January is finally here, and in the movie world that means one thing: mind-numbing tedium. Oh, sure, fans can tune into the various award shows for a momentary diversion. But because of those awards, most studios have already released all their good stuff in December. And that leaves January as a vast dumping ground for all the second-rate films that Hollywood has deemed unworthy of serious consideration. It's enough to make a movie fan want to hibernate until February.
But since that's not an option for the non-bears among us, we've decided to come up with a plan whereby even the most devoted cinephile can make their way through the movie minefield that is January and come out the other side with their entertainment quota satisfied.
So read on to find out what's in The Movie Lover's Survival Guide to January:
The Best of January: Movies in Theaters
Okay, so we've already trashed the entire output of Hollywood for January. But there are a few films coming out this month that play to specific interests. Check out our short list of the top picks to see if you fall into the target demographic for one of these movies:
• Jan. 14 -- 'The Green Hornet' isn't your typical superhero movie; for one, it stars Seth Rogen as the titular crimefighter and for another, it was directed by the always imaginative Michel Gondry ('Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'). The combination may breathe a new spark into the spandex genre. Watch the Trailer | Tickets & Showtimes
• Jan. 14 -- 'The Dilemma' was directed by Ron Howard, and considering his long pedigree in humor -- from 'The Andy Griffith Show' and 'Happy Days' on television to 'Splash' and 'Parenthood' in the movies -- we have to say he knows a little something about comedy. Add in Vince Vaughn and Kevin James and you have a surefire crowd pleaser. Watch the Trailer
• Jan. 21 'No Strings Attached' may be just the kind of obligation-free entertainment you're looking for, assuming you're into romcoms; Natalie Portman takes a break from her Oscar campaign to play a girl who has a increasingly less than casual relationship with a hot guy (Ashton Kutcher). Watch the Trailer | Tickets & Showtimes
• Jan. 21 -- 'The Company Men' is, to coin a phrase, a movie for our time. Ben Affleck stars alongside fellow Academy Award winners Chris Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones and Kevin Costner in a drama about average folk who have been downsized out of their jobs -- and nearly out of their lives. A surefire award contender if it was being released any time other than January. Watch the Trailer | Tickets & Showtimes
• Jan. 21 -- 'The Way Back' is based on one of those stories so incredible it can only be true: Colin Farrell stars as a prisoner in a Soviet World War II prison who escapes and, along with fellow inmates, walks from Siberia to India. Yes, you read that right. And you thought scraping your car windshield in the morning was tough. Watch the Trailer | Tickets & Showtimes
The Best of January: Movies on DVD & Blu-ray
Aren't any good movies at the theater this week? Well, don't worry, because some of the coolest films from yesteryear are making their debut on Blu-ray this January, giving you the perfect opportunity to curl up with your favorite characters without ever leaving the comfort of your own snuggie:
• Jan. 4 -- 'The Mariachi Trilogy' arrived on Blu-ray, turning the spotlight on the three-part MExpoitation epic that turned Robert Rodriguez into a Hollywood hotshot. 'El Mariachi' still thrills with its low budget grittiness, while 'Desperado' and 'Once Upon a Time in Mexico' throb with star power thanks to Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek and Johnny Depp.
• Jan. 11 -- 'The Social Network' was one of the most popular and acclaimed films of 2010 thanks to its whipsmart script and cast. Those smarts are on display again as the Blu-ray comes out just in time for award season viewing. Well done.
• Jan. 25 -- 'The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest' was an international sensation thanks to the worldwide popularity of Stieg Larsson's novels. Filming on the American adaptations have begun, but you don't have to wait thanks to this Swedish thriller starring Noomi Rapace.
• Other top releases for the month include 'Dinner for Schmucks' (Jan. 4), the 20th Anniversary Blu-ray edition of 'Dances With Wolves' (Jan. 11) and the gritty Ryan Reynolds drama 'Buried' (Jan. 18).
For more on DVD & Blu-ray releases in January, visit our comprehensive DVD page.
The Best of January: Movies on Television
The theater may be dead this month, but that's just because everyone in Hollywood is too busy getting dressed up for all the award shows to put out cool films. You can watch them celebrate the year in movies on live TV throughout January -- and with channels like TCM and AMC piping classics into your home around the clock, this may be a pretty good month for films after all:
• Jan. 16 -- The Golden Globes may not have quite the prestige level of the Oscars, but it has something almost more important: fun. And with Ricky Gervais set to host again, it looks like Hollywood's biggest party will be in full swing once again when the ceremony airs live on NBC at 8PM.
• Jan. 19 -- Short films may be a thing of the past, but highlighting forgotten treasures is just what Turner Classic Movies does best. This time they've outdone themselves with a marathon consisting of over 25 classic shorts from some of Hollywood's greatest stars.
• Jan. 28 -- Clint Eastwood is a living national landmark, so any chance to celebrate his legacy is basically celebrating America. AMC does just that with a mini-marathon of three Eastwood gems including the all-time classic 'High Plains Drifter.'
• Jan. 30 -- The 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards end the month in grand style, as Hollywood comes together to honor the men and women who make movies so great. And you can decide for yourself what channel to watch the snow on; TBS and TNT are simulcasting the ceremony live at 8PM ET.
• Other top movies and awards shows this month include the Critics' Choice Movie Awards (Jan. 14), '12 Angry Men' (Jan. 15, 6PM, TCM), 'Glory' (Jan. 17, 5PM, TCM), 'The Brave One' (Jan. 23, 8PM, AMC) and the 2011 Academy Award nominations (Jan. 25).
The Best of January: Movies On Demand
Finally, someone actually listened to our demands and made a whole virtual film library available to movie buffs with a single click on the remote. There are hundreds of movies to pick from On Demand in January; here are a few of of our favorite selections:
• 'The Wrestler' has been described by director Darren Aronofsky as being a thematic twin to this year's award favorite 'Black Swan.' Sure, the smush-faced Mickey Rourke may not look quite like Natalie Portman, but you can discover for yourself what other similarities there are courtesy of HBO ON Demand, available now.
• 'Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work' is one of the best documentaries about comedy or Hollywood to come out in recent memory, so how the Oscars managed to snub the film by not even including it in the nomination process is beyond us. Check it out on Showtime On Demand, starting Jan. 5, to see for yourself how ridiculous the Academy is being this year. Or watch it now on Instant Netflix.
• Instant Netflix brings you all the variety of Netflix with all the convenience of On Demand -- and this month, they have an amazing line-up of Oscar contenders available, including 'I Am Love,' 'Shutter Island' and documentaries like 'Exit Through the Gift Shop' and 'Restrepo' as well as one of last year's nominees, 'Food, Inc.'
• Other top On Demand picks for this month include 'American Splendor' on Cinemax, beginning Jan. 6; 'Twilight: New Moon' on Showtime beginning Jan. 9; 'Spider-Man 2' on HBO beginning Jan. 12; and 'The Time Traveler's Wife' on HBO beginning Jan. 17.
To see what else is on Netflix, VOD and Redbox, click here.