Quantum of Solace

Directed by Marc Forster

James Bond’s latest adventure picks up where Casino Royale, his last mission, left off: With the super-cool secret agent (Daniel Craig) setting out to stop an environmentalist (Mathieu Amalric of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) from taking control of a South American country’s water supply. Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright and Giancarlo Gianni reprise their roles from the previous film, while Olga Kurylenko (Max Payne) and Gemma Arterton (RocknRolla) strut their stuff as the requisite Bond babes. Taking over in the director’s chair is ever-eclectic moviemaker Marc Forster (The Kite Runner, Stranger Than Fiction), who will hopefully continue the raw, gritty tone that established Casino Royale as a refreshing, energetic reinvention of the iconic Ian Fleming creation.

Slumdog Millionaire

Directed by Danny Boyle and co-directed by Loveleen Tandan

Another change of pace for unpredictable director Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later), Slumdog Millionaire revolves around impoverished Indian teen Jamal Malik (newcomer Dev Patel), who becomes a contestant on the Hindi version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” While the film has suffered a rough ride on its way to being released (being purchased by Warner Independent before the company closed and almost going straight to DVD as a result), it received strong reviews when it premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and has a chance at becoming the most unexpected feel good movie of the year.

Christmas Tale

Directed by Arnaud Desplechin

Despite its title, this French import could very well be a refreshing antidote to the cheery holiday movies that usually flood the marketplace in late fall. The movie chronicles the dysfunctional Vulliard family, troubled by a history of physical and mental illness. Desplechin starts with the cliched holiday family reunion, but by adding topics like bone marrow transplants to the mix, the director certainly veers from the stale genre. Starring the legendary Catherine Deneuve as the family’s matriarch and Mathieu Amalric (big week for the Bond villain) as the alcoholic brother, this subversive comedy-drama could be must-see viewing for those searching for darker holiday fare than the usual candy-coated Hollywood fluff.