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Walker's Three to See: Oscar Shorts, Another Year, King's Speech

(Feb 11, 2011) KCUR Arts Reporter Steve Walker shares his film picks for the weekend. By Steve Walker

Oscar-Nominated Shorts: Animation and Live Action

Of the 10 films in this package (each one with separate admission), 9 of them make an impact. Among the live-action shorts, "The Confession" is only 26 minutes long but could easily withstand another hour, which would elongate and build-up its creepiness. It's about a Catholic kid in England about to embark on his first priestly confession; though he has nothing at first to confess, a half-hour later he's got 4 deaths on his conscience. All of the animated shorts are good but one is excellent. Bastien Dubois' 11-minute "Madagscar, A Journey Diary" plops the filmmaker down in a foreign land and his take on it is a gorgeous melange of different animation styles, from water-color on notebook paper to stop-motion using little toys. It's a brilliant feast for the eyes. - Walker

Another Year

The brilliance of English director Mike Leigh is in his ability to explore complex psychic and socio-economic issues by putting common, everyday people under his microscope. And it's no accident that those people are played by the finest actors Britain has to offer - in the case of his latest film, "Another Year," Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen, Imelda Staunton and, in a performance that stings, Lesley Manville. Broadbent and Sheen play a happily married couple who often find themselves surrounded by those untouched by similar luck. As Sheen's co-worker friend, Manville is devastating as an aging tart who got the short end of the stick when it came to life's uneven distribution of happiness.

The King's Speech

Playing King George VI, father of the current Queen of England, Colin Firth is the man to beat for this year's Best Actor Oscar. The royal suffered from a debilitating, humiliating stutter which, in turn, ate away at his charm and confidence. With the loving support of his wife (Helena Bonham Carter) and the unorthodox tactics of a speech coach (Geoffrey Rush, who's also wonderful), he is eventually able to fill the shoes he was born to wear. Ably directed by Tom Hooper, the movie is whip smart, engagingly funny, and incredibly moving.

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