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UNDERRATED OVERRATED

Beyoncé, 'Wall-E, Sean Penn

February 01, 2009

Exclamatory choruses: We're surely not alone on this, but Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" has been running through our heads nonstop, and it's not because of the aggressively choreographed video -- it's that weightless flurry of "ohs," stickier than buckwheat honey. Let Morrissey and Andrew Bird pore over thesauri; sometimes, two letters are all anyone needs.

'Wall-E': This one's for the academy: Just because a movie was created by animators working around the clock on computers doesn't mean it can't be one of the best pictures of the year. Few movies of the year possessed a sharper story, stronger message or bigger heart than this little guy, and he was more alive on-screen than some actors we know. Great films are great films, period.

OVERRATED

The Oscar push for 'Milk': No doubt, the same-sex marriage debate and Proposition 8 injected this movie with greater significance than most end-of-year releases, but let's rein in the accolades. Sean Penn is remarkable as usual, but that doesn't forgive the narrative broad strokes and on-the-nose dialogue that leave parts of this film feeling like a well-done TV movie.

'Top Chef' canoodling: Realistically, no network is going to cry "cut" when two reality show contestants start an illicit romance, but we wish Bravo had. Maybe we're old-fashioned, but we watch these cooking contests for two reasons: mind-scrambling displays of skill and maybe a culinary train wreck or two. If we wanted "The Real World" with seared scallops, we'd find it.

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