Several heavily-hyped studio films are competing for your Christmas vacation dollars this week. But are any of them worthwhile? Will they give you something to discuss with your friends and family? Are they merely entertainment, or do they offer something inspired, challenging, and true?

Religious press critics watched them all, took notes, thought them over, and now they're giving you their reports.

Contestant #1: Martin Scorsese's high-flying Aviator

Leonardo DiCaprio hasn't dazzled critics or audiences since his astonishing breakthrough performances in This Boy's Life and What's Eating Gilbert Grape more than a decade ago. He's seemed content to play bland leading men in romantic adventures (Titanic, The Beach) and mixed-up punks in a few darker departures (The Basketball Diaries, Celebrity). In Catch Me If You Can, he showed that he still has some spark. But now he's impressing critics with a performance that reminds us of his formidable talents. He's playing the legendary Howard Hughes in Martin Scorsese's acclaimed new biopic The Aviator.

The film co-stars Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn, and a long list of other talents, like Alec Baldwin, Alan Alda, John C. Reilly, Jude Law, Kate Beckinsale, and more. The soundtrack, by Lord of the Rings composer Howard Shore, lends appropriate sweep, drama, and trouble to the proceedings. And cinematographer Robert Richardson blends myriad styles with some dazzling special effects to create one of the year's most impressive films.

My full review is at Looking Closer.

Russ Breimeier (Christianity Today Movies) says, "DiCaprio delivers the performance of his career—certainly worthy of an Oscar nomination and a strong follow-up to his good work in Gangs of New York and Catch Me ...

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