The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#76 Post by domino harvey » Fri Jun 05, 2009 12:40 pm

movielocke wrote:ddomino, when is our deadline for this again?
I was thinking the end of September, but that's by no means a hard end date

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#77 Post by reno dakota » Fri Jun 05, 2009 5:34 pm

An end-of-September deadline sounds good to me, domino. I think I should be able to finish by then.


The Awful Truth – Another great film from McCarey, with good performances from Grant and Dunne and lots of laughs along the way. McCarey was right that Make Way for Tomorrow is the greater achievement (it’s the best American film of 1937, in my view, as well as one of the best of the decade), but this is a fine film in its own right, and definitely worthy of its nomination.

Captains Courageous – Enjoyable coming of age tale with a good performance from Freddie Bartholomew and a sometimes moving, sometimes irritating performance from Spencer Tracy. The film’s long center section aboard the We’re Here is impressively crafted and the conclusion hit just the right bittersweet note.

Dead End – A good film, but one that is hampered by languid pacing during the first half-hour and unnecessary faithfulness to its source material. I kept waiting for Wyler to open up this material and make it feel less like a filmed play, but he never does. The foreground storyline involving the street kids didn’t work as well for me as did the background, more noir-toned Bogart/McCrea storyline, but the merging of these threads near the end is nicely done.

The Good Earth – An enjoyable, very well-made film with fine work from Paul Muni and Luise Rainer. The screenplay takes its time in developing the central relationship, but there is enough urgency in the narrative to keep things moving along. The locust sequence near the end, in particular, is stunning and the conclusion was quite satisfying.

In Old Chicago – A decent film that could have been far better had the screenplay been even half as ambitious as the set design and effects. The performances are solid all around, particularly from Tyrone Power, and the Great Fire sequence at the end is truly spectacular, but the conclusion did not have much of an emotional impact on me.

The Life of Emile Zola – Could be more aptly titled The Dreyfus Affair, as it only nominally concerns itself with Zola’s life, but this is a solid film nonetheless. Its long center section, which deals with the Dreyfus material, is a rousing indictment of political corruption, and it is in this passage that the film feels most alive. It does go on a bit too long, however, and it loses its focus somewhat near the end, but when it works it is easy to see why so many Academy voters were drawn to it.

Lost Horizon – This is the least Capraesque of the Capra films I’ve seen. The first act of this film is exciting, inspired filmmaking. Then the characters arrive at Shangri-La, the tone shifts from adventurous to ominous, the storytelling goes from realist to supernatural/fantasy, the pacing becomes uneven, and I lost interest entirely. The plot is rather ridiculous and the whole affair becomes tedious as the film moves past its second hour.

One Hundred Men and a Girl – Another terrible Deanna Durbin vehicle. She is no doubt a very talented singer, but she is also a miserable actress. That Koster is so intent on keeping her front and center throughout the film makes watching this one a truly withering experience.

Stage Door – A great, vibrant film with a wonderfully fresh and sardonic screenplay. The dialogue is quick and witty in a His Girl Friday sort of way, and the story itself moves effortlessly from funny moments to sorrowful ones. Also impressive are the performances, particularly from Hepburn and Rogers, and Menjou as well in an unusual turn as a loathsome cad.

A Star is Born – An above average melodrama, elevated to a rather good one by fine work from Janet Gaynor and Fredric March (both of whom I like so much that I often find myself being more generous toward their projects than perhaps I ought to be). I cannot say that I was particularly moved by this one, but I did enjoy it.

My vote: Stage Door

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#78 Post by nighthawk4486 » Fri Jun 05, 2009 6:57 pm

reno dakota wrote:A Star is Born – An above average melodrama, elevated to a rather good one by fine work from Janet Gaynor and Fredric March (both of whom I like so much that I often find myself being more generous toward their projects than perhaps I ought to be). I cannot say that I was particularly moved by this one, but I did enjoy it.

My vote: Stage Door
Yeah, I feel that way about Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer and over-rated their Romeo for too long because of it.

