- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 22, 2007

Editor’s note: Michael Leaser, a Washington-based magazine editor is the winner of The Washington Times Critic For a Day Contest. He lives in Alexandria.

Best Picture

Heart says: “The Queen.” This rich, textured character study of a reserved, traditionalist queen and her young, flamboyant prime minister in the midst of a royal family crisis is a subtle and moving piece of cinema. Alas, this family probably isn’t dysfunctional enough for Tinseltown.

Head says: “Little Miss Sunshine.” Hollywood loves dysfunctional families. Then again, people generally love themselves. “Sunshine’s” motley crew’s pathetic, though amusing, quirks will end up endearing themselves to Uncle Oscar.

Best Director

Heart says: Paul Greengrass, “United 93.” This riveting, poignant memorial to the passengers of “United 93” deserves more than the two nominations it received. Mr. Greengrass has orchestrated what may be the defining docudrama of our times.

Head says: Martin Scorsese, “The Departed.” One of the most skilled directors in modern film history pulls out all the stops (and just about every major male star in Hollywood) with his latest crime saga.

Best Actor

Heart says: Leonardo DiCaprio, “Blood Diamond.” Taking nothing away from Mr. DiCaprio’s compelling, conflicted performance in “The Departed,” he reveals a layered, moral complexity in “Blood Diamond” that finally makes good on the promise he’d shown in films like “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” “Catch Me If You Can” and “The Aviator.”

Head says: Forest Whitaker, “The Last King of Scotland.” An eerily seductive tour-de-force performance from an exceptional actor.

Best Actress

Heart says: Helen Mirren, “The Queen.” She won my heart. Long live the Queen.

Head says: Helen Mirren, “The Queen.” The beauty of Helen Mirren’s performance is that she allows you to admire, and even love, her staid, reserved Queen Elizabeth, not despite these attributes, but because of them.

Best Supporting Actor

Heart says: Djimon Hounsou, “Blood Diamond.” It’s a crime that we haven’t seen more of this passionate actor who, through sheer willpower, will find a way to touch your soul. His climactic scene with his son in “Blood Diamond” is worth the price of admission alone. In Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad,” he sent shock waves through theaters with his “give us free” outcry. I say, “Give him Oscar.”

Head says: Eddie Murphy, “Dreamgirls.” The academy will honor a comedic actor who has enjoyed a long and successful career in the industry. See Robin Williams, “Good Will Hunting.”

Best Supporting Actress

Heart says: Jennifer Hudson, “Dreamgirls.” Miss Hudson moved the hearts and souls of moviegoers with her stunning performance. Take that, “American Idol.”

Head says: Jennifer Hudson, “Dreamgirls.” Miss Hudson was the heart and soul of the movie.

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