In Contention‘s Kris Tapley is now a comrade-in-arms regarding Lone Scherfig‘s An Education, which he saw last night and is calling “near perfect,” a “knock-out” and “something close to a miracle — that rare occasion when a filmmaker taps into profound truths with the help of a cast that gets it, the themes surging through every vein, a driven vehicle of purpose.

“Most of the end-of-year awards talk will surely surround Carey Mulligan‘s absolutely peerless and incredibly refined leading performance, as well it should. She won’t need much of a boost into the Oscar race when people get a load of what she has to offer here.”

But Tapley is especially enthused about Alfred Molina‘s performance as Mulligan’s penny-pinching, furrow-browed dad. Molina “has no showy moment” in the film, and “has nothing you would say represents a classic Oscar clip” and yet his performanc is “the work of a master at the top of his game. I was more affected by his subtle additions to the film than I expected and that, I’d say, is the hallmark of an accomplished supporting performance.

The Education ensemble “could well get its props from the Screen Actors Guild come year’s end, but they also deserve individual commendation: Mulligan, Molina, Peter Sarsgaard, Cara Seymour, Rosamund Pike, across the board.”