The Hurt Locker—Rather than take sides on the Iraq issue, Kathryn Bigelow’s great film simply puts you in the place of an American demolition expert who is charged with defusing bombs, whether they are hidden in a car or strapped to a suicide martyr. The result is a look at the tension of battle and the effect of that tension takes us places we’ve never been in a movie. Oscar choice for best picture and best director.
Up in the Air--In this timely, mini-masterpiece Jason Reitman gives us a look at the issues of loneliness versus community in the era of corporate downsizing. The film is witty, sophisticated, thoughtful and deeply poignant. George Clooney’s performance is virtually perfect.
Inglourious Basterds--There is plenty of the quirky Tarantino shock-ism at work here, but the best parts of the film grow out of his gifts as a director (the tension in the farm house interrogation and in the basement café meeting are superbly framed and spectacularly tense). Oscar choice: Christoph Waltz, male supporting actor.
A Single Man—Colin Firth is brilliant as a college professor who thinks his world has ended when his lover and their two dogs are killed in a car crash and he slowly, methodically plans to end it all himself. In his debut as a film director, Tom Ford shows a remarkable feel for creating his own cinematic universe—a dream-like adventure that moves at a deliberate pace in which nothing is rushed. Stylish in every way. Oscar choice: Colin Firth, best actor.
An Education-- This is a deceptively complex film about youthful awakening that changes directions frequently but never at the risk of mood or believability. Oscar choice: Carey Mulligan, best actress.
THE NEXT BEST:
A Woman in Berlin--The film is set in Berlin in 1945 just after Soviet Union troops arrive and the soldiers’ treatment of women is so savage that you may wince even though you know the women believed in a Nazi regime that killed millions at home and abroad. The story is filled with conflicting questions of honor, surrender, duty, expedience and sacrifice.
District 9-- Yes, yes, there are lots of socio-political messages at work here (from corporate madness to human intolerance) and there may be a few times in the nearly 2-hour film when things seem a touch sluggish, but there’s no denying this is a sci-fi classic that will be a favorite of revival house audiences for years to come.
Baader Meinhof Complex” --“The Baader Meinhof Complex” deals with a complex subject—politically-minded terrorism—without forcing a particular point of view on the audience.
(500) Days of Summer
It Might Get Loud
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
The Damned United
Away We Go
A Serious Man
Crazy Heart (excellent performance by Jeff Bridges)
RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS (no particular order)
Michael Jackson’s This Is It
The Headless Woman
The Girl from Monaco
State of Play
Julie & Julia
The Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard
Drag Me to Hell
Hotel for Dogs
The Invention of Lying