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What the Academy Overlooked

Amy Adams in the enchanting
Amy Adams in the enchanting "Enchanted." (By Barry Wetcher -- Disney)
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Sunday, February 17, 2008; Page M08

When it comes to Oscar, sometimes what we love gets the snub. Style critics and reporters fondly recall movies from 2007, from the art house and the multiplex, that we would give a statuette (or two) to.

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"ENCHANTED"

War, guns, betrayal, death, depression, dysfunction. Gee, thanks a lot, Hollywood, you big fat downer! But wait, here's "Enchanted," a parody of a Disney fairy tale in which the singular Amy Adams trills and twirls and brings princesses, friendship and true love into our tight little hearts. Why the enchanting Adams was overlooked for an actress nomination is unfathomable. She is a delight. She is Cool Whip on cookie dough. We haven't left the theater skipping like this since the surprisingly good Hugh Grant/Drew Barrymore rom-com "Music and Lyrics." Meanwhile, Disney should receive some sort of special meta award for releasing a movie that's a parody of its very Disneyness. And one that makes you leave the theater skipping.

-- Leslie Yazel

"THE HOST"

I keep thinking of that stealthy beast in "The Host," dangling, waiting beneath a bridge over Seoul's Han River. I went in knowing that this was a Korean monster movie with vague anti-U.S. undertones. What I hadn't expected, and what haunts me still, and what makes me wish "The Host" was up for Best Foreign Film, is its quirky and tragic portrayal of the Park family: When their youngest relative is taken and killed (or not?) by the rampaging monster, these estranged relatives arrive at the crisis center and collapse, together, in an anguished heap. Then they start beating and kicking the you-know-what out of one another. In this latter-day "Godzilla" comes the year's best movie about home dysfunction not starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. The monster isn't even half the Park family's problems.

-- Hank Stuever

"CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR"

The '80s, those were heydays, eh? Ladling out the pork by day, knocking back the single malts by night (in a hot tub with Miss November). That's the kind of American-style political shenanigans you can get behind. Charlie Wilson, in the famous phrase, might have been "a little nutty and a little slutty," but the congressman from East Texas had style. And in Mike Nichols's film, with a script from Aaron Sorkin that just zoom-zooms, we have the Office Scene: Wilson, played by Tom Hanks, scrambling to control the damage of a blooming sex-and-drug scandal as he simultaneously hatches a plan with new best friend, CIA spook Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman, nominated for Best Supporting Actor, in walrus moustache), to covertly fund a proxy war against the Soviets on the side of the mujahedin in Afghanistan. Talk about walking and chewing gum at the same time.

-- William Booth

"ROCKET SCIENCE"

Can somebody explain why a film as brilliant as "Rocket Science" was dumped on an indifferent market in mid-August? Maybe that just seemed to fit with the other indignities suffered by its adolescent lead character, Hal Hefner, whose life is painfully circumscribed by a cruel stutter. So of course it makes total sense that our antihero tries out for the debate team and his crush is the team's whip-smartest girl. Thus can the yearning arc of his character be ignited, although nothing flies in a predictable trajectory. I didn't love it only because I'm soft on funny/quirky/high school/indie-soundtrack/dysfunctional-family pictures; writer-director Jeffrey Blitz deepened, shaded and somehow rendered authentic every character here. Like "Rushmore" or "Dazed and Confused," it's a teen classic.


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