I'm just catching up on New Yorkers, so I'm late in remarking upon this...but David Denby's piece in the February 9/16th issue, entitled "Curious Cases" really nails it. Below are a few of my favorite observations....but click on the link and read the full piece. It's worth it.
-As you may have noticed, 2008 was not a great year for movies. There was nothing comparable to the hair-raising "There Will be Blood," or the ravishing "Diving Bell and the Butterfly," or the sinister "No Country for Old Men," from 2007. Even so a nod for best picture could have gone to more deserving movies, such as Jonathan Demme's "Rachel Getting Married," which settles down into a revelatory examination of a family's anguish and joy; or "Happy-Go-Lucky," Mike Leigh's startling look at the power and the limits of goodness....
-The total of thirteen nominations for "Benjamin Button" has to be some sort of scandal. "Citizen Kane" received nine nominations, "The Godfather: Part II" eleven, and this movie, so smooth and mellow that it seems to have been dipped in bourbon aging since the Civil War, is nowhere close to those two.
-Boyle has created what looks like a jumpy, hyper-edited commercial for poverty--he uses the squalor and violence touristically, as an aspect of the fabulous.