1. The Hurt Locker (many nominations, including Best Picture)
Why you didn’t see it: It’s an Iraq war movie, and let’s face it, most of those have been sanctimonious sacks of suckage. Plus, you probably weren’t expecting much better from the director of Point Break.
Why you should: Because, awards and critical acclaim and mismanaged marketing aside, this is not some stuffy, important-with-a-capital-I drama.
It is, in fact, a kickass action movie full of explosions, eviscerations and nigh-unbearable tension as bombs are defused (or not) and snipers are picked off.
It’s the sort of film that would be more at home running on TNT’s “Movies for guys who like movies” than in some out-of-the-way art-house multiplex. And don’t forget that that Point Break director also made Near Dark. This is even better.
2. The Cove (Best Documentary Feature)
Why you didn’t see it: A documentary about the importance of saving dolphins sounds about as appealing as a week-old tuna salad sandwich.
Why you should: Put aside for a second that you’ll learn some useful information about which seafood to be careful of eating. The key here is that The Cove is not just some preachy screed about how dolphins are cute and smart, but a full-on heist movie‚Äîlike Ocean’s 11, but real.
See, a team of experts in different fields arrange the perfect break-in to a secluded cove in Japan, so they can gather crucial evidence of secret mass slaughterings.
If George Clooney were in a story like that, you’d be there, right? This is even better, because chances are you don’t already know whether or not they succeeded (do yourself a favor and don’t Google it first).
3. Fantastic Mr. Fox (Best Animated Feature)
Why you didn’t see it: Because the idea that the director of movies like The Darjeeling Limited could make an unabashedly entertaining stop-motion flick for the whole family was an unlikely proposition indeed.
Why you should: Because it’s based on a Roald Dahl children’s book, it has a great cast (Michael Gambon! Bill Murray! Meryl Streep!) and Wes Anderson has lightened up a whole lot.
Kids will love the slapstick; adults will appreciate the ironic juxtapositions of human versus animal behavior. Also, George Clooney in full-on self-parody mode, as he is here, beats George Clooney in self-important, introspective mode (we’re looking at you, Up in the Air).
4. In the Loop (Best Adapted Screenplay)
Why you didn’t see it: The banal title tells you almost nothing about the movie, plus it’s a spinoff of an English TV series, In the Thick of It, which isn’t even available on DVD over here.
Why you should: Assuming you’re not allergic to a variety of different U.K. accents, this is one of the sharpest, funniest satires of government ever made, and you don’t have to know anything about the TV show it’s based on.
A fast-paced, deadpan study of government idiocy during the buildup to a familiar-yet-nameless war, it’ll have you laughing so hard at some of its jokes that you’ll need a second viewing to hear the follow-up lines.
Plus Peter Capaldi‘s foul-mouthed, Scottish damage-control expert makes Rahm Emanuel sound like a choirboy by comparison.
5. Food Inc. (Best Documentary Feature)
Why you didn’t see it: Because almost every expos√© of the food industry ends up telling you to go vegan, and who needs that? Meat and cheese are delicious!
Why you should: Because this one doesn’t. Finally, a truly fair and balanced look at the food industry that yes, dings factory farming for its flaws and overreliance on antibiotics, but also tells you that it’s OK to eat meat if you’re smart about it, and…praises Walmart? C’mon. You have to see that to believe it.
Absolutely agree with all of these. I would add a few as well:
A Serious Man
Up in the Air