Now we move on to


Supposedly the greatest year for film ever. It's not. It's a myth. I even wrote about that myth ( ... h-of-1939/). (I feel no problem with hyping my blog since I ended up on this chat because someone linked to my blog - thanks by the way, I really enjoy all of this).

Gone with the Wind - I am not a fan. I feel conflicted about this damn film. It has truly great production values (brilliant cinematography, art direction and costumes as well as a timeless score). It has powerful acting (especially Leigh, who absolutely earned the Oscar - although it is disappointing how woefully miscast Howard is given how much a fan I am). But the script is so inane, so stupid, so ridiculous (yes, I hated the novel too). I can never bring myself to give it ****. I give it a very high ***.5 and it is truly epic, but the writing just bothers me so much. #7 on the year.

The Wizard of Oz - The more I think about it, the higher it moves. The only film I can conceive that might knock Sunset Boulevard off its pedestal. #1 of the year, the decade, possibly ever.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington - the ultimate Capra film - I wonder what people think of it today given the use of the filibuster - but Jimmy Stewart is so perfect as the young senator and Rains (the greatest character actor ever) is so perfect as the older senator - both absolutely should have won - #2 on the year

Wuthering Heights - #3 on the year, easily - Olivier's first great role, but Oberon is not up to the task (I like to think if Leigh had made this instead of Gone, it would have been so much better, but they never really clicked together on film, so maybe not) - always weird to go back to the novel and realize how much isn't in the film

Stagecoach - #4 on the year - the best of Ford's less serious Westerns and Wayne is very enjoyable before he really became John Wayne

Of Mice and Men - #8 on the year - very solid version of the novel, a novel which I have always been drawn to (had to read 5 books before the start of senior year from the AP list - I read the five shortest and this was one of them) - surprisingly strong performances from Meredith and Chaney

Ninotchka - #14 on the year - *** - enjoyable comedy, but I have never thought of it as a great film

Goodbye, Mr. Chips - #16 on the year - I still can't believe that Donat won over Stewart, Gable or Olivier - one of the most ridiculous Oscars ever given - he's good, but not great and the film is way too sappy for my taste - but it was the beginning of the Oscar nomination worship for Garson

Dark Victory - #24 on the year - I have always thought this was over-rated - Bette Davis was quite good, but was Davis ever really bad at this point? - amusing performance by Reagan, who was actually pretty good - but this was before we knew what Bogart could be and he is wasted - overly sappy towards the end

Love Affair - #35 on the year - weak *** - although better than either re-make (my biggest argument with my mother as she loves An Affair to Remember), this just always seemed like typical cheesy Hollywood romance - the reason I have missed Make Way for Tomorrow is that it was nominated for 0 Oscars, didn't make any Ebert Great Movies list, and I have never considered McCarey a great director, so I never sought out his films

The Great Victor Herbert
Man of Conquest
Nurse Edith Cavell
Captain Fury
Second Fiddle

My Top 10:
1 - The Wizard of Oz
2 - Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
3 - Wuthering Heights
4 - Stagecoach
5 - The Lady Vanishes
6 - Alexander Nevsky
7 - Gone with the Wind
8 - Of Mice and Men
9 - Gunga Din
10 - Port of Shadows


Rebecca - my #4 of the year, but all of my top 5 are just about even - any of them would be a great pick for Best Picture - fantastic film - one of Hitchcock's best - with great performances from Olivier, Fontaine, and especially Judith Anderson (who should have won)

The Grapes of Wrath - has drifted up to my #1 of the year the more I think about it - simply great film from a simply great novel with a performance that also moves higher the more I think about it - Fonda was absolutely brilliant in a role that really is iconic with an iconic line to remember it by ("I'm just tryin to get by without shoving anybody.")

The Great Dictator - #2 of the year - used to be #1 and got knocked out because it got downgraded, but because Grapes got upgraded - truly fantastic film - with two completely different kind of things I take away - one of the things that has made me laugh the hardest (when the police knock on the door, look at how Chaplin leaps into the trunk - I watched it on slow motion something like twenty times) - and the final speech that is so wonderful ("Look up, Hanna.")

