Because film distributors know that people are usually at home and sometimes looking for something to get them away from their families for a few hours after the festivities, some of the year’s biggest movies are released between Thanksgiving and the end of the year.
This year’s crop offers moviegoers everything from the incredible true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom to a time traveler who can’t change history but can make the world a better place. For the youngsters, there’s even an adventurous comedy about two turkeys — presumably those who escaped being eaten for dinner — who join forces to try to change that holiday tradition.
Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson in “About Time.” (Photo by Murray Close/Universal Pictures 2013
“About Time”: (Detroit opening) Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) learns from his father (Bill Nighy) that the men in the family can travel through time, but not change history. When he learns he can change his own life, he goes back to make his world a better place. Eventually, he learns that his gift will never save him from the sorrows that affect all families.
“12 Years A Slave”: The incredible true story of a free black man from upstate New York before the Civil War (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who is abducted and sold into slavery. Enduring the cruelty of a malevolent slave owner (played by Michael Fassbender), he fights to stay alive and maintain his dignity. A chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) alters his life. Rated: R.
“Ender’s Game”: This is the epic adventure that fans of the best-selling, award-winning novel of the same title have been waiting to see. In the near future, Earth is under attack by a hostile alien race. If not for the legendary heroics of International Fleet Commander Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley), all would have been lost. Before the next attack, the International Military, led by Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) recruits a shy but strategically brilliant boy, Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), to join an elite force. The film also stars Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis and Abigail Breslin. Rated: PG-13
“Last Vegas”: Older audiences will appreciate this story about a group of four old friends who decide to throw a Las Vegas bachelor party for the only one in the group who has managed to remain single. Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline star as the Flatbush Four buds, who have known each other since they were hellions in grade school. The film also stars Mary Steenburgen. Rated: PG-13
“Free Birds”: In this funny animated adventure directed by Jimmy Hayward (“Horton Hears a Who!”), two turkeys from opposite sides of the track, who could not be more different, set aside their differences for the common good: to travel back in time and change the course of history and the main course for dinner on Thanksgiving. The film features the voices of Owen Wilson (Reggie), Woody Harrelson (Jake) and Amy Poehler (Jenny). Rated: PG
“The Man of Tai Chi”: Keanu Reeves directs and stars in a tale about a young martial artist (Tiger Hu Chen) who must compete in an underground fight club to protect his way of life. Rated: R
Also coming this fall are:
Nov. 8 — “Blue is the Warmest Color,” an erotic lesbian coming-of-age story (NC-17); Marvel superhero sequel “Thor: The Dark World” (PG-13) ; “Diana,” the last two years of the Princess of Wales’ meteoric life, stars Naomi Watts, Naveen Andrews and Douglas Hodge (PG-13).
Nov. 15 — “The Best Man Holiday,” college friends reunite over the Christmas holidays, starring Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long and Harold Perrineau (R); “Dallas Buyers Club,” is based on a true story of Texas electrician Ron Woodroof’s battle with the medical establishment to provide treatment for HIV-positive people (R).
Nov. 22 — “The Book Thief,” based on the international best seller, starring Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson and Sophie Nelisse (PG-13); “Delivery Man,” a sperm donor (Vince Vaughn) discovers he has 533 children (PG-13); “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” the anticipated second in a trilogy based on the “Hunger Games” books, stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz and Philip Seymour Hoffman (PG-13); “Kill Your Darlings,” with Daniel Radcliffe as beat poet Allen Ginsberg (not yet rated).
Nov. 27 — “Black Nativity” is a contemporary adaptation of Langston Hughes’ celebrated play (not yet rated); “Frozen,” a 3D Walt Disney comedy adventure in which optimist Anna (Kristen Bell) sets off on an epic journey to find her sister Elsa (Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom in eternal winter (PG); “Oldboy,” a thriller directed by Spike Lee, starring Josh Brolin Elizabeth Olsen and Sharlto Copley; and “Philomena,” in which a political journalist picks up the story of a woman’s search for her son (R).
Nov. 29 — “The Armstrong Lie” (not yet rated).
Dec. 6 — “Out of the Furnace” a gripping drama about family, fate and justice, stars Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Forest Whitaker, Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepard and Willem Dafoe (not yet rated).
Dec. 13 — “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” the second in a trilogy adapting the book by J.R.R. Tolkien, with Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Evangeline Lilly, Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephen Fry (not yet rated); “Tyler Perry’s a Madea Christmas,” stars Tyler Perry, Kathy Najimy, Chad Michael Murray, Anna Maria Horsford (not yet rated).
Dec. 18 — “American Hustle” (not yet rated);
Dec. 20 — “Anchorman: The Legend Continues” San Diego newsman Ron Burgundy returns with Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner and Christina Applegate (not yet rated); The Coen Brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis” follows a week in the life of a young folk singer in the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961, with music by Isaac, Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan, Marcus Mumford and Punch Brothers (R); “Saving Mr. Banks” inspired by the untold story of how Disney’s classic “Mary Poppins” made it to the screen, starring Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks (PG-13); “Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie” (not yet rated).
Dec. 25 — “47 Ronin” stars Keanu Reeves as a half-breed who must help 47 leaderless samurai fight mythic beasts, shape-shifting witchcraft and wondrous terrors (not yet rated); “August: Osage County” (not yet rated); “Grudge Match” stars Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone as old boxing rivals who come out of retirement for one final match (PG-13); “Labor Day,” starring Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Gattlin Griffith, Tobey Maguire and James Van Der Beek, in which 13-year-old Henry Wheeler struggles to be the man of the house for his mother when a stranger convinces them to take him in (PG-13); “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is James Thurber’s classic about a day-dreamer who escapes his anonymous life with a world of fantasy, starring Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig and Adam Scott, directed by Ben Stiller (PG); “The Wolf of Wall Street,” directed by Martin Scorsese, stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jon Favreau, Spike Jonze, Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey in the story of New York stockbroker who goes from penny stocks and righteousness to IPOs and a life of corruption in the late ’80s (not yet rated).
Jan. 1 — “The Devil’s Due” stars Allison Miller and Zach Gilford as a newlywed couple coping with an unexpected pregnancy that turns sinister (not yet rated).