armchair cultural observation since 1995

Better than The Reader

Over at The Search, Brett McCracken lists five Holocaust-themed movies he considers (along with at least 10 other non-Holocaust-themed movies from last year) to be better than The Reader, which was recently nominated for a best picture Oscar:

Schindler’s List: The granddaddy of all Holocaust films. Steven Spielberg’s passionate, timeless epic is not easy to watch, but it is a master class of classic narrative filmmaking.

The Pianist: Adrien Brody’s performance as pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman won him the Academy Award, and rightfully so. It’s a phenomenal performance, and a stunning film. The music scenes—especially near the end—are exactly what catharsis should be in cinema.

Life is Beautiful: 
This film’s mix of joy, tragedy, laughter, and tears—featuring perhaps cinema’s only madcap comedic performance in a Holocaust film—makes for a truly compelling viewing experience.

The Counterfeiters: If you haven’t seen this 2007 film yet, rent it! The true story of a band of Jewish counterfeiters who stayed alive by lending their services to the Nazis (which, ironically, kept them operational and able to kill more Jews) is way more provocative than The Reader could ever try to be.

Night and Fog: This 1955 French documentary from director Alain Resnais (before he became a leader of the French New Wave) is supremely evocative and features some of the most devastating early documentary footage (e.g. bulldozed piles of bodies) of the horrors of the concentration camps.

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