BIG RELEASES: Grudge Match (Dec. 25); The Wolf of Wall Street (Dec. 25)
BIG PICTURE: Two lessons in American greed this week. The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is based upon the audacious exploits of 1980s Wall Street fraudster Jordan Belfort. Meanwhile, Grudge Match is based the audacious exploits of 21st-century Hollywood, which is always looking for an easy paycheque. It's Rocky meets Raging Bull meets Grumpy Old Men. Sly Stallone and Robert De Niro parody their famous onscreen fighter personas, playing washed-up, onetime boxing rivals named Razor and the Kid. The comedy's title leaves little to the imagination. The two senior citizens reunite in the ring for a grudge match -- billed as "Grudgement Day" -- 30 years after their last bout. Meanwhile, back on Wall Street, DiCaprio reunites with director Martin Scorsese for an engaging tale of extravagance, ego and corruption. At the very least, this Wolf offers a unique workplace environment. When was the last time your office contemplated activities like midget-tossing, adding a monkey in a suit to the staff, an in-house marching band -- or duct-taping bills onto a lingerie-clad woman? Even Don Draper would be jealous of Belfort, and DiCaprio fully embraces his character's larger-than-life persona.
FORECAST: Wall Street is the place to invest your time. Scorsese almost always brings out the best in DiCaprio. As for Grudge Match, let me save you the trip. My guess is that, somehow, neither the Razor or the Kid come out of the ring a loser and -- if I know my Hollywood scripts -- form an unlikely friendship before the last bell is rung.
Kim Basinger plays Stallone's wife (Maybe Grudge Match 2 will star her and ex-husband Alec Baldwin?), while Kevin Hart and Alan Arkin add comedic chops. But Wall Street also has the edge in supporting cast, as Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) plays the FBI agent bent on bringing down DiCaprio's white-collar criminal. Jonah Hill plays a whole new level of Moneyball as Jordan's nefarious -- and hilarious -- partner in the art of deception.
HONOURABLE MENTION: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Dec. 25): Ben Stiller is Walter Mitty, an awkward office drone who literally lives his life in elaborate daydreams. (I can relate! Even as I write this sentence in my cubicle, I'm also ruling an underwater kingdom alongside Jennifer Lawrence. The Backstreet Boys are our royal guards, we live in a castle made out of solid-gold Lego pieces -- and my best friend is a talking crab named Sebastian... What? What do you mean you think I have way too much time on my hands?). When Walter's job is suddenly in jeopardy, Walter embarks on a real adventure around the globe. Life lessons and personal growth ensue.
BIG EVENTS: Doctor Who (Dec. 25, Space, 9 p.m.)
BIG PICTURE: Matt Smith's lauded run as the good doctor ends tonight on the Christmas special, The Time of the Doctor. But death is really only a new beginning for the time-travelling, galaxy-hopping alien. Doctor Who has more lives than a cat. When one version dies, he regenerates in a new form (Peter Capaldi has been cast as the new incarnation). If none of this makes any sense to you, just add a shot of rum to your eggnog. This holiday special plays off the manger theme when a mysterious message in the stars draws some of the deadliest species in the universe together. (So much for three wise men.) The current Doctor will likely meet a grisly fate at the hands of one of his various enemies, from Daleks and Cybermen to Weeping Angels. If none of that makes sense to you, add a second shot of rum -- this still beats watching It's a Wonderful Life for the 40th time.
FORECAST: Smith rejuvenated the franchise and brought in a new generation of younger fans. Will Capaldi be able to carry the torch? Only time will tell, but luckily Doctor Who sure has no shortage of that commodity. I've always wanted to see Michael J. Fox cast as the next Doctor. What better Time Lord than Marty McFly himself?
HONOURABLE MENTION: George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight (Dec. 24, CBC, 11:30 p.m.). Speaking of three wise men, Canada could do a lot worse than Michael Bublé, Blue Rodeo's Jim Cuddy and Chris Hadfield. They are among the guests on George's music special tonight. Sadly, our piano-playing prime minister is unlikely to make an appearance. This is the public broadcaster, after all.
BIG RELEASES ON DEC. 24: American Hustle (soundtrack)
BIG PICTURE: It's hard to keep track of all the con artists swindling the FBI on the silver screen this month. But whether you are a Wall Street wolf or an American hustler, there is one universal truth: Crimes are best committed to an iconic soundtrack. American Hustle's soundtrack will remind you why one decade reigns supreme. The album premières Stream Of Stars, a previously unreleased song from Jeff Lynne (Electric Light Orchestra) and assembles a merry band of '70s classics such as Wings's Live And Let Die, Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and the Bee Gees' How Can You Mend A Broken Heart.
FORECAST: This holiday season, movie and music buffs certainly don't need Doctor Who to travel through time. First stop, the '60s with Inside Llewyn Davis (also one of the best soundtracks of the year), then on to the late '70s with American Hustle and finally settling into the '80s in The Wolf of Wall Street. Quite the trip.