Best Picture

[7.0] Some of the most enduring films from silent cinema were directed by F.W. Murnau (Nosferatu). One of those classics is Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, about a man (George O’Brien) who is coerced by a lascivious city girl to kill his neglected wife (Janet Gaynor) so they can be together. The man tries to follow through with the plan while sailing with his …

[9.0] Alfred Hitchcock’s first American film and only one to win a Best Picture Oscar is Rebecca, starring Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier, and Judith Anderson. Based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, the film follows a nervous woman (Fontaine) who catches the eye of a wealthy widower (Olivier). After they marry, she is taken to his ancestral mansion, Manderley, where the icy cold head …

[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 …

1 2 3 5