THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG
Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Richard Armitrage and the dulcet tones of Benedict Cumberbatch as the dragon Smaug
Director: Peter Jackson
Release Date: Dec. 13
Danger: The first film in "The Hobbit" trilogy made more than $1 billion, but drew a mixed reception. Making three films out of "The Hobbit," a slender single volume, gives the filmmaker plenty of leeway to be indulgent, which probably means a lot more scenes of dwarves singing.
Why We're Still Psyched: The dragon makes his grand entrance -- and who better to voice the scaly menace than Cumberbatch, an actor who reeks of danger and seduction. Plus, "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and the first "Hobbit" were all released in December, making a stop by Middle Earth practically a holiday tradition.
ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES
Cast: Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Christina Applegate, David Koechner
Director:Â Adam McKay
Release Date:Â Dec. 20
Danger: The original was so hilarious that it's hard to imagine this one living up to it. Comedic sequels almost always fall short, and the dynamic between these actors has shifted a great deal over the past decade.
Why We're Still Psyched: The first "Anchorman" was one of the funniest movies in recent memory and the source of numerous iconic lines, scenes and memes. No other comedy of the decade brought together as many talented comedic actors as the street-fight scene, and Rudd and Carell have since become stars.
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY
Cast: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis
Director: John Wells
Release Date: Dec. 25
Danger: Tracy Letts' darkly humorous look at a dysfunctional family electrified Broadway when it premiered in 2007. But films made from even the tightest plays can be overly stagey on screen, and "August: Osage County" is a sprawling, messy story much like the damaged mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters it depicts.Â Moreover, there's an everything but the kitchen sink element to its casting that reeks a little of Oscar-baiting.
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