Skyfall (November 9)
You know what James Bond hasn’t had in some time? A memorable villain. An antagonist who’s either as arrogant as Blofeld, as menacing as Francisco Scaramanga, or even as campy as Jaws. The latest Bond villains (aside from maybe Mads Mikkelsen’s LeChiffre) have been typecast as vanilla megalomaniacs out to rule the world and blah, blah, blah. Javier Bardem looks to change that. We’re not sure what he’s going for in Skyfall, the latest Bond thriller, but it looks fantastically dangerous and strange. Everything about Skyfall looks stellar. Craig looks dapper as 007. Sam Mendes appears to have concocted a stream of memorable action set pieces. Let’s hope this is the Bond adventure that puts the spy back on top … or, at least helps us forget Quantum of Solace.

The Hobbit (December 14)
It wasn't so long ago that there was a worldwide holiday season tradition of taking a trip to Middle Earth. Now, nearly ten years after the enormous Lord of the Rings franchise, Peter Jackson is returning to the world of hobbits and dwarves with another giant movie that's the first in a trilogy. With groundbreaking 48 frames per second photography and 3D and the kind of massive scenery and effects budget that we knew from the first series, The Hobbit promises to be bigger and more adventurous than nearly anything else coming out this year. Will it also bring in the audiences in droves? Even if it doesn't, you can guarantee we'll be there in hobbit feet on opening night.

Jack Reacher (December 21)
We hear you, dedicated readers of Lee Childs’ butt-kicking Jack Reacher novels. Tom Cruise was not your first choice to play the towering wanderer of a hero. Heck, Cruise likely wasn’t even your fifteenth choice. But the actor’s relationship with Paramount put him in the driver’s seat for the first of three planned Reacher movies, the first being an adaptation of Childs’ One Shot. A few things to ease your mind: Childs’ source material is strong enough to survive any casting decision; Cruise is being directed by Christopher McQuarrie (The Way of the Gun); and the first trailer for this December thriller actually did kick a lot of ass. We’re willing to give Cruise at least One Shot.

This is 40 (December 21)
40 is the new twenty. But is This is 40 the new funny? Judd Apatow fans who were lukewarm on his Funny People certainly hope so. The writer-director wisely drifts back to a familiar environment, creating an unconventional sequel to Knocked Up by focusing on married couple Debbie (Leslie Mann) and Pete (Paul Rudd). The everyman pair played the welcome dose of reality to Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl. And Apatow has surrounded his already amusing leads with hilarious support in Jason Segel, Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd. If Apatow wants to pull a “Linklater” and revisit this couple every few years to see how they (and we) are progressing, that’s quite alright with us.

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