We're breaking down all the Oscars contenders for you, so that you can decide whether you want to see them -- or at the very least, hold your own at cocktail parties. Today: the Clint Eastwood-directed missing-child drama 'Changeling.'

Nominated for: Best Actress (Angelina Jolie), Best Cinematography (Tom Stern), Best Art Direction (James J. Murakami, art director; Gary Fettis, set decorator)

What It's About: Based on a true story of an L.A. single mother in the '30s (Jolie) whose only son disappears, the story centers on how she stands up to the corrupt LAPD who bring her a boy, insisting he's her missing child, even though she knows in her heart that he's not. In their efforts to avoid a public relations disaster, the cops go so far as to have the poor woman committed to the state mental ward.

Why You Should See It: For Jolie's performance. The actress discovered she was pregnant during filming, so the missing child aspect really hit home for her -- and it shows. Her pain as a bereaved mother slowly gives way to outrage and defiance as a woman who refuses to be railroaded by a police force intent on silencing her objections. Her scenes in the psychiatric hospital are powerful, as is our indignation at the injustice of it all.

It's Kind of Like: 'A Cry in the Dark' ("a dingo ate my baby!") plus 'L.A. Confidential' meets 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'

How You Can See It: DVD release Feb. 17, 2009

We're breaking down all the Oscars contenders for you, so that you can decide whether you want to see them -- or at the very least, hold your own at cocktail parties. Today: the Clint Eastwood-directed missing-child drama 'Changeling.'

Nominated for: Best Actress (Angelina Jolie), Best Cinematography (Tom Stern), Best Art Direction (James J. Murakami, art director; Gary Fettis, set decorator)

What It's About: Based on a true story of an L.A. single mother in the '30s (Jolie) whose only son disappears, the story centers on how she stands up to the corrupt LAPD who bring her a boy, insisting he's her missing child, even though she knows in her heart that he's not. In their efforts to avoid a public relations disaster, the cops go so far as to have the poor woman committed to the state mental ward.

Why You Should See It: For Jolie's performance. The actress discovered she was pregnant during filming, so the missing child aspect really hit home for her -- and it shows. Her pain as a bereaved mother slowly gives way to outrage and defiance as a woman who refuses to be railroaded by a police force intent on silencing her objections. Her scenes in the psychiatric hospital are powerful, as is our indignation at the injustice of it all.

It's Kind of Like: 'A Cry in the Dark' ("a dingo ate my baby!") plus 'L.A. Confidential' meets 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'

How You Can See It: DVD release Feb. 17, 2009