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Oscar Buzzes Around Holiday Films

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 Yahoo.com.

OSCAR-WORTHY SELECTIONS

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.

FAMILY FILMS

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: Three chipmunk brothers, Alvin, Simon, and Theodore, are adopted by a man named Dave. Stars Jason Lee of "My Name is Earle."

WATER HORSE: THE LEGEND OF THE DEEP: A boy discovers an egg on a beach in Scotland that eventually hatches into a "water horse." Later, that water horse grows up to be the Loch Ness monster.

COMEDIES

WALK HARD: The Dewey Cox Story -- America loves larger-than-life musician and songwriter Dewey Cox! But behind the music is the up-and-down-and-up-again story of a musician whose songs would change a nation. On his rock 'n' roll spiral, Cox sleeps with 411 women, marries three times, has 22 kids and 14 step-kids, stars in his own 70s TV show, collects friends ranging from Elvis to the Beatles to a chimp, and gets addicted to -- and then kicks -- every drug known to man. But despite it all, Cox grows into a national icon and eventually earns the love of a good woman, longtime backup singer Darlene. Stars John C. Reilly and Jenna Fischer.

THE BUCKET LIST: A long time ago, Carter Chambers, a philosophy professor, suggested that his students compose a bucket list, a collection of all the things they wanted to do, see and experience in life before they kicked the bucket. But while Carter was trying to define his private dreams and plans, reality intruded. Marriage, children, myriad responsibilities and, ultimately, a 46-year job as an auto mechanic turned his concept of a bucket list into little more than a bittersweet memory of lost opportunities and a mental exercise he occasionally thought about to pass the time. Meanwhile, corporate billionaire Edward Cole never saw a list without a bottom line. He was always too busy making money and building an empire to think about what his deeper needs might be beyond the next big acquisition or cup of gourmet coffee. Then life delivered an urgent and unexpected wake-up call to both of them. Carter and Edward found themselves sharing a hospital room with plenty of time to think about what might happen next -- and about how much of that was in their hands. For all their apparent differences, they discovered they had two very important things in common: an unrealized need to come to terms with who they were and the choices they'd made, and a pressing desire to spend the time they had left doing everything they ever wanted to do. So, against doctors' orders and all good sense, these two virtual strangers check themselves out of the hospital and hit the road together for the adventures of a lifetime -- from the Taj Mahal to the Serengeti, the finest restaurants to the seediest tattoo parlors, the cockpit of vintage race cars to the open door of a prop plane -- with just a sheet of paper and their passion for life to guide them. Adding and crossing items off their list while taking in the grandeur and beauty of the world, they grapple with the difficult questions and the even more difficult answers that plague all of us. And, without even realizing it, become true friends. Stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.

ACTION PICS

NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS: Treasure hunter Benjamin Franklin Gates looks to discover the truth behind the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, by uncovering the mystery within the 18 pages missing from assassin John Wilkes Booth's diary.

I AM LEGEND: Robert Neville (Will Smith) is a brilliant scientist, but even he couldn't contain the terrible virus that was unstoppable, incurable -- and manmade. Somehow immune, Neville is now the last human survivor in what is left of New York City, and maybe the world. But he isn't alone. He is surrounded by "The Infected" -- victims of the plague who have mutated into carnivorous beings who can only exist in the dark and who will devour or infect anyone or anything in their path. For three years, Neville has spent his days scavenging for food and supplies and faithfully sending out radio messages, desperate to find any other survivors who might be out there. All the while, The Infected lurk in the shadows, watching Neville's every move, waiting for him to make a fatal mistake. Perhaps mankind's last, best hope, Neville is driven by only one remaining mission: to find a way to reverse the effects of the virus using his own immune blood. But his blood is also what The Infected hunt, and Neville knows he's outnumbered and quickly running out of time.