Christmas is generally my favorite time for going to the movies because the studios--even the Independents--tend to save their best stuff for the two weeks of Christmas and New Year's. This year, the cupboard has been bare.
Here's what I've seen and what I think of it:
Young Adult: Charlize Theron is always nice to watch (this is a guy talking here), but this time out, she's such a troubled child that it is difficult to see how pretty she is because she's shining inside out and inside ain't so lovely. Her character here, a writer of young adult novels, has no life in the big city, so she returns to her small town to pursue her high school sweetheart. Who is happily married and has a new baby. Which presents no obstacle as far as our heroine is concerned.
I went in thinking this was a comedy because it was so thoroughly dark (and it was written by Diablo Cody, who has a wonderful body of comedies, including "Juno") it couldn't possibly be anything else. But it is. Not much funny here. Dark, depressing and nobody to like. If I wanted this experience, I'd go to an AA meeting where everybody has less than a week of sobriety.
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol: It's a Tom Cruise vehicle (he also produced it) and he's still short. Of the four movies I've seen this break period, this is the most entertaining, but it does not trouble you with plot, character development or subtlety. Nor does it bother at all with logic. Suspend disbelief more than you would for, say, "Star Wars," and you'll be OK. Some of the stunts are fun (and I love the theme), but you'll be left scratching your head wondering how anyone could possibly believe the human body could take what these bodies take.
Descendents: George Clooney is always great and he's great here, too. The acting, writing, directing, music, cinematography are all wonderful. The story just left me completely flat, though. Mom is dying, the result of a boat accident and Dad is trying to help bring the family to some form of closure before he pulls the plug, even as he considers selling the family's great virgin land holdings in Hawaii. What a quandary.
The Hawaii in this movie is not the one you're accustomed to and it is one of the stars. This is destined for an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, but it's not on my list. Reminds me of "Ordinary People" in its level of angst, but it's not nearly as violent (OP was the most violent movie I ever saw).
The War Horse: Filmed through gauze with too much saturated color, too many rising violins (the music is laughably manipulative), dialogue that is forced and an illogical progression of events that makes some of Mission Impossible seem perfectly plausible, especially what this poor horse goes through physically. Little to recommend this one, save for some pretty good WWI battle sequences and the people who are interested in this type of horsie movie won't appreciate those.