Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks in Saving Mr. BanksSAVING MR. BANKS

Saving Mr. Banks concerns the efforts of the crinkly-eyed Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) in getting the persnickety, Hollywood-averse British author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) to sign over the book rights to Mary Poppins. (Spoiler Alert: He does.) And as it's a Disney movie about a Disney movie with Disney products and Disney people - including Uncle Walt himself - popping up nearly every time you blink, the cynic in me resisted director John Lee Hancock's dramatic comedy for as long as humanly possible. Then Thompson's seemingly impenetrable Travers broke down while watching the Banks family sing "Let's Go Fly a Kite" at Mary Poppins' first public screening, and I was a goner. Aw crap, I thought while wiping away tears. Two more minutes and I would've been fine.

FrozenFROZEN

As its fans (and I'm one of them) will gladly attest, Disney's Frozen is a bit of a throwback to the studio's recent golden age of animated entertainments - that period from the late '80s to the mid-'90s that found more-or-less traditional fairy and folk tales goosed with healthy portions of Broadway razzmatazz. (Those in the press championing this new work as a welcome and rather bold return to form, however, do seem to have conveniently forgotten about 2009's excellent The Princess & the Frog and 2010's near-excellent Tangled.) But while much of the film follows the standard Disney-in-its-prime formula to the letter - big-eyed ingénue heroine, check; wacky animal sidekick, check; rafter-shaking power ballad destined to win an Oscar, check - there is one aspect to Frozen that separates it from the Little Mermaid/Beauty & the Beast/Lion King herd: The movie is kind of bonkers.

Taylor Schilling and Zac Efron in The Lucky OneTHE LUCKY ONE

Every time I leave a movie version of some Nicholas Sparks novel, I'm relieved if it's not, thus far, the worst movie version of some Nicholas Sparks novel. It's to The Lucky One's good fortune, then, that 2008's Nights in Rodanthe still scrapes the bottom of that particular barrel, because otherwise we might've had a new champion.

Emma Stone in Easy AEASY A

With the release of The Town, Ben Affleck's directorial career, in my opinion, now boasts a two-for-two success ratio. So does Will Gluck's, who follows last year's hilarious (and sadly under-praised) male-cheerleader parody Fired Up! with the current, also hilarious '80s-teen-flick parody Easy A. It's no doubt too soon - and maybe even too ridiculous - to ask this, but is it possible that Gluck is our long-awaited heir apparent to Christopher Guest?

The Princess & the FrogTHE PRINCESS & THE FROG

Like many of you, I'm sure, I've grown somewhat nostalgic for the hand-drawn animated Disney musicals of a long-ago era -- by which I mean the early '90s. But I'll be honest: Almost nothing about the previews for the studio's The Princess & the Frog convinced me that the old Disney magic was, at last, about to be recaptured.

Mel Johnson Jr. as Frederick Douglass Last winter, in conjunction with his impending Visiting Artist residency with Quad City Arts, I had the opportunity to interview Los Angeles-based actor/director/playwright Tom Dugan. He was heading to our area to perform Robert E. Lee: Shades of Gray - a self-written solo production in which he portrayed the Confederate general under the direction of Mel Johnson Jr. - and during our phone conversation, Dugan recalled the process by which much of the play was written: In the back of a van, surrounded by books, while touring On Golden Pond with Jack Klugman.

When the Putnam's IMAX theatre first opened its doors in 2002, the plan was to give audiences a big-screen educational experience they wouldn't forget. Yet in the past six months, you're nearly as likely to catch Beauty & the Beast or Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban at the Putnam as you are an educational opus along the lines of Everest.

Todd Louiso, John Cusack, and Jack Black in High FidelityHIGH FIDELITY

John Cusack, at his best, has made a career out of playing two disarmingly similar character types: those who feel like losers, but are actually cooler than anyone else in the room (see his roles in The Sure Thing, Say Anything..., and Grosse Pointe Blank), and those who think they're cooler than anyone else in the room, but are actually losers (The Grifters, Bullets Over Broadway, and Being John Malkovich).