From Mary Burgan
Biutiful is one of the best films I’ve seen all year. Moreover, Javier Bardem as its main character deserves his Oscar nomination, and perhaps the statue itself, for his performance. The film is nominated for best foreign language film, and I would vote for it in that category, even though I’ve not had the chance to review the other nominees.
Alejandro González Iñárritu, its director, has created a mysterious and compelling world in Biutiful, one that bears comparison to the imagined worlds created by the three other master international filmmakers in my personal pantheon — Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini and Akira Kurosawa.
Earlier pre-Oscar 2011 reviews from Mary: The Town, Animal Kingdom: Crime Runs in the Family; Why You Should See Blue Valentine and Rabbit Hole; Grit and Bone: Oscar Nominates Strong Teen-Aged Girls; The King’s Speech an Oscar Picture for Colin Firth; Chasing the Oscar Buzz: Part 2 (The Fighter); and Chasing the Oscar Buzz: Part 1 (Toy Story and The Kids Are Alright).
Which is not to say that the film will please everyone. This is a “global” film, like Iñárritu’s Babel (2006), though it does not travel, as that film did, from Morocco to Mexico to Japan. Everything happens in Barcelona, but the inhabitants of that city’s poor neighborhoods come from around the world. The hero of Biutiful is a fundamentally decent man who makes a living by hustling odd jobs and drugs and making deals to exploit illegal workers from places like China, Africa, and Thailand — that host of “guest” workers who live on the margins of every great city.