This movie did an interesting job of taking serious subject matter - the blacklist - and making it mostly just . . . fun. I can't decide whether I think that detracted from the story - it was definitely a bit obvious and message-y at times, and I can't say I'm surprised that it didn't make a bigger splash in the current political climate. There are a lot of midcentury stories among this year's nominees, and that is not a complaint. This one did a good job of creating the setting in both a cultural and political way. This also very effectively made me want to go watch a bunch of Trumbo's movies. So: overall I think it was good but not great, and perhaps more importantly made an important piece of film and political history genuinely entertaining while also being reasonably informative.
Availability: In some theaters.
Actor in a Leading Role: Cranston gave a fine performance and I wouldn't be upset if he won, but I don't think it was necessarily the best performance of the year. The part didn't have much of a range; that may have been true to life, but the movie would have been stronger if we'd ever felt like there was really any genuine risk to Trumbo himself.