Director Joe Wright ("Atonement") boldly recasts Tolstoy's classic as a stage play/stylized costume extravaganza. A brilliant script from Tom Stoppard focuses on the story's core, following Anna (Keira Knightley) as she spurns her cold husband (Jude Law) for a dashing cavalry officer.
LIFE OF PI
Taiwanese director Ang Lee turns Yann Martel's unfilmable novel into a remarkable technical and artistic achievement. Following a tragedy at sea, young student Pi Patel (first-timer Suraj Sharma) is stranded on a lifeboat with a full-grown tiger, where they must learn to coexist or die.
KILLING THEM SOFTLY
Brad Pitt goes gangster in this violent, darkly funny comedy. Pitt portrays an enforcer hunting two robbers who ripped off a high-stakes New Orleans poker game protected by the mob. The film scores satirical points about a U.S. economy in which murder is just another tool for doing business.
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
Peter Jackson, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett and Andy Serkis return to Tolkien-land in another tale of "little people" on a perilous expedition with Gandalf the Grey. Fussbudget Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and 13 dwarf soldiers of fortune attempt to reclaim a lost kingdom from the fearsome dragon Smaug.
HYDE PARK ON HUDSON
Bill Murray plays FDR, as the president plays host to the king and queen of England in 1939. He juggles the competing claims of his wife, mother and mistress while attempting to win support for the coming war effort.
Tom Cruise is an ex-Army investigator seeking the truth behind killings attributed to a military sniper. Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie ("The Usual Suspects") likes surprises, so expect more than a standard mainstream thriller.
RUST AND BONE & THE IMPOSSIBLE
Two riveting arthouse tales of water-based melodrama. In "Rust," Marion Cotillard plays a whale trainer at a French seaquarium who works to rebuild her life after a tragic accident. "Impossible" stars Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts as parents who are separated when a tsunami hits.
A fully sung presentation of the heart-rending Victor Hugo novel and stage play. Luckily Hugh Jackman (ex-prisoner Jean Valjean), Russell Crowe (police inspector Javert) and Anne Hathaway (factory worker Fantine) are accomplished vocalists.
In Quentin Tarantino's spaghetti western/Old South slavery hybrid, Christoph Waltz plays a German bounty hunter who frees Django (Jamie Foxx) and helps him find the men who sold his wife. Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson as a villainous duo and Jonah Hill (!) as a Klansman.