Winter Preview: Five Movies You Need to See

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Because “The Lord of the Rings” just wasn’t enough — the story lives on. Martin Freeman (“Sherlock”) captured millions of hearts worldwide when part one of “The Hobbit” trilogy was released last winter, and now he’s back as Bilbo Baggins in “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” to continue the quest to reclaim the land of Erebor from the grasp of Smaug. There are elves, there are dwarves, there’s an all-powerful ring … it’s every geeky, dorky, wonderful thing you could ask for. Naturally, Ian McKellen returns as the wise Gandalf the Grey, and there’s no shortage of name-dropping (Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving, to name a few). Check it out on Dec. 13.

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Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
He’s back! We first became acquainted with the lovable, insane, hilarious team at San Diego’s Channel 4 Evening News back in 2004, with the release of “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.” The titular character Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell, “Elf”) stole our hearts with his tale of narcissism, sexism and quintessential 1970s-ness. Now, Burgundy and his cohorts Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd, “I Love You, Man”), Brick Tamland (Steve Carell, “Little Miss Sunshine”) and Wes Mantooth (Vince Vaughn, “Wedding Crashers”) are back — and this time, they’re taking New York. Will they triumph? Find out when “Anchorman 2” rolls into theaters on Dec. 20. And check out the Wheel‘s coverage of Paul Rudd and Steve Carell’s college newspaper conference call.

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American Hustle
With an all-star cast featuring the likes of reigning Best Actress Jennifer Lawrence, the legendary Robert De Niro and two superheroes (Batman himself Christian Bale, and Jeremy Renner, who took on the role of bow-and-arrow-wielding Hawkeye for last year’s “The Avengers”), “American Hustle” has had substantial buzz surrounding it for months now. Con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) ends up working with an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”), and they find themselves mixed up in mob dealings and Jersey powerbrokers. But political operator Carmine Polito (Renner) is talking to the feds, and Irving’s wife Rosalyn (Lawrence) is constantly on the verge of turning on him, so what happens next is always in question. It’s confusing, complicated — totally irresistible. Find out the story behind the scandal when “American Hustle” comes to theaters on Dec. 18.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Ben Stiller goes artsy? Yes, it is possible! In case you haven’t seen the visually stunning and epically memorable previews for this indie treasure that have been floating through theaters for the past couple of months, go check them out now. Stiller is the charmingly awkward Walter Mitty in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, who has a dull, monotonous life, but lives vicariously through his epic daydreams, which include heroic feats, romantic lines and dramatic entrances. Also featuring Kristen Wiig (“Bridesmaids”), Sean Penn (“Milk”) and Adam Scott (“Parks and Recreation”), “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” promises laughter, adventure and a healthy dose of life lessons. Opens on Christmas Day.

Saving Mr. Banks
It’s one of the most beloved Disney films, like, ever, and now we get to experience the behind-the-scenes magic for the first time. Tom Hanks stars as Walt himself, and if the trailer is any indication of things to come, he’s equal parts delightful and cheesy as the man who brought us all our favorite animated classics. Emma Thompson (“Love Actually”) is P.L. Travers, the author of the original “Mary Poppins” book, and she’s terrified that Mr. Disney will butcher her story for his musical adaptation. But in true Disney fashion, they forge a connection and learn a little about one another. It’s good old-fashioned family fun — and who doesn’t want to see Jason Schwartzman rock the role of a Disney soundtrack composer? The story behind “just a spoonful of sugar” comes to screens on Dec. 20.

 

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