Review Recaps: The 10 Movies Nominated for Best Picture, and Our Take on Them

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Didn't get around to seeing all ten films nominated this year for Best Picture?

No worries. Fake-it-til-you-make-it with these review snippets of the nominees, by our very own Basterds: the film critics of Village Voice Media.

J. Hoberman writes of Avatar that it "is a technological wonder, fifteen years percolating in King Cameron's imagination and inarguably the greatest 3-D cavalry Western ever made. Too bad that Western is Dances With Wolves."
  • J. Hoberman writes of Avatar that it "is a technological wonder, fifteen years percolating in King Cameron's imagination and inarguably the greatest 3-D cavalry Western ever made. Too bad that Western is Dances With Wolves."
Avatar
J. Hoberman writes in this December 14, 2009 review:
Let no one call so spectacular an instance of political correctness run amok "entertaining." I look forward to the Limbaugh-Hannity take on this grimly engaging development -- which will perhaps be roguishly interpreted by Sarah Palin  as the last stand of indigenous peoples (like Todd!) and women warriors against Washington bureaucrats. At least Avatar won't win James Cameron a Nobel Peace Prize -- but, then again, it just might. Read the full review here.

The Hurt Locker is "an experiential war movie, but also a psychologically astute one, matching its intricate sensory architecture with an equally detailed map of the modern soldier's psyche," writes Scott Foundas.
  • The Hurt Locker is "an experiential war movie, but also a psychologically astute one, matching its intricate sensory architecture with an equally detailed map of the modern soldier's psyche," writes Scott Foundas.
The Hurt Locker
Scott Foundas writes of The Hurt Locker:
It gets inside you like a virus, puts your nerves in a blender, and twists your guts into a Gordian knot. Set during the last month in the year-long rotation of a three-man U.S. Army bomb squad stationed in Baghdad, it may be the only film made about Iraq that gives us a true sense of what it feels like to be on the front lines. It's an experiential war movie, but also a psychologically astute one, matching its intricate sensory architecture with an equally detailed map of the modern soldier's psyche. Read the full review here.

J. Hoberman writes that Basterds is "quintessential Tarantino -- even more drenched in film references than gore, with a proudly misspelled title (lifted from Italian genre-meister Enzo Castellari's 1978 Dirty Dozen knockoff) to underscore the movie's cinematic hyperliteracy."
  • J. Hoberman writes that Basterds is "quintessential Tarantino -- even more drenched in film references than gore, with a proudly misspelled title (lifted from Italian genre-meister Enzo Castellari's 1978 Dirty Dozen knockoff) to underscore the movie's cinematic hyperliteracy."
Inglorious Basterds
J. Hoberman writes of the Quentin Tarantino film in his August 18, 2009 review:
Energetic, inventive, swaggering fun, Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds is a consummate Hollywood  entertainment -- rich in fantasy and blithely amoral. Read the full review here.

Scott Foundas writes: Precious is less about overcoming adversity than about survival--a battle the movie does not begin to pretend can be won in two hours of screen time. No slumdog millionaires here, Daniels' movie puts us through hell--Precious' hell--and leaves us somewhere like limbo."
  • Scott Foundas writes: Precious is less about overcoming adversity than about survival--a battle the movie does not begin to pretend can be won in two hours of screen time. No slumdog millionaires here, Daniels' movie puts us through hell--Precious' hell--and leaves us somewhere like limbo."
Precious
Scott Foundas writes of Precious in his November 17, 2009 review:
Hothouse melodrama one moment, kitchen-sink (and frying-pan-to-the-head) realism the next, with eruptions of incongruous slapstick throughout, this may be [Director Lee Daniels'] stab at finding a cinematic analog for the novel's inventive, naïf-art language--a film style, like Precious' writing style, seemingly being made up as it goes along. Yet even when the movie is at its most schizoid, Precious still packs a wallop. Read the full review here.



