What better way to escape the awkward silences following Grandma’s fourth "blue blazer" of the evening than by sneaking out to see one of the holiday’s fine cinematic offerings. You can be there and back before Uncle Ken makes a pass at your mom. Gross!
Opening Dec. 15:
"Million Dollar Baby": A boxing movie directed by Clint Eastwood, who also co-stars with Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank. Swank plays a female boxer.
Opening Dec. 17:
"The Aviator": Leonardo DiCaprio plays eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Also stars Cate Blanchett.
"Imaginary Heroes": Sigourney Weaver and Jeff Daniels are embittered suburbanites pursued by dark secrets. This film promises to be a tragic portrait of the American family. "Ordinary People," anyone?
"The Sea Inside": Javier Bardem as a paralyzed Spaniard who fights for his right to die.
"Spanglish": Adam Sandler in a culture-clash comedy centered on a family, their new Mexican maid and her daughter. Directed by James L. Brooks.
Opening Dec. 22:
"Flight of the Phoenix": This remake stars Dennis Quaid (in James Stewart’s original role) as a pilot working with crash survivors to build a new plane from the old one’s wreckage. Filmed in Africa.
"Hotel Rwanda": Real-life story featuring Don Cheadle as a hotel manager who risks everything to shelter refugees displaced by the Rwandan genocide.
"In the Realms of the Unreal": A documentary exploring the world of reclusive janitor Henry Darger, who died in 1973 and left hundreds of paintings and an epic 15,000 page novel in his apartment.
"Meet the Fockers": In this sequel to "Meet the Parents," the tables turn as Robert De Niro must meet Ben Stiller’s family (Barbara Streisand and Dustin Hoffman).
"The Phantom of the Opera": Stars Gerard Butler as the disfigured opera fiend in Joel Schumacher’s musical adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s play.
Opening Dec. 24:
"The Woodsman": Kevin Bacon in a daring role as a child molester trying to turn his life around after his release from prison. Hugely popular at last year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Opening Dec. 25:
"Bride and Prejudice": Director Gurinder Chadha recreates Jane Austen’s nuptial tale as a Bollywood musical.
"The Darkness": Anna Paquin stars as a teen whose family moves to a house possessed by ancient evil.
"Fat Albert": a live-action and animation combo updating Bill Cosby’s old television cartoon.
"The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou": Filmmaker Wes Anderson features Bill Murray, Anjelica Huston, Cate Blanchett and Owen Wilson. Murray plays an oceanographer tracking a shark that ate his partner. They’re gonna need a bigger boat.