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The Best of 2006: 'The Queen'

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The Queen (2006)

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This is a riveting tale starring this year's winner for the Best Actress Oscar, Dame Helen Mirren as current Queen Elizabeth II. Another film based on a true story (quite a few on my list are indeed that) follows the events leading up to and after Princess Diana's death in 1997. A major, but little known fact to Americans was how despised Diana was to the Royal Family. Seen through real footage on TV screens, Diana was thought by many royal members as an outcast with serious personal problems that drew too much unwarranted attention from the media.

Her death however caused an uproar among British citizens (who greatly admired her as one of the great figures of England) when the Queen herself delayed any mentioning of Diana to the press when it was originally decided she would have a private funeral. Starting from Tony Blair's election and through the events that nearly ripped the United Kingdom to pieces, The Queen, through Helen Mirren's fantastically composed performance (which creates some moments of vulnerability which become greatly emphasized), is an educational experience in how traditions and customs had to be changed, voices needed to be heard, and how people learned to rise to the occasion when the situation became even more dire.

A very straight-forward picture, The Queen is a very fascinating look at a very secretive family wishing to keep things secret when public opinion said the opposite. Michael Sheen plays a surprisingly intelligent interpretation of Tony Blair (despite how the public's divided views of him) and James Cromwell (the only American actor) does Scottish well.

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