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Globe critics' choices

Here are the names our critics think should be on the list

From Monday's Globe and Mail

In a year replete with good movies and virtually barren of great ones, here's my semi-wish list.

The Merchant of Venice.
Although not even on Oscar's radar, it's a fiercely intelligent and timely adaptation.

Before Sunset. A Rohmer-esque sequel that sparkles with thoughtful conversation and throbs with the ache of life's missed chances.

Vera Drake. A gripping film that insists we judge an abortionist -- but evenly, firmly and mercifully.


Michael Radford for The Merchant of Venice. Painterly but never static, his take on the play is purely cinematic, stripping the text lean without losing its subtleties.

Richard Linklater for Before Sunset. For reinventing Paris, and injecting so much visual breathing space into a short and talkative script.

Mike Leigh for Vera Drake. No filmmaker, in any cinematic culture, has a better eye or ear for the working class.


Al Pacino in The Merchant of Venice. His Shylock is superb, a classic case of an American actor finding the conversational tone in the verse without losing the metre.

Liam Neeson in Kinsey. With his hair as upstanding as his intelligence, it's a nuanced portrayal of a crusading empiricist whose subject happens to be sex.

Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland. For showing us how a sex symbol can play a sexless character, all without losing his screen magnetism.


Imelda Staunton in Vera Drake. For her moving portrait of the bad wrought by good intentions, of a woman as good as gold and as guilty as sin.

Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. For dangling so beautifully on the precipice of outrageous, and for carrying Jim Carrey.

Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby. For not letting her boxer stumble into ring clichés, and for handling the sucker punch of the movie's final act.


Clive Owen in Closer. For his picture-stealing mix of menace and vulnerability.

Thomas Haden Church in Sideways. For making buffoonery, chauvinism and selfishness seem so damn likeable.

Morgan Freeman in Million Dollar Baby. Once again, he's the perfect humanizing foil to Clint Eastwood's flinty protagonist.


Cate Blanchett in The Aviator. Her daring portrayal (not imitation) of Katharine Hepburn is a spark of life in a frequently moribund picture.

Virginia Madsen in Sideways. It takes some real acting to play a seduction scene with Paul Giamatti.

Lynn Collins in The Merchant of Venice. Watch out for this young American -- the quality of her Portia isn't strained in the least.



Several of the year's best pictures (Dogville, Moolade) don't have a chance in Hades with the Hollywood crowd, so we'll stick with the probable.

The Aviator. Second-rate Martin Scorsese but with beautiful transitions and a handful of great scenes.

Before Sunset. A small but smart blend of ideas, formal invention within real-time conversation, and a good love story.

Kinsey. Smart, if reverent, biopic with more edge underneath its palatable, audience-friendly surface than most critics gave it credit for.


Martin Scorsese for The Aviator. Even when just on a craft level, he creates the sequence of fact and camera motion that makes the emotion better than anyone else.

Michel Gondry for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Taking Charlie Kaufman's pretzel twist at breakneck, Jim Carrey speed, Gondry made every actor look good here. That's a kind of brilliance.

Richard Linklater for Before Sunset. For a smart match of amiable content and sophisticated style.


Javier Bardem in The Sea Inside. Bardem makes you completely understand the legendary charisma of euthanasia advocate Ramon Sampedro while barely moving a muscle.

Al Pacino in The Merchant of Venice. A great Shylock in an utterly intelligent handling of Shakespeare's controversial play.

Liam Neeson in Kinsey. The best performance of Neeson's career, as the puritanical biologist with the erect hair, who created a sexual revolution.


Imelda Staunton in Vera Drake. She may look like a little teapot in the film but this was the best performance of the year.

Nicole Kidman in Dogville. Her best performance to date, as the vengeful figure of Grace in Lars Von Trier's Brechtian allegory.

Uma Thurman in Kill Bill: Vol. 2. It's not easy playing an icon, and Thurman, elongated in lips, torso and legs, stretches to fill out the part.


Thomas Haden Church in Sideways. He has great comic timing, and for those of us who missed the TV series Ned and Stacey, he was the happy surprise of the year.

Jamie Foxx in Collateral. His Ray is a good impersonation; this is an intriguing original character.

Clive Owen in Closer. The easy star of this overrated Mike Nichols film, Owen outclasses the pretty Hollywood talent.


Cate Blanchett in The Aviator. What starts as a brittle caricature of Katharine Hepburn turns into a portrait of a brilliant misfit.

Irma P. Hall in The Ladykillers. A great turn as the church-going lady in the Coen brothers' beginning-of-the-year film.

Kerry Washington and Regina King in Ray. The chorus of Ray's life. Kerry Washington plays his wife, Della Bea Robinson, a source of steadfast strength. Regina King is incendiary as his mistress, Margie Hendricks, the angry woman scorned.



Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It won't get nominated, but it moved me.

Finding Neverland. Emotional and sincere without any hint of treacle.

Million Dollar Baby. Sweaty, haunting and a complete surprise. It'll win.


Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby. A seasoned pro at the top of his game. He'll win.

Bill Condon for Kinsey: He made a big, generous movie that juggled a lot of challenges well. He won't get nominated, but I'd vote for him.

Alexander Payne for Sideways: He made a small, smart movie into a big hit.


Jeff Bridges in The Door in the Floor. He won't get nominated, but there was no better performance this year, in terms of fully fleshing out a character.

Javier Bardem in The Sea Inside. Also unlikely to get a nomination, but he gave the least self-indulgent performance in a role that could have been completely self-indulgent.

Jamie Foxx in Ray. Truly soulful. He'll win, and raise the roof.


Catalina Sandino Moreno in Maria Full of Grace. If they gave awards for invisible acting, she would win them all.

Imelda Staunton in Vera Drake. Until Hilary Swank came along, she was a lock. Not a false note.

Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby. Another tough-cookie role. She'll win again.


Thomas Haden Church for Sideways: How well does he know this guy? He is this guy.

Morgan Freeman for Million Dollar Baby: I've included him because I think he's going to win. But this role wasn't a stretch for him. I'd vote instead for Peter Sarsgaard in Kinsey, who I thought was great.

Clive Owen in Closer: Sexy beast. Now he's a star.


Virginia Madsen in Sideways: Grown-up loveliness. You can tell she was waiting for this one, and made the most of it.

Natalie Portman in Closer: The academy loves an ingénue, but Portman's got a long career ahead of her.

Kate Winslet in Finding Neverland: For being widowed and then dying without ever begging for our sympathy.

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