Is there anything magnificent Streep can't master? In what can affectionately be called Mrs. Holland's Opus, she's an inner-city violin teacher trying to give her students a better life through music. Though she is forced to deal with personal dilemmas (her husband's extramarital affair, tragedies involving her students) and her own demons, Streep's dedication ultimately makes a difference in the lives of the children she touches.
Craven, known for scaring audiences into submission rather than making them cry--as they're apt to do here--handles everything with an even touch; no wild stereotyping, nor making any one character too saintly or dark. Based on a true story, this one's got plenty of heart.