ARGO — During the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, a CIA agent leads a daring mission to rescue six U.S. diplomats. R for language, violent imagery. 131 mins.
HITCHCOCK – The man who made Psycho was no lightweight, though he kind of comes off that way here. Starring Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock and Helen Mirren as his wife and collaborator, Alma, Hitchcock puts a featherlight yet entertaining touch on the behind-the-scenes struggle to make the mother of all slasher films. PG-13 for violent images, sexual content and thematic material. 98 mins.
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY — Stuffed with Hollywood's latest technology, Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings prelude is some eye candy that truly dazzles and some that utterly distracts, at least in its test-run of 48 frames a second, double the projection rate that has been standard since silent-film days. PG-13 for extended intense fantasy action violence and frightening images. 169 mins.
LIFE OF PI — Author Yann Martel's tale of a shipwrecked youth cast adrift on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger is one of those lyrical, internalized novels that should have no business working on the screen. But the delicate narrative does work, thanks to Ang Lee's adaptation. PG for emotional thematic content and scary action sequences. 126 mins.
LINCOLN — For anyone who worried this might be a near-parody of a Steven Spielberg film, with its heartfelt proclamations, sentimental tones and inspiring John Williams score, fret not. The movie itself is actually a lot more reserved than that. But this is easier to admire than love. PG-13 for intense war violence, carnage and brief strong language. 150 mins.
PLAYING FOR KEEPS – Judy Greer, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Uma Thurman couldn't possibly need work this badly. And yet here they are as soccer moms shamelessly throwing themselves at Gerard Butler and his tousled, manly mane. PG-13 for sexual situations, language and a brief intense image. 105 mins.
RISE OF THE GUARDIANS – Based on The Guardians of Childhood books by William Joyce, this dark film reveals that North (Alec Baldwin), better known as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), The Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the Sandman (no voice actor; he never speaks) have a bigger calling than just providing gifts, eggs, quarters and sweet dreams. PG for thematic elements and mildly scary action. 97 mins.
SKYFALL — This is easily one of the best entries ever in the 50-year, 23-film series, led once again by an actor who's the best Bond yet in Daniel Craig. PG-13 for intense violent sequences, sexuality, language and smoking. 143 mins.
THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN — PART 2 — Finally the Twilight franchise embraces its own innate absurdity with this gleefully over-the-top conclusion. This is by far the best film in the series. PG-13 for violence including disturbing images, sensuality and partial nudity. 115 mins.