Best Picture Winners #15 – Mrs. Miniver (1942)

They say that dramas are the most common genre of Oscar Best Picture winners. I can believe it. For this project so far, we have seen far more dramas than comedies, and more dramas than other genre movies such as film noir (The Maltese Falcon, a BP nominee). We haven’t seen any horror yet (the only BP horror winner wasn’t until the early 90s when Silence of the Lambs won, though I don’t personally count that as a horror movie), no crime thrillers, and certainly no fantasy movies either (that won’t come until 2003 with Return of the King, a movie my husband absolutely HATES and will NEVER want to watch again. He hates that Tolkien guy…… 😀 )

Like other titles in our project, Mrs. Miniver wasn’t a title that registered with me when we compiled our list of movies. I had the same impression when I heard that title as I did when I heard the titles CimarronCavalcadeWings, and Grand Hotel.

Curious about what we’d be getting into, I read the plot summary for Mrs. Miniver.

And I was less than thrilled on first impression.

My first thought was, oh god another Cavalcade. Every major historical event happens to this one family, it’s too long, it’s boring, blah blah blah.

I settled into my latest crochet project, thinking I would be more engaged with that than the movie.

However, I was pleasantly surprised then that I was drawn in to the characters and the story early on! I actually found myself wondering what was going to happen next. See, if I’m engaged within the first thirty minutes, I consider that a good sign! The story itself is not complicated, which helped. The titular character and her family living though the early days of World War Two in their little English village. Dealing with German planes always flying overhead. Having to hide in a bomb shelter. Her son going off to war.

Bam. The plot in a nutshell.

There’s also romance, but it’s in no way a romance movie. A side story involves Mrs Miniver’s son Vincent aka Vin falling for his longtime neighbor and friend Carol, who he remembers as being sweet and having thighs as big as sausages (a comment that I wouldn’t have found funny but that might just be too much of my 2016 mindset!). They marry at the end of the movie. Woo.

I could tell this movie wanted to be a depiction of regular life during a harrowing time in history and in that sense, the movie accomplished that! Rather than piling on every major event of that time, the characters were simply living their lives and going through anything that did naturally come their way. Hiding in a bomb shelter during an air raid. Her idealistic son joining the military. Planning a flower show (keep calm and carry on indeed), a scene that played like something right out of a British radio drama I’ve been listening to since 2011, The Archers! Buying a new hat and feeling guilty for paying so much. (Oh the days when women wore hats on a regular basis…..)

All in all, this was one of the better wartime movies we’ve seen for this project. Not a new favorite because it still dragged a bit but it was a lot more enjoyable than expected! It was what it wanted to be, as Andrew put it!

Three out of five stars

Next time: We’ll be lookin’ at you, kid. The 1943 Oscar BP winner, a classic I haven’t seen since high school film class: Casablanca!