Picks and Pans Main: Holiday Movie Preview

UPDATED 11/23/2009 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 11/23/2009 at 01:00 AM EST

MOON & STARS!

FROM KATE TO GEORGE TO ROBERT–PLUS A FEW BIG BLUE ALIENS–'TIS THE SEASON FOR HOLLYWOOD'S BRIGHTEST LIGHTS

New Moon

A to Z

All you need to know about the hottest movie of the year

A

ANIMAL ATTRACTION

In Twilight's sequel (out Nov. 20), vampire bait Bella finds herself drawn to her pal Jacob–a werewolf.

B

BELLA

Our heroine is bummed when undead beau Edward leaves town. "She's lost," says Kristen Stewart (below).

C

"CLAUDIA" When Robert Pattinson (above) was a kid, his sisters gave him this girl's name and put him in dresses.

D

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE

The indie rockers sing the theme "Meet Me on the Equinox" on the film's soundtrack.

E

EDWARD

(Cue high-pitched squeals.)

F

FORKS

Fan-pires flock to this small Washington town (pop. 3,120) to check out where the four-part Twilight series takes place.

G

GUITARS

How did the cast bond off-camera? Jam sessions where Pattinson and his costars played guitar.

H

HEDGE MAZES

Utah farmers etched Edward and Jacob's faces into their corn fields. Yes, really.

I

ITALY

Ciao, Montepulciano! The cast flew to the medieval Italian town to film Edward's face-off with the Volturi (see V).

J

JACKSON RATHBONE

The Texan is hot vamp Jasper.

K

KELLAN LUTZ

He plays vampire Emmett–and pulled pranks on-set.

L

LOVE TRIANGLE

New Moon sets up the battle for Bella's heart between Edward and Jacob.

M

MERCHANDISE

From T-shirts to Barbie dolls, Twilight mania comes in all forms.

N

NOOT SEEAR

The model plays Volturi temptress Heidi.

O

100 MONKEYS

Rathbone sings in this improv-rock band–and the Twilight cast are all big fans.

P

PLAID

Who said grunge is dead? The New Mooners love their flannel.

Q

QUILEUTES

Alex Meraz, Kiowa Gordon and Chaske Spencer's werewolf personas defend their tribe.

R

RAY-BANS

What does a vampire need to face daylight in Forks? Eighties shades!

S

STEPHENIE MEYER

Move over, J.K. Rowling–the Twilight author is a multimillionaire.

T

TAYLOR LAUTNER

To keep his role as Jacob (above), the once-weedy teen star packed on 30 lbs. of muscle.

U

ULEY

The alpha dog of the wolf pack, Native American Sam Uley (Chaske Spencer) fights the forces of evil.

V

VOLTURI

Dakota Fanning joins a creepy vampire family that threatens Bella and Edward's relationship.

W

WEITZ

Oscar-nominated for About a Boy, Chris Weitz directed New Moon.

X

XTREME MARTIAL ARTS

Lautner is this sport's four-time world champ.

Y

YALETOWN

After shooting, the cast hit up bars in this hip Vancouver hood.

Z

ZEALOUS FANS

Twi-hards helped the first film rake in about $200 million last year.

FOR MUCH MORE, VISIT PEOPLE.COM/NEWMOON

THE LOVELY BONES

STARRING: SAOIRSE RONAN, MARK WAHLBERG

OPENS DEC. 11

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

It's based on the 2002 bestseller about a murdered girl (Ronan) who watches over her family from a heavenlike place, but Ronan, 15, vows that "people aren't going to be as upset and downbeat as they think. I promise!"

FEELING BLUE: After shooting for 4½ months against a blue screen, "I avoided my jeans for a while," says the Irish-bred Ronan (her first name is pronounced SEER-shuh). "I wanted to get away from the color blue."

* OSCAR BUZZ: Written and directed by Lord of the Rings master Peter Jackson, Bones showcases a cast of past Oscar winners and nominees.

INVICTUS

STARRING: MORGAN FREEMAN, MATT DAMON

OPENS DEC. 11

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

Nelson Mandela (Freeman) uses his country's rugby team to unite post-apartheid South Africa.

SPOT-ON: Freeman once greeted Mandela with a perfect imitation, at which the former president "threw his head back and laughed," says producer Lori McCreary.

* OSCAR BUZZ: Having Clint Eastwood is a good start. "Morgan outdid himself," adds McCreary.

Anika Noni Rose

THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG

OPENS DEC. 11

MEET THE NEW PRINCESS!

Rose voices Tiana, Disney's first African-American princess. "To children growing up now, a black princess will be the norm–and that's magnificent," she says. "Kids don't know it's a big deal, but parents are like, 'Yes! It's about time!' That's thrilling."

WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK: "I'm a Disney geek," says the Tony Award-winning Rose, 37. "I can sing a number of Disney songs from top to bottom–even the ones that don't have words. I can bibbidi-bobbidi-boo you down."

TOY STORY: "I have a doll!" says Rose. "And it's not where they dipped a white doll in chocolate. She has a little round nose and the hair has crinkle in it.... It's so important for children to see themselves as worthy of being royalty."

NINE

STARRING: Penélope Cruz, NICOLE KIDMAN, KATE HUDSON, DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, SOPHIA LOREN, FERGIE

OPENS DEC. 18

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

An adaptation of the Broadway musical, it follows a famous director (Day-Lewis) as he tries to balance the many women in his life.

THAT KILLER CAST: "We were all [in London] for a long time," says Hudson of the A-list ensemble, which gathered for months for the shoot and rehearsals. "We got to spend a lot of time together and play. It was like being at camp."

THE ICON: Sophia Loren. "She just shocks you with this dry sense of humor," gushes Hudson. "She's my hero."

DANCING DIVAS: "All the girls have a number, and each one is different," reveals Hudson. "We watched everyone do theirs. You watched with your jaw open."

BEST ROUTINE: "'The Overture'–[it's] all of us together at the beginning of the film."

ON PLAYING A VOGUE REPORTER: "I have, like, a decade of research!" jokes Hudson. "I've read 'em all."

* OSCAR BUZZ: With splash, sizzle and an Oscar-winning director (Chicago's Rob Marshall), it's an awards magnet.

SHERLOCK HOLMES

STARRING: ROBERT DOWNEY JR., JUDE LAW

OPENS DEC. 25

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

It's elementary: British sleuths Holmes (Downey) and sidekick Watson (Law) are once again solving mysteries.

PARTNERS IN CRIME: "What I was most interested in was the friendship between Holmes and Watson," says director Guy Ritchie. "My job was to try to fuse [Robert and Jude] together. Mind you, they pretty much got on with it naturally."

AVATAR

STARRING: SAM WORTHINGTON, ZOE SALDANA, SIGOURNEY WEAVER

OPENS DEC. 18

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

Earthlings battle blue superbeings (created through performance-capture technology).

HARD KNOCKS: Saldana learned archery and Wushu martial arts. "I would freak [director James Cameron] out because I welcomed those bruises," she says.

* OSCAR BUZZ: The last time Cameron spent a decade on a labor of love it was '97's Titanic, which scored 11 statues.

UP IN THE AIR

STARRING: GEORGE CLOONEY, VERA FARMIGA

OPENS DEC. 4

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

Clooney plays downsizing expert Ryan Bingham, whose life philosophy is to fly solo.

BUT HE'S GEORGE!

Clooney's colleague (Anna Kendrick) explains why she'd never, ever date Bingham: "He's old!"

* OSCAR BUZZ: Kendrick's drawn raves: Soon everyone "will [know] her," says director Jason Reitman.

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