“Little Women” wins my vote for best film of the year. Major factors in my decision are the star-studded cast and the sensitive direction and interesting adaptation of a novel about four sisters coming of age in Civil-War-era America.

Louisa May Alcott’s book, “Little Women,” which was published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869, has been a favorite of mine since I first read it in childhood. I always identified with Amy, the youngest, spoiled, sister. 😉

I don’t usually watch film adaptations of “Little Women” because I love the book so much, and that makes my standards for a film adaptation almost impossibly high.

But I was willing to take the plunge and see this one, since Greta Gerwig has proved herself to me to be an outstanding director. Her 2017 film “Lady Bird,” which stars some of the same actors as “Little Women” does, really impressed me.

I’m so glad that I did take the plunge to go see this “Little Women,” which just opened on Christmas, in a theater.

Even though the casting choices don’t completely coincide with the way I imagine the characters from the book, this is a wonderful ensemble cast.

I completely believed in the relationships within the family and with Laurie, Timothee Chalamet’s character.

Jo March is the central character of both the book and the movie. She is an alter ego for Louisa May Alcott.

Although in the book Jo has very dark hair, thus resembling Emily Watson in the film more closely than the reddish-haired Saoirse Ronan, I think Gerwig’s casting choices are spot-on.

Laura Dern as the girls’ mother, Marmee, and Meryl Streep as their Aunt March are also great choices and give the film great star power.

There is a definite 21st century slant to this version of “Little Women.” Gerwig’s screenplay stresses the economic need for marriage that drove 19th century women. But this doesn’t detract from the story. Instead I think it is in line with one of Alcott’s goals in writing the novel.

The four March sisters, L to R: Emily Watson as Meg; Florence Pugh as Amy; Saoirse Ronan as Jo; and Eliza Scanlen as Beth.
Jo (Saoirse Ronan) turns down Laurie (Timothee Chalamet) when he proposes.
Beth (Eliza Scanlen) in happier, healthier days, as she decorates the yard for Meg’s wedding.
Emily Watson is the oldest sister, Meg March.
Laura Dern is Marmee, the girls’ mother.
Timothee Chalamet, as Laurie, and Florence Pugh, as Amy, in Paris.
At Meg’s wedding: Beth, Jo, Marmee, and Amy March.
Saoirse Ronan plays Jo March, a budding writer who in the film writes Louisa May Alcott’s novel, “Little Women.”