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Last Updated: Friday, 22 February 2008, 17:15 GMT
Your verdict on the Oscar films
Pat Higgins, BBC News website user

A few weeks ago, we asked you to write your reviews of this year's Oscar-nominated films.

Is No Country For Old Men the Coen brothers' finest two hours? Did The Golden Compass leave you as cold as a polar bear's armour?

This was your chance to be air your views on the movies nominated at this year's Academy Awards.

You didn't have to restrict yourself to the best picture nominees. Any film with a nod was up for grabs.

Here is a selection of reviews we received in the run-up to this year's ceremony.


Nominated for best documentary at this year's Academy Awards, Sicko is the latest movie from Michael Moore, Oscar-winning director of Bowling For Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11. Both his previous films were equally compelling documentaries with over-arching critiques on US society, directly aimed at the folks on Capitol Hill. Sicko is Moore's shock expose of the outdated and inefficient US medical system, dominated by Health Insurance companies who "buy" friends in the US congress.

Moore's latest film illustrates a deeper human aspect not often seen in his previous works. Sicko brings real-life tragedy and heartache to the screen, though not at the expense of Moore's witty revealing of fact - still very much his hallmark as a documentary satirist.

Piece by piece Moore rips up the obsolete Cold War hysteria that surrounds "socialised medicine" and reveals universal health care to be not only a privilege but also a right. Whilst British audiences may criticise Moore for his sympathetic account of patients at a very good London NHS hospital, one must remember that the film is not an NHS advert but rather an American film, criticising a for-profit health system, for a US audience.

Sicko is arguably Moore's finest work. His study sample is varied and he certainly cast the net as wide as possible on the experiences US citizens and US ex-pats have had with health care in the US and abroad. The only weakness is the lack of surprise. Thanks to his previous work we have all come to know what to expect of him.

Michael Moore has adapted the genre he helped pioneer and has supplemented drollness for emotion. Sicko is Oscar worthy, and will surely go down a treat with liberal Hollywood.
Luke Walter, Canterbury

Atonement is a beautifully shot film that visually captures the period. However I could barely keep awake due to its mind-numbing tedium. At the end I could not care less about any of the characters and was so pleased when the final credits started rolling.
Jim Kirk, London

Best Visual Effects should definitely go to Transformers. The thirtysomethings who grew up watching the cartoon were quite satisfied with the rendering of their heroes on the big screen, from the famous transforming mechanical sounds to the shiny metal of Optimus Prime. The detail of the machinery and the obvious attempt to portray the working parts of the machines was outstanding. Plus the robots melded seamlessly into the live action.
Craig, Coventry

Sean Penn's Into the Wild was by far the most overlooked movie experience of the year - a breathtaking piece of work. If you are not captivated by Emile Hirsch's beautiful character, or the beautiful filming of an America we rarely ever get to see, or the fantastic music by Eddie Vedder, then just enjoy the message and the story of hope which is needed in these confusing times. Rarely does a film move of my emotions all at once, but Into the Wild does this and more. Maybe it's good to be overlooked. It makes the experience so much more pure.
Jason Urbanczyk, Los Angeles

Daniel Day-Lewis doesn't do movies all that often, and after watching There Will Be Blood I think I know why. There probably weren't but a small handful of scenes that didn't feature him prominently, and those that didn't were only seconds long. This movie was a vehicle for one of the most intense acting performances that Day-Lewis has ever given. It was pretty much just him for 2 hours and 45 minutes, playing one of the most complex, nakedly ambitious, unstable characters I have ever seen. It was exhausting to watch. I'm assuming it was exhausting to film too! Now I can see why he takes 5 years off in between each film.

The story is based on Upton Sinclair's Oil!, and while I don't know how closely the screenplay follows the original story it was expertly crafted and captured the spirit of the time. It was a long movie, but no part was unnecessary or redundant. Each new section of the film gives the audience a deeper understanding of the characters. Over time we learn just how complex or unbalanced each one actually is. The performances are chilling, and not just that of Day-Lewis. For much of the film he clashes with a local Pentecostal preacher played by Paul Dano.

I feel sorry for Dano because of how difficult it must have been to pull off a convincing character next to Day-Lewis. Many reputable critics said that they were not impressed by Dano's work here, but I think that is just a product of his being overshadowed. If you focus on Dano's character alone, you see a very chilling and unpredictable character. The fact that I was never sure what he would do in a given situation, and that I always suspected him of some ulterior motives, suggests a very nuanced performance of this character.

The movie was phenomenal. It was paced just right, the acting was top notch and this was the first movie that has ever made me take notice of a feature I usually ignore - the score. It was fantastic. It really escalated the tension, even in scenes that didn't seem to have any on the surface. It was mostly strings and was clearly written just for this film. Nothing makes you feel more on edge than screeching violins or deep, discordant bass music.

I try to stay away from talk of symbolism and metaphors, but the music matched perfectly with Daniel Day-Lewis's tense performance. It was as if the music placed you inside the head of this deeply suspicious, hateful man. It really didn't let you relax for a second.
Allison Lyzenga, Pasadena, California

The Golden Compass lacked direction and confidence. I haven't read the book yet and I suspect I would be even more disappointed with the film after reading.

The movie failed to generate enough sympathy and warmth toward the central characters and this is a fault in how the story was pieced together. People unfamiliar with the story are left wondering where new characters are suddenly appearing from. Sam Elliott always plays an endearing cowboy but his abrupt appearance doesn't give us a chance to really like him - the same is true for Eva Green's witch. Lyra, the main character, can inexplicably read the Golden Compass and we find out rather by the way the true identity of Miss Coulter and Asriel. However, we again never generate any real sympathy for the dilemma of either of these characters.