The Philadelphia Story - #3 of the year - on Sunday, when I do my next Great Director post, George Cukor will come in at #59 and this will be the film I write about

The Letter - #11 of the year - ***.5 - my top 4 were all BP nominated, but none of the next 6 - this is a much better Davis film than DV, but then of course, Wyler is a great director

Foreign Correspondent - weak ***.5 - #12 of the year - enjoyable Hitchcock - although probably remembered more for the fact that it got nominated and later Hitchcock greats like Rear Window and North by Northwest weren't

The Long Voyage Home - strong *** - #14 of the year - enjoyable version of a few O'Neill plays merged together - although I think it would have been better without Wayne

Our Town - #23 of the year - solid film, but nothing great - a perfect example of something that is a much stronger play than film

Kitty Foyle - #40 of the year - weak *** - it makes my blood boil that Rogers won the Oscar over Hepburn - sappy, sappy, typical Hollywood film - the only nomination it deserved was Rogers and I slot her in in fifth place behind Hepburn, Russell (in His Girl Friday), Fontaine and Davis

All This and Heaven Too - #61 on the year - ** - would be last on the year but I recently saw the original One Million Years, B.C. - ridiculous Bette Davis melodrama

North West Mounted Police (this kills me - 5 noms, 1 Oscar)
Boys from Syracuse
Fight for Life
House of Seven Gables
Behind the News
Women in War

My Top 10:
1 - The Grapes of Wrath
2 - The Great Dictator
3 - The Philadelphia Story
4 - Rebecca
5 - His Girl Friday (as good a top 5 as any year)
6 - Pinnochio
7 - The Great McGinty (won for Screenplay but no BP nom)
8 - The Shop Around the Corner (amazingly, no nominations)
9 - La Bete Humaine
10 - Pride and Prejudice (very good Olivier and Garson version)

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#79 Post by movielocke » Fri Jun 05, 2009 8:49 pm

nighthawk4486 wrote:Gone with the Wind - I am not a fan. I feel conflicted about this damn film. It has truly great production values (brilliant cinematography, art direction and costumes as well as a timeless score). It has powerful acting (especially Leigh, who absolutely earned the Oscar - although it is disappointing how woefully miscast Howard is given how much a fan I am). But the script is so inane, so stupid, so ridiculous (yes, I hated the novel too). I can never bring myself to give it ****. I give it a very high ***.5 and it is truly epic, but the writing just bothers me so much. #7 on the year.
I used to agree with you on Gone with the Wind, then about two weeks ago I saw it on the big screen with a sold out crowd of classic movie nuts and damn if it didn't reshape my opinion of the film. I still find Scarlett grating and villainous, but my appreciation for just how great and damn near flawless the film is skyrocketed. I was especially astounded at how much better the script was than I remembered and how perfect and outstanding Hattie McDaniel is, stealing every scene. And it's really remarkable to be in a theatre and actually hear every woman (9 to 90) in the room audibly swoon at, "no, I'm not going to kiss you now, though I want to. You need to be kissed and often, by someone who knows how." GwtW has probably undergone the biggest revision upwards of a movie I've ever done, from 7 to 10, though perhaps revisions up of Shakespeare in love and Fargo enjoyed similar jumps. (biggest revision downward is probably Far From Heaven, a film that is completely pointless, boring and dull the second time around, after thinking it was a wonderful, superb movie the first time I saw it, I was hugely disappointed it was revealed as an empty and tiresome exercise when I revisited it, went from 9 down to 6). In any event, the point is that if you get the oppurtunity to see Gone with the Wind on the big screen you should leap at the chance, it's a thoroughly different experience, comparable to seeing Lawrence of Arabia or 2001 on the big screen.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#80 Post by nighthawk4486 » Tue Jun 09, 2009 5:41 pm


When I did my recent Great Director post on Alan J. Pakula, I noted that there are certain years where people feel the Academy got it right (like 1943 or 1962), certain years where everyone agrees that the Academy got it wrong and what it really should have chosen (1980, 1990, 2005) and then there are the odd years where everyone agrees that the Academy got it wrong, but there isn't necessarily a consensus on what should have won (51 has a lot of Place in the Sun people and a lot of Streetcar people, for 81 the Atlantic City people argue with the Raiders people with several Reds people thrown in). That argument was relevant to Pakula because the classic case of the last one was 1976 (people argue over Taxi Driver vs Network vs All the President's Men - no one says Rocky). 1941, of course, is the classic example of the second type of year.

