December’s Big Films

‘Twas the month before Christmas When all through the studios Execs were stirring, with high hopes and fear, Giant posters were hung and trailers rolled out All in hopes that the public would soon be in the movie houses.

Come this December moviegoers can expect Flicks from Kevin Costner, as well as from Mel, But let’s not forget there’re also Meg and Russell Plus other big names like Hanks and Cage.

So without further ado Here’s our list Of all the high-profile films that are coming To accompany you through the month of December.

DEC. 1 No major releases are coming out on the first Friday of the month.

DEC. 8

Proof of Life“: From the set of this movie came the romance between Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe. If that’s not enough to go see the film, it’s about an American hostage negotiator (Crowe) who falls in love with the wife (Ryan) of the man he’s trying to rescue.

Vertical Limit“: But didn’t Sylvester Stallone already do this in “Cliffhanger“? Oh well. In this mountain-climbing flick, Chris O’Donnell plays a retired climber who’s sucked back to the sport after his sister becomes trapped on K-2, the world’s second-highest mountain.

Dungeons and Dragons“: Geeks rejoice. The live-action adaptation of the role-playing game stars Jeremy Irons as the evil wizard who’s trying to dethrone the young empress played by “American Beauty‘s Thora Birch.

Also look for in limited release: Director Ang Lee‘s Chinese swordsmen pic with Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh — “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” It was an audience favorite at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

DEC. 15

“What Women Want”: No, it doesn’t star Christina Aguilera (she’s a girl, after all), but it does have Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt, Bette Midler and Lauren Holly in a comedy wherein an ad exec (Gibson) gains the ability to hear what women are thinking.

Dude, Where’s My Car?“: It’s “Beavis and Butthead” meets “Road Trip.” After a late night of heavy partying, two stoners (Ashton Kutcher and “Road Trip” alumnus Seann William Scott) realize that they have forgotten where they parked their car.

The Emperor’s New Groove“: Featuring the voices of David Spade and John Goodman, Disney’s 39th full-length animated feature follows a ruthless emperor who’s been transformed into a llama. Go figure.

Also look for in limited release: “Chocolat” starring Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche and directed by “The Cider House Rules‘” Lasse Hallstrom.

DEC. 20

Thirteen Days“: Rusty on the history of U.S.-Cuban relations? The Kevin Costner starrer is an intense look at the two-week Cuban Missile Crisis that took place in October 1962.

Also look for in limited release: “Finding Forrester” with Sean Connery playing mentor to an aspiring writer, and “The Gift“, which marks the return of Oscar winner Hilary Swank … and Keanu Reeves as a wife beater.

DEC. 22

Cast Away“: Tom Hanks plays a FedEx worker stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash, and Helen Hunt plays his fiancee. Hanks lost weight for this role, which is likely to draw audiences still keen on CBS’ summer phenomenon “Survivor.”

Wes Craven Presents: Dracula 2000: Director Wes Craven would like you to know that Christmas inspires horror. His Y2K Dracula reinterpretation has Christopher Plummer tangling with the bloodsucking one over his kidnapped daughter.

Family Man“: Sounds like an “It’s a Wonderful Life” redux. In this “what if” flick, Nicolas Cage plays a man who gets the chance to see what his life would have been like had he married his college sweetheart, as played by Mrs. David Duchovny, Tea Leoni.

Miss Congeniality“: She’s baaack! After taking on a dramatic role in the alcohol rehab film “28 Days,” Sandra Bullock returns to comedy by playing an FBI agent who goes undercover in a beauty pageant to thwart a terrorist attack. Guess the real acting stretch will be transforming cutesy Bullock into an ugly duckling.

Also look for in limited release: The Coen Brothers’ “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” with George Clooney and renowned playwright-director David Mamet‘s new comedy State and Main with Alec Baldwin, Sarah Jessica Parker and William H Macy.

DEC. 25

All the Pretty Horses“: Directed by Billy Bob Thornton,” this cowboy tale stars Matt Damon (in a role passed on by Leonardo DiCaprio) as a young, rebellious youth who falls in love with the daughter of a wealthy Mexican rancher (Penelope Cruz), but with not so happy results.

Also look for in limited release: “Erin Brockovich” helmer Steven Soderbergh‘s new drug trade flick “Traffic” with newlyweds Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones and the Oscar buzz gothic “Shadow of the Vampire” with John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe.