We’ve been to some of the end-of-season movies, when the Oscar contenders are generally released. Here are a few brief comments and ratings of the pictures we’ve seen so far.






Not for everyone. Young people who enjoy shoot-‘em-ups, vulgarity and raw sex will be bored to tears with this re-creation of the landmark 1977 interviews between President Nixon and his surprisingly adept nemesis, David Frost. But it’s a wonderfully made movie by Ron Howard, and an Acting 101 course for aspiring motion picture aspirants, particularly on the part of Frank Langella who immerses himself as the shamed president as well as anyone could possibly have done. He deserves the Oscar nomination, and movie goers who enjoy American history and political drama will be amazed by the performances.





8 ½

An intriguing picture that may provide Meryl Streep her third Academy Award as the imperious Sister Aloysius who suspects Father Flynn (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) of molesting a black student in the school, but without evidence. Moves slowly in parts, but the acting performances trump any criticism of the screenplay, which left me hanging, particularly at the end. Amy Adams is also deserving of her nomination for her role as the subservient nun, Sister James.

Another great course for students of Acting 101, and a deeply moving picture for folks who appreciate great acting.



Gran Torino:



How Clint Eastwood was overlooked for an Oscar nomination is a wonder. This is a one-man show, not only acted, but directed by Eastwood who — with so many epic films to his credit — has elevated himself to the levels of Spielberg and Scorsese. Eastwood portrays a cantankerous, old widower and a Korean war vet, disenchanted with his new Korean neighbors until he comes to their rescue from a violent gang. Good story. Surprise ending. See it.






The story follows the attempted assassination of Hitler in the summer of 1944, from the point of view of plotter, German Col. Claus von Stauffenbeg, as portrayed by Tom Cruise. It follows the true events fairly well, but to my mind, it was like watching blue-eyed, Malibu surfer Jeffrey Hunter portraying Jesus in King of Kings. He just didn’t fit the role, eye-patch notwithstanding.

Cruise is a fair actor who would be better sticking to Mission Impossible -style roles



Seven Pounds:



I’ve not been a great fan of Will Smith, but he excels in this picture. He plays Ben Smith, an IRS agent with a mysterious past and an unexplained altruistic streak. Also includes a touching romance which takes on the most unusual twist that evolves at the end of the movie… not to be told here. Starts slow, but build momentum and captivating interest as it moves along.



Yes Man:



I like Jim Carrey. I like physical humor. This picture was just plain stupid, and below the talents of this great comic. Antics are overdone, much in the tone of Liar Liar, but less funny.



The Reader:


9 ½

One of the best movies of the year, and with Kate Winslet the only rival to Meryl Streep for the Oscar. In fact, in this movie, Winslet elevates herself a new plateau in women’s acting, worthy of mentioning her name in the same breath as Streep, Bette Davis and Kate Hepburn. As a middle aged woman in 1960s Germany, Hanna (Winslet) engaes in an affair with a much younger fellow, which eventually follows her through the latter stages of her troubles life. Saying any more would give away too much of the plot, but rest assured, this is a powerful and compelling movie, especially for those who follow the Holocaust. I can see Winslet winning this year’s Oscar.

Still to see: Milk and The Wrestler  

Your thoughts?