Artfully filmed by painter and director Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a bittersweet tale of personal triumph, although Bauby’s inner life includes thoughts and ideas that are far from chaste. (The film is rated “PG-13” for nudity, sexual content and some language).

Enchanted (3 nominations)
Disney’s Enchanted is a fairy tale that brings an animated prince and his princess-to-be into real-world New York, followed by the evil queen who wants to preserve her power by killing off the young girl before she can marry the prince.

Amusing and full of catchy tunes—all three of the film’s Oscar nominations are in the category of Best Song—Enchanted is an especially good film for young girls, who will enjoy the sweet romance between Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey. (For the year’s best film for older girls, see "Underrated: These Films Deserved Better," below.)

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (3 nominations)
Johnny Depp is nominated for Best Actor in the title role of Stephen Sondheim’s musical about a murderous barber, brought to life by director Tim Burton. As with No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood, Sweeney Todd showcases the dark recesses of the human heart, but unlike those films, Todd includes a form of justice for those who seek the destruction of others.

Soaked in blood, Sweeney Todd is not for the faint of heart. Those who can stomach Todd’s descent into madness will find that the story vindicates Todd’s accusers, but the taste the film leaves is not pleasant. Its songs are memorable, if not memorably sung, and the entire package is so effectively gloomy that Sweeney Todd is difficult to recommend. But it’s also very hard not to respect.

La Vie En Rose (3 nominations)
Marion Cotillard plays Edith Piaf in a strong performance that has drawn critical raves for months, and has her making a serious run for the Best Actress Oscar. The film suffers from being too long and doesn’t flinch from showing Piaf’s unpleasantness, but the woman’s obnoxious, destructive behavior wears thin. Cotillard’s remarkable transformation into Piaf makes the film worthwhile, even though it’s not an easy sit.


The Bourne Ultimatum
 (3 nominations)

This blockbuster is nominated for Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing. The film is so rapidly cut that it’s hard not to believe it deserves some sort of award for holding viewers rapt throughout its running time.

Transformers (3 nominations)
Michael Bay
’s Transformers goes up against The Bourne Ultimatum in the sound editing and sound mixing categories, and earns a third berth for its visual effects. What, no screenplay nomination?