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With a year-end pileup of blockbusters, kids' flicks, adult comedies and major-award contenders, how does the discerning movie shopper choose? Liam Lacey unwraps his guide to a busy season's best (and worst) bets. <br><br>N.B. The list of films is completely selective; ratings are out of five, with five being a sure bet and one being a film you'll probably want to skip</br></br>
FAMILY MOVIES Arthur Christmas (Nov. 23) From Aardman Animations (Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run) comes this tale of Santa’s youngest son (the voice of everyone’s favourite elfin Brit, James McAvoy), who bucks the current high-tech gift-distribution system to deliver one overlooked present the old-fashioned way. 4/5
The Muppets (Nov. 23) Jason Segel (also a co-writer) and Amy Adams play the humans who set out to reunite Kermit, Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy. The gang learns it’s not easy raising green, as they look to rustle up $10-million to save the Muppet theatre from an oil driller. 4/5
Hugo (Nov. 23) Martin Scorsese’s first foray into 3-D and children’s entertainment doubles as a homage to the history of cinema. James Cameron has already called it a masterpiece, and word from the New York Film Festival, where it showed as a work-in-progress, suggests this sets a new standard in the third dimension. 5/5
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (Dec. 16) The singing rodents go in for yet more helium-voiced harmonies, this time on a desert island. Catnip for kiddies, though adults should prepare to brace and endure. 2/5