New York mid-December always smells vaguely of pine and peppermint, despite our recent springtime temperatures. Bring that cozy holiday feeling with you into the cineplex for a couple of new feel-good holiday movies.

Will Smith will tug at your heart strings big time as the struggling dad trying to become a stockbroker in The Pursuit of Happyness. Set in the '70s in San Francisco, Smith plays Chris Gardner, a door to door medical equipment salesman whose marriage is on the rocks as he and his wife (Thandie Newton) struggle to make ends meet. She walks out right when Chris lands a coveted Dean Whitter unpaid internship, and so he must find a way to get the full time job and support his adorable son (played by Smith's own kid, Jaden). Sometimes it seems like Chris's luck can't get any worse and you think you'll bawl your eyes. Good thing this is a Hollywood movie based on a real life story, so it doesn't end in heartbreak. See this movie and then be ready to call your dad to tell him you love him. Based on the popular '80s musical and starring Beyoncé Knowles, Eddie Murphey and Jamie Foxx, Dreamgirls may be one of the most buzzed about movies this season. From what everyone's saying supporting actress Jennifer Hudson will be sweeping the awards season in this story about a girl singing group in the '60s making it big. Expect to leave the theater with the catchy soundtrack permanently tattooed on your brain.

With such compelling and heartbreaking real life stories coming from veterans of the Iraq War, you'd think Hollywood would be able to make Home of the Brave an interesting movie. Despite Samuel L. Jackson's moxie and Jessica Biel's all American beauty, this movie is stultifying at best and laughable at worst. The story of traumatized veterans trying to get reacclimatized to home life shouldn't be ridiculous but the completely cardboard dialogue and outlandish dramatic twists were cringe-worthy. Better luck next time guys, because the soldiers' stories are ones worth being told. If you couldn't get enough Jude Law in The Holiday check out his new indie Breaking and Entering. Set in London about an English architect burglarized by a young Muslim and their subsequent intersecting lives, the movie also stars Robin Wright Penn, Vera Farmiga (The Departed) and Juliette Binoche.

Two new children's films based on popular books are out this week. The discovery of a dragon's egg in the forest is just the beginning of young Eragon's adventures in the new sci-fi/fantasy film, Eragon. Of course, dragons and magic always sound like a fun time at the movies but throw in scene-chewer extraordinaire Jeremy Irons plus John Malkovich and it becomes a must see. The same production company which made last year's Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe brings out a live action/animated version of Charlotte's Web. Most people know the familiar story of the runt pig Wilber who's destined for market and the hyper literate spider who's spelling marvels help to save him, and this one features celeb voices like Julia Roberts and Dakota Fanning. It looks pretty cute, believe it or not.

Threesomes may seem like the stuff of racy late night cable, but the classic is François Truffaut's French New Wave gem Jules and Jim. Jules and Jim are best friends and both completely fascinated by Catherine. But really who wouldn't be, since she's portrayed by the luminous Jeanne Moreau. Film Forum has a brand new 35 mm print of this charming movie that they'll be showing for one week only, so don't miss it. Another classic, this one of the midnight movie genre, El Topo starts a run at IFC Center after a special series devoted to the director, Alejandro Jodorowsky during this year's New York Film Festival. Both mind-blowing in terms of weirdness and beauty, El Topo is considered a real movie going experience.

On Monday, Dec. 18th at the Museum of Modern Art take in an awesome back to back screening of Some Like It Hot at 6 pm and then the classic New York-set movie The Apartment at 8 pm. Both films were produced by Walter Mirisch, whose 60 years spent making movies in Hollywood resulted in 84 Academy Award nominations and 28 Oscars, including a best picture for The Apartment in 1960. These two movies also were both directed by the legendary Billy Wilder, star Jack Lemmon and are completely wonderful.

By the way, if you're looking ahead to your movie viewing plans over the Christmas holiday think about getting tickets now for Makor's Chinese Food and A Movie program on the 25th. For $35 a person or $60 for a pair, you can munch on some tasty Asian food while watching either the Will Ferrell comedies Anchorman and Old School or the Charlie Kaufman flicks Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich. The movies start at 1 pm and the food is all you can eat, how can you beat that?

Gothamist Pick:
2006_12_arts_clooney.jpgThe concept behind Steven Soderbergh's new movie, The Good German--neo noir shot as historical noir--is an exciting one. Using techniques and style from the '40s, Soderbergh tells the story of a reporter (played by People's Sexiest Man Alive George Clooney) returning to war-torn Berlin and reconnecting with an old flame (Cate Blanchett). Apparently heavy on the Casablanca references, Clooney and Blanchett seem made for movies of an earlier era. New York's No. 1 critic, J. Hoberman of the Village Voice thinks the movie doesn't work even though it looks beautiful. "Despite (or rather, because of) its self- consciously retro qualities, The Good German is one of Soderbergh's more experimental movies—but the pizzazz is mainly visual." However, it still looks worth a try, at least for the power of Soderbergh's experimentation, which while not always successful is guaranteed to be thought-provoking.