Mrs. Miniver (1943)
Dir. William Wyler
Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director (William Wyler), Best Actress (Greer Garson), Best Supporting Actress (Teresa Wright), Best Screenplay (George Froeschel, James Hilton, Claudine West, Arthur Wimperis), Best Cinematography (Joseph Ruttenberg)
Other Nominees: 49th Parallel, Kings Row, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Pied Piper, The Pride of the Yankees, Random Harvest, The Talk of the Town, Wake Island, Yankee Doodle Dandy
I believe it would be a disservice to William Wyler’s wartime melodrama Mrs. Miniver to ignore the fact that the film is propaganda. This is not meant to demean the film, indeed, many great works of art have been created specifically to redirect a political compass, but to ignore its purpose or to excuse it would weaken the film’s character, and undermine its tremendous heart. Mrs. Miniver casts Greer Garson as a middle-class mother and housewife (those descriptors in that order, thank you) living in the English countryside before and during the country’s entry into World War II (a subject that is pure catnip for the Academy). As the war progresses from mist to cloud to rain to hurricane, the Miniver family finds themselves at its mercy, just as any family might have during the War. The film shows the family’s simple, harmonious way of life before the war, when their greatest worry was a town flower show, as a valuable ideal that is worth defending at great mortal cost.