"George Clooney plays a commitment-phobic business traveler with no use for meaningful human interaction" in Up in the Air, writes Robert Wilonsky.
  • "George Clooney plays a commitment-phobic business traveler with no use for meaningful human interaction" in Up in the Air, writes Robert Wilonsky.
Up in the Air
Robert Wilonsky writes of Up in the Air (which, as we all know was largely shot here in St. Louis), in his December 9, 2009 review:
There's also a reason studios cast George Clooney. If Steven Soderbergh taught Clooney how to act in Out of Sight, then Reitman has taught him how to stop acting. This is the most vulnerable, the most playful, the most human performance of his career. Reitman's as much the softie as the Coens are cynics -- and it turns out Clooney thrives with the former. Read the full review here.

"The steel Magnolia who takes pity on homeless Big Mike after she sees him walking in the freezing rain in just a polo shirt and XXX-large denim shorts is Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock)," writes Melissa Anderson.
  • "The steel Magnolia who takes pity on homeless Big Mike after she sees him walking in the freezing rain in just a polo shirt and XXX-large denim shorts is Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock)," writes Melissa Anderson.
The Blind Side
Melissa Anderson writes of The Blind Side in her November 17, 2009 review:
In every scene, Oher is instructed, lectured, comforted, or petted like a big puppy; he is merely a cipher (Aaron has, at most, two pages of dialogue), the vehicle through which the kind-hearted but imperfect whites surrounding him are made saintlier. "Am I a good person?" Leigh Anne asks Sean non-rhetorically--as if every second in this film weren't devoted to canonizing her. Read the full review here.

"The aliens have been with us for twenty years already at the start of South African director Neill Blomkamp's fast and furiously inventive District 9, writes Scott Foundas.
  • "The aliens have been with us for twenty years already at the start of South African director Neill Blomkamp's fast and furiously inventive District 9, writes Scott Foundas.
District 9
Scott Foundas writes of District 9 in his August 12, 2009 review:
District 9 is never better than in its first 45 minutes, as Blomkamp maps out the film's social and economic realities via a grab bag of news reports, corporate videos and CCTV cameras. The aliens, we learn, can understand English, but speak in their own indigenous language of guttural grunts and clicks (making this one of two major releases this month, along with Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, to predominantly feature subtitled dialogue). Read the full review here.
The title is a double-entendre in An Education, the film version of British journalist Lynn Barber's memoir about the crash course she received in the "university of life" while studying for her A-levels in early-1960s suburban London," writes Scott Foundas.
  • The title is a double-entendre in An Education, the film version of British journalist Lynn Barber's memoir about the crash course she received in the "university of life" while studying for her A-levels in early-1960s suburban London," writes Scott Foundas.
An Education
Scott Foundas writes in his November 12, 2009 review:
An Education arrives in cinemas at a curious moment indeed for a movie about a headstrong 16-year-old who gives herself willingly to a charismatic Jewish hustler more than twice her age. Whatever will the Roman Polanski lynch mob make of that? Read the full review here.
Is A Serious Man padding the Oscar nominations for Best Picture? Some critics think so.
  • Is A Serious Man padding the Oscar nominations for Best Picture? Some critics think so.
A Serrious Man Ella Taylor writes in her October 27, 2009 review:
The visual impact of all these warty, unappetizing Jews (even the movie's obligatory anti-Semite looks handsome by comparison) carries A Serious Man into the realm of the truly vicious. Read the full review here.
"Up presents the most heartfelt--the most sincere--love story in recent memory," writes Robert Wilonsky.
  • "Up presents the most heartfelt--the most sincere--love story in recent memory," writes Robert Wilonsky.
Up
Robert Wilonsky writes to viewers that seeing Up in 3-D is more distracting than anything, as well as:
But despite its title, Up is decidedly earthbound: The elderly Carl (voiced by Ed Asner) spends almost the entire movie schlepping his house across the South American landscape his wife had always hoped to visit. Joined by a young boy (Jordan Nagai) in need of company, too, Carl's literally tethered to a memory, an anchor with a garden hose wrapped around his torso to keep his home from floating away. Read the full review here.
So there you have it, go see the movies that sound interesting, rent them, or just vomit up these opinions at your next gathering of friends.

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