Each week this column will highlight one winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, progressing chronologically until all winners have been discussed. There will be a brief discussion of the film itself followed by a mention of what we wish won from the nominees in the given year (though in many cases there were films that were superior in terms of quality and/or impact that were not nominated). This week’s entry is Mrs. Miniver (1942).
Where so many war films would concern themselves with the lives of soldiers going off to battle or the politicians who sent them there, Mrs. Miniver finds itself looking at the lives of the people left at home. Following the life of a housewife, the titular Mrs. Miniver, as World War II breaks out and air raids conducted by Nazi Germany begin happening on a regular basis and threaten even rural English towns like hers. The film is a heartbreaking look at the resilience of people trying to live their lives as normally as they can while a raging war does everything to stop them. The film was released in the early years of the Second World War and had an immense impact in both British and American popular culture, cultivating more support for the war effort as it became the biggest box office attraction of the year and won numerous accolades.
The Real Best Picture:
It’s hard to deny the importance and impact in the time of a film about an ongoing war that depicted it in a way not often seen, but it is criminal that an Orson Welles film never won Best Picture and The Magnificent Ambersons, one of his very best, was nominated that year and should’ve won. With The Pride of the Yankees and Yankee Doodle Dandy also up for the prize, it was one of the strongest years in my opinion, and many choices would’ve been just fine, including the actual winner, even if it’s not the very best of the lineup.