The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (directed by Steven Spielberg; opens December 23): Tintin is a young Belgian newspaper reporter who leads a life of mystery and adventure, aided by his faithful dog Snowy, in a series of comic books created in 1929 by the writer and illustrator known as Hergé. Successful in America but truly beloved in Europe, the Tintin stories have long appealed to Steven Spielberg, whose dream of bringing them to the screen comes true with this stop-motion 3D film. This is the first of a projected trilogy, the second of which will be directed by co-producer Peter Jackson. If all goes well, the two men will co-direct the third installment.

Brad Pitt in Terence Malick's The Tree of Life
Brad Pitt in Terence Malick's The Tree of Life

We Bought a Zoo (directed by Cameron Crowe; opens December 23): It's a plot worthy of a John Irving novel: In 2006, English newspaper columnist Benjamin Mee decided, in partnership with his aged mother and four siblings, to buy a dilapidated 30-acre zoo and its 200 animals. Mayhem followed, and then tragedy, as Ben's wife suffered a recurrence of brain cancer. Matt Damon stars in this adaptation of Mee's memoir from Jerry Maguire director Crowe. Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Elle Fanning, and Patrick Fugit (the young reporter in Crowe's Almost Famous) co-star. There's no word yet on whether Crowe will keep the book's English setting — the Accent Police are on alert.

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