I've reached the tipping point on pop theorist Malcolm Gladwell. An enjoyable provocateur, for sure -- give him credit for the current debate about the hazards of football, after he compared it with dog-fighting. But he can be insufferably glib, often setting up a straw man (entrepreneurs are gamblers!), then using cherry-picked evidence to tear it apart (no, they're sharp-eyed predators!). He rigs the game -- and profitably, too, commanding a fat speaking fee to dazzle business hopefuls with slickly repackaged common sense.
Co-star Woody Harrelson is getting Oscar love, but not so for Ben Foster, the fine actor at the heart of the other great Iraq war movie of 2009. "The Messenger," like best-picture nominee "The Hurt Locker," motors along on the tightly coiled spring of its lead character -- in this case, a wounded war hero brought home for an even tougher assignment: informing families that a loved one has been killed in the line of duty. There's no showboating in Foster's magnetic performance as a damaged warrior reclaiming his humanness.