Our journey through film’s finest has brought us to one of the all-time tearjerkers. Based on the novel by William Styron, the 1982 drama, Sophie’s Choice, features a dazzling performance by a young Meryl Streep and comes in at number 91 on our list. And while the story may not make a perfect transition from page to screen, the high-intensity drama and Streep’s masterful work are something to behold.
The plot follows Stingo, a small-town novelist who has just moved into an apartment complex in Brooklyn; played by Peter MacNicol. Once there, he is befriended by the charming but unstable Nathan (played by Kevin Kline) and his girlfriend, Holocaust survivor Sophie.
On paper, it’s by no means a perfect film. The action is slow at times, the plot is extremely vague, and the character development is certainly limited at best. Most of this can probably be blamed on the film’s novelistic background. Even if you’ve never read the book, you can get a pretty good sense of how it reads from watching the film. There’s an amazing attention to detail and characterization that is certainly unique on screen, but lacks some of the cinematic qualities we’ve come to expect.
However, that wealth of character background is perhaps what made these characters so lively on film. Every one has a seemingly endless breadth of past experiences to draw upon. And as those past experiences are revealed, the film picks up an intense amount of dramatic steam.
If you want to talk about a film that is at risk of spoilers, this is it. The film culminates in an emotional scene that literally left me with my mouth open. If it hasn’t already been spoiled for you, I will say no more in order to preserve your innocence, other than it is quite possibly one of the most tense, emotional, dramatic, and well-acted scenes I’ve ever seen. The film is worth it for this scene alone.
But that’s not all that’s there! Which is why Sophie’s Choice earns an A, and for the constant debate over socialist themes and theories, earns a 6.5 on the Liberty Scale. It is truly a lesson in acting from one of film’s all-time greats, and surely would compete for the title of Streep’s greatest role. Fans of Streep, fans of acting, and fans of drama alike should all have Sophie’s Choice in their cinematic vocabulary.
We’re shifting gears next time with the lovably upbeat Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in #90 Swing Time.
100. Ben-Hur 99. Toy Story 98. Yankee Doodle Dandy 97. Blade Runner 96. Do the Right Thing 95. The Last Picture Show 94. Pulp Fiction 93. The French Connection 92. Goodfellas 91. Sophie’s Choice
- 90. Swing Time
Were you floored by Streeps performance? Or were you unable to get past the novelistic style of Sophie’s Choice? Let us know!
To see the rest of the list click here.