Holiday Preview

The Baltimore Sun

Action/Adventure

Ashes of Time Redux: (Sony Pictures Classics) A broken-hearted hit man moves to the desert where he finds skilled swordsmen to carry out his contract killings. With Jacky Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai. Opens Dec. 5.

The Day The Earth Stood Still : (20th Century Fox) Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly star in a "reinvention" of the 1951 classic about the global impact of an enigmatic alien's arrival. Opens Dec. 12.

Defiance : (Paramount Vantage) Based on a true story of Jewish brothers who escape Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II and take refuge in the Belarussian woods with other refugees. With Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell. Opens Jan. 16.

Punisher: War Zone: (Lionsgate) Ray Stevenson takes over the title role as vigilante Frank Castle squares off against a vengeful mob boss. With Dominic West, Julie Benz. Opens Dec. 5.

The Spirit: (Lionsgate) A former rookie cop returns mysteriously from the dead to fight crime from the shadows of Central City and battles it out with his archenemy, the Octopus. With Gabriel Macht, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Eva Mendes. Opens Dec. 25.

Taken: (20th Century Fox) A former spy relies on his old skills to save his estranged daughter who has been forced into the slave trade. With Liam Neeson and Maggie Grace. Opens Jan. 23.

Valkyrie : (MGM/UA) Director Bryan Singer and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) reunite to tell the story of Col. Claus von Stauffenberg, a World War II German officer who joins the German resistance's plot to kill Adolf Hitler. With Tom Cruise, Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh. Opens Dec. 26.

Comedy

Bride Wars : (20th Century Fox) Childhood best friends plan their weddings, each to take place at New York's ultimate bridal destination, the Plaza Hotel. But a clerical error and subsequent clash in wedding dates pit the two brides against each other in a competition that quickly escalates into all-out war. With Kate Hudson, Anne Hathaway, Candice Bergen. Opens Jan. 9.

The Brothers Bloom : (Summit Entertainment) High-class con men siblings take on one last job to show an eccentric heiress the time of her life. With Rachel Weisz, Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo. Opens Jan. 16.

A Christmas Tale : (IFC Films) Members of a dysfunctional family come together for the holidays after the mother is diagnosed with leukemia. With Catherine Deneuve, Jean-Paul Roussillon, Mathieu Amalric. Opens Dec. 12.

Marley & Me : (20th Century Fox) Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston star in this adaptation of John Grogan's life-affirming best-seller about the family of a neurotic dog. Opens Dec. 25.

Nothing Like the Holidays: (Overture Films) A Puerto Rican family living in the area of Humboldt Park in west Chicago face what may be their last Christmas together. With John Leguizamo, Freddy Rodr?guez, Debra Messing. Opens Dec. 12.

Paul Blart Mall Cop : (Columbia Pictures) A mild-mannered security guard becomes a hero when a shopping mall is overtaken by a gang of thugs. With Kevin James, Keir O'Donnell. Opens Jan. 16.

Repo! The Genetic Opera : (Lionsgate) A science-fiction rock opera set 50 years in the future in which an epidemic of organ failure creates a frenzy for expensive transplants and a heavy price for nonpayment. With Paul Sorvino, Alexa Vega, Paris Hilton, Anthony Head, Sarah Brightman. Opens Dec. 5.

Yes Man: (Warner Bros.) Jim Carrey stars as a man who enlists in a self-help program based on the concept of answering everything in the affirmative and finds that positivity has its drawbacks. With Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper. Opens Dec. 19.

Drama

Cadillac Records : (TriStar) A chronicle of the rise of Chess Records in 1950s Chicago and its recording legends, including Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Etta James and Elvis Presley. With Adrien Brody, Jeffrey Wright, Mos Def, Columbus Short, Beyonce Knowles. Opens Dec. 5.

Gran Torino : (Warner Bros.) Clint Eastwood directs and stars as an iron-willed veteran forced by his immigrant neighbors to confront his own long-held prejudices. Opens Jan. 9.

Hurricane Season: (Weinstein Co.) A year after Hurricane Katrina, a high school basketball coach assembles a team of players who attended different schools before the disaster and leads them to the state championships. With Forest Whitaker, Isaiah Washington. Opens Dec. 25.

