Winter movie season provides audiences with beloved sequels

Star-studded December promises to heat up theaters, enthrall movie fans

by Hannah Younkins

With less than a month until classes and finals will be over, it won’t be long until we’re all at home with our families and friends, enjoying the holiday season. But what do you do when you’re tired of spending time with your family only two days after you get home? And how do you spend your Friday evenings when there are no frats to go to? Luckily for students, the stars of Hollywood have aligned to create a promising line-up of cinematic Winter break entertainment.

Kicking off the holiday movie season is The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, set for release on Dec. 13. Based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s cherished children’s novel, The Hobbit follows the unlikely hero Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) as he helps Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and his hodgepodge gang of dwarves reclaim their homeland from a dragon, Smaug the Tremendous. The second of three movies produced and directed by Peter Jackson, The Desolation will feature some of the most famous scenes and characters from Tolkien’s Middle Earth, such as Beorn the Skin-Changer, the dwarves’ gallant escape from the Elvenking’s prison, and the confrontation between Bilbo and Smaug. Fans of Tolkien and Jackson’s movies alike can look forward to actors, such as Stephen Fry, Evangeline Lilly, and Lee Pace, joining the strong ensemble cast — as well as The Lord of the Ring’s Orlando Bloom returning as Legolas.

American Hustle arrives in theaters on Dec. 18 in tacky 70s clothing. Starring Christian Bale and Amy Adams as a con-man-and-woman team forced to work with a reckless FBI agent played by Bradley Cooper, American Hustle is loosely based on an FBI sting operation that targeted public corruption and resulted in the indictment of 10 U.S. senators.

Also in the film are Jeremy Renner, portraying the dishonest mayor of Camden, NJ, and the ever-popular Jennifer Lawrence as Bale’s wife. Written and directed by David O. Russell, of The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook acclaim, American Hustle has already won two awards at the Hollywood Film Festival. It has a solid cast of leading actors in addition to decadent costumes and a storyline audiences love, which guarantees the film will be successful — at least more successful than the 2007 film of the same name, which was directly released to DVD.

After nine years, Ron Burgundy finally returns to theaters Dec. 20, and it’s kind of a big deal. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues tells the tale of San Diego’s favorite newscasting team as the members relocate to New York and work for the first 24/7 cable news network, GNN. With the return of most of the cast and crew of the first Anchorman, and with several trailers that show that the sequel will have the same range of humor and spunk as the original, fans can have hope that Anchorman 2 will avoid the sequel-slump and be just as funny as the first.

For those missing their economics classes, The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is a biographical film about Jordan Belfort, a corrupt stockbroker who spent almost two years in federal prison for swindling hundreds of millions of dollars from his clients. Supporting DiCaprio and rounding out the film’s cast of white-collar criminals are Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, and Jean Dujardin. The Wolf of Wall Street is DiCaprio’s fifth project with director Martin Scorsese, and early reviews of The Wolf predict that it will be as popular and successful as past collaborations, which include Gangs of New York and The Aviator. The Wolf of Wall Street will premiere on Dec. 25.

Also set for release on Christmas Day is August: Osage County, a movie adapted from the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tracy Letts. Starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Ewan McGregor, August tells the story of the supremely dysfunctional Weston family, who gather in their hometown in Oklahoma after the patriarch commits suicide.

During the weeks following the funeral, past and present family scandals rear their ugly heads and the ensuing drama reminds everyone in the family why they avoid each other. With a cast of notable actors and renowned (and surprisingly funny) source material, August reeks of Oscar-potential.

First-year Hannah Younkins is a staff writer. Her email is hyounkin@fandm.edu.

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