Your guide to the holiday movie season

The rest of the country may wallow in Thanksgiving gravy and candy canes and comfort and joy and all that. In the movie calendar, the holiday season exists for very different reasons.

Two principles are at play: It’s a lucrative time to open new movies, and it’s a chance to get attention for those offbeat films that need awards to stay alive.

How can you tell the difference? Well, in November, a movie about our 16th president will be somber and slow and contain an astonishing performance by Daniel Day-Lewis. In summer, Abraham Lincoln is a vampire hunter.

Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” opened last week, in competition with that other perennial movie hero, James Bond (in the blockbuster “Skyfall”). This weekend the Big One is the final chapter in the “Twilight” phenomenon, and they’ll come in a flood after that.

So we’ve got some animation for young folks, a big Tom Cruise action flick and some distinguished-sounding performances that will surely be flirting with Oscar. Quentin Tarantino is back, and so is Alfred Hitchcock (in a way).

Abe Lincoln won’t be the only president in the awards derby; Franklin Roosevelt also makes the scene, in the person of Bill Murray. And who would’ve predicted that, in the days of “Meatballs”?

There’ll be a huge, splashy musical in the form of “Les Miserables,” which is something of a gamble, and a throwback to an ancient form of special-event moviemaking.

But when it comes to reading the anticipation meter, these movies frankly pale next to a little thing called “The Hobbit.” The success of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy guarantees a monster audience for this prequel to the J.R.R. Tolkien saga, and it’s another trilogy in the making, as Jackson has divided the novel into three pictures.

So let’s sort through the next few weeks (with the usual warning about release dates changing at the last minute). Here’s the season, and pass the gravy: Click here to see capsules and premiere dates.

More in Life

Sheet-pan suppers: Make an entire meal on one sheet pan

Entire cookbooks are devoted to the trend, along with the inevitable blogs.

Rose Johnson, 80, is a member of the Everett Area Newcomers Club, which meets and dines once a month at Sno-Isle Tech’s student-run Le Bistro Restaurant. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Old-timers can join the Everett Area Newcomers Club

Everett group welcomes women for friendship and fun at multiple meet-ups.

From Jasper to Banff: A Canadian adventure in an RV

Jennifer Bardsley plans to take her family on two-week roadtrip through Canada in a tent trailer.

Pureed soup is a smooth way to get your vegetables in winter

Coconut curry carrot soup is a fulfilling way to start a meal or to serve alongside a sandwich.

Skippers share sea stories at Marysville speaker series

The Bellingham couple will talk about charter cruises on the historic wooden vessel they rebuilt.

Hearty chickpea, pasta soup warms up wintry nights

Serve this ancient Roman dish with a warm cauliflower salad, which also is from Italy.

Expo in Stanwood can help you get ready for the country

The Country Living Expo and Cattlemen’s Winterschool is set for Jan. 27 at the high school.

Anxiety, or chronic worry, is a growing problem

Paul Schoenfeld shares four approaches to help keep your anxiety from getting out of control.

Find many of our region’s winter birds in the Skagit Valley

If you love birding, also check out these bird-related festivals, lectures and other events.

Most Read