Yann Martel's Life of Pi was one of the most commercially successful novels ever to win the Booker prize; now it has been turned into a keenly anticipated movie by Ang Lee. Pi Patel is the son of a zookeeper who decides to transport the family, and their entire menagerie, to Canada by sea. But a shipwreck leaves him and assorted animals on a single lifeboat, fighting for survival. Early film festival sightings have been hugely enthusiastic. 20 December.
An intriguing and cerebral work from Bernard Rose, the maker of Mr Nice. This is the third of his Tolstoy adaptations, following Ivans xtc and The Kreutzer Sonata, all starring Danny (son of John) Huston. The source is the 1895 story Master and Man, and it follows a landowner and a peasant lost in snowy Colorado the day after Christmas. 21 December.
As a followup to his hit In Bruges, Martin McDonagh has now created a bizarre postmodern LA thriller about a screenwriter (Colin Farrell) who somehow gets involved with the kidnapping of a tough guy's precious shih-tzu dog, and has to confront the unstable individuals of the title, played by Tom Waits, Woody Harrelson and others. 7 December.
Some Hobbit fans are bemused by Peter Jackson's desire to create a lengthy epic out of what is quite a modestly sized book. But if anyone can do it, Jackson can. Martin Freeman is on the verge of global fame in the role of Bilbo Baggins, who goes off with some dwarfs on a mighty quest to reclaim lost treasure from the dragon Smaug. Benedict Cumberbatch is the necromancer and Elijah Wood is Legolas. 13 December.
In this re-released classic from 1962, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis are still big; it's the psychological thrillers that got small. They are Blanche and Baby Jane, ageing sisters who live together in a hell of faded fame and bitter sibling rivalry. As their goading, sniping and mind games get worse, something has to give. 14 December.
A beguilingly innocent and gloriously high-spirited picture from 1946, made at the beginning of Ealing's golden age. Harry Fowler leads a bunch of feisty kids foiling the plans of robbers in London's East End. Part of the BFI's two-month Ealing season. 8, 16, 29 December at BFI Southbank, London SE1. Details: bfi.org.uk
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