In the Critics this week.

The British takeover of the Oscars, Elizabeth Moss and the problem of W H Auden.

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The Critic at Large in this week's New Statesman is the American writer Natasha Vargas-Cooper, who inveighs against the British takeover of Hollywood and the Oscars: "All the drama over which film will take top honours has been choked by the plight of a stammering English monarch few Americans under the age of 75 had ever heard of before now." She comes to the conclusion that American cinema is in a "dismal, if not embarrassing, state" and that "the pictures have lost their dignity", but warns that "you Brits are still boring".

Meanwhile, Ryan Gilbey enjoys the "blend of horror and languor" in the Australian thriller Animal Kingdom, while Rachel Cooke settles down into the "warmth and gentle sentimentality" of BBC1's drama set in Yorkshire, South Riding. At the theatre, The Children's Hour starring Keira Knightley and Elisabeth Moss impresses Andrew Billen. Although "the schoolgirl scenes fail to convince when the actresses appear to be well into their twenties", Billen "loved The Children's Hour almost as much for its imperfections as for its stretches of bracing, hated-filled brilliance." Knightley is "strong and strongly cast", but it is Moss who is "the elemental force" in this production.

In an opinion column, the comedian Robin Ince declares that "art isn't as important as science". He encourages his fellow arts graduates to branch out from the humanities and acknowledge that art "isn't equal to the scientific knowledge we have amassed over the past few centuries." Our radio critic Antonia Quirke was intrigued by Radio 4's Against the Grain, which profiled a Jewish pig farmer called Irayne. Her "persistent personal worry" about this distinctly non-kosher profession was "unresolved and containable" enabling the programme to turn "towards reality in a way that so few manage."

In Books, Ken Worpole discusses Edgelands: Journeys Into England's True Wilderness by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts, an exploration of those ambiguous areas or "in-between spaces" where country and city merge. Worpole finds that the authors "bring an engaging sympathy to these uncertain spaces", although "it would be fascinating to know why they decided not to include images".

Elsewhere, Geoffrey Wheatcroft delves into David McKie's "entertaining" book, Bright Particular Stars: a Gallery of Glorious British Eccentrics, which with "characteristically delightful" style chronicles some unconventional figures from the past. Jeremy Noel-Tod takes on the problem of W H Auden's transatlantic departure in a review of The Age of Auden: Postwar Poetry and the American Scene by Aidan Wasley: "It doesn't lead the reader to a new appreciation of his later poetry, but it does make a case for its quietly American qualities."

Stuart Evers's Ten Stories About Smoking is a "deft debut collection", according to Alex Preston. Evers creates a bleak world, "told in stark and distant voices", but "this wallowing in emotion occasionally descends into kitsch". Nevertheless, the writing "is like the cigarette smoke that suffuses it - insidious and addictive." David Herman is disappointed by the critic Ruth Franklin's A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction. Though Franklin is a "thoughtful guide to the problem of 'lies and truth in Holocaust fiction'", she unfortunately "fails to address larger issues" in the genre. Literary criticism struggles to rival the "fresh and engaging ways" in which historians are now thinking about the Holocaust. Finally, Annie Proulx's memoir Bird Cloud is "a disappointment" for Sophie Elmhirst, since "any hopes that she might share something of her inner life and her connection to the places that have anchored her work are dashed."

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