Best Movie for Grownups
En español | America had a century or so to make the definitive movie about slavery, but it took the British-born team of director Steve McQueen and star Chiwetel Ejiofor to finally do it. The true story of a free black man sold into slavery in the years before the Civil War manages to crystalize the diabolical combination of savage brutality and condescending paternalism that sustained America's Original Sin. Through sheer artistry, it remains a beautifully realized film.
We invested in Dern in the 1970s, when his brooding performances in such movies as Coming Home held Brando-class promise for his career. Now, with his turn as a cranky, determined fellow who is convinced he's won a million dollars, Dern, 77, finally pays that 40-year-old dividend.
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She's never less than brilliant, but this time — as a woman seeking the son she was forced to give up — Dame Judi, 79, takes our breath away. Wronged by the world at every turn, her Philomena is fierce, innocent and, it turns out, a better person than we may ever hope to be.
Watch: 'Philomena' movie trailer
As the good-natured but picked-upon husband of a domineering wife (Margo Martindale), Cooper, 62, brings a refreshing breeze of humanity to a cast of characters whose chief family value seems to be an enduring disdain for each other.
Best Supporting Actress
Easy to forget that the talk show queen, 59, has already been an Oscar-nominated actress (The Color Purple), but her searing performance as the conflicted wife of a career White House butler (Forest Whitaker) is all the reminder we need.
Watch: 'The Butler' movie trailer