Best picture contenders drew a range of critical response

AVATAR
Metacritic score: 84
Rotten Tomatoes: 82
Worldwide B.O.: $2.1 billion
Awards: N.Y. Online Critics
The good: “You’ve never experienced anything like it, and neither has anyone else.” — Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
The bad: “… clears the hurdle in being optical eye candy. Its story, though, is pure cheese.” — Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News

THE BLIND SIDE
Metacritic score: 53
Rotten Tomatoes: 70
Worldwide B.O.: $238 million
The good: “… with a lot of heart and energy, this movie tells a real-life tall tale.” — Michael Sragow, the Baltimore Sun
The bad: “… blinkered middle-class pandering at its most shameless.” — David Fear, Time Out New York

DISTRICT 9
Metacritic score: 81
Rotten Tomatoes: 82
Worldwide B.O.: $204.5 million
The good: “Madly original, cheekily political, altogether exciting.” — Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
The bad: “The backstory beats the hell out of the present-tense plot.” — J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader

AN EDUCATION
Metacritic score: 85
Rotten Tomatoes: 94
Worldwide B.O.: $14.4 million
Awards: Sundance (Audience Award)
The good: “Romantic and wonderfully entertaining.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times
The bad: “A decent but unremarkable film.” — Dan Jolin, Empire

THE HURT LOCKER
Metacritic score: 94
Rotten Tomatoes: 97
Worldwide B.O.: $15.3 million
Awards: Austin Film Critics, Boston Society of Film Critics, Los Angeles Film Critics, New York Film Critics, Washington, D.C., Film Critics.
The good: “A near-perfect movie.” — Richard Corliss, Time
The bad: “… doesn’t bring anything new to the-grunts-in-the-firing-line movies.” — Derek Elley, Variety

INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS
Metacritic score: 69
Rotten Tomatoes: 88
Worldwide B.O.: $311.9 million
Awards: San Diego Film Critics
The good: “It’s a fiendishly entertaining flick.” — Joe Williams, St. Louis Dispatch
The bad: “It’s not boring, but it’s ridiculous and appallingly insensitive.” — David Denby, the New Yorker

PRECIOUS
Metacritic score: 79
Rotten Tomatoes: 92
Worldwide B.O.: $46.2 million
Awards: Sundance (Grand Jury Award)
The good: “Genuinely and irresistibly inspirational.” — Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
The bad: “What’s most bewildering about Sundance sensation ‘Precious’ is its overall shrug-worthiness.” — Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York

A SERIOUS MAN
Metacritic score: 79
Rotten Tomatoes: 87
Worldwide B.O.: $19.6 million
The good: “A tart, brilliantly acted fable of life’s little cosmic difficulties.” — Michael Phillips,
Chicago Tribune
The bad: “It’s hell to sit through.” — David Denby, the New Yorker

UP
Metacritic score: 88
Rotten Tomatoes: 98
Worldwide B.O.: $672.3 million
The good: “A breathtaking ride into a realm of pure imagination.” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
The bad: “‘Up’ left me cold.” — Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com

UP IN THE AIR
Metacritic score: 83
Rotten Tomatoes: 89
Worldwide B.O.: $93.2 million
Awards: National Board of Review, Southeastern Film Critics
The good: “A smart, alert, supremely entertaining movie.” — Ann Hornaday, the Washington Post
The bad: “A movie that is easy to like — and dislike as well.” — J. Hoberman, Village Voice

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