Clearly there was too much information to include in this first instalment - but the wrong material was chosen or at least ineffectively told. The special effects are palatable but can't save it from the myriad of shallow characters and exceptionally abrupt and unsatisfying ending - even if it is a trilogy.
C Arthur Young, Coventry

Juno is a heartwarming film. The ensemble acting is first class and Ellen Page is outstanding as Juno. I especially enjoyed the scan scene; it was funny as well as sensitive. Jennifer Garner was touching as the young woman desperate for a baby. All in all a fantastic film.
Sarah Davis, London

After the disaster that was The Ladykillers the Coens reinvigorate their prestige with No Country For Old Men - a drama interspersed with the blackest of comedy. And they have succeeded in bringing to the screen the most memorable 'bad guy' seen for a long, long time in Anton Chigurh (exceptionally played by Javier Bardem).

Stumbling on a drug deal gone wrong Llewelyn Moss, a burnt-out ex-Nam vet wearily played by Josh Brolin, gets in over his head as he takes the abandoned loot and attempts to flee. Unbeknown to him, a tracker in the loot bag allows Chigurh to track him cross country. The third protagonist in the feature is the less well-drawn Ed Bell, a Sheriff trying desperately to locate the opportunist before the psychopathic Chigurh catches up with him.

Running at two hours, this film flies by as the Coens keep you wrapped up in a deeply engaging character study, which suggestively mirrors their own maturity and views of just getting older. Ample support is provided by Stella Does Tricks actress Kelly Macdonald as the wife whose life is forever changed by her husband's greed, and Woody Harrelson as a cock-sure Bounty Hunter type who more than meets his match. Overall, an excellent outing for the Coens who have proved with this just how much Tarantino has lost focus.
Bob Shark, Belfast

Transformers has some of the worst dialogue ever crowbarred into actors' mouths and a plot riddled with chasms and inconsistencies. It is as gung-ho and jingoistic as a Rambo film and cluttered with awkward racial stereotypes. Yet it managed to be the most enjoyable summer blockbuster of 2007.

Humiliating the rudderless pirates and free-falling spider with which it competed, Transformers rose above its subject matter and refreshed its director's reputation. Shia LaBoeuf proved to be an engaging leading teen in his own Terminator 2 spin-off plotline, pretty much pinning the domestic comedy, conspiracy thriller and alien invasion threads together by himself. Well, almost: none of those elements would have gelled were it not for the implacable self-belief of Michael Bay, whose rakish camera angles, lawnmower editing and fashion-shoot photography actually worked to his advantage for once, turning this utter car crash of disparate ideas into an Indy 500 winner.

Bay's indecently casual skill ensured that Transformers did for robots what Jurassic Park did for dinosaurs, and blessed the final reel with carnage so bewildering that only multiple DVD viewings reveal what was going on in his hyperactive head.

Transformers should never have worked. And yet, it ruled.
Matt Packer, London

Sweeney Todd - when the film started I didn't really know what to expect, and when the first singing part started I thought 'what have I let myself in for here?'

When the film had been on for around half an hour I was amazed how good it was. Quick and creative dialogue mixed with the catchy songs and dark and gruesome surroundings which Tim Burton pulls off so well. Johnny Depp's performance was startling, which is what you come to expect from him. He showed the dark and corrupt side of Sweeney Todd more than others could have. When the film had finished I was left amazed at how good it was and couldn't keep the songs out of my head. Overall 10/10.
Ben Harris, Harwich

Following a three-year hiatus from the comparative disappointments of Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers, the Coen brothers return with a West Texas-set movie thriller in No Country For Old Men. Back on the territory of their first film, noir-B Movie horror Blood Simple, this is a partial return to form - though the film is fatally hamstrung by an anti-climatic last 20 minutes.

Essentially the plot is classic pulp material. Josh Brolin recovers a suitcase full of money from the scene of a bloodbath and is relentlessly pursued by Javier Bardem (already one the great movie villains - a Terminator with a '70s bowl haircut). What plays out over the next 90 minutes is virtuoso film-making with bravura cinematography playing equally to the cerebral and to the brutish. Then... it stops. Suddenly.

By adhering too faithfully to the source novel by Cormac McCarthy, all impetus is lost. An underdeveloped Tommy Lee-Jones is left to spout pithy lines that the previous 90 minutes haven't laid the emotional groundwork for and what's left is ultimately dissatisfying and peculiarly empty.

But make no mistake - as a statement of intent, the Coen brothers are back. Next time though, boys, just trust your own storytelling instincts and we'll have a movie worthy of your name.
Alexander Macdonald, Glasgow

I want to recommend Away From Her for the amazing performance from Julie Christie. She is absolutely radiant throughout and dominates a film about an extremely sensitive subject, Alzheimer's disease. Her acting is flawless and what could so easily have become an over-sentimental treatment of this difficult subject simply stimulates admiration and empathy in equal measure. She literally becomes the sufferer and, in doing so, transcends the pain and confusion that we all too easily recognise, becoming an engaging, humorous and generous human being despite the advancing grip of the disease. She is superbly supported by the other cast members, but it is her central performance that simply exudes quality and maturity. I was astounded by it!

Oscar-bound? I certainly hope so! Never has such a beautiful, low-key expression of acting ability been so wonderfully captured on celluloid.
John Cooper, London





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