Andrew Garfield, Mahershala Ali, Ruth Negga, and five others received their first-ever acting nominations for 2017. While these actors are new to the Academy Awards, you may recognize them from their earlier work.
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Victor Sjöström directed "Secret of the Monastery". While his name is pretty much forgotten today, in his day he was a hugely successful actor and director. Decades later, he played the aging professor in Ingmar Bergman's exceptional film "Wild Strawberries". This is about the best film I've seen that he's made--and he's made some very nice ones.
The film appears to be set about the beginning of the 17th century judging by the costumes. Two travelers seek shelter for the night as a monastery. They are very impressed by the place and the welcome they have received and tell the monk who is attending them. Instead of saying a simple you're welcome, the man flies into a rage and storms out of the room. Moments later he returns to apologize. He also tells him the sad story about the founding of this monastery.
It seems that some time ago, a rich guy lived here with his young wife and child. He was quite happy--blissfully unaware that his wife was cheating on him. However, she was sly because even when he caught her, he was ready to believe her lies. Ultimately, this affair, her lies and his wrath all culminated, somehow, in the founding of this holy place. How you might ask...see the film for yourself!
The best things about the film are the direction and the intensity of the story--a story which pulls no punches. As far as the direction goes, the acting is all realistic and not the least bit exaggerated like some silents. The story also maintains a nice mood and concisely tells the story. Overall, I'd say this is one of the best silent movies of the age that you can see today. Excellent in every way and well worth seeing. And, if you are interested, it's in the public domain and be downloaded for free at archive.org.
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