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 From Here to Eternity (1953).
The story of soldiers stationed in Hawaii during 1941, the first hour and a half of From Here to Eternity delivers some solid but fairly standard drama as the men go about their lives, finding romance, finding personal struggles with each other, and preparing for a looming war, but the final segment as it all comes together is truly great with an evocative depiction of the destruction of war even before the war. Even during the early parts of the film that can feel a bit uneven, the cast is magnificent and keeps the film engaging. Lancaster and Clift are both perfect in their roles as well-intentioned but often troublesome military men but Sinatra stole the show for me. The role that won him his Oscar for acting sees him tackling different territory than his usual crooner type but he is no less effortlessly cool and adept at commanding attention as an affable GI with a violent streak than he was on stage singing his greatest hits.
The Real Best Picture:
It was one of the few years where there was no losing pick and while Shane probably slightly edges out as my favorite, I have no qualms at all with From Here to Eternity winning.