Tag Archive: melissa leo

There came a moment early during the evening when I, and I’m sure many other close Oscar watchers, thought the foregone conclusion of The King’s Speech winning Best Picture might not have been so foregone after all. At the beginning of the show, Tom Hanks presented the first two categories, Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography, mentioning an odd, mostly irrelevant statistic: no film had won those two categories as well as Best Picture since Titanic. The first envelope opened and Art Direction went to Alice in Wonderland. Then Cinematography went to Inception. So much for that.

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Dir. David O. Russell
(2010, R, 115 min)
★ ★

The underdog sports movie is a genre, along with the substance-abusing-artist movie, that Hollywood keeps making and award-givers keep voting for. The latest example is The Fighter, which is a workmanlike but not especially distinguished example of the formula. It hits the usual beats: down-on-his-luck boxer Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) struggles to pay the bills, is estranged from his ex-wife and daughter, meets the right girl, and starts to turn things around, and it all comes down to the Championship Fight.

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“Frozen River”

Misty Upham and Melissa Leo, in 'Frozen River'

Dir. Courtney Hunt
(R) ★ ★ ★ ½

In a movie season filled with mixed decisions, it’s a pleasant surprise to see a film that simply works. Frozen River, the feature writing and directing debut of Courtney Hunt, is a compelling story, features characters presented with understanding and insight, and develops according to who they are and what they need.

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