Oscar Buzzes Around Holiday Films

jess cagle
The holiday season is one of the best times of the year to go to the movies.

Hollywood rolls out some of its biggest films of the year, headlining some of the biggest stars.

Early Show contributor and People magazine Executive Editor Jess Cagle took a look Tuesday at what's in theaters -- and what's to come -- that's generating Oscar talk, since the Golden Globe nominations were announced.

The following descriptions were prepare in part with information from


ATONEMENT: In 1935, 13-year-old fledgling writer Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) and her family live a life of wealth and privilege in their enormous mansion. On the warmest day of the year, the country estate takes on an unsettling hothouse atmosphere, stoking Briony's vivid imagination. Robbie Turner (James McAvoy), the educated son of the family's housekeeper, carries a torch for Briony's headstrong older sister, Cecilia (Kiera Knightley). Cecilia, he hopes, has comparable feelings; all it will take is one spark for this relationship to combust. When it does, Briony, who has a crush on Robbie, is compelled to interfere, going so far as accusing Robbie of a crime he didn't commit. Cecilia and Robbie declare their love for each other, but he is arrested and, with Briony bearing false witness, the course of three lives is changed forever. Briony continues to seek forgiveness for her childhood misdeed. Through a terrible and courageous act of imagination, she finds the path to her uncertain atonement, and to an understanding of the power of enduring love.

SWEENEY TODD: Story about a grisly revenge by Benjamin Barker, a man unjustly imprisoned by a lecherous judge. Barker returns as barber Sweeney Todd and exacts revenge. Stars Johnny Depp.

THE GREAT DEBATERS: Inspired by a true story, "The Great Debaters" chronicles the journey of Professor Melvin Tolson, a brilliant but volatile debate team coach who uses the power of words to shape a group of underdog students from a small African American college in the deep South into a historically elite debate team. A controversial figure, Prof. Tolson challenged the social mores of the time and was under constant fire for his unconventional and ferocious teaching methods, as well as his radical political views. Directed by and stars Denzel Washington. Produced by Oprah Winfrey.

CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR: Based on the true story of how Charlie Wilson, an alcoholic womanizer and Texas congressman, persuaded the CIA to train and arm resistance fighters in Afghanistan to fend off the Soviet Union. With the help of a rogue CIA agent, Gust Avrakotos, the two men supplied money, training and a team of military experts that turned the ill-equipped Afghan freedom-fighters into a force that brought the Red Army to a stalemate and set the stage for conflicts in the Middle East that rage to this day. Stars Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

JUNO: Juno is a whip-smart teen confronting an unplanned pregnancy by her classmate, Bleeker. With the help of her hot best friend Leah, Juno finds her unborn child a "perfect" set of parents: an affluent suburban couple, Mark and Vanessa, longing to adopt. Luckily, Juno has the total support of her parents as she faces some tough decisions, flirts with adulthood, and ultimately figures out where she belongs. Stars Ellen Page.