A wrap-up of the critics' bon mots

What do film critics have to say about the Golden Globes nominees? Variety dug in and found some brickbats and bon mots.

MOTION PICTURE — DRAMA

“American Gangster”

“In the end, though, the success of ‘American Gangster’ doesn’t flow from the originality of its ideas, or its bid for epic status, as much as from its craftsmanship and confident professionalism. It’s a great big gangster film, and a good one.”
— Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

“Atonement”

“No two-hour film could ever capture all the riches of (Ian) McEwan’s masterly novel. But Wright and Hampton’s ‘Atonement’ comes tantalizingly close, while adding sensual

delights all its own.”
— David Ansen, Newsweek

“Eastern Promises”

“The actors and the characters merge and form a reality above and apart from the story, and the result is a film that takes us beyond crime and London and the Russian mafia and into the mystifying realms of human nature.”
— Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

“The Great Debaters”

” … it has two brilliant sequences that indicated a better direction for the film than the one it took, which was like one of the ‘Rocky”-type competitive films with the predictable underdog winning ending.”
— Henry Sheehan, KPCC-FM

“Michael Clayton”

“This smart and suspenseful legal thriller pulls you through its story, no stragglers allowed. Hollywood should be making this movie all the time instead of once a year.”
— Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“No Country for Old Men”

“Caught in the movie’s grip, you’re simply hypnotized by the damn thing.”
— Richard Schickel, Time

“There Will Be Blood”

“It’s problematic and, like every movie that strives for greatness this year, has serious flaws, but it’s also bold, wickedly intelligent and certainly a singular vision.”
— Bob Strauss, Los Angeles Daily News

ACTRESS — DRAMA

Cate Blanchett, “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”

“I don’t know why they’d nominate Cate Blanchett for ‘Elizabeth: The Campy Years’ as she’s nominated for her good performance in a great movie, ‘I’m Not There.’ ”
— Bob Strauss, Los Angeles Daily News

Julie Christie, “Away From Her”

“Julie Christie is now 66, but her face hasn’t lost its beautiful definition — the downward-turning mouth, the slightly pointed chin, the eyes that can explode with wrath. Her temperament hasn’t fallen out of shape, either. As Fiona, an Ontario woman succumbing to Alzheimer’s, she can seem lost one moment but then, as an intention pierces through her cloud of unhappiness, crisp and incisive.”
— David Denby, The New Yorker

Jodie Foster, “The Brave One”

“Foster is electrifying as ego and id clash and the movie fires up with genuine provocation. OK, the fire goes out long before the film ends. But Foster’s tightrope walk commands attention. She’s the real brave one.”
— Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Angelina Jolie, “A Mighty Heart”

“Like all big movie stars, she can’t disappear into her role for long; rather, she bobs to the surface of our consciousness, recedes, bobs to the surface, recedes. Her celebrity bequeaths the movie its capital ‘I’ importance, but her wild stare also affectingly suggests the tumult beneath Mariane’s preternatural calm.”
— Manohla Dargis, the New York Times

Keira Knightley, “Atonement”

“Her eyes express doubt and devotion with equal conviction; when she looks at Robbie, there’s no doubting the fierceness of her loyalty to him.”
— Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com

ACTOR — DRAMA

George Clooney, “Michael Clayton”

“We need George Clooney, just as we needed Warren Beatty — seducer of heavy hearts and troubled minds, the beautiful bearer of our very bad tidings.”
— Manohla Dargis, the New York Times

Daniel Day-Lewis, “There Will Be Blood”

“Affecting the near spot-on vocal cadence of the late John Huston, Day-Lewis gives his most compelling performance since his Oscar-winning turn in 1989’s ‘My Left Foot.’ ”
— Jack Mathews, New York Daily News

James McAvoy, “Atonement”

“McAvoy is astonishing here. (Joe) Wright urged him and (Keira) Knightley to look at mid-century British romances like ‘Rebecca’ and ‘Brief Encounter,’ and these actors apparently took those movies, and the restrained but deeply emotional style of acting within them, into their hearts.”
— Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com

Viggo Mortensen, “Eastern Promises”

“Mortensen uses the accent, the posture, the eerie stillness to devastating effect.”
— Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Denzel Washington, “American Gangster”

