“The Best Years of Our Lives” – Nathan’s Movie Challenge, Week 20
“You know, I had a dream. I dreamt I was home. I’ve had that same dream hundreds of times before. This time, I wanted to find out if it’s really true. Am I really home?”
(Yes, this challenge has been neglected, but hey, it’s a new year, and it’s time to try to get back on the wagon! I’m picking up where I left off and pushing forward. I’ve been working on lots of other Flickchart-related stuff, too, so… stay tuned!)
The absolute best thing about this film is its characters and the uncharacteristically realistic portrayals of them. Most classic films skirt issues of messy relationships, and complex emotions surrounding family and friendship, but William Wyler’s film pulls it off better than anything else I’ve seen from the 1940s.
It seems like a combination of strong ensemble casting, genuine chemistry between actors, and the unbelievable luck of Harold Russell’s pitch-perfect performance as the disabled veteran Homer – doubly so given that he was not a professional actor.
It’s a long film, but the length allows you to live with the characters and their issues and work it out alongside them. It wasn’t the most artistic of films in terms of its shots and lighting and direction, but the actors certainly made it into a compelling, rich story filled with a range of emotion – laughter, sadness, heartbreak, romance, camaraderie, loyalty, and determination. I’m glad I saw it.
The Best Years of Our Lives was at the time of this review at #85 on my Flickchart list of shame (ranked #204 among the best films of all time). Here’s how it entered my chart:
The Best Years of Our Lives vs. Blue Ruin
A film from earlier in the challenge – Blue Ruin is well made, and has excellent mood-building, but I believe Best Years is the better film, overall.
The Best Years of Our Lives vs. The Rocketeer
I enjoyed The Rocketeer very much, but it’s not perfect. Best Years does so many things right, and ahead of its time, that it deservingly gets the nod.
The Best Years of Our Lives vs. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Big fan of Spock’s return movie, but Best Years is a more compelling film from top to bottom.
The Best Years of Our Lives vs. Crazy, Stupid, Love
Another unbelievably good ensemble film. I expected C, S, L to suck, but it absolutely does not.
The Best Years of Our Lives vs. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Some people dislike this Fincher film, but I really took to it. One of my favorite Brad Pitt roles, for sure.
The Best Years of Our Lives vs. The Blair Witch Project
It essentially kickstarted the entire found footage genre. It’s also super-effective. Blair Witch is fantastic.
The Best Years of Our Lives vs. Triangle
One of my all-time favorites. I’ll sing the praises of this film all day long. It will probably keep climbing my chart as my respect for it grows over time.
The Best Years of Our Lives vs. Life of Pi
Life of Pi was another film that really surprised me with how good it was, and was easily one of the best uses of 3D I’ve seen outside of Avatar.
The Best Years of Our Lives vs. Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel
FAQ is a very good, very fun time travel movie, but Best Years takes it.
The Best Years of Our Lives is now ranked #171 out of 1433 movies on my Best Movies of All-Time chart.
OK, new year – new movies! Up next is Gamer, Blue Valentine, and Logan’s Run. In the meantime, check out the other films I’ve ranked during the challenge.