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Winter Movie Preview: Here are 70 films you need to check out

Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) and a fierce Bengal

Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) and a fierce Bengal tiger in "Life of Pi" Photo Credit: Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) and a fierce Bengal tiger in "Life of Pi"

It's getting cold out there, and what better way to keep warm than by cozying up for a flick at your local cinema?

This season, there is no shortage of quality films to watch, whether you're looking for something escapist, such as Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," something intellectual, such as "Hitchcock," or something just plain fun, like Judd Apatow's latest, "This is 40."


Life of Pi Director Ang Lee helms this adaptation of Yann Martel's best-selling novel about a young Indian boy who gets shipwrecked in the Pacific Ocean and winds up on a small boat with animals from his father's zoo, including a Bengal tiger. (Nov. 21)

Red Dawn When North Korean soldiers try to invade their town, teens - including star Chris Hemsworth - band together to save it. This is a remake of the '80s movie starring Patrick Swayze. (Nov. 21)

Rise of the Guardians This animated feature is adapted from a kid's book about the Easter Bunny, Santa, the Sandman and the Tooth Fairy, who team up to save the world, with help of Jack Frost. Featuring the voices of Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher and Jude Law. (Nov. 21)

Hitchcock A padded Sir Anthony Hopkins plays director Sir Alfred Hitchcock in this film about the making of "Psycho" - with Scarlett Johansson playing Janet Leigh - and the director's relationship with his wife, Alma Reville (Helen Mirren). (Nov. 23)

Rust and Bone A surefire contender for a best foreign language film Oscar nomination, this French-Belgian film from director Jacques Audiard, starring Marion Cotillard, tracks a romance between a guy and a woman who trains killer whales.(Nov. 23)

The Central Park Five This documentary investigates the Central Park Jogger case, focusing on the teens wrongly convicted of raping a woman in the park in 1989. The film, directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon, touches on the uproar about the crime, the arrest and the issues that lead to the false convictions. (Nov. 23)

Killing Them Softly Brad Pitt stars in this crime flick based on the novel "Cogan's Trade." He plays an enforcer looking into a heist. Also starring Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini and Ray Liotta. (Nov. 30)

California Solo After getting caught drinking and driving, a guitarist who was once in a popular band, and now lives on a farm in California, faces being deported to Scotland unless he can show that his life has worth. Starring Robert Carlyle. (Nov. 30)

Addicted to Fame Get the scoop on the making of Anna Nicole Smith's film "Illegal Aliens" and the tabloid insanity that went into it. (Nov. 30)

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning This second sequel (following 2009's "Regeneration") to the 1992 film reunites Dolph Lundgren and Jean-Claude Van Damme. People probably get shot a lot and stuff. You know the drill. (Nov. 30)

The Big Fix This documentary looks into the April 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. With Peter Fonda. (Dec. 2)

Hyde Park on Hudson Bill Murray steps into the role of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for a picture that centers on his relationship with his cousin, Margaret Stuckley (Laura Linney), and a visit from the King and Queen of the United Kingdom. From "Notting Hill" director Roger Michell. (Dec. 7)

Playing for Keeps A pro soccer player who has seen better days tries to get things in order by coaching his son's soccer team. Also starring Jessica Biel and Dennis Quaid. (Dec. 7)

Deadfall A brother and sister (Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde) are split up and on the run and trying to get to Canada after they rob a casino. From Stefan Ruzowitzky, the director of the Oscar-winning film "The Counterfeiters." (Dec. 7)

Lay the Favorite Based on the memoir of writer Beth Raymer, this film stars Bruce Willis as a sports gambler and Rebecca Hall as Raymer, a Vegas cocktail waitress who learns the ropes about gambling from him. Also starring Catherine Zeta-Jones. (Dec. 7)

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding A woman is nervous that she's going to marry the wrong guy on the day of her wedding in this comedy starring Felicity Jones. (Dec. 7)

Bad Kids Go to Hell Judd Nelson stars in this horror film that seems to be riffing on "The Breakfast Club" ... but with more death. (Dec. 7)

