We're breaking down all the Oscar contenders for you, so that you can decide whether you want to see them -- or at the very least, be able to hold your own at cocktail parties. Next up: 'The Fighter,' based on the true story of boxer Micky Ward and his family.
Nominated For: Best Picture, Best Director (David O. Russell), Best Supporting Actor (Christian Bale), Best Supporting Actress (Amy Adams and Melissa Leo), Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing
What It's About: 'The Fighter' follows the rise of Massachusetts-born boxer "Irish" Micky Ward and his quest to become junior welterweight champion. His success is encouraged -- and hindered -- by his eccentric family, which includes his crack-addicted brother (Bale) and his overbearing mother (Leo). Along the way, Micky meets a beautiful, no-nonsense bartender (Adams) who helps him to realize the things in life that are worth fighting for.
Why You Should See It: Bale delivers an inspired performance as former-boxer-turned-drug-addict Dicky Ecklund, and his astonishing physical transformation earns him best-in-show honors. Adams and Leo also balance the movie with different, but equally impressive, performances -- Leo as the showy, outspoken mother, and Adams as the subtle, supportive girlfriend. And holding the movie together is Mark Wahlberg, who gives one of his best, most understated performances to date.
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