Director Tim Burton applies his, uh, unique visual style to the story of William Bloom and his attempt to reconstruct the life of his dying father, Edward. A traveling salesman, Edward’s journeys were way more interesting than, say, giving a slide presentation in some client’s conference room. Edward, you see, talked with animals and rode giant fish. Wacky. Billy Crudup portrays William; Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney split time as Edward, young and old. An excellent exercise in escapism. December 10

Come Oscar time, this movie’s cast and crew will be smiling. A 1950s-era teacher (Julia Roberts) hates that her students at an all-girls’ college (Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, and other top talent) are more interested in an MRS degree than a BA, because that’s what society dictates. Roberts pushes them to fight the powers that be. December 19