Best Screenplay

[9.0] Bette Davis revived her sagging career and writer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz continued an Oscar streak with All About Eve. Davis stars as Margo Channing, an aging broadway star who takes a sympathetic, aspiring ingenue under her wing. Anne Baxter plays the ingenue and title character, Eve Harrigton. Over the course of the film, Eve ingratiates herself to Margo’s friends and acquaintances, who include a …

[9.0] Brad Davis (Querelle, Chariots of Fire) stars in this true story about an American named Billy Hayes who was sent to a dehumanizing Turkish prison for trying to smuggle hash over the border. Originally sentenced to four years, Hayes learned just 53 days before his parole that the Turkish government upped his term to a minimum of 30 years. While his girlfriend and family …

[7.0] Mickey Rooney headlines this slice-of-life picture about a New York town maintaining the home front during WWII. Rooney plays a highschooler working as a telegram delivery boy to help provide for his family while his older brother is in service. James Craig (The Devil and Daniel Webster) plays Rooney’s employer, who is also a surrogate father to Rooney’s character. (Rooney’s deceased father actually narrates …

[5.5] Janet Gaynor and Fredric March star in a love story so good, they’ve made it four times now — most recently with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in the roles. Gaynor plays a small-town girl with dreams of becoming a Hollywood actress. With encouragement from her grandmother, she arrives in Tinseltown bright-eyed and bushy-tailed only to discover what everyone discovers — that opportunity is …

[7.5] Spike Lee directs the stranger-than-fiction true story of a black Colorado police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s. John David Washington stars as Ron Stallworth, who struck up a relationship with local KKK members over the phone and acted through a white surrogate for face-to-face encounters. Adam Driver plays Stallworth’s partner in the investigation. Just how much is truth and …

[10] In picturesque Italy, 1983, a seventeen-year-old boy falls in love with an older man who is working as his father’s research assistant. That’s it. That’s all Call Me By Your Name is about. And it’s marvelous. So many other coming-of-age, coming out, and gay-centered love stories focus on outside forces exerting pressure on the characters. But James Ivory’s (Maurice, The Remains of the Day) …

[9.0] Not since 1980’s Ordinary People have we had such a genuinely affecting movie about loss and mourning. In Manchester by the Sea, a man with a tortured past discovers he is the legal guardian of his late brother’s teenaged son. Casey Affleck is remarkable and nuanced in the lead role, playing a character who has repressed his feelings for so long that the mere …

[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 …

[8.5] Harrison Ford must hide among the Amish after he discovers corruption within his police department. Witness was an opportunity for Ford to show his acting chops, and it remains one of his best performances. This was the first American film made by Australian director Peter Weir (Picnic at Hanging Rock, Fearless). Weir is probably my favorite director. He balances poetic license with elegant restraint …

[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 …

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