The first movie weekend of 2013 brings some of the potential heavy hitters in this year's Oscar race. (By the way, The Cricket examines that race with his fearless predictions of next week's nominations.)
The best movie of the week is also the toughest to watch: "The Impossible," a beautifully realized depiction of a harrowing real-life survival story. Spanish director J.A. Bayona ("The Orphanage") follows the plight of a family – led by Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor – whose Christmas vacation in Thailand is cut short when they are caught up in the carnage of the 2004 tsunami. The stunning effects re-create the gruesome toll of the tsunami, while the performances (particularly by Watts and young Tom Holland as the oldest son) are moving.
Another great movie is "The House I Live In," a hard-hitting and personal documentary about "The War on Drugs," and what 40 years of a get-tough policy has done to America. Director Eugene Jarecki examines the toll on families, while diligently chronicling the dark motives behind the policies and the voices of experts in the field who say those policies aren't working.