The Fitzgerald Family Christmas Edward Burns serves up some Christmas drama in his latest film, about a family that reunites with their estranged father after 20 years. (Dec. 7)

In Our Nature An estranged father and his girlfriend are stuck at a vacation home with his son and girlfriend. Starring John Slattery, Jena Malone, Zach Gilford and Gabrielle Union. (Dec. 7)

Wagner and Me The British actor and funnyman Stephen Fry dishes on his affection for composer Richard Wagner. (Dec. 7)

Any Day Now A gay couple struggles to adopt an abandoned mentally handicapped teen who they have been caring for. Starring Alan Cumming. (Dec. 14)

Stand Up Guys Two actors with the most imitated voices - Al Pacino and Christopher Walken - star in this film about old con men. Also starring Alan Arkin. (Dec. 14)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Come on back to the Shire as Peter Jackson returns to Middle Earth with the first part of his prequels to "The Lord of the Rings" series. Martin Freeman (The U.K. "Office") stars as Bilbo Baggins, with returning stars Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Cate Blanchett and Orlando Bloom. (Dec. 14)

Save the Date Lizzy Caplan takes a starring role in this romantic comedy about a woman who spurns a marriage proposal and gets into a rebound relationship, while her sister (Alison Brie) is in the midst of preparing for her wedding. A special shoutout for supporting actor Martin Starr, who we love from "Freaks and Geeks." (Dec. 14)

Amour The latest movie from filmmaker Michael Haneke features an elderly couple dealing with a tragedy. (Dec. 19)

The Guilt Trip Seth Rogen and ... wait, Barbra Streisand? Really? Yeah, Streisand and Rogen star in this road comedy about a mother and son going cross-country. Written by Dan Fogelman, who also wrote "Crazy, Stupid, Love." (Dec. 19)

Monsters, Inc. 3D The beloved Pixar animated movie about a pair of monsters returns to the big screen in 3-D. (Dec. 19)

Zero Dark Thirty "The Hurt Locker" director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal reunite for this film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Starring Chris Pratt, Jessica Chastain and Joel Edgerton. (Dec. 19)

This is 40 Writer-director Judd Apatow's latest is a sequel of sorts to "Knocked Up," focusing on the characters of Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) as they try to age gracefully. It's got an amazing supporting cast: John Lithgow, Albert Brooks (!), Jason Segel and Melissa McCarthy. (Dec. 21)

Jack Reacher Author Lee Child's thriller novel character Jack Reacher comes to the big screen in the form of Tom Cruise. The homicide investigator checks out the case of a military sniper accused of killing five people. Also starring Werner Herzog as the villain, which is just awesome. (Dec. 21)

Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away If you haven't been able to make it to one of the countless Cirque du Soleil shows live, the group presents this original production for the silver screen. I have no idea what it's about, but there's a lot of jumping. (Dec. 21)

The Impossible I'm not sure many New Yorkers will want to see this film about the deadly tsunami that hit Thailand in 2004. Starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. (Dec. 21)

On the Road Jack Kerouac's famous Beat novel is adapted for the big screen by Walter Sallas. Starring Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund and Sam Riley. (Dec. 21)

Not Fade Away "The Sopranos" executive producer David Chase writes and directs this film about some friends who try to start a band in the 1960s. Starring James Gandolfini and John Magaro. (Dec. 21)

Django Unchained The latest from auteur Quentin Tarantino features Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave freed by Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Schultz then trains Django as a bounty hunter, and Django sets out to rescue his wife from plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Also starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington, Jonah Hill and a ton of violence. (Dec. 25)

Les Miserables Director Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech") adapts the musical for the big screen. Starring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen. (Dec. 25)

Parental Guidance Bette Midler and Billy Crystal play grandparents who go to visit their daughter (Marisa Tomei) to help to watch the kids - and then quibble about the best way to raise them. (Dec. 25)

