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Holiday movies aren't all about fluff. Don't get me wrong, I like Elf and Love Actually as much as the next person (watched both this season, Elf for the first time!) but this year's holiday fare was meaty and well worth the escape in the cold and crowds.
First on my recommendation list is The Imitation Game, featuring the newly everpresent (out of nowhwere unless you watch Sherlock) Benedict Cumberbatch and equally everpresent Keira Knightley. Great ensemble cast, intriguing story, terrific acting by BC and historically important, both from the standpoint of the birth of technology as a winning weapon in WWII, ethical questions surrounding the use of this technology and timing, and also the tragedy of thwarting one's real self in the midst of prejudice and misunderstanding.
Wild is also at the top of my list, both for solid performances by Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern as well as a gripping story and back story. REI is best supporting actor (great product placement?) and the scenery along the Pacific Crest Trail should also be nominated.
Finally, in the underdog category for an Academy Award, I'd like to see Michael Keaton win for Birdman. Reminiscent of Robin Williams' performance in The Fisher King, Keaton holds his own among Emma Stone, Naomi Watts and a slimmed down almost unrecognizable (but good) Zach Gallifinakis. Great stuff.
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