Cinema: The Winners' Tales

Three ambitious films are critics' pets. But just how good are they?


WHO GOT WHAT Javier Bardem, Best Actor, National Board of Review. He's also a Golden Globe nominee.

WHY THE CRITICS LOVE IT A sad-eyed gay man becomes a victim-hero as he endures the twin scourges of Castro and AIDS.

WHY YOU MIGHT LIKE IT Looking for a male weepie with art-house credentials? Julian Schnabel's sprawling biography of the Cuban poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas spans a half-century, two countries, two languages, two extremes of regimes. Batista's rapacious tyranny keeps most people poor; Castro's stern, homophobic communism keeps them miserable. Bardem, who was excellent as the crippled...

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