Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008


John Patrick Shanley won a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award for his 2005 play, which lived in the gray area between suspicion and certitude. Now he has directed the film version. Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep), the principal and commandant of a Bronx parochial school in 1964, believes that genial, liberal Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) has committed a mortal impropriety and uses naive Sister James (Amy Adams) as referee and abettor. At times this feels like a horror movie, with rain battering bedroom windows, the wind swirling like an angry ghost and Streep mugging up a storm of her own. But the main conflict is irresistibly gripping, and Viola Davis, as one student's mother, steals the movie with a performance of such power and dignity, it might break your heart. 12/12

See Top 10 Posthumous Film Roles.