I've seen all 18 Oscar nominated films in my plan of attack to prepare for Oscar night. Here's my final ranking:

  1. THE DESCENDANTS > Sad. Wonderfully sad. Clooney expresses emotional struggles with just 43 muscles. Sid gets cold cocked.
  2. THE ARTIST > Dance scene retakes = pure chemistry. I would watch this again and again, "With pleasure."
  3. A BETTER LIFE > Didactic title aside, Demián Bichir's performance as an undocumented immigrant father who keeps moving forward is brilliant.
  4. WARRIOR > Best movie nobody is seeing. Rocky with two heroes and way better more intense fight scenes and Nick Nolte as Nick Nolte.
  5. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO > Tried not to like it. Original had Mikael’s generous awe; Hollywood's Lisbeth is deeper, more compelling.
  6. HUGO 3D > Stunningly beautiful, although charmingly predictable, and still wonderfully magical.
  7. EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE > In this modern-day, cloying, epic quest, Odysseus is an 11 yo NYer with Aspergers. I sobbed at that damn answering machine.
  8. MIDNIGHT IN PARIS > Classic Woody Allen, although these days he looks much younger, has blond hair, and wears contacts.
  9. TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY > Would knew such slow pacing could move so quickly. Methodical spy thriller.
  10. MONEYBALL > Best sports business movie since Jerry Maguire. Flips the focus from "Show me the money," to player results - "He gets on base."
  11. MY WEEK WITH MARILYN > Love the acting style contrasts highlighted between Marilyn and Sir Laurence Olivier, yet both prefer younger romances.
  12. IRON LADY > A wonderfully told love story dressed up in pearls to look like a world leader bio pic. Touching, warm, and inspiring.
  13. THE HELP > Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, a dark blue 1962 Cadillac convertible, and a bright red 1959 Corvette roadster. Better than I expected.
  14. BEGINNERS > The costume party scene = most romantic pick-up ever. Arthur, the sub-title talking dog, as funny as Jon Hamm's uncredited Ted.
  15. BRIDESMAIDS > Start with a base of raunchiness, add a dash of physical comedy, and warm until your heart says, "Ahhh."
  16. WAR HORSE > If you get it on DVD, fast forward to the horse running through barbed wire. Watch the next 7 minutes of soldiers cutting him free. Eject DVD and return.
  17. ALBERT NOBBS > Is a pathetic, unlikeable, genderless shell of human being which holds little entertainment value because we never connect with him... err, her.
  18. TREE OF LIFE > Planet Earth with creepy voice overs and a dickweed dad as the apex predator.

What movies did you like best? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Also, check out My Review Graphic of all 18 Movies and my favorite quotes from the best picture nominees.