DREAMGIRLS
DEC. 15 (LIMITED), DEC. 25 (NATIONWIDE)
STARRING
Beyoncé Knowles, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy

Buzz about this movie version of the hit Broadway musical—about the Dreamettes, a Supremes-like '60s trio—is already deafening. So how did they cast a dream team to play the girl group? Screenwriter-director Bill Condon sings like a bird:

BEYONCE KNOWLES
"The camera loves her," says Condon of Knowles, who plays the Diana Ross-esque Deena, who eventually outshines the group. "Deena's a natural star. You can't fake that, and Beyoncé has it—she glows onscreen."

JENNIFER HUDSON
As Effie, who is edged out of the spotlight by Deena, Hudson belts out the big showstopper "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going." "The movie rises or falls on that number," says Condon. "You needed to feel that someone was going to pull that off." That person was Hudson, a 2004 American Idol finalist who beat out nearly 800 newcomers for the part.

ANIKA NONI ROSE
Rose's Tony-winning turn on Broadway in 2004's Caroline, or Change "blew me away," says Condon of the actress, who provides comic relief as backup singer Lorrell. "I was so confident about her—she gets all the laughs, but there's an emotional connection too."

JUST FOR FUN
NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM
DEC. 20
STARRING
Ben Stiller

In this family film Stiller plays a night watchman who discovers museum exhibits come to life. "When I wanted a broader take from Stiller," says director Shawn Levy, "I would say, 'Let's do one for your daughter Ella [4].'"

CHARLOTTE'S WEB
DEC. 15
STARRING
Dakota Fanning, the voices of Julia Roberts and Oprah Winfrey

Director Gary Winick, who adapted E.B. White's classic with Babe-style animation, says some of the cast animals were "just vicious." No such problems with the celeb talent, though duty called for then-new mom Roberts, voicing Charlotte the spider: "She'd have to quit to go breast-feed."

THE HOLIDAY
DEC. 8
STARRING
Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black

She's naked in Little Children, but Winslet felt more exposed in her first nonperiod film using her real English accent. "I couldn't hide behind anything. It was freaky," says Winslet, who swaps homes with Diaz, falling for Black in L.A. while Diaz romances Law in England.

OSCAR BAIT
The PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS
DEC. 15
STARRING
Will Smith, Jaden Smith

Smith and his son team up for the true tale of a homeless man juggling a brokerage internship and fatherhood.

BLOOD DIAMOND
DEC. 8
STARRING
Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou, Jennifer Connelly

Think diamonds are glamorous? This gritty drama—about a former mercenary (DiCaprio) and a fisherman (Hounsou) searching for a rare pink diamond—examines how illicit trade in the stones helped fuel a gruesome civil war in the West African nation of Sierra Leone.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD
DEC. 22
STARRING
Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie

Remember when Jolie was known more for her Oscar-winning acting than her global activism? She shows off those acting chops as Damon's wife in this Robert De Niro-directed drama about the creation of the CIA.