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 The Sound of Music (1965).
Those of you who have read for the last few weeks are no doubt already aware that I have no affinity for The Sound of Music. Following a couple of smaller efforts after the far more dreadful West Side Story, Robert Wise (who unfortunately only ever got recognition from the Academy for his two worst films and none of his great ones) made another musical that is, for many, the purest example of the genre. For me, that is to say that it has a number of songs with hooks good enough that they’ve been endlessly repeated but another few minutes of forgettable compositions that rarely do anything for the film itself besides distract from how contrived the storytelling is. It’s a film where every conflict can be resolved in a couple lines of dialogue and the intent is really nothing more than to impart a feeling of happiness to the viewer. Unfortunately, I take issue with the concept of feel-good films with Nazis, especially due to the fact that they are so inconsequential to the story, and seemingly only a device to make it seem like an Important Movie, until the final few minutes where they provide only the slightest bit of tension just to show that they are the bad guys. All of this means the film’s one goal of inspiring happiness isn’t achieved for me. Christopher Plummer has criticized his own performance but truly he’s one of the only things making this parade of romantic nonsense, filled with interchangeable robotic child actors and singing Nazis, mildly amusing. It’s hard to truly hate something that’s so sickly sweet, but it isn’t the type of thing I can find a lot of merit to either and its unnecessary second and third hours drag on for an eternity.