The screenplay for the new film, ANOTHER YEAR, has earned an Oscar nomination for British writer-director MIke Leigh.
In fact, this marks the 7th time Mike Leigh has been nominated for an Oscar.
He's never won, but it's not because his films aren't good. It's because they're not commercial.
Like Leigh's other movies ANOTHER YEAR examines the lives of ordinary people. This time the characters are a longtime happily married London couple and their very unhappy friends.
Jim Broadbent and Ruth sheen play a happy, older couple whose friend, Mary is a self-absorbed, needy secretary who drinks too much.
Leslie Manville plays Mary--her amazing performance is the best reason to see this slow, unflinchingly honest movie.
Not a lot happens in ANOTHER YEAR. Instead, we watch the characters in four different seasons, dealing with the challenges of normal life.
You might say Mike Leigh's films are an acquired taste that involves a certain amount of patience.
But more often than not, the patience pays off, because Leigh understands people and feels compassion for all of them, especially Mary.
The easily flustered and perpetually insecure Mary monopolizes every conversation and flirts with inappropriate men--like her friends' son, Joe. (She's at least 20 years older than Joe.)
Yet she won't have anything to do with an older fellow she has a lot in common with. And she sulks when she learns that Joe has just met a woman he really likes.
What may be the biggest achievement of ANOTHER YEAR is that its wise director and this wonderful actress manage to make us care about a person that we'd try to avoid in real life.