West of Memphis If the "Paradise Lost" trilogy about the West Memphis Three wasn't enough for you, check out this new doc looking at the case. Produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh of "Lord of the Rings" fame. (Dec. 25)

Promised Land Matt Damon and John Krasinski write and star in this film about a small-town battle between big business and farmers who are out to save their land. Directed by Gus Van Sant. (Dec. 28)

Quartet Dustin Hoffman directs this comedy about a retirement home for opera singers. Starring Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon and Billy Connolly. (Dec. 28)

Therese Therese (Elizabeth Olsen) and Laurent (Oscar Isaac) are lovers who plot to kill Therese's husband Camille (Tom Felton). But they won't rest easy, as his ghost returns to haunt them. (Dec. 28)

Texas Chainsaw 3D The trailer for this film begins with a young lady in a van in her bra putting her shirt on with Johnny Cash's cover of Nick Lowe's "The Beast in Me" playing. Pretty soon there's some buzzing, hand washing and all sorts of horror tropes. It's a unique experience, for sure. (Jan. 4)

56 Up The latest installment of director Michael Apted's long-running documentary series following the lives of some Brits every seven years. (Jan. 4)

Gangster Squad The LAPD puts together the title squad to face off against gangsters - such as Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) - who are trying to expand their business to the City of Angels. Also starring Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone and Nick Nolte. (Jan. 11)

A Haunted House Marlon Wayans, a haunted house and lowered expectations. It's a spoof of the "Paranormal Activity" movies. (Jan. 11)

Struck by Lightning "Glee" star Chris Colfer writes and acts in this dramedy about a kid who blackmails his classmates to contribute to his literary magazine. Oh, and he tells this story after he was killed by lightning. (Jan. 11)

Mama From producer Guillermo Del Toro comes this horror film starring Jessica Chastain about a couple that adopts the husband's nieces, who were found living by themselves in a forest for five years. But what about mama? The film looks creepy. (Jan. 18)

The Last Stand Ladies and gentlemen, I present you the big return of former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as a leading man in an action film. Arnold plays a sheriff in a small town, who takes on the head of a drug cartel. High five for including Luis Guzman with a sword! (Jan. 18)

Broken City New York City Mayor Russell Crowe? The actor plays Hizzoner in this new film, with Mark Wahlberg as a former cop who he hires to track his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones). But while Walhberg's on the job, he uncovers something even more scandalous. (Jan. 18)

Movie 43 This long-delayed film has jumped from Overture Films to Relativity Media, which then bought Overture. It's got a slew of directors and a slew of stars (such as Halle Berry) and it's probably like one of those big ensemble holiday movies. But I don't know, because there's no trailer and only a vague description with claims of tales intertwining. Your guess is as good as mine. (Jan. 25)

Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters The classic fairy tale continues as the brother-and-sister duo grow up and start hunting witches - which you might have figured out from the title - with a ton of crazy weaponry. Starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton in the title roles. (Jan. 25)

Parker Jason Statham is the latest actor to step into the role of Donald E. Westlake's famous character Parker (you might remember Mel Gibson's take on him in "Payback"). Here, the thief Parker goes undercover to take down his old pals who robbed him. With Jennifer Lopez and Michael Chiklis. (Jan. 25)

John Dies at the End Expect some weird, insane stuff from this new film from Don Coscarelli, the director of "Bubba Ho-Tep." The trailer's confusing, but it seems like there's a drug, it has trans-dimensional and time-altering effects, and it's up to a pair of college dropouts to save the world. I'm not sure, really. And Paul Giamatti's in it, acting strange. Looks odd, but very intriguing. (Jan. 25)

Warm Bodies Jonathan Levine, the director of "50/50" and "The Wackness," returns with this horror comedy romance about a zombie (Nicholas Hoult) who meets a girl he likes, which begins to rekindle some life in him. And that new feeling starts spreading to the dead community. Also starring Rob Corddry, John Malkovich and Teresa Palmer. (Feb. 1)

