Best Picture Winners Part 19 (of 87): The Best Years of Our Lives


Title: The Best Years of Our Lives
Year: 1946
Starring: Fredric March, Myrna Loy,
Director: William Wyler
Runtime: 2 hrs 52 mins

Is It Any Good?: It’s very good despite it’s dour undertones, and wartime sentimentality. It also might be a tad too long. Mind you these are minor gripe when talking about a film that really gets the point of it all in relation to the feelings of disconnect a returning soldier feels and the isolation of it all. Fredric March is pretty good though I don’t think near good enough to deserve the trophy he won for Best Actor especially given Olivier’s performance in Henry V  and Jimmy Stewart’s now iconic turn as George Bailey. On the contrary Harold Russell’s win though some will see it as sentimental deserved that trophy. His Homer Parrish really hammered home the movies core philosophy, but it’s Russell’s subtlety that won it for me (and probably in the Academy’s eyes) only Claude Rain’s in Notorious stood any chance against Russell.   

Memorable Quote: Al Stephenson: You know, I had a dream. I dreamt I was home. I’ve had that same dream hundreds of times before. This time, I wanted to find out if it’s really true. Am I really home?

Competition: The Razor’s Edge was the least qualified film in this bunch, but also the one to push the envelope more then normal. Though is pushed that envelope it did so quite slowly as anything this overstuffed cannot hope to move quickly.  The Yearling is a kids film with a high-quality cast, nothing more nothing less. With the talents of both Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman showing an early example that a great cast can make even the most saccharin of concepts awardworthy. Sir Laurence Olivier stars and directs an early adaptation of Henry V a version of the bards classic that stands above it’s contemporaries and this is mainly due to Olivier who absolutely understands and loves the story and it’s characters. Lastly we get to the Christmas holiday classic It’s A Wonderful Life Jimmy Stewart is able to take this almost Dickensesque story of a man who gets to see what I’d be like if he never existed, and gets to show a bevy of emotions both the good and the bad. Though this is a classic it’s reach is timeless and it is also why the film lost to The Best Yours of Our Lives which features a timely story with a message that endures even in a modern setting.

Next on the docket is 1947, and with that comes a year void of the normal heavy hits but not lacking on the holiday spirit much the same as this year it features another Christmas standby.

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