanese acting talent. And Reeves.

It’ll be good then?
You wouldn’t bet against it. The thrilling trailer hints at a dramatic and exhilarating action saga, with brutal pit fights, jaw-dropping battles and a fearsome dragon all in the mix.

All Is Lost

Who’s in it?
Robert Redford

When’s it out?
December 26

What should we expect?
A one-man acting masterclass at the heart of a tense survival thriller. It’s Gravity – but out on the ocean rather than in space.

Go on…
Redford stars as a man lost at sea, forced to use his resourcefulness and instincts to beat the formidable odds stacked against him.

It’ll be good then?
The movie has received pretty much universal acclaim from critics, and there’s already talk of a Best Actor Oscar for Redford. So yeah. Our review from the London Film Festival called it “an engrossing survival story that captivates with its unblinking adherence to the workaday craft of keeping alive”.

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

Who’s in it?
Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine

When’s it out?
December 26

What should we expect?
Stiller going all action-hero on us: rescuing a puppy from an exploding building for instance, and falling off the world’s highest mountain.

Go on…
The farcical nature of that image is the whole point. This is based on the classic 1939 story of the same name, about a mundane man who escapes his everyday life through outlandish daydreams.

It’ll be good then?
The concept is certainly intriguing – and the movie’s quality cast, ambitious scale and unusual approach should make it a blockbuster with a real difference.

Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom

Who’s in it?
Idris Elba, Naomie Harris

When’s it out?
January 3

What should we expect?
A fascinating insight into one of the most famous and inspirational figures of the last century.

Go on…
Charting Nelson Mandela’s struggles against the Apartheid regime and his 27-year incarceration, Elba stars as the South African freedom fighter turned President.

It’ll be good then?
You’d imagine so. Two-time Oscar nominee William Nicholson of Gladiator fame wrote the script,while the trailer hints at a fine performance from Elba and a compelling mix of political thriller, courtroom drama and prison movie.

12 Years A Slave

Who’s in it?
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt

When’s it out?
January 10

What should we expect?
A true heavyweight drama detailing the brutal realities of slavery in 19th century America.

Go on…
Telling the hard-hitting true story of a free black man kidnapped and sold into slavery, this is an already highly-regarded piece of filmmaking from Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame) that looks set to bag a clutch of Oscars.

It’ll be good then?
That’s pretty much a given. Critical praise has been glowing thus far, with the incredible cast – particularly Ejiofor and Fassbender as a monstrous slave owner – tipped for glory come awards season.

The Wolf Of Wall Street

Who’s in it?
Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey

When’s it out?
January 17

What should we expect?
A real-life tale of excess, sleaze and violence from the director who brought us Goodfellas, Raging Bull and The Departed.

Go on…
DiCaprio teams up with Martin Scorsese once more for this latest dramatic epic, about a Wall Street stockbroker who descends into rampant fraud while living a life of jaw-dropping decadence.

It’ll be good then?
Almost certainly. Its credentials are second-to-none, the story is as engaging as it gets, and there appears to be a cutting satirical humour to the whole enterprise.

Mark Butler

Which of these movies will you be going to see?

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About 

Mark is the content manager for WOW247 in Leeds. When he isn't waxing lyrical about Ben Wheatley and Caravan Palace, he's landing news, assembling guides and penning movie features.

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