Best Picture

[6.5] 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 …

[7.0] Guillermo del Toro serves up a¬†fantasy love story set in the 1960s in which a mute janitor at a top-secret research facility falls in love with… well, a fish man. Sally Hawkins plays the janitor and Doug Jones (a Del Toro regular) plays the fish. Hawkins is endearing and Jones is always reliable, but the supporting players outshine them here. Richard Jenkins is great …

[8.0] Oliver Stone’s Platoon was one of the first major motion pictures to deal with the Vietnam war. Charlie Sheen stars as an infantry volunteer who finds himself in a moral quandry, torn between two sergeants of differing philosophies. Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe give solid, Oscar-nominated performances as the two sergeants, but it’s the director’s voice that comes through most strikingly in Platoon. As …

[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 …

[7.0] Kathryn Bigelow (Strange Days, Near Dark) won the Oscar for directing this suspense thriller about three soldiers who disarm bombs in Iraq. The movie also won Best Picture, maybe just because nothing better came out during the year (except the REAL best picture, District 9, but I digress). It’s far from groundbreaking and surprisingly predictable — but it’s a brisk, entertaining flick that hits …

[7.5] Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly are at the top of their game in A Beautiful Mind, Ron Howard’s Oscar-winning biopic about John Nash, the brilliant but haunted mathematician who overcame schizophrenia and received the Nobel Prize. These are the best performances I’ve seen from Crowe and Connelly — their relationship is the glue that holds the film together. The first two-thirds of the movie …

[3.5] Near the end of both Singin’ in the Rain and An American in Paris, there is a big, epic dance number that feels very out of place. It’s the only thing I don’t like about Singin’ in the Rain, and the only thing I DO like about An American in Paris. The later film is essentially a superb 20-minute dance number tacked onto an …

[6.5] Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent) cowrites and directs this true story of a Boston investigative newspaper team who expose the Catholic Church for covering decades worth of pedophilic activity by over 87 priests in the city. Spotlight‘s not a sentimental movie about the actual crimes being committed, though you will see some survivors talk about their painful memories. The film centers squarely on the …

[7.5] Close-knit friends from a mining community share a harrowing experience during their tour of duty in Vietnam. Michael Cimino’s three-hour long film focuses primarily on the aftermath of the ordeal, now one of the most famous scenes in movie history, a deadly game of Russian roulette forced upon prisoners at a POW camp. Robert DeNiro plays the most level-headed friend, who tries to help …

[7.0] An unusual sequel of sorts, The Godfather Part II spends equal time in the past and the present, exploring the early life of Vito Corleone (with Robert DeNiro taking over the mantle from Marlon Brando) while also following the continuing story of Vito’s son Michael (Al Pacino reprises his role). Thematically and emotionally, the movie¬†plays like a long and redundant epilogue to the first …

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