This weekend's film releases in the US: 'Avatar' dominates rivals

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The Independent Culture

The highly anticipated, must-see ‘Avatar,' is destined to be the blockbuster of the holiday season. Challengers are steering clear of this weekend, except for a romantic-comedy option, while other films are poised for limited-release breakthroughs.

This action-adventure epic about an ex-Marine torn between worlds depicts his battle among the indigenous population on Pandora - ten-foot blue-skinned humanoids - and attempt to save the world. Stars Sigourney Weaver, Sam Worthington ( Terminator Salvation) and Zoe Saldana ( Star Trek). Director James Cameron ( Titanic) designed the creatures and technology to create his 3D vision.

Did You Hear About the Morgans?
Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Hugh Grant, Sam Elliott, and Mary Steenburgen, this comedy follows a successful Manhattan couple plopped into the wilds of Wyoming, to escape a contract killer. For those who want a comedy (a popular genre this year), this is the main alternative to Avatar.

Crazy Heart
A hard-living country music legend who has seen better days, portrayed by Jeff Bridges, tries to get his life back on track through a relationship with a journalist (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Robert Duval and Colin Farrell round out the cast. The film gets a jump on the competition by releasing Wednesday, December 16, in New York and Los Angeles. Bridges' performance, favored for an Oscar nomination, increases the buzz.

Based on the Tony winning Broadway musical, inspired by Federico Fellini's classic 8 ½, Oscar-winning director Rob Marshall ( Chicago) assembles an all-star cast to retell the tale of a famous Italian film director juggling work and all the women in his life. Stars Daniel Day-Lewis with Marion Cotillard (his wife), Sophia Loren (his mother), Penélope Cruz (his mistress), Nicole Kidman (his muse), Fergie (a prostitute), plus Kate Hudson and Judi Dench. In limited release until December 25.

The Young Victoria
This year's lush historical biopic, produced by Martin Scorsese and Duchess Sarah Ferguson, focuses on Queen Victoria's early reign and her romance with Prince Albert. Stars Emily Blunt ( The Devil Wears Prada) as the young royal, with an impressive cast: Miranda Richardson ( Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), Jim Broadbent ( The Damned United) and Paul Bettany ( The Da Vinci Code). Limited release.