Jazzed at the prospect of two months packed with holiday pleasure, from Thanksgiving turkey feasts to Christmas' orgy of gift-giving and getting? Jump-start your cinematic fun by turning off your Smartphone and your iPad and your monster-screen TV! 'Tis the season when movie marquees sparkle and shine, luring us into 2012's biggest, best and sexiest flicks. During November and December we're invited to become cinematic gluttons, banqueting on lashings of Oscar-worthy fare as well as extra servings of rich big-screen entertainment. But then comes the New Year hangover: January's the month traditionally designated as a dumping ground for second- and third-tier movies, oddball flicks, product that Hollywood doesn't know how to market ... in short, holiday leftovers.
Happily, MSN's Winter Survey is ready to guide you through the blizzard of new releases, signposting the good, the bad and the ugly.
Oscar bait: The dudes
Brooding nobly on the Lincoln one-sheet, Daniel Day-Lewis looks every inch the Great Emancipator—it's the kind of potent image that commands Oscar's instant attention (though the actor's Lincoln-light voice may disappoint). Working from Doris Kearns Goodwin's monumental biography Team of Rivals, Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner dramatize the beleaguered president's final months in office, as he struggles to reconstitute a nation. Day-Lewis is backed by a team of worthy thespian "rivals" in this holiday heavy-hitter: David Strathairn, Tommy Lee Jones, Hal Holbrook and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Showcasing the character of another legendary American president, Hyde Park on Hudson stars Bill Murray as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a dashing, not yet wheelchair-bound patrician with an eye for the ladies. When England's king and queen visit FDR's home on the Hudson River to enlist an ally in a looming world war, the president juggles foreign and very personal affairs. In his first starring role since Broken Flowers, the brilliantly eccentric Murray might well spike Oscar interest.
While Spielberg's Lincoln guarantees gravitas, Les Misérables will surely play emotional arpeggios on moviegoers' heartstrings. Once a hard-hitting novel by Victor Hugo, this longest-running stage musical comes to the screen courtesy of Tom Hooper, 2010's (unworthy) winner of Best Director honors for The King's Speech. With Russell Crowe as obsessed cop Javert, forever in pursuit of Jean Valjean, Hugh Jackman's noble ex-con—both Aussies singing up a storm—we're sure to be emotionally gobsmacked as we spectate through the seedier environs of 19th-century France.
Spectate on at http://movies.msn.com/movie-guide-winter/