Hello, Lumination readers! As finals week dwindles down into the semester break, we’ve got you covered on all the must-see movies, television specials, and sports events for this holiday season!


THE MUPPETS (PG, featuring Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Kermit the Frog, and Miss Piggy) Currently in theaters

Haven’t gone out to see one of the best films of the year? Want to relive the magic? Go for it! The Muppets will be in contention for my best film of the year, so I fully recommend you give this film a viewing if you already have not. The movie is pure cinema gold featuring some of the most beloved characters of all time. Plus, there’s a great short before the film featuring the characters from the Toy Story series.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL (PG-13- featuring Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, and Ving Rhames) December 16th– IMAX, December 21st– Regular theaters

I can just hear theme-music now. Director Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) takes on the world of live-action cinema with the fourth installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise, once again starring Tom Cruise’s IMF agent Ethan Hunt. Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames also return for yet another go-around. This time, expect plenty of espionage, fights, explosions and a death-defying stunt on the world’s tallest building. The film’s reviews are already shining a positive light on the film, so this new mission should be on the top of your holiday viewing list.

Be sure to check the film out at the newly re-opened Opry Mills IMAX, as some of the film was shot with IMAX cameras. Oh, and the prologue for the highly anticipated ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ will also be attached before the movie. If that doesn’t get you in the seat, I don’t know what will.

SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS (PG-13, featuring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, and Noomi Rapace) December 16th

If you were a fan of 2009’s Sherlock Holmes, then my dear reader, it’s elementary that you see the sequel. Robert Downey Jr. will once again play the clever sleuth, this time, pitted against his arch-enemy from the book series, Professor Moriarty. Jude Law will also return as the loyal sidekick, Dr. Watson. The film looks to bring back the stylish fun of the original installment, while bringing in Holmes’ most beloved nemesis. Also, the first full trailer for The Dark Knight Rises will likely be attached.

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (PG- featuring Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, and Daniel Craig) December 21st

*3-D available

I had the chance to catch this film last week, and I absolutely loved it. Steven Spielberg has two films coming out within a week of each other (call it a Christmas wish come true), and they’re both on this list.  The Adventures of Tintin really captures the spirit of a classic action/adventure film while taking advantage of the motion-capture format to deliver some simply stunning action sequences. The film is one of the best films I’ve seen this year, and hopefully, you will agree. Concerning 3-D, I suggest skipping the totally unnecessary usage of the technology.

WAR HORSE (PG-13, featuring Jeremy Irvine, Tom Hiddleston, and Benedict Cumberbatch) December 25th

The second Spielberg film on the list absolutely deserves a mention. War Horse, an early Oscar favorite, brings the famous director back to the battlefield, only this time, taking a look into World War 1. The film has gained positive reviews during early screenings, so I definitely feel that the film has earned a spot on the list. The cinematography and score in the trailer already have given me goosebumps. I bet the film follows suit.

Now, for 5 holiday REDBOX picks…

KUNG FU PANDA 2 (PG, featuring the voices of Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Gary Oldman, and Dustin Hoffman) *BLU-RAY OPTION RECOMMENDED (out on December 13th)

Admittedly, I was not the biggest fan of 2008’s Kung Fu Panda. I’m not sure what it was, but the film just seemed too silly to work. The sequel? I was, quite honestly, shocked. Kung Fu Panda 2 takes everything that made the first childish and throws it out the window. The film isn’t afraid to get dark, while still maintaining a warm-hearted approach that is signature to the films of Dreamworks Animation rival Pixar.  Gary Oldman makes for a fiendishly great villain – a peacock nevertheless. Kung Fu Panda 2 is one of my favorite animated films of the year, as well as a vast improvement to the original.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 (PG-13, featuring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and Alan Rickman)

Need I say anything more? If you are a fan of the series and somehow missed this installment in theaters, it’s a must. It’s a satisfying conclusion to a great franchise.

THE HELP (PG-13, featuring Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, and Bryce Dallas Howard) (out now)

Don’t call it a chick flick. Call it a powerful drama featuring a female cast. The Help, a likely Best Picture nominee, has one of the best ensembles of the year. I thought the performances were absolutely worth the price of admission alone. If you are looking for a strong, performance-driven drama this holiday this season, look no further.

WARRIOR (PG-13, featuring Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, and Nick Nolte) *BLU-RAY OPTION RECOMMENDED (out on December 20th)

I have already let known my love for this film on this site, but let me say again, here’s another contender for my best of 2011 list. You can read my highly positive review [here], but in short, Warrior is fantastic. I fully recommend a rental.

BATMAN: THE MOVIE (1966, NR, featuring Adam West) (out on January 3rd, 2011)

Gather all your friends, get a pizza and a few Cokes, and enjoy the campy fun of the Caped Crusader’s very first on-screen appearance. While it’s hilarious to watch the cheesiness of the film, it’s also interesting to see how far Batman has come from the sixties. While The Dark Knight Rises still a ways away, here’s a different interpretation of everyone’s favorite superman (and hey, it’s ten times better than Batman and Robin)

Moving from the world of cinema to your television…


  1. The remaining 25 days of Christmas on ABC Family


Finding Nemo – December 14th

Beauty and the Beast – December 15th

Up – December 16th

All day classics marathon/Toy Story – December 17th

Toy Story 2– December 18th

Aladdin/The Incredibles – December 19th

The Polar Express – December 20th/Christmas day

The Santa Clause – December 21st

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (live-action) – December 23rd

All-day classics marathon (including Santa Clause is Coming to Town and The Year without a Santa Clause) – December 24th


  1. A Charlie Brown Christmas – December 15th on ABC


  1. It’s A Wonderful Life – Christmas Eve on NBC


  1. A Christmas Story – Christmas eve-Christmas day evening on TBS


  1. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (animated) – Christmas Day evening (followed by live-action version) on ABC


NBA opening day – Double-header on ABC

The NBA season finally begins on Christmas day when the current title holding Dallas Mavericks take on their former Finals opponents the Lebron James-led Miami Heat. Following that game, the Chicago Bulls (featuring MVP Derrick Rose) will take on the Los Angeles Lakers.

Chicago Bears versus Green Bay Packers – Christmas day on NBC

The Chicago Bears, hungry for a win, will take on their division rivals, the currently undefeated Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

Atlanta Falcons versus the New Orleans Saints – December 26th on ESPN

The final Monday Night Football of the season will be one to watch. Big division rivals, the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints will have their second match-up of the season, the first ending with a field-goal by the Saints in OT.

The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (#3 Oklahoma State versus #4 Stanford) – January 2nd, 2012 on ESPN

Heisman runner-up QB Andrew Luck and the fourth ranked Stanford Cardinals will take on WR Justin Blackmon and the third ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys in what is sure to be a close bowl game.

The BCS National Championship (#1 LSU versus # 2 Alabama) – January 9th, 2012 on ESPN

The top two teams in the nation face off yet again, only this time for the top title in college football. Star LSU cornerback Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu will once again face again Alabama RB Trent Richardson in what is sure to be a game to remember. We will be one day into classes by the 9th, but the game is still worth mentioning

Well, there you have it! Whether you are looking for a good movie to see in theaters, a good Redbox rental, a good Christmas special to watch on television or the big game, the holiday season has it waiting.

From everyone here at Lumination, have a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and be safe and blessed this holiday season.

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