This is the 3rd of 4 Oscar Nominated Films that are ‘safe traditional’ Oscar bets (King’s Speech, True Grit, The Fighter and Social Network)The Fighter-Starring Marky Mark (aka- Mark Wahlberg, a thinned down Batman (ie- Christian Bale), Amy Adams and Melissa LeoRunning Time- 1 hour 54 minutesTomato Meter- Audiences and Critics TKO with a matching 90%!The Oscar Noms- Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Supporting Actor (Bale) and Best Supporting Actress (Adams and Leo).Boom! The true story of boxing brothers Micky and Dicky rises from limited run to a full wide release and hits a great KO with audiences everywhere. Micky Ward (Wahlberg) is the younger half brother of former Boxing star Dicky Eklund (Bale). Micky is trying to find himself amongst an overwhelming family, pressure to follow in his brother’s boxing footsteps and actually sorting out his own life. His mother Alice (Leo) manages Micky in a way that means well, but doesn’t do well. On the night of a big fight that Micky should win, his oppenent falls ill and in turn, Micky is faced with someone 18 pounds heavier. Not only does his new oppenent win the match, but he knocks Micky to a new level of embarrassment and disappointment. At the same time, HBO is filming a documentary about Dicky and his former fame (or so we think…) which also creates a heavy shadow on the family. We continue to watch as Micky struggles to find his place in the ring, with his family and within his own heart.The Fighter is a gritty true story with a fairy tale kind of feeling that has a heartwarming pulse which keeps it moving along pretty well. The boxing scenes are done incredibly well and bring a much appreciated realism to the film. There’s a few turns and heartbreaking moments that have the audience sweating with emotion and empathy. There’s also a nice throwback to the real people that this story is based on which always gets my heart strings. The real fight in the centre ring is “who really knows best” and “can real happiness win?”, so if you’re looking for a get up and cheer without the Disney polish and glow, this is your film.Its cast of extreme characters (specifically Leo and Bale, who are getting the awards attention) help make it an alive film to watch. Christian Bale does very well with being a ‘character’ in this true story. He is loud and somewhat over the top, but it plays well with the dirty setting and struggling quirky family. His weight loss is impossible to miss and although it’s concerning, it really helps him become this person that we keep cheering for even though he keeps losing and letting us down. Very similar was my response to Melissa Leo’s mother/manager role- you love her, hate her, laugh with her and laugh at her, yet you always feel for her.I believe Mark Wahlberg has been undersold as he’s more centred and grounded compared to the standouts in the cast. I found that even before I knew what was going on, I was cheering for him. Along with Wahlberg, Adams take is similar- the pair keep reality in this movie. Bale and Leo are getting the most attention, but if it weren’t for this balancing act, they would appear ridiculous and out of sync with the rest of the movie.Will this take home the title of Best Picture? I don’t think it stands a chance- it’s in a fight with a number of contenders who outweigh it in originality, polish, and thought. Although it’s a true story where the plot should be the winner, the actors are the true champions here. The heavyweight cast are fighting hard to come out on top with the acting honours, and I would be surprised if at least one, if not two, don’t leave the Oscars with the Rocky theme in their heads and a gold statue in their hands.