Here's a short list of the winter holiday season movies, which — from pedigree, advance buzz or actual viewings (in the case of "Va Savoir and "Band of Outsiders" — seem the top advance picks right now.

"Va Savoir" ("Who Knows?"): Director, Jacques Rivette; with Jeanne Balibar, Claude Berri. New-wave master Rivette returns with another backstage film, this one a witty comedy-drama about a famous actress in a Pirandello play and her director's search for a lost Carlo Goldoni manuscript. Friday

"Ocean's Eleven": Steven Soderbergh; with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon. A remake of the overrated Frank Sinatra-Dean Martin-Sammy Davis Jr. 1960 Las Vegas heist movie with a very interesting cast and director. Dec. 7

"Band of Outsiders": Jean-Luc Godard; with Anna Karina. Godard's great, playful 1964 modernist heist movie; this is a film noir for alienated intellectuals, beautifully restored. Dec. 7

"Vanilla Sky": Cameron Crowe; with Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz. A remake of the moody, ingeniously offbeat Spanish sci-fi film, "Open Your Eyes." Dec. 14

"The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring": Peter Jackson; with Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen. After Ralph Bakshi's failed 1978 cartoon version, horror-fantasy specialist Jackson takes another whack at J.R.R. Tolkien's adventure legend, one of the 20th Century's central myths. Dec. 19

"The Royal Tenenbaums": Wes Anderson; with Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Gwyneth Paltrow. Cult favorite Anderson, collaborating with his "Bottle Rocket" mates, the Wilson brothers, evokes the reunion of a troubled family of New York geniuses. Dec. 21

"No Man's Land": Danis Tanovic; with Branko Djuric. One of the year's great sleepers: Bosnian writer-director Tanovic's incredible dark war comedy about an international media circus between the Bosnian-Serb lines. Dec. 21

"A Beautiful Mind": Ron Howard; with Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris. Crowe in one of his non-hunk roles as schizophrenic Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. Some advance Oscar buzz has this as the movie to beat. Dec. 25

"Ali": Michael Mann; with Will Smith, Jon Voight. Smith as Muhammad Ali, in his 1964-74 glory years, in a movie by one of the most intriguing true-life filmmakers. Dec. 25

"The Shipping News": Lasse Hallstrom; with Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett. The reclamation of a newsman's shattered life, by the "Chocolat' team, from E. Annie Proulx's novel. Dec. 25

— Michael Wilmington