Holiday Movie Preview 2010

TIME critics Richard Corliss and Mary Pols sample the best and most anticipated films of the 2010 holiday season

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Somewhere could be described as the inside-movie story of a loner star--say, Entourage without the entourage. It's also Lost in Translation without Bill Murray's sad comic touch. The humor here is either subtle or affectless, and Dorff lacks the star personality that would help clue audiences in to what's going on inside Johnny--or, for that matter, inside the film.

Those secrets must be gleaned from the gifted young actress playing Johnny's daughter. The younger sister of Dakota Fanning, Elle gives Cleo a fresh, winning goodness. She likes rock 'n' roll, cooking, figure skating and the Twilight saga. She's something you don't find in most movies, especially movies about movie people: a nice, normal kid. Coppola eschews the big redemptive ending, but viewers will intuit that for Johnny the Hollywood nomad, Cleo's heart is his true home. She is the somewhere he needs to get to.

TRON: Legacy

Directed by Joseph Kosinski With Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde

Opens 12.17

A 3-D sequel to the 1982 film beloved by techno-nerds everywhere. Jeff Bridges returns as computer genius Kevin Flynn, who slipped inside a computer in the original; he kept visiting that world, we find out, and eventually got stuck there. Now his grown son (Garrett Hedlund) wanders in to find his long-missing father, only to be confronted by two Jeff Bridgeses (one a digital re-creation of the actor in his '80s youth). Keeping with TRON tradition, it's visually arresting despite being fairly ridiculous.

The Fighter

Directed by David O. Russell With Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo

Opens 12.10

If there's one movie subgenre as calculated to touch the hearts of moviegoers and Oscar balloters as a noble true-life British period drama (see The King's Speech), it's the proletarian true-life sports drama about an athlete who battles alongside and against his family to realize his dream of becoming a winner.

This year's candidate is The Fighter, the saga of the Lowell, Mass., boxer "Irish" Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), whose goals were to win the welterweight crown and escape the sad shadow of his elder half brother Dickie Eklund (Christian Bale), a former boxer turned crack addict. Mixing hoke and hope, lower depths and sweet ideals, The Fighter is Rocky plus The Blind Side plus your pick of Boston-area fraternal face-offs (Mystic River, The Departed, The Town). But it's more satisfying than any of them because of its vigor, its affection for all these daft souls and its sense of humor, worn as proudly as the shiner on the smiling face of the guy who just won the match.

Dickie used to be "the pride of Lowell"; it's said he once knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard. Now, in his lucid moments between crack jags, he hopes to use the ring savvy he never lost to coach Micky to the top. Their mother Alice (Melissa Leo), who manages her sons' careers, is a mixed blessing. Hard as Wahlberg's abs and with a Ginsu-knife tongue, she wants to keep Micky's comeback a family affair. But she has a rival in his new girlfriend Charlene (Amy Adams), another take-charge female who wants to do the thinking for her man, for everybody.

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