Drive – 8

A taut, tingling, stylish and supercool action thriller. The plot is a genre staple; how it is told makes the movie. Nicolas Winding Refn uses silences, and holds them, while the background drumbeat and technomusic push the suspense, and when violence erupts it is shocking – as in the sensation of an electric prod on your seat. Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan are brilliant, and generate their own electric charge without saying a word. The ending rather resembles Hamlet, surely no coincidence from a Danish director.

The Help – 8

A rare old-fashioned well-made film, with good guys, bad guys, a plot, fine acting, a bit of history, local color and a satisfying ending. This is sure-fire Oscar bait, although with so many deserving actresses – in order, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Emma Stone and Jessica Chastain – it’s hard to know who will get the nominations and in which category. The only false note for me was Bryce Dallas Howard’s Hilly Holbrook, too extreme for belief. The blogosphere has objected to the movie’s one-sided picture of the South in 1963 – glossing over civil rights campaigners and the fact that nice woman mistreated their servants, too – but any film only has to tell its one story, and this story was a good one.

The Names of Love – 5

A bit of lightweight fluff, athough there may have been serious undercurrents lurking, as suggested more by the title in French, Les Noms des Gens, as in, what’s in a name?, or who is really French? The biggest revelation may have been how unerotic full-frontal nudity of a beautiful woman could be, as Sara Forestier casually doffed her clothes. If you eliminate the forbidden and the hidden, much of the thrill seems to disappear. Beyond that, the whole thing was pretty silly.