“His performance is smooth, confident, and more than a little familiar.”
— Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

MOTION PICTURE — COMEDY OR MUSICAL

“Across the Universe”

“Somewhere around its midpoint, ‘Across the Universe’ captured my heart, and I realized that falling in love with a movie is like falling in love with another person. Imperfections, however glaring, become endearing quirks once you’ve tumbled.”
— Stephen Holden, the New York Times

“Charlie Wilson’s War”

“A journalistic satire of realpolitik. … Hanks, who has been repressing the sleaze he showed in early roles for too long, bites into Charlie’s buttery corruption, and Nichols and Sorkin turn the wonkish jargon of politics into light comedy by staying absolutely true to it.”
— Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

“Hairspray”

“… a great big sloppy kiss of entertainment for audiences weary of explosions, CGI effects and sequels, sequels, sequels.”
— Jack Mathews, New York Daily News

“Juno”

“And like Juno herself, the film outgrows its own mannerisms and defenses, evolving from a coy, knowing farce into a heartfelt, serious comedy.”
— A.O. Scott, the New York Times

“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

“The movie is so finely minced a mixture of (Stephen) Sondheim’s original melodrama and (Tim) Burton’s signature spicing that it’s difficult to think of any other filmmaker so naturally suited for the job. Depp propels the production through sheer graceful grit of stardom. … He’s the most interesting person on the screen. … Bonham Carter’s corpse-bride complexion complements Depp’s.”
— Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

ACTRESS — COMEDY OR MUSICAL

Amy Adams, “Enchanted”

“Don’t be fooled by the delicate, doll-like looks: In ‘Enchanted,’ (Adams) delivers a subtle and even powerful performance, in this case as a young woman in the throes of discovering her true, heretofore repressed, emotional nature.”
— Ann Hornaday, the Washington Post

Nikki Blonsky, “Hairspray”

“As Tracy, trumpet-tonsiled newcomer Nikki Blonsky is a dynamo.”
— Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Helena Bonham Carter, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

“(Mrs. Lovett is) played by Helena Bonham Carter, who offers a fascinating and very delicate portrait in misbegotten love.”
— Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

Marion Cotillard, “La Vie en rose”

“As Piaf, who died at the astonishing age of 47 in 1963, actress Marion Cotillard delivers such a galvanizing, spend-it-all performance that the character wins your heart as she tests it, toys with it and breaks it.”
— Michael Sragow, the Baltimore Sun

Ellen Page, “Juno”

“… Ms. Page, a 20-year-old Canadian who is able to seem, in the space of a single scene, mature beyond her years and disarmingly childlike.”
— A.O. Scott, the New York Times

ACTOR — COMEDY OR MUSICAL

Johnny Depp, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

“And in his sixth collaboration with Burton, the actor Johnny Depp … proves his range, his nerve and his ability to use a light but confident baritone voice, with a pop edge, to surprising dramatic ends.”
— Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

Ryan Gosling, “Lars and the Real Girl”

“I think we put up with Lars at all only because Gosling has such an affinity for the wounded boy birds he tends to play that it’s easy to watch him do his thing.”
— Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

Tom Hanks, “Charlie Wilson’s War”

“Hanks is winning — his Charlie is a courtly and whip-smart reprobate — but it’s a stretch for this quintessentially life-size star to be cast as a force of nature.”
— David Ansen, Newsweek

Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Savages”

“Jon Savage, the angry lump played by a brilliant — oh, let’s just cut to it — the brilliant Philip Seymour Hoffman, looks like a man who’s taken as much abuse as he likes to deliver.”
— Manohla Dargis, the New York Times

John C. Reilly, “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story”

“A parody of warts-and-all pop-star biopics out of the Judd Apatow factory (he produced and co-wrote it). … As Dewey moves into the hippie ’60s, then the variety-show ’70s, Reilly lends his weariness a goofy heart.”
— Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

ANIMATED FEATURE

“Bee Movie”

“The movie’s not even close to Pixar standards — the animation is slapdash and the story construction‘s a mess — but the vibe is loose-limbed and fluky, and the gags have an extra snap that’s recognizably Seinfeldian.”
— Ty Burr, the Boston Globe

“Ratatouille”

