This past week was one of romantic dramas and 2016 Best Picture nominees:
A Matter of Life and Death (AKA: Stairway to Heaven) (1946)
David Niven stars as a British wartime pilot who cheats death due to a mix-up in Heaven and has to argue for his life in celestial court. To further complicate things, he has fallen in love with an American radio operator (Kim Hunter). Funny, romantic, and much more philosophical than I expected. Cool factor: the Earthly scenes are in Technicolor, while the scenes in Heaven are in black-and-white. The visual effects are remarkable, especially for 1946. RECOMMENDED.
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)
A young widow (Gene Tierney) moves to a seaside cottage and develops a unique bond with the ghost of its former owner, a sea captain (Rex Harrison). Despite a few elements that may not sit well with 21st century sensibilities, it’s a fine romantic drama with a beautiful ending that left me in tears. RECOMMENDED.
One of this year’s Best Picture nominees, Brooklyn follows Irish immigrant Eilis (Saoirse Ronan, in a stunning performance) as she builds a life in New York in the 1950s. After tragedy strikes, she ends up having to choose between two countries and the lives she has in each one. The story, characters, and themes are timeless; the film could have easily been made 50 years ago—or 50 years from now—and it would still be captivating. I laughed, I cried, I fell in love with this movie. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Another Best Picture nominee, Spotlight follows the true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and its cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese. It’s not easy to make a film that deals with sensitive subject matter (in fact, the film almost didn’t get made for that reason), but Spotlight handles it responsibly. Though the interviews with the victims are painful (and disclose just enough of the horrifying details), the film’s focus is on the investigative reporting. The story is gripping right from the beginning and the acting ensemble is outstanding. An important film to see. Full disclosure: I am Catholic. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.