And the nominees are....

EXCERPT FROM THE REVIEWS OF ROBERT EBERT

THE FATHER

A watch. A painting. A chicken dinner. A snippet of conversation.

These and other everyday pieces of a life take on greater significance and heartbreaking meaning throughout the course of “The Father.” They’re at once mundane and unreliable, tactile and elusive within the ever-shifting mind of Anthony Hopkins’ character, an 80-year-old Londoner succumbing to dementia. 

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

Daniel Kaluuya gives an electrifying performance that raises the hairs on the back of your neck. Kaluuya is riveting as he prowls the stage inspiring his audiences. He makes you believe he’ll succeed in his mission to unite a “rainbow coalition” of people of all races against a common enemy. It’s stellar work that will be talked about for some time, and it buys a lot of goodwill for a film that has some serious script problems.

MANK

with Gary Oldman in the title role and a superb supporting cast, Fincher has crafted an entertainment that’s provocative, pointed, ruthlessly entertaining, and in some respects, particularly near the end, a little bit infuriating.

Whatever it is, “Mank” is not, as several have proclaimed, a “love letter” to old Hollywood, or to the movies themselves. The movie capital of the United States depicted here is one where almost nobody is happy in their work, or proud of it for that matter.

MINARI

It is a classic immigrant story with specific, often unique new details. A Korean American family headed by a father, Jacob (Steven Yeun) and mother Monica (Yeri Han), came from Korea in the 1980s and spent time in California working as chicken sexers, separating baby chicks by gender. Now they have moved with their two American-born children, a serious and mature girl named Anne (Noel Kate Cho) and a six-year-old named David (newcomer Alan S. Kim), hoping to start a 50-acre farm in a small Arkansas town. 

NOMADLAND

Hitting the road in search of work as a seasonal employee at an Amazon center, Fern starts living in her van, eventually getting involved with a group of modern nomads, people who sometimes form makeshift communities, but she inevitably ends up alone again, traversing the American landscape. Fern is the unforgettable center of Chloé Zhao’s masterful “Nomadland,” a movie that finds poetry in the story of a seemingly average woman. It is a gorgeous film that’s alternately dreamlike in the way it captures the beauty of this country and grounded in its story about the kind of person we don’t usually see in movies.

PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

It’s a film about a woman searching for catharsis that she’ll simply never find. Look at the notebook with the names of the men she’s taught a lesson—there are dozens of them. And there’s a sense that even going right to the people who caused this pain can only do so much, which is then enhanced by an intense final act. I have to admit I thought Fennell had written herself into a corner—it felt like nothing could possibly satisfy Cassie’s emotional arc—but then she pushes right through that corner with a final act that will divide audiences.

SOUND OF METAL

a film that should catapult Riz Ahmed to the top of any producer’s casting list. His work here is a model of restraint, a performance that goes for the effective low-key choices instead of the broad emotional ones every time and is all the more powerful by feeling more genuine. Films about life-changing events often play to the cheap seats, turning up the melodrama to tug at the heartstrings, but Marder and Ahmed have collaborated here on an incredibly refined character piece. It’s a movie that doesn’t just allow for silence but thrives in it, with Ahmed’s eyes and body language charting the arc of his character. He doesn't miss a beat.

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

it is an accomplished ensemble piece, thick with great performances pushing for space in the same frame.  but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it all felt a little too refined and manufactured. That Sorkin sense that everyone knows exactly what to say and do in any given situation, even as they express doubt with perfect diction and vocabulary. The protest movement and the government’s attempt to quell it should be more organic than this film ever even flirts with being. It looks and sounds great, but should it?