I've Loved You So Long: (Sony Pictures Classic) Kristin Scott Thomas plays a woman who goes to live with her sister after spending 15 years in prison for a traumatic crime. Opens Dec. 19.

Last Chance Harvey : (Overture Films) Dustin Hoffman stars as a middle-age man at a low point in his life who meets a bristly woman in an airport and is presented with an unlikely opportunity for renewal. With Emma Thompson, Kathy Baker, James Brolin. Opens Jan. 23.

Not Easily Broken : (Screen Gems) A car accident and shifting affections test the bond between a married couple. With Morris Chestnut, Taraji P. Henson, Maeve Quinlan, Cannon Jay. Opens Jan. 9.

Notorious : (Fox Searchlight) The life and death story of Notorious B.I.G. (real name Christopher Wallace), who came straight out of Brooklyn to take the world of rap music by storm. With Angela Bassett, Jamal Woolard. Opens Jan. 16.

A Secret: (Strand Releasing) A 15-year-old boy unearths a shocking family secret. With Cecile De France, Patrick Bruel. Opens Dec. 25.

Seven Pounds: (Columbia Pictures) The Pursuit of Happyness director Gabriele Muccino reteams with star Will Smith for a story about a man who changes the lives of seven strangers. With Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson. Opens Dec. 19.

The Wrestler: (Fox Searchlight) A one-time professional wrestler lives for the thrill of the show and the adoration of his fans until a heart attack forces him to evaluate the state of his life. With Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood. Opens Jan. 16.

Family

Bedtime Stories : (Walt Disney Pictures) Adam Sandler stars as a man who tells his nephews outlandish versions of the titular tales - which unexpectedly begin coming true. With Keri Russell. Opens Dec. 25.

Hotel For Dogs : (Paramount/Dreamworks) Two kids secretly take in nine stray dogs at a vacant house. With Don Cheadle, Lisa Kudrow, Emma Roberts. Opens Jan. 16.

The Tale of Despereaux : (Universal Pictures) The adventures of an iconoclastic mouse and an outcast rat seeking to prove to a gloomy kingdom that they are much more than they appear. With the voices of Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman. Opens Dec. 19.

Horror/Suspense

Clive Barker Presents: Hellraiser : (Weinstein Co.) A 20th-anniversary remake of the tale of an unfaithful wife and her attempt to help her lover escape from hell. Based on Barker's novella "The Hellbound Heart." Opens Jan. 9.

My Bloody Valentine 3-D : (Lionsgate) A 3-D remake of the 1980s slasher flick about a killer who strikes on the romantic holiday. With Jensen Ackles, Jaime King. Opens Jan. 16.

The Unborn : (Rogue Pictures) A demonic spirit haunts a young woman, pulling her into a world of nightmares and threatening everyone she loves. With Gary Oldman, Odette Yustman. Opens Jan. 9.

Underworld 3: The Rise of the Lycans : (Screen Gems) An origins story centered on the centuries-old feud between the race of aristocratic vampires known as Death Dealers, and their one-time slaves, the Lycans. With Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy. Opens Jan. 23.

Oscar Contenders

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button : (Paramount Pictures) Brad Pitt stars in the tale of a man who ages backward from New Orleans at the end of World War I to the 21st century. With Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton. Opens Dec. 25.

Doubt : (Miramax Films) John Patrick Shanley wrote and directed this adaptation of his award-winning play about a possible molestation at a parochial school in the Bronx in 1964. With Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams. Opens Dec. 19.

Frost/Nixon : (Universal Pictures) Frank Langella and Michael Sheen reprise their theatrical roles in playwright Peter Morgan's dramatization of the events surrounding the historic interview between disgraced former President Richard M. Nixon and British TV personality David Frost. Directed by Ron Howard. Opens Dec. 25.

Milk : (Focus Features) Sean Penn stars as the assassinated gay rights activist and San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk. Directed by Gus Van Sant. Opens Dec. 5.

The Reader : (Weinstein Co.) Writer David Hare adapted Bernhard Schlink's novel set in postwar Germany about a man whose life has been influenced by an affair with an older woman. With Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes. Opens Dec. 25.

Revolutionary Road : (Paramount Vantage) Titanic stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet reunite as a married couple struggling with conformity and expectations in 1950s Connecticut. Directed by Sam Mendes. Opens Jan. 9.

Release dates subject to change.

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