"2012"

The absurd thrill of watching people outrun natural disasters and major landmarks crash and burn comes with lame writing and too much running time. Grade: C

"An Education"

Star Carey Mulligan earns her Oscar buzz in screenwriter Nick Hornby's excellent adaptation of British journalist Lynn Barber's coming-of-age memoir. Grade: A-

"The Blind Side"

An inspirational true sports story becomes a Sandra Bullock vehicle that's both shamelessly manipulative and disturbingly simplistic in its view of race relations. Grade: D

"Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day"

The sequel to Troy Duffy's bullet-riddled cult hit, in which the Irish MacManus brothers return to Boston to avenge their favorite priest, makes its local debut this week.

"A Christmas Carol"

Writer-director Robert Zemeckis is reliable enough not to get in the way of Dickens' novel and savvy enough to bring its darkness into the 21st century. If only the animation was cuddlier. Grade: B-

"The Fourth Kind"

Its story of alien abduction is supposed to be all true, with the "actual video footage" to prove it, but it's really all fake, and better suited for basic cable. Grade: C-

"The Men Who Stare at Goats"

This based-in-truth military satire meanders, but George Clooney and Kevin Spacey seem to be having fun and Jeff Bridges finds a nice new shade of Dude. Grade: B-

"Paranormal Activity"

News-making, no-budget thriller with enough scares to warrant the attention, but a male protagonist you'll want to smack before it's over. Grade: B-

"Precious"

Good intentions don't entirely redeem Lee Daniels' blunt-trauma approach to Sapphire's novel about a horribly troubled teen. It's a good thing star Gabourey Sidibe and Oscar nominee-to-be Mo'Nique back him up with genuine performances. Grade: B-

"A Serious Man"

The Coen brothers revisit the time and place of their youth to make a memorable, fatalistic joke out of the concept that no one really has any idea what the hell's going on. Grade: A

"The Twilight Saga: New Moon"

You could open a liquor store with all the six-packs on display, but for those not sent into a prolonged swoon by buff, shirtless supernatural teens and Robert Pattinson's hair blowing softly in the breeze, the second part of the Twilight saga is a really long, occasionally laughable night at the movies. Grade: C