Friday, February 25, 2011

30 Days of Oscar Day 29: Mrs. Miniver

Movie: Mrs. Miniver
Year: 1943
Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (William Wyler), Best Actor (Walter Pidgeon), Best Actress (Greer Garson), Best Supporting Actress (Teresa Wright), Best Supporting Actress (Dame May Whitty), Best Supporting Actor (Henry Travers), Cinematography (Black and White), Original Screenplay, Special Effects, Sound, and Editing
Wins/Snubs: This movie won 6 Oscars - Picture, Director, Actress (Garson), Supporting Actress (Wright), Screenplay and Cinematography.  I haven't seen too many of the other movies that were nominated that year, just Pride of the Yankees and Yankee Doodle Dandy (Cagney won best Actor for it) so I can't really say if there were any snubs.  However, there's a little boy, Toby Miniver (Christopher Severn) who could rival any little kid of any time for the most creepy - and he's even trying not to be, but he's really insanely odd.

For the most part I just wanted to see this movie because it won way back and gets me that much closer to having seen them all.  When I said I was going to watch it, a few people said, "Oh, that's a good movie" so I was encouraged going into it.  Now having seen it, I pretty well think they're crazy.  Casablanca won the next year, so I can't say the 1940s weren't a good time period for film, nor that the Academy was biased in one direction or another, but this just doesn't live up to the title of Best Picture.  Some of the acting is really good, Greer Garson smiles and plays the doting wife well.  The effects are good - taking place during WWII in England and having been filmed during WWII, I can see why it might have been given accolades for being a good representation of living during the beginning of the war - but that still doesn't make it a good movie.  First, only about half of the people in the movie even have British accents (more than a little distracting), and the bombing raids and time in a shelter seem offset by parties and the class conflict with the aristocracy creating a pretty muddled film.  I think the Academy just enjoyed the British-ness of it and the sad, tragic ending and awarded some acting.  Personally, Pride of the Yankees is much more interesting to watch, and not just because I like Gary Cooper.

One other thing of note - for the 1943 Academy Awards there were 25 nominees for Best Documentary and 4 winners, all in a single category.  Most were war movies, the U.S. Navy, and U.S. Army Special Services were among the winners for their films.  Did you know the Navy had an Oscar?

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