My first year watching all the nominees. No full-length reviews for any, but a page of capsule reviews is here.

WINNER: The Hurt Locker. A tremendous achievement in film-making, marred only by the last minute grafting on of a bit of more traditional melodrama in the last half hour.

Avatar. Efficient, and a joy to look at, but hardly a work of art.

The Blind Side. Couldn’t bring myself to watch it, sorry.

District 9. Amazing and original science fiction satire with wonderful performances and eye-popping effects.

An Education. Dull TV movie inexplicably nominated for an Oscar.

Inglorious Basterds. Demented war movie with impressive moments and a star-making turn from Christoph Waltz.

Precious. Amazing debut from Lee Daniels, but he has so far failed to live up to the promise.

A Serious Man. Fairly typical Coen fare, but better plotted than some more recent efforts.

Up. Joyful Pixar fantasy, if not quite up there with their very best, but goodness that’s a high bar to clear.

Up in the Air. Fascinating near-miss, with an arresting premise that doesn’t quite give the film the energy it needs to get over the finish line.


A pretty strong year, although nothing quite as good as The Hurt Locker.

WINNER: The King’s Speech. Obvious Oscar-bait but very well done by all concerned. Included in round-up here.

127 Hours. The definition of an unfilmable story, made into pure cinema by a director at the top of his form. . Included in round-up here.

Black Swan. Hysterical fantasy with some effective moments. Review here.

Inception. Perfect popcorn entertainment. Included in round-up here.

The Kids Are All Right. Dreary soapy drama, like an earnest version of Modern Family. Included in round-up here.

The Social Network. Very nifty biopic which with great script, smart directing and a terrific lead performance. Included in round-up here.

Toy Story 3. Obviously an animated sequel was never going to win, but it walked off with Best Animated Feature. Included in round-up here.

True Grit. Redundant but well-executed remake. Included in round-up here.

Winter’s Bone. Posterity now views this as “the film which discovered Jennifer Lawrence” but it holds little of interest for the Hunger Games fan. Included in round-up here.


A far less interesting year with some real clunkers in the nominees list.

WINNER The Artist. Nostalgia rules, because this is all tinsel and no substance. Review here.

The Descendants. My favourite film of the batch. Complex without being convoluted, truthful without being shapeless. Hardly a classic for the ages though. Review here.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Genuinely rotten. The first truly bad film I saw as part of this exercise (but not the last). Review here.

The Help. Coy and winsome treatment of race relations in America. The mix plays rather strangely. Review here.

Hugo. More Hollywood nostalgia, elegantly mounted, but ball-less. Review here.

Midnight in Paris. One good joke does not elevate this self-indulgent doodle to greatness. Review here.

Moneyball. Rather straightforward story, carried like Atlas on Brad Pitt’s movie star shoulders. Review here.

The Tree of Life. Bewilderingly dull coming-of-age drama inexplicably juxtaposed with the creation of the universe. It’s not exactly bad, but I didn’t enjoy it. Review here.

War Horse. As a piece of pure directing, it’s a triumph, but the story is constantly on the verge of absurdity. Review here.


A very strong year, with some absolutely marvellous films nominated.

WINNER Argo. Perfect Hollywood mix of satire, melodrama, adventure and social comment. Review here.

Amour. Exquisitely painful, brutally honest, not without moments of beauty. Review here.

Beasts of the Southern Wild. Probably very good, but I didn’t quite get it. Review here.

Django Unchained. Badly flawed Tarantino nonsense with some moments of power. Review here.

Les Miserables. When it’s good (Anne Hathaway) it’s amazing, but when it’s bad (Russell Crowe) it’s diabolical. Hugh Jackman saves it but the production design of all things almost kills it again. Review here.

Life of Pi. Charming and eye-popping but not terribly deep. Review here.

Lincoln. Astonishing achievement, but never likely to capture a wide audience. Review here.

Silver Linings Playbook. For good or for ill, the David O Russell, Jennifer Lawrence awards machine starts here. Review here.

Zero Dark Thirty. – Alas, not a patch on The Hurt Locker, but a noble attempt. Review here.


WINNER 12 Years a Slave. Awkwardly paced and structured, but containing very powerful moments. Review here.

American Hustle. Superior popcorn fare, with a muddled middle redeemed by a more purposeful, if conventional final act. Review here.

Captain Phillips. Relentlessly focused thriller with an astounding central performance. Review here.

Dallas Buyers Club. Amazing turn from McConnaghey but the narrative doesn’t completely hang together. Review here.

Gravity. Amazing technical achievement, and heart-stopping thrill-ride, given a human centre by Sandra Bullock’s committed playing at the centre of all the pixels. Review here.

Her. Sweetly idiosyncratic fantasy that struggles slightly to find a focus. Review here.

Nebraska. Elderly road-trip tragi-comedy with several bright moments. Review here.

Philomena. Unambitious but heartfelt and poignant drama with marvellous performances. Review here.

The Wolf of Wall Street. Hilariously ghastly, a sort of hedonist’s nightmare. Scorsese at the top of his game. Review here.