“A tale of an upwardly mobile rat shows once again that we’re in a golden age of animation.”
— Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“The Simpsons Movie”

“… like a cross between the early mayhem of the Bugs Bunny cartoons and dialogue by Edward Albee. The genius is in the writing and in keeping all gambits created by the individual writers in sync, so the piece has a tonal consistency and a narrative flow.”
— Stephen Hunter, the Washington Post

FOREIGN LANGUAGE

“4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”

“This is probably the best movie of the year from anywhere in the world.”
— Bob Strauss, Los Angeles Daily News

“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”

“Simultaneously uplifting and melancholy, graced with an unexpected sense of possibility.”
— Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“The Kite Runner”

“‘Foreignness’ is the great leveler in this pretty good adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s pretty good 2003 best-seller.”
— Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

“Lust, Caution”

“A psychologically intricate and sexually explicit film that’s further proof of Ang Lee’s skills.”
— Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“Persepolis”

“It’s a unique kind of animated film and shows that true creativity is still alive and well in animation.”
— Bob Strauss, Los Angeles Daily News

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Cate Blanchett, “I’m Not There”

“Blanchett disappears into the role as eerily as she became Kate Hepburn a few years back: The pipe-cleaner legs, the masklike shades, what critic Janet Maslin once called the ‘fabulous corona of unkempt hair.’ “
— Ty Burr, the Boston Globe

Julia Roberts, “Charlie Wilson’s War”

“But Roberts, too, is quite good, imbuing Herring with as much steely resolve as Wilson or Avrakotos, albeit expressed in different ways.”
— Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic

Saoirse Ronan, “Atonement”

“Saoirse Ronan chills as the girl Briony.”
— Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle

Amy Ryan, “Gone Baby Gone”

“One of the film’s best assets is the complexity and dimensionality of its characters … the child’s mother (an excellent Amy Ryan), a drug addict who is both brave and shockingly selfish. … The film is intellectually engaging, and the tense style in which it unfolds also packs a powerful emotional punch.”
— Claudia Puig, USA Today

Tilda Swinton, “Michael Clayton”

“Watching as her character, Karen Crowder, nervously prepares for a crucial presentation, carefully laying out her nylons, is at once chilling and heartbreaking.”
— Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Casey Affleck, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”

“… it’s a story of violence and the men who commit it; it’s a story about an odd sort of outlaw celebrity and the people who are drawn to it. Robert ‘Bob’ Ford, in a memorable, electrified performance from Affleck, is a callow young man who idolized James from boyhood, and ‘reckons’ he can emulate James’s mettle.”
— Glenn Kenny, Premiere

Javier Bardem, “No Country for Old Men”

“With a compressed-air slaughterhouse stun gun as his weapon of choice, Chigurh, played by the chillingly effective Bardem, is the key reason so much graphic blood is spilled on screen.”
— Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Charlie Wilson’s War”

“Not only does Hoffman fire up the movie with his every appearance on screen, but he energizes Hanks too.”
— Rick Groen, Toronto Globe and Mail

John Travolta, “Hairspray”

“John Travolta may be wearing a fat suit but still moves like the star of ‘Saturday Night Fever.’ ”
— Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times

Tom Wilkinson, “Michael Clayton”

“As Arthur Edens, a law partner whose work on a huge class action suit threatens to unravel the case, the great Tom Wilkinson delivers spoken arias with soaring, manic conviction.”
— Ann Hornaday, the Washington Post

DIRECTOR

Tim Burton, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

“Burton makes this as fluid and dynamic as any screen ride this year, musical or otherwise.”
— Jan Stuart, Newsday

Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, “No Country for Old Men”

“An intense, nihilistic thriller as well as a model of implacable storytelling, this is a film you can’t stop watching even though you very much wish you could.”
— Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

Julian Schnabel, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”

“Here, the artist who used to glue broken pottery to his own paintings has scattered, layered, and shuffled images to create a very specific universe as sensual as the subject himself described it in hard-won words.”
— Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

Ridley Scott, “American Gangster”

“… an intelligent, well-made and seductive movie.”
— Richard Schickel, Time

Joe Wright, “Atonement”

“With his second feature film, 35-year-old Joe Wright has done more than enough to earn his general’s uniform.”
– Peter Bradshaw, the Guardian

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