best films: #81: THE COLOR PURPLE (1985)

Bolstered by unusually adept dramatic performances from comedic actress (and then newcomer) Whoopi Goldberg and talk queen Oprah Winfrey, this film adaptation of Alice Walker‘s The Color Purple is a poignant and sensitive portrayal of Southern life in 1930s. Though it was unsuccessful at the Academy Awards (it’s tied with The Turning Point for most nominations with zero wins at 11 total nods), the film boasts careful direction from typically more bombastic Steven Spielberg, a fitting and often lovely score from Quincy Jones, and a fearless portrayal of gender-blind love and upsetting family ties. Goldberg, in one of her first on-screen performances, is surprisingly subdued and genteel in her take on Celie, the run-down and abused heroine of the story. And with additionally convincing and effective portrayals from Winfrey and Margaret Avery, this flick is clearly a showcase for actress talent.

Standout Performance: Winfrey commits fully to her role as Sophia, taking her story from the over-confident new wife to the worn-out victim of tough times, but Goldberg is so perfect with her childlike mannerisms and quiet strength that she handily steals the show.
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