Tragic, yes, but some sagas must come to an end, such as “Twilight.” Other chapters in a legend promise a follow-up even before the end credits roll, as in the very good new James Bond film, “Skyfall.” And the rest? The rest is silence, for now, because the public hasn’t voted at the box office just yet on “Django Unchained,” for instance.
Here’s a 10-pack of movies to get you started this holiday season, which coincides nicely with end-of-year awards consideration season, which coincides nicely with an uptick in quality and the sudden arrival of Oscar-possible films not necessarily made and marketed exclusively for those not eligible for a driver’s license. (Opening dates are subject to change.)
• “Skyfall” (Friday): The new Bond thriller proves Sam Mendes can direct action. Daniel Craig has already shown what he can do; now, in his third 007 installment, he finds himself in a cat-and-mouse with a slippery mastermind played by Javier Bardem. So much better than the last Bond, “Quantum of Solace.”
• “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2” (next Thursday): Bringing up baby: Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson experience the joys of parenthood, while Taylor Lautner experiences the latest test of his acting abilities in director Bill Condon’s finale. As in “final.”
• “Lincoln” (Nov. 16): Director Steven Spielberg’s unexpected and moving portrait reveals a president (Daniel Day-Lewis) in the midst of a crucial few weeks near the end of the Civil War, when the abolition of slavery wasn’t considered good politics. The script by Tony Kushner (based in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals”) may not be the stuff of rousing blockbusterdom. But it’s one of Spielberg’s best and truest portraits in heroism.
• “Red Dawn” (Nov. 21): The invading Russians of the Reagan-era fantasy have been turned into North Koreans, requiring a little gentle diplomacy from Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson and Chris Hemsworth. They’ll keep us safe until the next invasion.
• “Life of Pi” (Nov. 21): Director Ang Lee has brought us Jane Austen, “Brokeback Mountain” and a ’70s key party in “The Ice Storm.” Now he takes on the novel about the Indian boy at sea with a Bengal tiger. Some stories are geographically rangy; others, like this one, bank on compression and ticklish situations.
• “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (Dec. 14): Peter Jackson, who did all right with the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, continues his J.R.R. Tolkien adventure with the tale of Bilbo Baggins and the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. The cast includes Orlando Bloom, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett and Elijah Wood.
• “Zero Dark Thirty” (Dec. 19): Director Kathryn Bigelow’s follow-up to her Oscar-winning “Hurt Locker” charts the real-life Navy SEAL mission to get Osama Bin Laden. Maybe this film, starring Joel Edgerton, Kyle Chandler and Chris Pratt, will attract the wide audience that eluded “The Hurt Locker” but shouldn’t have.
• “This Is 40” (Dec. 21): A kinda sorta sequel to “Knocked Up,” director Judd Apatow’s comedy reorients his relationship compass to focus on the characters, now older and wiser, played by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann.
• “Les Misérables” (Dec. 25): A full generation after its London, Broadway and global triumph, the musical about a loaf of bread, a jug of human kindness and a whole lotta squalor has been movie-musicalized, starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried. Tom Hooper, Oscar winner for “The King’s Speech,” directs.
• “Django Unchained” (Dec. 25): You can deal with the injustice of slavery the legislative, painstaking way, a la “Lincoln,” or you can turn Quentin Tarantino loose on a flamboyant revenge fantasy starring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz.