Some of the also-rans worth second look

Some of the also-rans worth second look

Each year during Oscar season, a lot of movies and actors bubble up for consideration, but only a few are actually nominated. It’s not that these “almost nominees” weren’t worthy; it’s just that something else was a little bit better. Many of these films are just now out on DVD and are worth noting since none of them played in the Beaumont area. Judge for yourself if any of these performances and/or films should have received nominations.

“I Love You Phillip Morris” brought Jim Carrey a lot of attention, and in a good way. He was crowded out of the best actor category, but critics were kind to his performance in this offbeat true story with Carrey as a gay conman who repeatedly breaks the law to be with the man he loves, a fellow prisoner played by Ewan MacGregor. This is the kind of quirky story you can’t make up. Rated R.

“Fair Game” is the film adaptation of the real life Valerie Plame scandal during the Bush administration. Naomi Watts was considered a best actress contender for her portrayal of Plame in this political hot potato, but it never materialized. Sean Penn stars as her husband Joe Wilson, whose truth telling got his wife outed as a CIA operative, endangering her life and her family. Rated PG-13.

“Made in Dagenham” is a sort of British “Norma Rae” set in the ’60s. Star Sally Hawkins isn’t as well known to American audiences but she was also considered a possibility for a best actress bid as the ringleader of a group of female workers at a Ford auto plant in Dagenham, England, take on the union for better pay and a little respect. Rated R.

“Casino Jack” is another based-in-fact political scandal brought to the screen with Kevin Spacey starring as Jack Ambramoff, the lobbyist mixed up with the mafia who is now serving time for currying favor with elected officials using bribes including trips, money, etc. His arrest and confession brought down several congressmen, as well. Spacey, a natural mimic, does a great impression of Abramoff, who fancied himself a real player, which was his ultimate undoing. Rated R.

“Somewhere” is Sofia Coppola’s fourth feature and the first after the critical and box office disappointment “Marie Antoinette.” This latest effort has been compared to her best known “Lost in Translation” and stars Stephen Dorff as a hard partying rock star living at the famed Chateau Marmont in LA. When his young daughter, played by Elle Fanning, comes to live with him, it forces the usual issues of what’s important in life. Priorities, man. Rated R.

“Mao’s Last Dancer” may not have factored into the awards season, but its dance scenes make “Black Swan” look strictly amateur. If you’ve ever seen a performance of the Houston Ballet, chances are you watched Li Cunxin perform. This is his inspiring true story of growing up in China training as a ballet dancer and his eventual defection to the United States. Under the direction of HB creative director Ben Stevenson (Bruce Greenwood), Cunxin went on to become one of this company’s most talented lead dancers until his retirement not long ago. Directed by Bruce Beresford, Cunxin is played by newcomer Chi Cao. Rated PG. 

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