The studio fatwa prohibiting early reviews of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button has ended, it seems, with Variety leading the critical charge online late Sunday. Prepare to be shocked by the general consensus: It's good, and will surely be nominated for Oscars! Who could have seen this coming? Nevertheless, the film has its detractors, and we hear from them — along with those slobbering at its altar — after the jump. (Light spoilers ahead.)· "David Fincher and screenwriter Eric Roth (Forrest Gump) have delivered an historic achievement, a masterful piece of cinema, and a moving treatise on death, loss, loneliness and love. As the movie proceeds, and Brad Pitt as Button ages backwards, we know where he is headed: it's where we are all going. But he feels he has to go there by himself, without his loved ones. And nobody wants to die alone." — Anne Thompson, Variety · "Perhaps it’s my youthful cynicism, who knows, but I thought Fincher brought an arm’s length approach to the emotions in the film and I wanted Roth’s reaction to that. Of course, Roth doesn’t particularly agree with my take. Indeed, he was right in the middle of telling me how the bathroom was filled with sobbers after the screening when a beautiful young lady walked up to us and told him how much the movie had affected her. But he took my comment in stride. 'Fincher is the kind of director that brings you right up to the point of sentiment and then brings it back,' he said. 'There’s something to be said for that I think.' " — Kris Tapley, InContention

· "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button represents a richly satisfying serving of deep-dish Hollywood storytelling. [...] Much of the film's romantic and philosophical posture hinges on Benjamin and Daisy getting together at the right time, and they do so in an entirely satisfying way; by the time of consummation, with Brad Pitt now in full physical glory and Blanchett at her womanly peak, they — and the audience — are more than ready for it. [...] In all his physical manifestations, Benjamin is a reactor, not a perpetrator, and Pitt inhabits the role genially, gently and sympathetically. [Cate] Blanchett's Daisy is the more volatile and moody one and, after bluntly revealing the selfish impetuousness of Daisy's youthful self, the thesp fully registers both the passion and insecurity of the mature woman." — Todd McCarthy, Variety · "[T]his is a film that works on every level. [...] I didn’t think that Fincher could pull off something overly sentimental. I thought it would be a few steps removed and all about the effects and the gimmick. It turns out, though, that this film is about the human experience. It’s about, as Roth and Fincher said, the people who make dents in you, who impact your life. Most of those who teach Benjamin about life are women, older women who have the benefit of wisdom. His life is shaped by them, which is probably the reason I fell so hard for the film. Too often women get the short shrift in films. They aren’t given the credit they’re due as whole human beings. I was touched by the female presence in this film, quite moved by it, I must say." — Sasha Stone, Awards Daily · "Watching Benjamin Button, occasionally I actively loathed it, but mostly I just felt genuinely disappointed that it seemed so lacking in genuine feeling. [...] Button is the opposite of Pitt’s last Oscar hopeful in that respect: The Assassination of Jesse James was a film in which every frame seemed to invite contemplation. Benjamin Button is a film in which every cut seems designed to block thought. Maybe the earlier film’s failure says it all about the philosophy behind Button’s construction: for audiences and Oscar voters, thinking is bad. Spoon-fed artifice is good." — Karina Longworth, Spout