We visit movie theaters infrequently. Perhaps 2-5 times a year and then mostly “art house” films. Last December the Washington Post reviewed several films that piqued my interest. The ones we saw were all excellent and wildly different from each other. I was happy to have seen them even though the attendance was usually only about 20-30 people. Then the year-end film awards started to appear and we looked at each other with some wonderment. We have actually seen these movies and could vicariously join in the voting. This was a new experience for us.
Darkest Hour – This movie relates the events surrounding Winston Churchill’s decision that England was not going to give into Hitler’s demands to surrender but instead would fight the Nazis with all the resources available. Here is a better description of the situation in England: “Understanding the importance of this story’s events is not terribly easy now because it’s difficult to look at the world of 1940 as people did then. The Germans may have subjugated several European countries, but the coming slaughter of the continent’s Jews was still unsuspected, and Hitler was widely seen as a very effective authoritarian ruler (a quality that some non-Germans beset with dithering democrats frankly admired) rather than a murderous madman. Churchill’s virtue in this moment was to see the truth more clearly than others did, and to understand both the absolute necessity and the arduous difficulty of fighting the Nazi regime to the death.”
Lady Bird – “The story here isn’t anything you haven’t seen before, and is your basic coming of age story. You have a character who is different from the masses but wants to fit in and tries to do so by acting out. A strong film in almost every aspect. Lady Bird will make you laugh, cry, get angry and there are even a few surprises along the way.”
The Shape of Water – “The ‘princess’ of the story is a mute, who mops floors in the cavernous underground tunnels of a Baltimore-based corporation. The year is 1962, the background is the space race and the Cold War. Whatever is done at the corporation is top secret, and everyone is paranoid about the Russians, especially once “The Asset” arrives in a portable tank. The Asset is an Amphibian, discovered in the Amazon. The princess gradually becomes enamored with the amphibian.” If fantasy is not something you enjoy then you probably should skip this movie. While this is a love story there is also some intense violence, especially near the end. The director of this film (Guillermo del Toro) also directed Pan’s Labyrinth which we saw several years ago.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – “Mildred Hayes is grieving the rape and murder of her teenage daughter Angela seven months prior. Angry over the lack of progress in the investigation, she rents three abandoned billboards near her home, which in sequence read ‘RAPED WHILE DYING’, ‘AND STILL NO ARRESTS?’, and ‘HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?’ The billboards upset the townspeople, including Sheriff Bill Willoughby and racist officer Jason Dixon.” Beware this film is filled with adult language including the very frequent use of f…. An entertaining movie with some marvelous dialog.
And my winner is:
Darkest Hour. All the shows were worthy but the importance of the subject matter in the Darkest Hour was a deciding factor for me. I expect the best picture award will go to Three Billboards since it is the most ‘entertaining’.
From Ellen, who reads British mysteries set in the period between the wars. “I agree. A well-done film that validates the history underlying the fiction I read.”