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Holiday movies: The 10 most anticipated films

Much like the proverbial fruitcake, holiday movie season is something we can count on every year, and much of it usually doesn't taste all that great.

But among the unholy stinkers and over-bloated vanity projects, there are always gems. This is Oscar bait season too, after all, as plenty of studios hold their best so the films are fresh in voters' minds.

To help you sort through the onslaught of noxious nuts and get to the cinematic caviar, film critic Rob Levin offers his selections for the holiday movies he's most looking forward to, and why.

"The Imitation Game"

There's serious Oscar buzz around Benedict Cumberbatch's performance
Photo Credit: Jack English

There's serious Oscar buzz around Benedict Cumberbatch's performance as British WWII Enigma code breaker Alan Turing. (in theaters Nov. 21)

"Wild"

This one has Oscar written all over it
Photo Credit: Anne Marie Fox

This one has Oscar written all over it for the great Reese Witherspoon, hiking solo in California. (Dec. 5)

"Exodus: Gods and Kings"

Christian Bale as Moses? Plus Ridley Scott (
Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

Christian Bale as Moses? Plus Ridley Scott ("Alien," "Blade Runner")? Sign us up. (Dec. 12)

"The Gambler"

When he's not battling Transformers or taking part
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures/Claire Folger

When he's not battling Transformers or taking part in run-of-the-mill action junk, Mark Walhberg (left, with Brie Larson) has proven that he's quite the actor. (Dec. 19)

"Selma"

We can't wait to check out Ava DuVernay's
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures / Atsushi Nishijima

We can't wait to check out Ava DuVernay's epic about the voting rights marches in Alabama circa 1965. The casting, especially David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is amazing. (Dec. 25)

"American Sniper"

Clint Eastwood is hit-or-miss these days but this
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures / Keith Bernstein

Clint Eastwood is hit-or-miss these days but this film, starring Bradley Cooper as Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, promises some serious drama. (Dec. 25)

"The Interview"

How could you argue with the premise (celebrity
Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures / Ed Araquel

How could you argue with the premise (celebrity TV journos are hired to assassinate Kim Jong Un) or the credentials of director/star Seth Rogen and his partner Evan Goldberg? (Dec. 25)

"A Most Violent Year"

J.C. Chandor has begun his career with two
Photo Credit: A24 / Atsushi Nishijima

J.C. Chandor has begun his career with two really impressive movies ("Margin Call," "All is Lost"), and we have high hopes for this circa 1981 New York crime drama. (Dec. 31)

"Leviathan"

Critics flipped for this Russian drama at the
Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Critics flipped for this Russian drama at the Cannes Film Festival and it'd seem to be a front-runner for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. (Dec. 31)

"Jupiter Ascending"

Anything the Wachowskis (
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Anything the Wachowskis ("The Matrix") take on is of interest, even if it's been delayed repeatedly. With Mila Kunis. (Feb. 6)

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