January's long been considered a dumping ground for weak film releases, as studios avoid the award season, figuring it hopeless, and don't want to focus on the film during more important box office periods like summer. This is where you get your Season of the Witch, your spit-out-by-a-computer RomComs like Bride Wars and dreadfully inane "family fare" like Kangaroo Jack or Are We There Yet? (Answer: No.)
Really, who can forget the highly awaited Highlander 3: The Final Dimension (1995) and Big Momma's House 2 (2006)? And generally, when a once-anticipated high profile film gets held until January (see: The Lovely Bones), it's often not a good sign.
But quite a few very good films have found themselves popping up in theaters in January, too, due to a studio's indifference, or due to bad timing, bad luck or even just a smaller studio's attempt to capitalize on a less crowded schedule. In short, even in the dead of winter, post-Oscar consideration period, there are gems to be found. Here are a few of the more intriguing January releases.
Note: This is not an entirely objective list; some January films that became big box office hits - such as Taken - are excluded because, frankly, they're not as good. But yes, some bona fide money hits got their start right after New Year's.