After a slow build-up, Oscar season is coming in like a lion. Mandela! Tom Ford directing! An Alice Sebold novel! This weekend's got prestige written all over it.


THE LOVELY BONES
The Story: A slain 13 year old girl looks down from heaven recalling her rape and murder.
The Pitch: Witness meetsThe Ice Storm
Who It's For: Literary fiction devotees who haven't yet learned that adaptations of their beloved reading group selections always turn out badly.
Cause for Hope: Director Peter Jackson returns to his strongest Heavenly Creatures territory at the intersection of teenage girls and murder.
Cause for Concern: CGI-fantasyland version of heaven leads one to believe Jackson has spent too much time with trolls and giant monkeys to go back to making movies about humans again.
Defamer Enthusio-Meter: 7


INVICTUS
The Story: In the aftermath of apartheid, President Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) attempts to unite his divided nation behind a mostly white, underdog rugby team.
The Pitch: Amistad meets The Bad News Bears
Who It's For: The entire family and your high school history class.
Cause for Hope: What could have been an overblown, pedantic story may be genuinely stirring in a non-manipulative way in the calm, understated hands of director Clint Eastwood.
Cause for Concern: Having to watch a movie about rugby, a sport combines the torpor of soccer with the meatheadness of hockey.
Defamer Enthusio-Meter: 8

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THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG
The Story: The story of the frog prince relocated to Jazz Age New Orleans.
The Pitch: The Little Mermaid meets Angel Heart
Who It's For: The kids.
Cause for Hope: Disney's first animated African-American star; the throwback 2D animation looks rather quaintly lovable.
Cause for Concern: Encouraging young women to commit intimacies upon reptiles promotes interspecies cruelty.
Defamer Enthusio-Meter: 7


A SINGLE MAN
The Story: A college professor (Colin Firth) in the early 60's struggles to come to terms with the death of his partner.
The Pitch: Brokeback Mountain meets Mad Men
Who It's For: The very artsy
Cause for Hope: The always watchable Colin Firth; designer Tom Ford's directing debut received very favorable festival buzz.
Cause for Concern: Trailers have attempted to majorly gloss over the film's central gay theme.
Defamer Enthusio-Meter: 8


THE SLAMMIN' SALMON
The Story: A down on his luck restaurant owner starts a table-waiting contest to repay his debts.
The Pitch: Best in Show meets Rocky Balboa
Who It's For: Comedy Nerds
Cause for Hope: The Broken Lizard Comedy troupe which made this film is always a delight.
Cause for Concern: Table-waiting comedy may not be ready for its moment in the sun.
Defamer Enthusio-Meter: 9