Set during Prohibition and the Great Depression, John Hillcoat's uber-violent "Lawless" is a gangster/Western about a legendary trio of bootlegging brothers (Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke) who controlled whiskey manufacturing and distribution in the backwoods of Virginia.
Sudsy, spirited "Sparkle" will be remembered as Whitney Houston's cinematic swansong, playing a former pop-singer-turned-churchwoman whose three daughters form a Supremes-like trio.
Concurrent with Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln," there's "Omnibus: James Agee's "Mr. Lincoln and the Civil War," an ambitious five-part biographical drama, starring Royal Dano and Joanne Woodward. Other new docudramas include "Last Call at the Oasis," revealing the world's water crisis; "Objectified," an ode to industrial design; "They Call It Myanmar," featuring Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung Suu Kyi; "Half the Sky" examining gender inequality around the globe; "Booker's Place" about tensions in the Mississippi Delta during the civil rights struggle; and "Paradise Lost Trilogy" chronicling the gruesome murders of three eight year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas.
A terrifying look into a post-apocalyptic future, "The Day" follows a group of five survivors (Dominic Monaghan, Shawn Ashmore, Ashley Bell, Cory Hardrict, Shannyn Sossamon) wandering through a ravaged landscape, looking for refuge. Last and definitely least, Ashley Greene ("Twilight") stars in "The Apparition" about the poltergeist pathway that's unwittingly opened during a para-psychological seance.
To enhance the upcoming season, Nat King Cole, Mary Tyler Moore, Peggy Lee and Wayne Newton spend "Christmas With Danny Kaye," featuring digitally restored footage, unseen since the original 1960s telecast, while Lifetime's "12 Days of Christmas" compiles a dozen original, holiday-themed movies.
PICKS OF THE WEEK: Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are back "Men in Black 3," joined by Josh Brolin, as they time-travel not only to save the planet but also to discover some uncanny revelations about their relationship. And kids will love spooky "ParaNorman," a cleverly macabre, stop-motion animated feature about an 11 year-old who sees dead people.