"Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 2" concludes Stephanie Meyer's tormented vampire saga with Rob Pattinson as brooding, chivalrous Edward Cullen and Kristen Stewart as conflicted Bella Swan; in this surreal final chapter, they protect their daughter Renesmee from the contemptuous Volturi.
Adroitly capturing teenage confusion and angst, Stephen Chbosky's "Perks of Being a Wallflower" follows Charlie (Logan Lerman) during his freshman year in high school in suburban Pittsburgh in 1991. It's far better than "Fun Size," filled with silly Halloween misadventures.
Paul Thomas Anderson's meditative "The Master" is a provocative, insidious character study of a psychopath (Joaquin Phoenix) and a charming, charismatic charlatan (Philip Seymour Hoffman); as it parallels the life of L. Ron Hubbard and the rise of his Church of Scientology, it details how spiritual and religious systems can psychologically seduce and subversively manipulate vulnerable minds.
For fright fans, "Sinister" is Ethan Hawke's nightmarish suspense thriller blending found footage with a haunted house and the search for a serial killer, while "The Factory" finds John Cusack as a detective determined to find a killer who is abducting prostitutes in snowy Buffalo.
Smithsonian's "Undersea Edens Collection" explores six underwater realms, while "Chasing Mavericks" is the tragic, true story of surfer Jay Moriarty, who survived a 1994 wipeout that landed him on the cover of "Surfer" magazine, only to die in 2001 while free-diving in the Maldives.
Although it missed an Oscar nomination, India's
romantic comedy "Barfi" stars Ranbir Kapoor as a charming deaf mute from Darjeeling whose antics are reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, while France's "Holy Motors" is an inscrutable study of a shape-shifting actor-for-hire.
For preschoolers, there's "Barney Loves You" and "Thomas & Friends: Full Steam Ahead."
PICK OF THE WEEK: A "must see" before the Academy Awards, Ben Affleck's "Argo" combines the strength of a sensational, true-life story with relevant, politically-charged suspense that's strategically laced with humor; the result is intense, intelligent entertainment.