Best Actor

[8.0] Stanley Kramer (Inherit the Wind, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner) directs an impressive roster of talent in this dramatization of four Nazi judges on trial for war crimes in occupied Germany. Spencer Tracy leads the cast as the American judge summoned to preside over the case. While considering passionate arguments from the prosecution (Richard Widmark) and defense (Maximilian Schell), he spends his evenings developing …

[4] Cliff Robertson stars as Charly, a mentally disabled man who agrees to have an experimental operation that makes him more intelligent. But just as the experiment’s success is announced to the scientific world, Charly learns he will soon regress to his original state. Robertson gives an fairly effective performance here, but Charly, based on the required junior high school reading title, Flowers for Algernon, …

[5.0] George C. Scott’s charisma is the best thing Patton has going for it. The film is a pastiche of the famous (and infamous) army general’s career through World War II, including his successful invasion of Sicily, media blunders resulting in military reprimand, and his eventual aid in the fall of the Third Reich. The film initially paints Patton as a hard-ass who gets the …

[7.0] A pair of New York city narcotics cops try to bust a big heroin deal being brokered between suspected mobsters and a French connection. But one of the cops, ‘Popeye’ Doyle (Gene Hackman), has a history of recklessness and threatens to lead his partner (Roy Scheider) down another dangerous rabbit hole in his obsessive pursuit of the drug dealers. Based on a true story …

[6] Maestro Billy Wilder directs Ray Milland as a drunk writer circling the drain in the multi-Oscar-winning The Lost Weekend. Milland’s character is supposed to begin recovery on a long holiday weekend with his brother (Phillip Terry) and gal pal (Jane Wyman), but after he steals money to spend at his favorite bar, he gets drunk and misses their departure time. Things get progressively worse …

[7] Broderick Crawford plays a small-town hick who attracts a populist following that takes him all the way to the governor’s mansion, even though his ascent is riddled with corruption and crime. All the King’s Men is really about Crawford’s support team and how they weather his immorality. John Ireland and Mercedes McCambridge play the two key supporters. They begin the film bright-eyed and full …

[8] A curmudgeonly obsessive-compulsive (Jack Nicholson) falls for a charming waitress (Helen Hunt) and strikes up an unlikely friendship with a gay neighbor (Greg Kinnear) in As Good as It Gets, another comedy/drama hybrid from the sometimes brilliant mind of James L. Brooks (Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News). In lesser hands, this one could have turned out a tonal mess, but Brooks and the cast …

[8.0] Rami Malek stars as Freddie Mercury in Bryan Singer’s (X-Men, Valkyrie) biopic about the formation and explosive success of rock group Queen. The film centers primarily around Mercury — his estranged relationship with his family, his homosexuality, his drug use, and eventual battle with AIDs — but without ignoring the other members of the band, played by Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, and Joseph Mazzello …

[7.0] Colin Firth plays the stuttering King George VI, who never wanted to be king for fear of his speech impediment bringing shame to him and his family. The King’s Speech focuses on the antagonistic relationship between the king and his therapist, Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush, and culminates in a live radio speech the King gives on the eve of Britain’s declaration of …

[8.0] A family tragedy reunites three men who share a traumatic childhood experience in Mystic River. Sean Penn and Tim Robbins took home richly-deserved Oscars for their performances in this Oscar-nominated best picture from the ever-reliable Clint Eastwood. Mystic River is a gripping, well-paced mystery that employs misdirection and plot twists better than any other film in recent memory. Eastwood is at his directorial best …

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