Bullet to the Head Sylvester Stallone takes on another tough-guy role in this adaptation of a French graphic novel, directed by Walter Hill ("The Warriors"). Stallone plays a hitman who teams up with a lawman to beat down a bad guy. And there will be an ax fight. Also starring Jason Momoa and Christian Slater. (Feb. 1)

Identity Thief After his identity was stolen, Colorado businessman Sandy (Jason Bateman) heads to Florida to confront the woman who took it (played by a wild-haired, hard-hitting Melissa McCarthy). Also starring Jon Favreau, John Cho and Amanda Peet. (Feb. 8)

Side Effects Director Steven Soderbergh reunites with Channing Tatum for his latest picture, about a woman (Rooney Mara) who turns to prescription drugs to deal with her anxiety about her husband (Tatum) getting out of prison. The side effects, however, could be fatal. Also starring Jude Law. (Feb. 8)

Safe Haven Lasse Hallstrom ("The Cider House Rules") directs the latest adaptation of a novel by Nicholas Sparks ("The Notebook"). This likely tearjerker observes a woman (Julianne Hough) who arrives in a small North Carolina town, where she meets a widower (Josh Duhamel) that she takes a liking to. All goes well until her past catches up with her. (Feb. 8)

The Occult Cults, killers and a prophecy take center stage in this thriller starring Jennifer Carpenter and Rufus Sewell. (Feb. 8)

Beautiful Creatures A young girl named Lena (Alice Englert) is new at school, and meets Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich). They begin to have feelings for each other. As it so often turns out in these cases, Lena has magical powers and is amid a struggle between the light and the dark. Also starring Emma Thompson, Emmy Rossum and Jeremy Irons. (Feb. 13)

A Good Day to Die Hard Apparently the title "Die Hard 5" wasn't acceptable. This awfully-titled fourth sequel in the famous franchise follows John McClane (Bruce Willis) in Russia, to help his son (Jai Courtney) and then save the world. Featuring the tag line "Yippee Ki-Yay Mother Russia." (Feb. 14)

Escape from Planet Earth In this animated feature, a wimpy alien heads to Earth to save his heroic brother, who was captured during a rescue operation for one of those blowup things you find outside 7-Elevens. Featuring the voice talents of Brendan Fraser, Rob Corddry, James Gandolfini and Sarah Jessica Parker. (Feb. 14)

The To Do List Aubrey Plaza plays a woman with a to-do list of things to experience before heading off to college. And much of it will be carnal activity. Also starring Connie Britton, Rachel Bilson, Andy Samberg, Clark Gregg, Donald Glover, Adam Pally and Alia Shawkat. That's a great cast! (Feb. 14)

No Gael Garcia Bernal portrays an advertising executive who devises a plan to stop Augusto Pinochet's referendum in Chile in 1988, which would help bring freedom to the oppressed nation. (Feb. 15)

Dark Skies Keri Russell takes the lead in this sci-fi film about a mother and father who have to protect their child from aliens who want to abduct him. (Feb. 22)

Snitch Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson stars in this action film about a man who tries to help free his son by working for the DEA. Also starring Susan Sarandon. (FeA Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swann III Charlie Sheen takes the title role in this comedy from writer-director Roman Coppola (co-writer of "Moonrise Kingdom") about a graphic designer's post-break-up issues. Also starring Bill Murray and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. (February)

21 and Over An over-the-top birthday celebration for a top student might cause him tons of problems, as he's supposed to go to a medical school interview the next day. That's a big oops. (March 1)

Jack the Giant Slayer Director Bryan Singer amps up the classic fairy tale in this monster-sized action flick starring Nicholas Hoult as Jack. Expect a giant beanstalk, a gruesome, oversized monster and tons of action. Also starring Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci and Bill Nighy. (March 1)

Stoker From the writer-director of the cult South Korean film "Oldboy" comes this horror thriller about the Stoker family dealing with the death of its patriarch and the arrival of a mysterious uncle Charlie. Starring Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode, Dermot Mulroney and Mia Wasikowska. (March 1)


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