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.

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