Picks and Pans Review: Confessions of a Shopaholic

updated 02/23/2009 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/23/2009 AT 01:00 AM EST

Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancy, Joan Cusack| PG |

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COMEDY
As we slide ever deeper into an economic abyss, the timing couldn't be worse for opening a ditzoid comedy about a nitwit spendthrift (Fisher) who, though deeply in debt, becomes an advice columnist at a financial magazine. So what if this ninny finally learns her lesson? By then you're so sick of her and the film's excessive straining to make her antics adorable that you'd happily see her sliced and diced with her own credit cards. That said, Fisher is a vest pocket Ann-Margret with the physical clowning gifts of Lucille Ball. Better luck to her next time.

LEAH'S OSCAR FAVES
I'm rooting for these movies and stars to win at Feb. 22's Academy Awards (airing on ABC, 8 p.m. E.T.)

BEST PICTURE

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Frost/Nixon

Milk

The Reader

Slumdog Millionaire

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I always ask myself, "Which movie will look as terrific 10 years from now as it does today?" I'm not sure any of this year's nominees, though impressive, will pass that tough test. But the one I most loved watching, the one that drew me in deepest, was Slumdog Millionaire. The tale of a poor boy in Mumbai who suffers mightily before winning both the girl and a TV game show, it offered a compelling lead character, a plot that wouldn't quit and visual flair, all tied up into an exotic but completely relatable package.

BEST ACTOR

Richard Jenkins
The Visitor

Frank Langella
Frost/Nixon

Sean Penn

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Milk

Brad Pitt
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Mickey Rourke
The Wrestler

When dour Greta Garbo finally made a comedy, ads blared, "Garbo laughs!" Milk could be pitched the same way for Penn. It's odd at first to see Mr. Serious Actor—Fast Times at Ridgemont High was 27 years ago!—play someone so quick to quip. As gay politician Harvey Milk, Penn deftly showed how Milk used humor to win over voters and deflect opponents. It's a moving performance, but also a fun one.

BEST ACTRESS

Anne Hathaway
Rachel Getting Married

Angelina Jolie
Changeling

Melissa Leo
Frozen River

Meryl Streep

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Doubt

Kate Winslet
The Reader

Meryl Streep, though seemingly nominated annually, hasn't won an Oscar since she picked up gold in 1983 for Sophie's Choice. C'mon, already. Her acting is a juicy joy in Doubt. Playing a nun who suspects a priest of evil, she turns scenery chewing into high art, offering a lip-smacking lesson on savoring every ounce of flavor a role may offer.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Josh Brolin
Milk

Robert Downey Jr.
Tropic Thunder

Philip Seymour Hoffman
Doubt

Heath Ledger

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The Dark Knight

Michael Shannon
Revolutionary Road

Yes, there's sentiment involved in picking Ledger for his final turn as the Joker in Dark Knight. But he was also brilliant, turning a comic-book villain into a tortured soul.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy Adams
Doubt

Penélope Cruz

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Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Viola Davis
Doubt

Taraji P. Henson
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Marisa Tomei
The Wrestler

Playing an unstable whirlwind determined to upend any and every relationship within her sight, Penélope Cruz added a fiery jolt of pure comic bliss to Barcelona.

AND THE OSCAR SHOULD ALSO GO TO ...

Best Animated Feature
Wall-E is the clear pick here (over Bolt and Kung Fu Panda). Heck, it has more heart and smarts than most of the Best Picture nominees.

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