Leah Gallin writes for RAC Breakdown offering the best in breakdown cover and car insurance guides.

Although you are likely bombarded on a daily basis with movie trailers for the latest Hollywood blockbusters, you may have begun to notice that most of them suffer from a major flaw: they’re exactly the same schlock you’ve seen a million times.  Take for example the new Denzel Washington vehicle about a runaway train.  What’s the name of it?  Who cares!  It should be called Artificial Tension, because that’s all it is.  Or how about Gwyneth Paltrow playing a country music star?  Wasn’t that released a couple years ago with Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon?  Or a couple decades ago with Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones?  And where would we be without a little disaster porn like Skyline?  Don’t even get me started on the latest offering from the Tron “franchise”.  Is there anything out there that’s new and exciting when it comes to the film industry?  As a matter of fact, there are a few flicks in your near future that are not only worth considering, but could be labeled as the must-see movies of the year.  Here are a few to whet your appetite.

1.     Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. Okay, so I already broke my own rule by listing a major Hollywood production, but you have to admit, the franchise has continually produced high-quality films (great acting, graphics, and dialogue…how many movies these days offer that trifecta?).  They are entertaining and even engrossing, despite the fact that anyone who’s read the books (read: EVERYONE) knows what’s coming.  If you have to see one big-budget film over the holidays, take in the ongoing tale of the boy wizard who is about to get his day in the sun (even better, it’s in IMAX but not 3D).

2.     Black Swan. You may have seen the posters of Natalie Portman with the creepy black eye makeup.  They’ve no doubt made you feel a trickle of discomfort that you can’t quite put your finger on.  Well, that’s just a preview for this grossly unsettling look at a performer who’s a couple of pirouettes away from a major mental break.  As psychological thrillers go, Black Swan will easily leave gore-fests like Saw 3D choking on the flying feathers.

3.     127 Hours. While some of us would certainly give our right arm to stare into the soulful eyes of James Franco for 127 hours, this movie actually centers around a real-life hiking accident that many of you probably only remember as “that guy who got his arm caught under a rock and cut it off to survive”.  It’s not really a spoiler if you pay attention to current events.  This harrowing tale has reportedly made viewers turn away and even come close to vomiting.  Any movie that can evoke that kind of emotional reaction may just be worth the outrageous prices exhibition houses are charging these days.

4.     Made in Dagenheim. It can’t all be doom and gloom.  This story about English factory workers who find their voice and rally against the ill-treatment of women in their industry is cute, quirky, and comes with a message.  It may not be anything new, but for an airy women’s lib piece, it will give you a laugh and teach you a lesson at the same time.  Think The Full Monte with less nudity.

5.     Winter’s Bone. Okay, this one is already out (in fact, you may have to wait for the DVD release to see it), but for a relatively low-budget film with a largely unknown cast, it has been garnering some serious Oscar buzz.  The tale of a poor teenage girl searching the Ozarks for her delinquent father (to deliver him to the law before the bail bondsman takes their house) doesn’t sound terribly highbrow, but with outstanding performances and the gritty feel of the truly rural poor about it, this heart-breaking story could just be the best movie you see this year.

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