For what they had to work with -- this was a weak year, with brilliance deep but not broad -- the Academy chose well and there is little worth complaining about. So to pull focus from Oscar fussing, here are other noteworthy and/or overlooked movies made by current nominees:
If you liked Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine, then you'll love her in Keane. No cat-clawing dance moves to hide behind here. In this 2004 movie about a man scrambling to find his kidnapped daughter, Breslin must play a spectrum of emotions without the maturity to exhibit them effectively. This role is, in many ways, more of a feat than Olive.
If you liked Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls, then you'll love him in The Nutty Professor. This was Murphy's true comeback, and one of the great comic performances of all time. He portrays six characters (five of which have dinner together, in the same scene, twice) and manages to run the gamut between ribald and heartwarming, regardless of how much latex is between him and the material.
If you liked Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, then you'll love her in Death Becomes Her. I've blogged effusively about this movie before, but this is a much better showcase of Meryl's comic talents. She's praised for her "understatement" in Prada (puh-leez), but it's her overstatement in DBH that resounds with true showmanship and sends the movie (and us) into orbit. As I have before, I simply offer this.
Other nominees who've done better work in previous films? This ain't limited to actors.
Oscar Shorts Pt 3: The Live Action Nominees
3 hours ago