December isn't just about tree lightings, holiday feasts and shopping.
It also marks the high point in Oscar season, the time of year when studios release their prestige pictures to garner the buzz they'll need to get nominated for the awards ceremony in early 2013.
In Patch's Holiday Movie Guide, we'll focus on a few of these films opening along the North Shore. Which should you see? Which should you skip? Which should you bring your kids to? Keep reading to find out.
Weekend of Nov. 30 to Dec. 2:
Most Oscar-buzz: Anna Karenina
The director of Atonement and Pride and Prejudice releases his third movie featuring Keira Kinghtly that also happens to be based on one of the most renowned works of Russian literature ever. Though both prior movies were critically acclaimed, neither garnered Wright an Oscar nod. The fact that his latest hasn't been named a winner by critics might be an ominous sign, though. Playing at Landmark Renaissance in Highland Park
Most fun: Silver Linings Playbook
David O. Russell may not be who you'd imagine to direct a romantic comedy that strikes the perfect balance between funny and sentimental. But before he directed the crowd-pleasing The Fighter, Russell directed 1996's quirky Flirting With Disaster, a quirky rom-com with Ben Stiller that helped put both men on the map. His latest movie stars Bradley Cooper as a man battling some mental issues with the help of his parents, including Robert De Niro in what might possibly be his first good performance in over a decade. Along the way, he falls for Jennifer Lawrence, who's got her own mental issues she's working through. Playing at Muvico Theaters Rosemont 18.
Most family friendly: Wreck-It Ralph
This animated ode to video games is more than just a collection of celebrity voices and pop culture jokes, which mean it's significantly better than most animated films that get theatrical releases. John C. Reilly voices Ralph, a villain in a classic-Donkey Kong inspired video game who is tired of being the bad guy. The characters and setting are bound to appeal to kids while the story, and some of the jokes, will hit more with their parents. Playing at the Pickwick Theatre in Park Ridge.