“Atonement”: Mini-Backlash Begins?

“Atonement,” which opens this Friday in the U.S., has been an Oscar Best Picture frontrunner for so long that it was inevitable that a bit of a backlash take shape. So far, this phenomenon is small and has none of the controversy that was whipped up in years past to derail “Brokeback Mountain” or “A Beautiful Mind.” But this week’s “Atonement” reviews do suggest that not everyone is in love with Joe Wright’s adaptation of Ian McEwan’s love-and-war story set in Britain in the 1930s and 40s and starring Keira Knightley (pictured). Anthony Lane in The New Yorker compared “Atonement” unfavorably with its fiction source material, and New York magazine’s reviewer criticized it for similar reasons. While I take some of their points, I’m much more in sympathy with this review in Variety. As for “Atonement”‘s Oscar chances: critics can boost a film’s profile, but they don’t determine Oscar gold. Otherwise, end-of-year critics’ picks would match Oscar much more often than they do. Here, meanwhile, is where the Oscar Buzzmeter is this week in all the major categories.

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