With 2011 coming to a close, December is a prime month for films contending for Oscar nominations. A total of 31 films will be released in December alone.

Websites such as Movie Fone, Rope of Silicon and Indie Wire are already predicting the best picture nominees for 2011. The majority of these movies debuted in November or December, and a few opened earlier in the year. Most of the contenders from the three website’s predictions overlapped, and we compiled a list of the 2012 Best Picture potential nominees. Over break, hit the theater with family or friends to see some of the year’s most anticipated films.

 

• The Descendants

 

George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller

Directed by Alexander Payne

Now Playing

George Clooney plays Matt King, whose wife’s recent boating accident left her in a coma. King goes from the "backup" parent, a title he gives himself to explain his lack of power in the family, to caretaker for his two daughters (Amara Miller and Shailene Woodley). He soon finds out from his older daughter that his wife cheated on him with a real-estate agent (Matthew Lillard). Clooney’s character copes with the loss of his wife and her fidelity while trying to manage his children.

 

• The Artist

Jean Dujardin, Brérénice Bejo, John Goodman

Directed by Michel Hazanavicius

Now Playing

Set in Hollywood in the late 1920s, prominent silent film star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) loses fame after "talkies," or films with sound, become the new sensation. Peppy Miller (Brérénice Bejo) is an extra, but becomes a movie star while Valentin falls out of the limelight. The trailer leaves an expectation of a romance to bloom between the two characters. In an unexpected twist, this film about the death of silent movies is actually a silent movie: it has no dialogue from the characters.

 

• The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Stellan Skarsgård

Directed by David Fincher

December 23

This is an American remake of the 2009 Swedish film that was based off the bestselling novel of the same name by Stieg Larsson. Daniel Craig plays an investigator hired to solve a 40-year-old murder of a wealthy girl by a family member. He is helped by Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a young, smart Swedish woman. The British website The Guardian said, "[The American] movie already looks far more engaging than the original Swedish take on [the novel]."

 

• Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Thomas Horn

Directed by Stephen Daldry

December 25

Set in 2001, 9-year-old Oskar’s father (Tom Hanks) is killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Oskar (Thomas Horn) and his mother (Sandra Bullock) grieve for their loss, but shortly after Oskar finds a key in his father’s closet. He is determined to find what it opens, convinced that his father left a message in the box it opens. The movie is based on a novel of the same name by Johnathan Safran Foer.

 

• War Horse

Jeremy Irving, Emily Watson, David Thewlis

Directed by Steven Spielberg

December 25

After training his family’s horse, Albert (Jeremy Irvine) creates a strong bond with the animal. The British army buys his family’s horse to be used in World War I. Albert enlists in the army after promising his horse, Joey, that they would be reunited again. War Horse takes place over the course of WWI and shows the brutality war.