Sandy Kenyon reviews '1917,' 'Little Women,' 2 of the year's best

There are a great many number of films hitting theaters this Christmas season, and it was my pleasure to review two of the best movies I saw this year.

"Little Women" and "1917" couldn't be more different, with the cast of one one mainly female and the other almost exclusively male. But each resonates deeply.

Filmed in what appears to be one continuous take, the movie set during World War I brings home the horror of "1917" in a thrilling way.

It's an action movie that makes you think long and hard about the futility of war, as a couple of soldiers work to deliver a crucial message: the Germans are luring British troops into a trap.

A commanding officer tells two young soldiers, "If you don't get there in time, we will lose 1,600 men, your brother among them."

Except for one brief interlude, this is a film without females. And with the exception of brief cameos by Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch, there are no big-name stars.

The decision to cast unknown actors as the leads and give those parts to young performers made the film seem more real to me.

"1917" may be about events that took place more than a century ago, but the innovative way it was made ensures its relevancy for the 21st Century.

And speaking of relevance, "Little Women" feels like a contemporary story instead of the umpteenth version of a tale from the 19th Century.

Saoirse Ronan leads a strong cast directed by Greta Gerwig, who adapted Louisa May Alcott's timeless story of four sisters.

Laura Dern plays their mom and Timothee Chalamet their friend, in supporting roles that complement the central character of Jo, who except for her period costume could be a young woman of today.

"I intend to make my own way in the world,' Ronan's character says.

It's a mystery to me how Gerwig managed to make such a compelling movie out of such familiar material. Dynamic, entertaining, emotional, captivating, "Little Women" is all that and more.

My friend, 10th grader Lili Hopkins, agrees.

She writes that this movie, "revives the heartwarming classic," adding she, "strongly recommends" the movie, especially for women of any age.

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