James Franco gives a career performance in Danny Boyle’s R-rated real-life story of Aron Ralston, a hiker who was trapped by a boulder for five days before he was forced to cut off his own arm. It’s both hard to watch and impossible not to.
On her fifth studio album, the pop diva returns to form in the wake of last year’s darker-toned Rated R, balancing dazzling dance-floor fodder (such as ”What’s My Name?”) with sweetly intimate ballads (like ”Fading”).
ASSASSIN’S CREED: BROTHERHOOD
A sequel to last year’s Assassin’s Creed II, Brotherhood arrives with Master Assassin Ezio traveling into Renaissance-era Rome to take down his Templar foes. Skillful use of weapons like axes, bows, and blades should bring victory — and a new multiplayer mode makes slaying even more fun. (Rated M)
Now in season 2, the comedy about a group of guys and their fantasy football league is delightfully lewd and silly, and the perfect follow-up to its raunchy lead-in, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. (FX, Thursdays, 10:30 p.m.)
THE BIG BANG THEORY
CBS’ beloved series has accomplished the rare feat of making intellectualism both admirable and hilarious. And this season’s stellar collection of guest stars (George Takei! Mayim Bialik! Eliza Dushku!) has given us more reasons than ever to totally geek out. (CBS, Thursdays, 8 p.m.)