Scott Marks 9 a.m., Dec. 18
August: Osage County
This year’s entry in the dysfunctional family holiday sweepstakes is a heaping plate of fried green magnolias. The Weston clan and company gather in Tulsa to mourn the suicide of the family patriarch and wind up wishing that their beastly, cancer-riddled mother (Meryl Streep) could trade places with him. John Wells who scored big with his debut feature, The Company Men, does little besides can the setbound collection of dinner table tour-de-scream-fests that make up Tracy Letts’ 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Piper Laurie would have been a better casting choice than Streep, who, for the first time in her otherwise spot-free career, acts as both willing assistant and active ingredient in the ghastliness. There’s enough leftover cud from her tempestuous scenery chewing to feed the cast. If this is what passes for Award-winning, state-of-the-art thee-a-tuh, thank God for the movies! With Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, and Chris Cooper, the latter managing to emerge with his dignity intact. 2013.