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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Hollywood’s finest five from 2008

Published: January 16, 2009
Section: Arts, Etc.

My top five may not even be close to your top five. A few of them aren’t even up for the major awards. But my top five made this list for many different reasons: some showcased lesser-known talent, some had powerhouse actors doing incredible work, and some were just a total mind trip. Take them or leave them, this is just a smattering of the greatness Hollywood has to offer.

diverse-city-1-16-09_page_1_image_00041. “The Dark Knight”

Ok, this one is kind of a given. I was lucky enough to see “The Dark Knight” in IMAX this summer, and it was one of the best movie experiences I have ever had. Heath Ledger was terrifying as The Joker, and it was nice to see Katie Holmes’s character become more than one dimensional when played by Maggie Gyllenhal. Aaron Eckhart was another stellar cast member, and his portrayal of Harvey Dent was heartbreaking and chilling after his transformation. It’s too bad his character wasn’t left an opening to appear in the next film.

diverse-city-1-16-09_page_1_image_00092. “Doubt”

I’ve read and seen the play before but it wasn’t enough to prepare me for the transition to the screen. Playwright John Patrick Shanley managed to take his Tony Award winning story and successfully bring it to the masses via the talents of Meryl Streep, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Viola Davis. Streep’s Sister Aloysius was a formidable adversary for both Father Flynn (Hoffman) and the naive Sister James (Adams). In Davis’s one scene, she manages to put herself on the same footing as Streep. In the final two minutes of the film comes the most powerful shift in character for the tour de force that is Meryl Streep.

diverse-city-1-16-09_page_1_image_00103. “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day”

Ah, the colorful, flighty goodness that is Amy Adams shines in this period piece with Emma Thompson and Lee Pace. British governess Guinevere Pettigrew (Thompson) spends one incredible day as the social secretary to the lounge singer/aspiring actress Delysia Lafosse (Adams). As she tries to navigate her career and love life she is pursued by three men, including poor pianist Michael (Pace). In the whirlwind day, Miss Pettigrew lives her life glamourously, learning about the darker side of human nature and even finding out more about herself than she ever knew. The ensemble cast is strong and witty, and what seems to be a simple movie actually has much more to it below the surface.