Box-Office Preview: Movies You Should See, and Oscar Predictions

VIDEO: EWs Jess Cagle gives his Oscar picks, explains whats hot this holiday weekend.

With 2011 coming to a close and awards season underway, Hollywood is abuzz over movies.

Moviegoers can reap the benefits this holiday weekend as movies featuring A-list stars open, and under-the-radar films such as "The Artist," suddenly hot thanks to Golden Globe nods and Oscar buzz, play in wider release.

Which movies should you definitely see?  What were the movies and actors of the year?

Entertainment Weekly managing editor Jess Cagle appeared on " Good Morning America" today to share his box-office picks and Oscar predictions, beginning with the movies you should see this weekend.

For a family movie, Cagle recommends either "War Horse," if you have older kids, or "The Muppets," if you're traveling with the younger set.

"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" is Cagle's pick for adult moviegoers looking for something a little darker, and definitely without a holiday theme.

"You don't take a date, you don't take a family, but it is a brilliant, brilliant film," Cagle said of director David Fincher's adaptation of the book of the same name.

Moviegoers, Cagle predicts, will be impressed with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law's take on the "Sherlock Holmes" franchise, but, when it comes to a blockbuster movie for a holiday weekend, Cagle says another A-list star will take the crown.

"The number one movie to go see this weekend is 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol,'" Cagle said.

"It's the best 'Mission: Impossible' movie," he said.  "It's just an amazing film and you see it and you realize, Tom Cruise, that's why we love Tom Cruise."

Cruise's fourth take on the "Mission: Impossible" series is one of the last movies to be released in 2011, a year that saw the lowest attendance figures since 1995 despite big-name sequels, superstar lineups and multibillion-dollar investments from movie studios.

Cagle says there were some films, however, that stood out from the crowd.  His picks for favorite movies of the year are:

  • "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"
  • "Crazy, Stupid, Love"
  • "Bridesmaids"
  • "The Artist"
  • "Moneyball"

The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences will decide who takes home Oscar gold when the statuettes are handed out Feb. 26, but Cagle gave "GMA" a sneak peek at which movies and actors he thinks should start to clear room in their trophy case.

"I think if the Oscars were held today, 'The Artist' would win Best Picture," Cagle said.  "That's my prediction."

"It's silent, it's black-and-white, it stars people most of us have never heard of, but it is really romantic and really sweet and really funny," he said.  "I think, as awards season continues, it could become one of those weird commercial hits."

Joining "The Artist" on Cagle's short list for Best Picture contenders are "The Descendants," "The Help," "Hugo," and "Tree of Life."

Aided by the star power of Brad Pitt as its leading man, the baseball film, "Moneyball," could be another Best Picture contender, Cagle said. "I wouldn't be surprised to see it in there," he said.  "Definitely a Best Actor nomination for Brad Pitt for that movie."

Who else could join Pitt on the red carpet in contention for Oscar gold?

Cagle did not hesitate on two names: Viola Davis, for her role in "The Help," and George Clooney, for his role in "The Descendants."

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