1. ‘Killing Them Softly’
Friday — Brad Pitt stars in this dark underworld thriller about a pair of small- time crooks that rob a mobster card game. Soon an enforcer (Pitt) is sent in to make sure that debts are properly paid.
2. ‘Hyde Park on Hudson’
Dec. 7 (limited) — Bill Murray, Laura Linney and Olivia Williams star in this depiction of the affair between FDR and his distant cousin, Margaret Stuckley, during the landmark visit of the first reigning British royals on American soil.
Dec. 19 (limited) — The winner of the 2012 Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival has yet to leave anything but a stirring impression on those who have seen it. Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke’s depiction of an elderly couple facing their mortality guarantees a beautifully heart-rending experience.
4. ‘Zero Dark Thirty’
Dec. 19 (limited) — After her Oscar win for 2008’s “The Hurt Locker,” Kathryn Bigelow presents another military drama in the Middle East, this time following the hunt and execution of Osama Bin Laden.
5. ‘The Impossible’
Dec. 21 (limited) — Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor star in the true story of one family’s struggle to survive the tsunami that struck the coast of Thailand in 2004.
6.’Not Fade Away’
Dec. 21 (limited) — The mastermind behind “The Sopranos,” David Chase, writes and directs this nostalgic drama about a fledgling rock band trying to make it big in 1960s New Jersey. And yes, James Gandolfini (formerly known as Tony Soprano) does make an appearance.
7.’On the Road’
Dec. 21 (limited) — This long-awaited adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s beloved beatnik novel stars Garrett Hedlund, Kirsten Dunst and of course a topless-at-one-point Kristen Stewart as a bunch of roustabout rebels in the late ’50s, trying to discover what it means to be free.
8. ‘Django Unchained’
Dec. 25 — Vigilante justice is the cornerstone of any Quentin Tarantino film, and his 2012 offering promises to deliver the obligatory amount of gratuitous bloodshed. Jamie Foxx plays a freed slave who is assisted in revenge by his mentor, played by Christoph Waltz.
9. ‘Les Miserables’
Dec. 25 — Some Oscar wins are practically in the hands of director Tom Hooper already for his adaptation of the Broadway musical, originally penned as a novel by Victor Hugo. By recording the live singing performances of stars Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and others, the film stands to break new ground for musical adaptations that eschew the cheese factor.
10. ‘Promised Land’
Dec. 28 (limited) — Matt Damon, Frances McDormand, John Krasinski and Rosemarie DeWitt star in this film about a natural gas company salesman who experiences a conflict of interest when arriving in a small town that is the next target for prospecting.
11. ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’
Dec. 14 — The first installment of Peter Jackson’s latest Tolkien trilogy is sure to pick up at least a few technical awards for its daring method of shooting film at twice the speed of regular film (48 frames per second, as opposed to the traditional 24).