Seen and reviewed (Dec. 18)

New films in theaters this week:

— “Antichrist” (not rated), Lars von Trier’s explicit horror-drama examining a married couple’s relationship.
— “Avatar” (rated PG-13), James Cameron’s science-fiction thriller, boasting new effects technology. Shown in the 2D and 3D formats.
— “Did You Hear About the Morgan?” (rated PG-13), a romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker as an estranged married couple.
— “Me and Orson Welles” (rated PG-13), a period comedy starring Zac Efron as a teen who becomes an apprentice to Orson Welles.
— “The Road” (rated R), an apocalyptic thriller based on the Cormac McCarthy novel and starring Viggo Mortensen.
— “Up in the Air” (rated R), a darkly comic tale starring George Clooney as a freelance corporate hatchet man.

Poster art courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures

The week’s best film is “Up in the Air,” a well-acted satire that’s very timely. It’s surprisingly warm, funny and is very smart. The film richly deserves all the awards nominations and acclaim it is getting.

And both “The Road” and “Me and Orson Welles” have strong performances. Mortensen is terrific as a father who will do anything to survive in the former, which is very bleak, while Christian McKay looks and sounds eerily like Welles in the latter.

The dysfunctional couple films are both dreadful, though. “Antichrist” is more unpleasant, noxious, hateful nonsense from the always controversial von Trier, while Grant and Parker seem genuinely contemptuous towards each other — as well as the film they’re in.

Poster art courtesy Twentieth-Century Fox

As for the much-ballyhooed “Avatar,” it is visually dazzling and has some exciting actions sequences. Unfortunately, the story is unoriginal (especially if you’ve seen either “Dances With Wolves” or the animated feature “Ferngully”) and the performances are inconsistent at best.

Which, if any, of these movies fit into your weekend viewing plans?

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