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The past few weeks were a dead zone as far as entertainment went. But now things are picking up again, with plenty of big movies hitting theaters and new TV shows launching, plus a couple of excellent DVDs hitting stores.
The Oscar best-actress buzz has focused on two women: Viola Davis in "The Help" and Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady." "The Help" has been out for so long that it's even on DVD now, but moviegoers are just getting their first chance to see Streep as former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in "Iron Lady." Some have criticized the film for focusing on Thatcher as she is today, struggling with Alzheimer's, but few have anything bad to say about Streep's performance. (Opens Jan. 13)
Disney's beloved "Beauty and the Beast" gets a new dimension as it's released into theaters in 3-D. Whether or not the funny glasses are your thing, a whole generation has never seen this 1991 classic on the big screen. Belle's even more charming, the Beast even more threatening-then-lovable, Gaston even more lunkheaded. And we're looking forward to the preceding short, "Tangled Ever After," which catches up on Rapunzel and Flynn of Disney's "Tangled" as they plan their wedding. (Opens Jan. 13)
In "Contraband," Mark Wahlberg plays a family man who's dragged back into the life of crime he used to inhabit after his brother-in-law screws up a drug deal. Now his family is in danger and he'll do anything, legal or otherwise, to protect them. (Opens Jan. 13)
"The Artist," "The Help," and "The Descendants" are the top movie nominees for the Golden Globes, but the real story is the return of snarky host Ricky Gervais. Gervais told TODAY's Matt Lauer that despite all the fuss about his celeb jabs last time around, no one has told him what he can and cannot say onstage this time. And that should make for a juicy night for ordinary folks, and perhaps some uncomfortable moments for the rich and famous in attendance. (Jan. 15, 8 p.m., NBC)
"Moneyball" could knock it out of the park at Oscar time next month. The film likely will compete for best picture and stars Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt could be up for acting honors, but we're pushing for a best adapted screenplay honor, too."West Wing" vet Aaron Sorkin and co-writer Steven Zaillian turned Michael Lewis' bestseller into a rich and engaging movie that's definitely one of the best of the year. Check out the DVD and see if your opinions line up with Oscar's. (Out on DVD Jan. 10)
Praise has been widespread for "Boardwalk Empire," but if you don't have HBO, it may be just a title to you. Now the first season is coming out for home viewing, and even those who don't shell out for premium cable can dive into the lost world of Prohibition-era Atlantic City, when Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) ruled the boardwalk. (Out on DVD Jan. 10)