Director: Chris Weitz Starring: Demián Bichir, José Julián Running time: 98 mins
Subject: Many were baffled when amid George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman and Jean Dujardin, Demián Bichir received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his role in A Better Life, a picture that quietly came and went last summer. Bichir plays Carlos Galindo, an illegal Mexican immigrant working as a gardener on the wrong side of L.A. and besieged by concerns for his son, a tough-talking sweetheart, who is hanging out with the local gangs. One day he takes a gamble by buying a truck which could either bring his son closer to that yearned for better life or see himself deported back home.
Is it an Oscar-worthy performance? In short, yes. In long, Bichir gives his quiet character a tragic, love-driven desperation that makes you want to throw open borders everywhere.
Like: The Bicycle Thieves with slightly higher stakes.
Core truth: Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains.