Christopher Nolan saved the best for last. "The Dark Knight Rises" concludes Batman's epic thrill-ogy, re-imagining the iconic comic-book hero played by Christian Bale and making it relevant today.

Meryl Streep teams with Tommy Lee Jones in the irreverent "Hope Springs," a downright funny, feel-good romantic comedy for adults.

Uniquely enchanting, "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" is a wish-fulfillment fantasy fable that centers on a despairing couple (Jennifer Garner, John Edgerton) who are trying to adopt a child when, miraculously, from their garden emerges mud-caked 10-year-old Timothy. Wile he has all the qualities they'd hoped for in a son, they manifest themselves in ways his parents never could have imagined.

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Playing a far different role, Jennifer Garner also stars in "Butter," as the prim, prissy, ambitious wife of the reigning champion butter sculpture carver at the Iowa State Fair. It's a sassy, undeniably strange and subversive slice of Americana.

Narrated by Ryan Reynolds, "The Whale" tells the true, life-affirming story of a young, wild killer whale, an orca that lost her pod off British Columbia and tried to make friends with human beings.

The complex, controversial documentary "Money and Medicine" examines the dangers of excessive health care, profiling patients and physicians from UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles and Intermountain Medical Center in Utah as they grapple with rising health-care costs and overtreatment.

From Comedy Central, "The Legend of Neil" follows beer-guzzling slacker Neil Grimsley (Tony Janning), who accidentally finds a code that sucks him into the fantasy video game, "The Legend of Zelda."

For younger children, there's "Icy Capades," "Chilly Christmas," "Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups," "The Dog Who Saved the Holidays" and "Elf-Man."

PICK OF THE WEEK: An evocative, contemporary allegory, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" is one of the best of the year. Set in a post-Hurricane Katrina Louisiana swampland, it's about the relationship between an unruly, precocious 6-year-old African-American girl called Hushpuppy and her ailing, alcoholic father. The narrative is presented in her poetic voiceover, illuminating with magical realism her wonderment about the brutal, primordial wilderness in which she lives.