Who's in It:
Helen Mirren, James Cromwell, Alex Jennings, Sylvia Syms, Michael Sheen, Helen McCrory
The Basics: This is a fictionalized account of what happened to England's royal family in the week following Princess Diana's death in 1997. And here's the weird part: If, like me, you think monarchies should be abolished and their members sent to work in factories, it won't change your mind one bit. But it'll make you remember that they're human beings. And they all look really good in tweed.
What's the Deal? This is one of the best movies of the year. It's funny even though it's about death; it's smart and human and, if you think any movie about royalty is automatically going to be stuffy and dull, this is the one you should see. It's the opposite of all that.
The Oscars Are Lame, But
Here's how great Mirren is as HM Queen Elizabeth II: I have less than zero interest in the Academy Awards. They're meaningless and always given to the dopiest movies. But after watching this, I felt as though I was seeing her win that statue with every passing minute. She doesn't care whether you like her, and she still manages to make you do just that. And that made me happy.
My Favorite Part: She finally cries over the mounting problems that surround the family. And the camera doesn't let you watch her do it. Dumber movies would have shown it and milked it and it would have been that "Oscar clip" they show for the next six months.
Her Subjects: Everyone in the supporting cast takes on their real-life counterparts like they've been shadowing them for years, so much so that you forget that this is an imagined version of real events. And when Babe's farmer, James Cromwell, who plays Prince Philip, calls the Queen his "cabbage," it's a reminder that she does, in fact, have a husband. A useless one, but a husband still.