The 10 Must-See Movies of December 2012

By  · Published on December 4th, 2012

This last month of 2012 is packed with movies to suck up our time when we need it the most. You got Tom Cruise stretching his acting muscles as an action hero, Russell Crowe singing in the shower, Matt Damon getting all teary eyed nostalgic over old America, and more. Plenty of variety before the apocalypse ruins our chance of ever seeing what Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Batman would be like.

If this is our final month of filmgoing, then so be it. With Quentin Tarantino, Peter Jackson, Judd Apatow, Kathryn Bigelow, Christopher McQuarie, and Gus Van Sant all jollying up our holiday season, we couldn’t ask for a better last hurrah for movies if those apocalypse rumors are proven correct.

Before we all die horrible and painful deaths, make sure to see these films:

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Opens December 14th

The trailers for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey have done nothing for me. The idea of returning to Middle-Earth is enchanting, but all the hobbit and dwarf slapstick bits don’t come off as revolutionary as what Jackson did with the original trilogy. Still, a return to Middle-Earth is the return to Middle-Earth, so what’s the worst that could happen?

This is 40

Opens December 21st

Judd Apatow must have listened to every bit of criticism lobbed at Funny People, laughed heartily, then amplified all of it for This is 40. His new movie may be messy, but, like Apatow’s other work, it has a ton of heart and laughs. Even when the film’s characters are at their worst, This is 40 remains charming.

Watch the This is 40 trailer

Zero Dark Thirty

Opens in limited release on December 21st

Another step into the new domination phase of Kathryn Bigelow’s career. It’s astonishing how she’s gone from “Director of Near Dark” to “Academy Award Winner Kathryn Bigelow.” She has always been a director capable of good work, but with The Hurt Locker, and now Zero Dark Thirty, she shows a towering confidence few filmmakers have. Her epic procedural is another efficient, intense, and entertaining step up for this new Bigelow.

Watch the Zero Dark Thirty trailer

Jack Reacher

Opens December 21st

This is the kind of B-movie which could easily lighten the Christmas mood. What child out there doesn’t want to see Werner Herzog terrorize Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher? We don’t see Herzog intentionally chew scenery often, so this should make for a real holiday treat. Let’s hope this adaptation of Lee Child’s beloved character lives up to director Christopher McQuarrie’s first film, The Way of the Gun.

The Impossible

Opens December 21st

Juan Bayona’s movie is all out manipulative. The music is intrusive, Bayona milks every dramatic beat until there’s no milk left, and there are many, many conveniences. But, hey, that’s why the it’s called The Impossible. Even when there is little restraint, Bayona’s movie is both horrifying and moving, with three great performances to speak of.

Watch the Impossible trailer

Read on!

Not Fade Away

Opens December 21st

The first trailer for Not Fade Away was a surprise. Coming from David Chase, the creator behind one of television’s most ambitious series, The Sopranos, we should expect more than a conventional coming-of-age movie. Apparently the movie doesn’t go too far outside what we know about the genre, but it’s a warm, fun, and compelling tale with a standout performance from James Gandolfini.


Opens December 21st

Can you imagine doing a triple feature of The Impossible, Les Misérables, and ending with Amour? That would make for one depressing Christmas. While Michael Haneke’s new film is less of an endurance test, according to reviews, knowing Haneke, he probably couldn’t resist making your stomach churn once or twice.

Watch the Amour trailer

Les Misérables

Opens December 25th

I can’t really say much about Les Misérables, but I’m positive diehard fans of the play will unabashedly adore it.

Watch this Les Miserables featurette

Promise Land

Opens in limited theaters December 28th

The Matt Damon and John Krasinski written Gus Van Sant feature appears to be another Good Will Hunting or Milk, not another Gerry or Elephant. While Van Sant’s less distanced and more sentimental movies may not be his best, they’re still always welcomed pictures.

Django Unchained

Opens December 25th

The slam-dunk movie of the month. The trailers for Django Unchained may sell the movie as an on-the-nose “let’s kill racist slave owners!” movie, but Inglourious Basterds wasn’t marketed so differently. There will be more over-the-top accents and gratuitous violence, as is always the case with Quentin Tarantino. The Weinsteins haven’t showed the film to many thus far, but all early the reactions indicate another refined addition to QT’s precious filmography.

Watch the Django Unchained trailer

What are you looking forward to the most?

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Longtime FSR contributor Jack Giroux likes movies. He thinks they're swell.