The answer is yes and no. In terms of the studio films, the early-year, crappy-movie-dumping routine has continued. How else would you explain films like The Spy Next Door or Repo Men getting nationwide releases? It's a shrewd but calculated move that these studio heads make, and for the most part these decisions work. Shutter Island would have probably gotten swallowed in its initial October release, but in February it makes over $125 million (and so far, the fourth highest grossing film of the year). When every movie at the multiplex is a mountain of elephant crap, the elephant crap is bound to sweep up some money.
Scorsese's Oscar chances may have vanished with 'Shutter Island's February release, but it does not make it any less viewable...
So how did I manage to bat a thousand on my movie ventures so far? Determination and research. The biggest misnomer about the early-year slump is that there are no good films to be seen. This is blatantly untrue. Good movies are coming out all year round, but you just have to know how to look for them. People in metropolitan areas have the advantage, obviously, because they have the benefit of the first round of film festivals. Most of the time, at these festivals you're able to see great films before people are even getting the chance to say that they are great (in my case, I was able to see Winter's Bone and Leaves of Grass at Orlando's Florida Film Festival).
But even without the festivals, good films (or perhaps the more appropriate term is "unique films") are sprinkled in and around movie theaters all year. It just takes a lot of effort to go and see them. Greenberg is only playing for a single weekend at your local independent theater? Sometimes it's worth it to shell out the cash for gas to get a chance to see it. The Ghost Writer is taking a while to expand to your area? Be patient, all good films make their way to you. If they don't, perhaps they weren't worth seeing to begin with.
I guess what I'm trying to say is to drop the cynicism that comes with movie-going around this time of the year. There are always unique experiences to be found. You just have to know how to look.