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The Messenger Delivers Outstanding Performances

If I had a vote, The Messenger would be one of the 10 Oscar Award nominees for "Best Picture," and Ben Foster, Samantha Morton and Woody Harrelson would all receive acting nominations. It should not be missed and is that good. Seek it out.

Invictus Invokes No Passion

Directed by Clint Eastwood, Invictus is the story of South Africa's political transformation in the late twentieth century and the role its rugby team played in bridging the racial divide. How could it go wrong? By not generating the requisite momentum for a triumphant story about cultural and ethnic identity.

Gibson Doesn't Excite in Dull Edge of Darkness

Did you enjoy Mel Gibson in Payback or Ransom? He's on that level in Edge of Darkness. It's a decent comeback, if those movies are your idea of a good time. But it's truncated rather than taut, sluggish rather than satisfying, and dull rather than edgy.

Daybreakers Shows Vampire Genre Still Has a Heartbeat

Daybreakers takes the vampire genre in some new directions, but it can't memorably resolve its story. With strong atmosphere and respectable performances, it jolts viewers with a few shocking moments. But the filmmakers' attempts to cater to the basest impulses of today's horror-movie audiences ultimately work against the movie.

Legion Leaves Biblical Truth Behind

Legion has elements of the first coming of Christ and an apocalypse suggesting the second coming, dressed up in all sorts of religious terminology that might make viewers who don't know any better believe they're watching a Bible-based film. But Legion is nothing of the sort. It's a mess—and it can't be saved.

Tooth Fairy Doesn't Offer Much to Smile About

If you think the sight of The Rock in a pink tutu and oversized sparkly wings is funny, well, Tooth Fairy is the movie for you. After all, the screenwriters get a lot of mileage out of seeing the former wrestler play a has-been hockey star forced to reveal his softer, fairy side.

Leap Year Has Some Classic Movie Charm

In what's basically a remake of Frank Capra's It Happened One Night set in the always-photogenic Irish countryside, Amy Adams and Matthew Goode do manage some winsome chemistry a la Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in Leap Year.

Preacher's Kid Doesn't Sing

It's not that the message of Preacher's Kid (directed by Stan Foster) is bad. Its message good. But the movie's execution of this truth is where it fails miserably. The script is poor. The acting is amateurish. And the music uninspiring.

Stars May Shine, But Nine Still Suffers from Sensory Overload

Even with five Oscar-winning actresses delivering fantastic performances without really having that much to work with, the screen adaptation of Broadway musical Nine may have the star wattage but ultimately does little in the way of actually illuminating the audience.

Meryl Streep Shines Once Again in It's Complicated

Between serving up a pitch-perfect portrayal of Julia Child in this summer's Julie & Julia, voicing George Clooney's wife in Fantastic Mr. Fox and proving that 50 is apparently the new 30 in the saucy rom-com It's Complicated, it's been another dazzling year in cinema for the Oscar winner.

Imagination Reaches Overload in The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is so bursting with visual wonders and ideas about faith and belief that one viewing can't do it justice. With only time for one viewing, this reviewer absorbed enough, however, to understand that, despite some memorable moments, the film is a disjointed mess.

Crazy Heart Tells It Like It Is

It's an old tale told a thousand times—the washed up, boozed up, aging singer, who's making his rounds at bars and music dumps, hoping for one more chance at life and love. That's Crazy Heart in a nutshell. And that's where this review would end if it were not for a stellar performance by Jeff Bridges.

Costumes, Art Direction Trump Performances in The Young Victoria

The Young Victoria is not the best film currently playing, or even a particularly good one, because the story has a split personality. But some beautiful interior shots and costuming compensate somewhat for this period piece's identity crisis.

Heartbreak Overshadowed by Special Effects in The Lovely Bones

Those hoping for glimpses of Peter Jackson's stunning foray into dream-like drama with 1994's Heavenly Creatures will be sorely disappointed in The Lovely Bones. Not only does it lack the book's emotional gravitas, but the choice of garish, Cirque du Soleil visuals end up downplaying the story's real focus.

Watson Keeps Entertaining Sherlock Holmes Chugging Along

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective has been reinvented for the Jason Bourne age. Adding to the brawn and brains is a dash of romance. But the main chemistry is between Holmes and Dr. Watson, a sidekick who just can't kick the habit of helping Holmes solve another case.

By-the-Books Smarts VS Life Experience Debated in An Education

In addition to an old-fashioned love story complete with a gloriously throwback aesthetic, An Education poses the age-old question of which educational experiences are really the most important: what happens in the classroom or in "the real world."

The Blind Side Shows Faith in Action

After burnishing her star power with the summer hit The Proposal, Sandra Bullock embodies Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side and, in the process, creates one of the year’s more memorable characters. And she’s no fictional creation.

Quirky Fantastic Mr. Fox Lives Up to Its Title

It's nearly impossible to overstate how wonderful this movie is. Living up to its title as well as any film of recent memory, Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox is a whirlwind of madcap humor, surprising emotion and true artistry.

Brothers Buries Its Most Interesting Themes

Just in time for Christmas—and for President Barack Obama's newly announced strategy for the war in Afghanistan—comes Brothers, director Jim Sheridan's (In America) remake of a Danish drama about sibling and generational conflict among one military family.

Not Perfect, The Men Who Stare at Goats Still Good for Laughs

Though not perfect, The Men Who Stare At Goats still makes for a good time at the movies. At this time of year when many films are self-important Oscar-baits, it’s refreshing to have one that’s main goal is to simply make us laugh.

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