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nebraskaYou may notice that this month’s list of top film picks has little acknowledgement of the festive period that is nearly upon us. Alas, with the exception of a snow covered Disney film, the best releases this month are decidedly lacking in festive cheer. They are hopefully going to be brilliant though, with highlights this month including the national release of Nebraska; it’s the latest dramedy from director Alexander Payne and, for me, one of the best films of the year. Don’t miss it… in fact don’t miss any of these!

Nebraska (Dir. Alexander Payne): Released: 6th Dec – Alexander Payne has carved out a niche for himself with his humorous and heartfelt studies of friendships and relationships, both romantic and domestic. His latest is a decidedly low-key film; a road trip taken by an aging, alcoholic father and his son, from Montana to Nebraska, to collect a probably bogus million dollar cash prize. Beautiful in every way, it’s a splendid exploration of family that will make you laugh and cry from beginning to end.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Dir. Peter Jackson): Released: 13th Dec – It may not be Christmassy, but there is something inherently festive about going to see a Jackson epic over the holiday period. The Desolation of Smaug is the second part in the Kiwi’s mammoth adaptation of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings prequel. Martin Freeman is once again playing Bilbo, the eponymous Halfling who is accompanying a group of dwarves to reclaim their home from Smaug the Dragon. After a tantalizing glimpse in the closing moments of the previous film, TDoS finally reveals Benedict Cumberbatch’s dragon in all his glory, as we move closer to Jackson’s final Middle Earth adventure.

Anchorman: The Legend Continues (Dir. Adam McKay): Released: 18th Dec – In case you hadn’t noticed, this preview article is layered with rich mahogany. Having gained a huge cult following over the years, Ron Burgundy and the Channel 4 news team are back for another dose of lowbrow, but highly amusing comedy. All the stars from the original have returned, along with newcomers including James Marsden, to see Burgundy & co. make their mark on rolling news. Believe the hype, like the main man himself, it’s kind of a big deal.

American Hustle (Dir. David O. Russell): Released: 20th Dec – Hot off the back of his Oscar baiting drama Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell’s latest assembles one of the year’s sexiest casts for this true-life tale of love and crime. The trailer released a few months ago was one of the finest cinematic previews this critic has seen in a long time; a great soundtrack juxtaposed with a montage of images that are enticing, but impenetrable. It’s a superb trailer that gets you excited about the film without giving anything away. Let the tale unravel in front of you when it’s released just before Christmas.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Dir. Ben Stiller): Released 26th Dec – Based on the short story by James Thurber, Ben Stiller’s latest is a notably more dramatic tale then his previous directorial effort, Tropic Thunder. It follows the adventures of Walter, played by Stiller himself, a fantasist who dreams of seeing the world and winning the heart of the woman he loves. Visually alluring, it’ll be great to see Stiller stepping outside his comfort zone when the film is released on Boxing Day.

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