Eight Reasons to Spend the Holidays at the Movies

Here's a preview of what's opening in theaters this holiday weekend, starting with Wednesday's premieres: the tense crime drama "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and the animated thrill ride "The Adventures of Tintin," along with the expanded release of "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol."

Opening on Friday is the delightful dramedy "We Bought a Zoo," starring Matt Damon," and the limited release of Angelina Jolie's directorial debut, "In the Land of Blood and Honey."

And premiering Christmas Day is Steven Spielberg's epic "War Horse," plus alien invasion flick "The Darkest Hour," and in limited released, the 9/11 drama "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock.

In Theaters Now (December)

'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' (Dec. 21)

Who: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Robin Wright, Stellan Skarsgard; directed by David FincherWhat: Based on the bestselling novel series, the story centers on a journalist (Craig), who is aided by a computer hacker (Mara) in his search for a woman who has been missing for 40 years.

'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol' (Dec. 16)

Who: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Tom Wilkinson, Ving Rhames; directed by Brad BirdWhat: The IMF is shut down when it's implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization's name.The film is opening in IMAX theaters Friday and going wide December 21!

'The Adventures of Tintin' (Dec. 21)

Who: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg; directed by Steven SpielbergWhat: As a big-screen adaptation of the children's books, the film follows Tintin (Bell) and Captain Haddock (Serkis) set off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship commanded by Haddock's ancestor. But someone else is also in search of the ship.

'We Bought a Zoo' (Dec. 23)

Who: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Elle Fanning, Thomas Haden Church; directed by Cameron CroweWhat: Based on a true story, a father moves his young family to the countryside to renovate and re-open a struggling zoo.

'In the Land of Blood and Honey' (Dec. 23)

Who: Zana Marjanovic, Goran Kostic, Rade Serbedzija; written and directed by Angelina JolieWhat: During the Bosnian War, Danijel, a soldier fighting for the Serbs, re-encounters Ajla, a Bosnian who's now a captive in his camp he oversees. Their once promising connection has become ambiguous as their motives have changed.

'War Horse' (Dec. 25)

Who: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston; directed by Steven SpielbergWhat: The story follows a young man and his horse,and how their bond is broken when the horse is sold to the cavalry and sent to the trenches of WWI. Despite being too young to enlist, the young man heads to France to save his friend.

'The Darkest Hour' (Dec. 25)

Who: Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella, Rachael Taylor; directed by Chris GorakWhat: In Russia, a group of young adults struggle to survive after an alien invasion.

'Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close' (Dec. 25)

Who: Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Thomas Horn, Max von Sydow; directed by Stephen DaldryWhat: A 9-year-old amateur inventor, jewelry designer, astrophysicist, tambourine player, and pacifist searches New York for the lock that matches a mysterious key left by his father when he was killed in the September 11 attacks.

'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows' (Dec. 16)

Who: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris; directed by Guy RitchieWhat: They're baaaack! Famed mystery solver Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson join forces to outwit and bring down their fiercest adversary, Professor Moriarty.

'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked' (Dec. 16)

Who: Anna Faris, Justin Long, Jason Lee, David Cross, Alyssa Milano, Christina Applegate; directed by Mike MitchellWhat: Playing around while aboard a cruise ship, the Chipmunks and Chipettes accidentally go overboard and end up marooned in a tropical paradise. But then they discover their new turf is not as deserted as it seems.

'Carnage' (Dec. 16)

Who: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz; directed by Roman PolanskiWhat: This dark comedy tells the story of two sets of parents who decide to have a cordial meeting after their sons are involved in a schoolyard brawl.

'New Year's Eve' (Dec. 9)

Who: Who isn't in this film?What: This all-star ensemble -- including Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Biel, Lea Michele, Michelle Pfeiffer, Katherine Heigl, Halle Berry and others -- tells the various, interconnecting stories of New Yorkers celebrating New Year's Eve.

'The Sitter' (Dec. 9)

Who: Jonah Hill, Ari Graynor and Sam Rockwell; directed by David Gordon GreenWhat: In a twisted version of the '80s comedy "Adventures in Babysitting," a college student (Hill) on suspension is coaxed into babysitting the kids next door, though he is fully unprepared for the wild night ahead of him.

'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' (Dec. 9)

Who: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Toby Jones; directed by Tomas AlfredsonWhat: In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley (Oldman) is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6's echelons.

'W.E.' (Dec. 9)

Who: Abbie Cornish, James D'Arcy, Andrea Riseborough; directed by MadonnaWhat: A two-tiered romantic drama focusing on the affair between King Edward VIII and American divorcée Wallis Simpson and a contemporary romance between a married woman and a Russian security guard.

'We Need to Talk about Kevin' (Dec. 9)

Who: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller; directed by Lynne RamsayWhat: A mother deals with her feelings of dread towards her teenage son and his menacing behavior.

'Young Adult' (Dec. 9)

Who: Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson, Elizabeth Reaser; directed by Jason Reitman; written by Diablo CodyWhat: Soon after her divorce, a fiction writer returns to her home in small-town Minnesota, looking to rekindle a romance with her ex-boyfriend, who is now married with kids.

'Shame' (Dec. 2)

Who: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan; directed by Steve McQueenWhat: In New York City, Brandon's carefully cultivated private life -- which allows him to indulge his sexual addiction -- is disrupted when his sister Cissy arrives unannounced for an indefinite stay.