By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Temperatures drop, calendar pages diminish, days off beckon, and the Oscar races heat up.
It must be December!
For moviegoers, that means the climax to the year’s big-screen release schedule is now set, and is upon us.
So here are the dozen mainstream movie titles opening over the next three weeks, as 2012 gives way to 2013…
The Lord of the Rings maestro Peter Jackson returns to Middle Earth in the first installment of his next trilogy based on the children’s fantasy novels of JRR Tolkien in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Bill Murray stars as President Franklin D. Roosevelt -– you read that right -– opposite Laura Linney as a lot more than his distant cousin in the pre-World War II drama, Hyde Park on Hudson.
Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen play mother and son setting out on a road trip so that he, an inventor, can sell his latest invention in the inventive cross-country comedy, The Guilt Trip.
Judd Apatow directs an oblique sequel to his comedy Knocked Up by looking in on marrieds played by Leslie Mann (Mrs. Apatow in real life) and Paul Rudd a few years later in this semi-autobiographical comedy, This Is 40.
Tom Cruise stars as the title character, an avenging military homicide investigator, in an action thriller based on the series of Lee Child best-sellers, Jack Reacher.
Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor co-star as real-life parents vacationing at a resort in Thailand with their three children when the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami hits, in the disaster drama, The Impossible.
Director Quentin Tarantino visits the antebellum South to find a freed slave (Jamie Foxx) teaming up with a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) in an attempt to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from a brutal plantation owner (Leonardo Di Caprio) in a melodrama that mixes the “spaghetti western” with “blaxploitation,” Django Unchained.
Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway headline the movie version of the long-running stage musical based on the Victor Hugo novel about nineteenth-century France, directed by The King’s Speech Oscar winner Tom Hooper, Les Misérables.
Billy Crystal and Bette Midler are grandparents babysitting their grandchildren for Marisa Tomei and Tom Everett Scott in the child-rearing comedy, Parental Guidance.
Matt Damon, Frances MacDormand, and John Krasinski collaborate in a drama scripted by Damon and Krasinski about a struggling farming community offered leases by an aggressive corporation interested in extracting natural gas through fracking, Promised Land.
Writer-director David Chase, creator of “The Sopranos,” tells the tale of three suburban New Jersey teens in the 1960s inspired by the appearance of the Rolling Stones on television to form their own rock band in the nostalgic comedy-drama, Not Fade Away.
And Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow chronicles the decade-long hunt for 9/11 orchestrator Osama bin Laden and the May 2011 Navy SEAL raid on his terrorist compound in Pakistan in the docudrama, Zero Dark Thirty.
Ah, December — enjoy!