1. The Hurt Locker
The best movie in a year of movies about messed-up men is directed by a woman, Kathryn Bigelow. Played in a career-making performance by Jeremy Renner, demolitions expert Sergeant William James, like his namesake, is pragmatic and philosophical and a fan of religious experiences — namely, the rush that comes from defusing an IED before being blown to bits. Renner makes his character seem utterly reassuring in his competence and totally unreliable in his recklessness. And what of the Iraq War? Without polemics, Bigelow evokes all of its tragedy and absurdity. The Hurt Locker is the first genuine work of art to emerge from the Iraq debacle.
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