Best Supporting Actress

[6.0] Cary Grant plays a wandering Londoner who’s reluctant to settle down. This changes when he discovers his mother, played by Ethel Barrymore, has terminal cancer. Poverty and loneliness drive Grant and Barrymore to desperate measures, and just when you think things can’t get any gloomier, the film ends with foreshadowing of the second world war. None But the Lonely Heart is a dark film, …

[7.5] Precious is the kind of movie a studio exec must dread hearing a pitch about: “So, there’s this girl, and she’s really sad, her daddy raped her, she named her down syndrome baby Mongo, her mother violently abuses her, she’s HIV-positive, and, yeah, it really sucks to be her.” Surprisingly, Precious doesn’t wallow in melodrama. It plays straight-forward and honest, and you really start …

[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 …

[6.0] This star-studded best picture Oscar nominee is credited for kicking off the boom of disaster flicks that plagued (or bedazzled?) the 1970s. It’s entertaining enough, though I much prefer The Towering Inferno. All of the Airport movies (there would be two more over the next seven years) are fun if for no other reason than watching major Hollywood stars and revered actors slumming it …

[7.5] David O. Russell directs a top-notch cast in this story of a Massachusetts boxer who tries to get out from under the influence of his crack-addicted brother and domineering mother. If those character descriptions sound like Oscar-bait, indeed they are — Christian Bale and Melissa Leo both took home supporting performer Oscars for their portrayals. Mark Wahlberg is commendable as the main character, and …

[7.0] Director Sydney Lumet (12 Angry Men, Network) takes on Agatha Christie and delivers a light-hearted soufflĂ© of a murder mystery. I always tend to enjoy ensemble films within a claustrophobic setting, so being trapped on the Orient Express during a blizzard with Lumet’s star-studded cast was a real treat. Albert Finney headlines the venerable collection of stage and screen actors as Christie’s famous detective …

[6.5] Anthony Minghella (The English Patient, Talented Mr. Ripley) adapts Charles Frazier’s book about a Civil War deserter trying to get back to his lover. The film goes back and forth between the soldier’s story and the sweetheart’s story. My main issue with Cold Mountain is that these two characters, played by Nicole Kidman and Jude Law, barely know each other at all before they …

[5.5] A British diplomat in Kenya tries to solve the mystery of his activist wife’s murder, only to get in over his head with the culprits — a pharmaceutical company that is intentionally poisoning and killing people. The first third of the film belongs to Rachel Weisz, who plays the deceased wife in a series of flashbacks. Weisz took home the Oscar for best supporting …

[8.0] A surprisingly effective blend of romance, comedy, and supernatural horror, Ghost stars Patrick Swayze as a murdered man who works through a flim-flam psychic (Whoopi Goldberg) to save the life of his endangered girlfriend (Demi Moore). Ghost became so popular, I think a lot of us take it for granted today. But in the summer of 1990, full of sequels and overproduced action pics, …

[7.0] George Clooney stars in this thriller about a lawyer who gets called in by a major corporation to “fix” a potential whistle-blower who is losing his mind the longer he keeps his secret. I never thought I would enjoy this movie because the marketing made it look so drab and dreadful, but it’s actually a solid little thriller where one wrong move or some …

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