The Broadway Melody

Alternate Title: Bittersweet Symphony
1928 Winner

One of the first musicals to hit the screen, this movie encapsulates the spirit of modern musicals as well.

Hank (Bessie Love) and Queenie (Anita Page) are the Mahoney sisters trying to make it big on Broadway. They move to New York to get their break. Hank is dating Eddie (Charles King), who falls in love with Queenie just as soon as he puts his eyes on her.
This is when things get 1920s-level creepy. Some of the compliments Eddie pays Queenie include calling her a “cute kid,” and saying she’s a “sweet, little girl.” Not to mention, the guy is going out with her sister. It’s totally pathetic.

Once they audition, the Mahoney sisters as a unit are paid no mind, but everyone is taken with Queenie’s natural good looks. This irks Hank since she’s obviously the more ambitious – and the more business savvy – of the two. Hank is a spitfire, making sure that there’s room for her on the stage with her sister, but Queenie soon gets swept up by a man named Jacques Warriner (Kenneth Thomson). He seems more interested in purchasing Queenie’s affection than considering whether she actually fucking likes him at all. That’s maybe one thing about show business that hasn’t changed a whole lot in nearly 100 years…

Queenie is smitten with all the attention she’s probably never had, but faces a crisis of character when she discovers that she might care about Eddie as much as he does about her.

Though the movie is old and thus plagued with shrill acoustics and blurry images at times, it’s easy to see where almost every musical since has borrowed a few ideas. It’s character-driven, but interspersed with some catchy songs. Hank Mahoney is an especially dynamic character because although she’s fierce, she is a purely unselfish individual. She’s a rare commodity on screen and just as rare in real life.
The Broadway Melody is still pitch perfect today.

Now it’s Your Turn…
The Broadway Melody won Best Picture in 1928, but did the Academy get it right?

Lion

Alternate Title: The Lost World
2016 Nominee

A little boy gets left by his brother at the train station only to wake up on a life-changing journey. The boy in question lives in a small town in India and after months of travel and meeting strangers, he ends up adopted by an Australian couple.

Fast-forward two decades. Saroo (Dev Patel) and his adoptive parents (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham) lead a charmed life. Saroo studies hospitality in school, where he meets Lucy (Rooney Mara). The two of them start dating and by chance, a gathering of friends triggers a memory of Saroo’s childhood.

He tells his friends that his brother left him at the train station to go find nighttime work and that his mother and sister were both at home. Saroo never found them, but for all this time has wondered what happened to his family after his impromptu nap on a bench.

The film feels cut in half – perhaps like its title character. The first half follows little Saroo through the perils of being too young to be taken seriously by adults and being too young to know how to find his way back home; the second half chronicles grown Saroo with his Australian parents and his troubled – also adopted – brother.

Lion is a hard look at the intersection between childhood and adulthood. It serves as a reminder that being profoundly lost is much different than not knowing which college to pick or which what to do on the weekends. Getting lost in the day-to-day is effortless and often healthy; this is a story about reconnecting with a piece of a lost soul. However, what is lost can always be found again if you only have the courage to go looking.

Based on the true story by Saroo Brierley (A Long Way Home), Lion envelopes you in a story about fear, cross-cultural reconciliation, and the struggle to find peace when a huge piece of your identity is missing.

Now it’s Your Turn…
Lion was nominated for Best Picture in 2016, but did the Academy get it right?