Oscar-hopeful season kicks off in earnest this weekend with the release of dramas 'The Town' and "Never Let Me Go.' Which isn't to say that there's not also plenty of frivolous fun ('Easy A,' 'Devil,' 'Alpha and Omega').

New and Noteworthy: 'The Town'


Starring: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively
Directed by: Ben Affleck
What It's About: After making his feature directing debut in 2007 with the acclaimed 'Gone Baby Gone,' Affleck returns to the world of Boston crime dramas with this adaptation of Chuck Hogan's novel 'Prince of Thieves,' this time starring and co-scripting as well. It's Stockholm syndrome in reverse when Affleck, leader of an accomplished team of bank robbers, falls for a lovely hostage (Hall) and finds his loyalties divided between her and his tight-knit, family-like crew.
Why Should You See It? The Boston-bred Affleck certainly knows the turf, works well crafting the performances of other actors and (lest we forget) is already an Oscar-winning screenwriter. He's out to prove 'Gone' was no fluke, and early word is he's done so. Plus, the film has plenty of action, not to mention the man you can't get enough of, Jon Hamm.
You Might Like It If You Like: 'The Departed,' 'Mystic River,' 'The Friends of Eddie Coyle' Oscar-hopeful season kicks off in earnest this weekend with the release of dramas 'The Town' and "Never Let Me Go.' Which isn't to say that there's not also plenty of frivolous fun ('Easy A,' 'Devil,' 'Alpha and Omega').

New and Noteworthy: 'The Town'


Starring: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively
Directed by: Ben Affleck
What It's About: After making his feature directing debut in 2007 with the acclaimed 'Gone Baby Gone,' Affleck returns to the world of Boston crime dramas with this adaptation of Chuck Hogan's novel 'Prince of Thieves,' this time starring and co-scripting as well. It's Stockholm syndrome in reverse when Affleck, leader of an accomplished team of bank robbers, falls for a lovely hostage (Hall) and finds his loyalties divided between her and his tight-knit, family-like crew.
Why Should You See It? The Boston-bred Affleck certainly knows the turf, works well crafting the performances of other actors and (lest we forget) is already an Oscar-winning screenwriter. He's out to prove 'Gone' was no fluke, and early word is he's done so. Plus, the film has plenty of action, not to mention the man you can't get enough of, Jon Hamm.
You Might Like It If You Like: 'The Departed,' 'Mystic River,' 'The Friends of Eddie Coyle'

Showtimes & Tickets
The 10 Best Heist-Movie Disguises
•Reviews: Cinematical | Variety | indieWIRE's Leonard Maltin

Six Second Review: 'The Town'


Easy A'Easy A'
Starring: Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, Dan Byrd, Patricia Clarkson, Thomas Haden Church, Stanley Tucci
Directed by: Will Gluck
What It's About: Reading 'The Scarlet Letter' in English class, high-schooler Olive (Stone) discovers that letting people know you're sexually active is still a way to make yourself a scandal-magnet in your community. Even if, as in Olive's case, it's not true.
Why Should You See It? Gawky geek bombshell Stone ('Superbad', 'Zombieland') at last gets to carry a movie and show off her full comic range, with the help of an ace supporting cast. Plus, seeing this is a lot easier than actually, y'know, reading 'The Scarlet Letter' yourself.
You Might Like It If You Like: '10 Things I Hate About You,' 'Clueless,' 'She's All That,' or any other teen comedy that cribs liberally from classic works of literature

Showtimes & Tickets
Moviefone Minute: 'Easy A' Premiere
Moviefone Minute: 'Easy A' Screening with Emma Stone and Will Gluck
•Reviews: Cinematical | Hollywood Reporter

'Easy A': Trailer No. 1


Never Let Me GoAlso New: 'Never Let Me Go'
What It's About: Based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro ('The Remains of the Day'), Mark Romanek's beautifully shot drama stars Carey Mulligan, Kiera Knightley and future Spider-Man Andrew Garfield as friends raised in an English boarding school, bred and groomed for a horrific purpose. Showtimes & Tickets | Trailers & Clips

'Devil'
What It's About: The first film in 'The Night Chronicles,' a series of low-budget horror features produced by M. Night Shyamalan, this one finds several office workers trapped in an elevator with Satan himself. (Think of it as a vertical version of Sartre's 'No Exit.') Showtimes & Tickets | Trailers & Clips

'Alpha and Omega'
What It's About: For once, wolves are the heroes in this 3-D cartoon that sends two of them (voiced by Justin Long and Hayden Panettiere) on a cross-continental journey back to the national park they call home. Showtimes & Tickets | Trailers & Clips

In Limited Release

Catfish'Catfish' is a Sundance-fave documentary, in which filmmakers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman learn a valuable lesson about social media: that people you meet on the Internet aren't necessarily who they say they are. (Hard to say more about this acclaimed, idiosyncratic tale without spoiling it.) Showtimes & Tickets

'Jack Goes Boating' marks the directing debut of Philip Seymour Hoffman. The Oscar-winning actor stars opposite Amy Ryan in this romantic drama about two couples, one coming together, the other coming apart. Showtimes & Tickets

Still in Theaters, Still Awesome

Resident Evil: Afterlife'Resident Evil: Afterlife' -- Watch Milla Jovovich kick zombie butt again, this time in 3-D and IMAX. Showtimes & Tickets

'Takers' -- 'The Town' faces some stiff competition from this stylish heist caper, still going strong in its fourth week in theaters. Showtimes & Tickets

'I'm Still Here' -- We're pretty sure this chronicle of actor-turned-rapper Joaquin Phoenix's epic two-year meltdown is a massive Method acting stunt. But what if it isn't? Showtimes & Tickets

Staying In This Weekend?

Prince of PersiaNew on DVD This Week
: An ancient hex, James Bond's ex (Gemma Arterton), special effects, Jake Gyllenhaal's pecs -- that's what you get in 'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,' the sprawling Disney action spectacle from Jerry Bruckheimer, based on the popular videogame. Buy or rent the DVD | More new DVD releases

Movie Homework, Part 1: Need proof that Ben Affleck can act? See 'Hollywoodland,' in which his portrait of the life and mysterious death of TV Superman George Reeves offers not only a poignant character study but also an ironic commentary on Affleck's own thwarted desire to be taken seriously in Hollywood. Buy or rent the DVD

Movie Homework, Part 2: 'Easy A' is full of references to high school syllabus staple 'The Scarlet Letter.' The best and most faithful of the dozen or so filmed versions of Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic novel is the Emmy-winning 1979 PBS mini-series, starring Meg Foster as the adulterous Hester Prynne. (Stay away from the thoroughly absurd Demi Moore version.)

Harold GouldOn My Netflix Queue: Harold Gould, who passed away earlier this week, was an elegant, mustachioed character actor who tended to play dapper gents with a mischievous twinkle in their eyes. Exhibit A: Woody Allen's Tolstoy parody 'Love and Death,' in which Gould plays a snobby, hot-tempered Russian nobleman who challenges Allen's cowardly peasant to a duel, with unexpectedly wacky results. Buy or rent the DVD

•Follow Gary Susman on Twitter @garysusman.