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More award-bait films to be released

Know why there are so many terrible commercial films that come out in January and February? Studios bury their counterprogrammed celluloid Velveeta among the onslaught of festival- and critic-favorites that platform through the country’s cineplexes during awards season.

While this week’s release of Zero Dark Thirty (see this week’s review) is the last of the major Oscar hopefuls to get a local release, there are still more so-called prestige pictures on the way for Vegas theaters, which include the titles below, as well as any surprises from the Academy Award nominations announcement on Jan. 10. (Dates subject to change.)

Amour (Feb. 8) It’s not a question of whether this heartstring-tugger about an elderly couple nearing their final days gets nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, but whether it brings home the goldenrod in March. From the oft-feted auteur Michael Haneke (The White Ribbon, Caché, Funny Games).

Quartet (Jan. 25) Maggie Smith is a favorite for a Best Actress nod as a diva confronting her spurned colleagues, all of whom are to perform together for a gala at their retirement home. This musical dramedy is directed by Dustin Hoffman, in his official directorial debut.

Rust and Bone (Jan. 18) Marion Cotillard plays a socialite who loses her legs and calls upon the help of a nightclub bouncer and single father (Matthias Schoenaerts). This well-reviewed picture isn’t an Oscar favorite, but it comes from French director Jacques Audiard, who made the excellent 2010 Best Foreign Language Film nominee A Prophet. MIKE PREVATT