8. "Life of Pi" (Nov. 21). Who else but director Ang Lee, who has successfully adapted works like "Sense and Sensibility" and "Brokeback Mountain" (and perhaps not so successfully with the "Hulk"), would tackle the tale of an Indian zoo owner's son, trapped on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger? The book itself faced hurdles, rejected by several publishing houses before going on to win the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Lee himself has described his four-year filmmaking journey as "stressful" and "the hardest movie that I have made so far." Will that pay off in Oscar trophies? Meanwhile, that rare PG-rating may work to its advantage: Interest in "Life of Pi" spreads pretty evenly throughout ages 13-54 and across gender (52% female, 48% male), making this the season's thinking family movie.
7. "Red Dawn" (Nov. 21). One of the most unlikely Gen X films to show pop-culture stamina, the remake has been tracked online ever since it was announced back in 2008, but it was delayed by MGM's debt issues. The original (the first release to have a PG-13 rating, incidentally, for trivia-minded folks) starred Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson and Jennifer Grey. The current crew is Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, and Isabel Lucas, all of whom (except Hemsworth) were born after original's 1984 release. In a post-9/11 landscape, the villains have switched from the Soviet Union, Cuba, and Nicaragua, but communism is still the greatest threat, this time coming from China North Korea (Chinese aggression was digitally erased, thanks to capitalist concerns over the overseas box office market). Despite its basic premise being debunked as plain ol' "absurd," the idea of teen boys fighting to defend life and liberty is strong indeed — especially among teen boys (and teen boys at heart).