It's almost 2012, which -- depending on your level of interest in Mayan civilization -- either means the start of the apocalypse or the start of a new year. (Fingers crossed for the latter!) Whether or not you're preparing for the end days, there are still plenty of good movies to check out in the theaters (don't worry, you won't have to spend your final hours watching 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked'). From 'The Iron Lady' to 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' to 'Hugo,' let's take a look at this week's new releases, along with some films that are already on the big screen.

'The Iron Lady'
What's the story: With no new nationwide releases this week, we turn to former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. 'The Iron Lady,' which you may have already heard about if you're following this year's Oscar race, features Meryl Streep as Britain's conservative icon. While Streep's portrayal of Thatcher has riled some across the Atlantic, many have lauded her performance. Not to be completely outdone, critics have also praised actor Jim Broadbent's role as Dennis Thatcher, Margaret's husband. The movie focuses on the days leading up to England's involvement in the Falklands War.

Box office projection: Since 'The Iron Lady' is only in limited release this week, we're going to wait to make a box office projection until Jan. 12, when the film hits theaters nationwide.

[Showtimes & Tickets]

'A Separation'
What's the story: This Iranian film tells the story of a married couple who end up separating. Eventually, the husband is accused of attacking his father's elderly caretaker, and possibly causing her miscarriage. Iran's official candidate for the Best Foreign Language film at next year's Oscars, 'A Separation' has received critical acclaim from film festivals around the world -- pretty impressive for a movie with a reported budget of only $500,000.

[Showtimes & tickets]

What's the story: Another film critic favorite, 'Pariah' follows Alike, a 17-year-old African-American coming to terms with her identity as a lesbian. Adepero Oduye, who plays Alike, has been nominated for Best Female Lead at the Independent Spirit Awards. Earlier this year, 'Pariah' won the Excellence in Cinematography award at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

[Showtimes & Tickets]


If any of the limited releases aren't up your alley (or aren't being shown in your hometown), fear not: there are plenty of movies already out in theaters. Fresh off last week's $44 million opening is 'Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol,' the fourth film in the Tom Cruise film franchise. This time around, the mission deemed impossible features a jaw-dropping sequence where Cruise hangs from the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Those looking for something a little more serious may want to check out 'War Horse,' the Steven Spielberg-directed flick based on the award-winning stage production, which follows the path of a horse during World War I. Speaking of Spielberg, there's also 'The Adventures of Tintin,' the animated film he directed and co-produced with 'Lord of the Rings' master Peter Jackson. Also for the kids, you have a choice of 'Hugo,' 'Arthur Christmas,' 'The Muppets' or (sigh) 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked' (we'd go with 'Hugo,' our pick for best movie of the year). The dark murder mystery of 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' will attract adult audiences, while 'We Bought a Zoo' is good fare for the whole family. And, if you really want to go all out and celebrate the 2012 apocalypse, there's always 'New Year's Eve.'

[Photo: TWC]

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categories Movies, New Releases