In case you missed it, last week we told you about the visually stunning Ang Lee film, Life of Pi. While the film didn’t beat out fall’s heavy hitters, Breaking Dawn Part 2 and Skyfall, critics are applauding the film for its powerful portrayal of the human spirit, and now, for its portrayal of tigers. The book and the movie portray zoos that protect animals and attempt to bring endangered species back from the brink. Why is this important? Well, the World Wildlife Fund listed tigers as one of the “Top 10 Most Threatened Species” in 2010. We were shocked to learn their studies estimate less than 3,200 tigers are left in the wild as deforestation and poaching could push some tiger populations to the same fate as some of its now-extinct relatives throughout Asia. Life of Pi is helping tiger conservation organizations raise awareness for these magnificent creatures, and hopefully fund protected areas that will raise tiger populations without displacing people in poorer parts of the world.

Tigers aside, theaters are gearing up for a holiday movie push that will likely last until the New Year. This week, if you haven’t started your holiday shopping- ‘tis the time, but for those of you who finished your shopping lists last weekend- you can kick back and enjoy this week’s new movie recommendation: Killing Them Softly starring Brad Pitt. This movie is directed by Andrew Dominik — who also directed Pitt in the acclaimed The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford — and critics are expecting Dominik to elicit the same emotional performance from the megastar with this film. In Killing Them Softly, Pitt plays an enforcer named Jackie Cogan who is sent to investigate a mob-funded poker game robbery by bumbling thieves. Maybe it’s a premise you’ve heard before, but with macabre humor, unpredictable characters and crime drama that mirrors today’s economic strife, it looks like a subtly powerful film that will leave audiences emotionally wrought. Find showtimes and tickets right……

Don’t forget: the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is only two weeks away and we have more updates from Middle Earth! The film premiered in Wellington, New Zealand on Wednesday. The international crowd of thousands cultivated to near-clinical insanity levels as fans strained to see their favorite actors. As the crowd surged, an Air New Zealand jet that had been hobbited (hobbified? Bagginsed?) flew overhead like a proverbial cherry on top. Speaking of Air New Zealand, have you seen the Hobbit-themed safety video now playing on international flights? If not, check it out:

Even New Zealand weatherman Tamati Coffey got into the spirit of the festivities by doing a weather broadcast in (some) Elvish:

Be sure to check back next week for more Hobbit news and click here to buy your tickets before it opens in two weeks!