This is my pick for best picture out of the nominated movies. It has George Clooney as this guy whose wife is a vegetable in the hospital after a boating accident. He's got some other heavy shit going on too, as well as two teenage daughters who give him a hard time.
The key thing in this flick is a lack of flashiness in terms of direction and the actors' performances. This is material that could have easily resulted in some big time Oscar showboating bullshit, but George Clooney keeps it together as a level headed guy keeping it together in the face of tragedy and familial disharmony. The teenybopper chick is solid as the older, bitchy daughter who gets schooled watching her father carry a heavy weight. Even a dopey surfer dude has a nice character arc.
This said, it's a really, really sad movie that will totally bum out lightweight film-goers who think the purpose of all entertainment is to soothe, or to help one "escape reality." You know the kind--they're so far removed from reality in a movie theater, they jabber throughout a movie as if they're in their own living room, oblivious to others trying to watch at the same time. Fortunately, these bozos can often sense when something might not be the feel-good-movie-of-the-year and stay away accordingly. Clooney may be a big star and dreamboat, but he has a well-established history of doing challenging stuff, which might also keep them away. shrug