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Contender: ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’

The Contenders 2011

The name’s Smiley, George Smiley — and he’s the opposite of 007 in nearly every way: A tired old bureaucrat, cuckolded by his wife and dismissed from his top-ranking intelligence job, and yet, on his shoulders rides all hope of identifying the Soviet mole inside MI6.

Gary Oldman wonderfully underplays the lead role in this elegant, thinking man’s spy movie — a long-shot picture contender — as director Tomas Alfredson (“Let the Right One In”) takes his cue from the John Le Carre novel: Instead of showing sexy, save-the-world shenanigans unfolding over martinis and games of baccarat, “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” finds its intrigue taking place between crusty old bureaucrats trading secrets in stuffy parlor rooms — a reminder that espionage is government work, after all.

What took the 1979 BBC miniseries more than five hours to communicate, this dense yet surprisingly dialogue-light adaptation does in just over two (a credit to scribes Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan), with critical assistance from a dream team of Brit thesps, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt and Mark Strong — any of whom could nab a supporting nod, if Focus helps voters decide which one to get behind.

Release date: Dec. 9
Focus
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