How Green Was My Valley - #8 on the year - like many films that shouldn't have won (Ordinary People, Dances with Wolves, Crash) - a pretty good film, but blown away by a film of sheer force that you can't justify it having won the Oscar - one of my all-time favorite film lines, though: "Men like my father cannot die. They are with us still, as real in memory as they were in the flesh, beloving and beloved forever."

Citizen Kane - #1 on the year - a film of such overwhelming greatness and importance that it can not be debated - on my own list of the year, it wins my award for Picture, Actor, Director, Screenplay, Editing, Cinematography, Score, Sound, Art Direction and even two awards that didn't exist at the time - Costume Design and Makeup

The Maltese Falcon - #2 on the year - on my list comes in second place in Picture, Actor, Director, Editing, Cinematography and Score - but gets lucky because it wins Supporting Actor and Adapted Screenplay (in 57, Paths of Glory comes in #2 on every category to Bridge)

Suspicion - #5 on the year - very good Hitchcock - very good from Grant and fantastic from Fontaine (though Stanwyck was better in Lady Eve)

The Little Foxes - #12 on the year - great performances by Bette Davis and Teresa Wright (the first of her too few great performances, god she was lovely) - ***.5

Here Comes Mr. Jordan - #14 on the year - ***.5 - very good and enjoyable, though the remake was actually more enjoyable, perhaps because I like Beatty more than Montgomery - but Claude Rains beats James Mason hands down

Hold Back the Dawn - #17 on the year - finally saw this on YouTube after making my rankings last year - solid ***, but not really good enough to merit the 6 nominations

One Foot in Heaven - #21 on the year - the film that made me get TCM last year - will be on again in August - solid film which perhaps would move me more if I were religious

Sergeant York - #23 on the year - solid film, but really not worth 11 nominations - Hawks made many better films than this

Blossoms in the Dust - **.5 - #58 on the year - not exactly Greer Garson's finest moment - either her performance or the film, which is ridiculously sappy

Aloma of the South Seas
Ladies in Retirement
Tom Dick and Harry
Ice Capades
Mercy Island
That Woman is Mine
Devil Pays Off
Men in Her Life

Top 10:
1 - Citizen Kane
2 - The Maltese Falcon
3 - Fantasia (made in 40, eligible in 41)
4 - The Lady Eve
5 - Suspicion
6 - Ball of Fire
7 - High Sierra
8 - How Green Was My Valley
9 - Pepe Le Moko
10 - Mr and Mrs Smith


Mrs Miniver - #16 of the year - solid *** - solid, enjoyable film and the acting was worthy of the accolades, but the film shouldn't have won Best Picture - swept up in patriotic fever

Yankee Doodle Dandy - #3 of the year - my mother's favorite film - I must have seen this several hundred times growing up and always knew it was great - with one of the great all-time endings

The Magnificent Ambersons - #4 of the year - even hacking Welles' work couldn't downgrade it below **** - still a fantastic film even in the form we have it

Kings Row - #5 of the year - the brilliance of Rains performance and the script overcomes the Reagan line ("Where's the rest of me) - ****

Pride of the Yankees - # 8 of the year - ***.5 - a very good example of Hollywood biopic - partially because of the performances from Cooper and Wright

Talk of the Town - #12 of the year - high *** - enjoyable, though not really up to Best Picture nominee level - Colman, Arthur and Grant are a great combination

Random Harvest - #17 of the year - solid film with solid performance by Colman and Garson - of course that sums up the career for both of them

The Pied Piper - #27 of the year - *** - given Academy tastes at the time I understand (though disagree) them nominating this - but nominating Wooley for Actor was ridiculous

The 49th Parallel - #28 of the year - the Michael Powell Best Picture nominees I really find to be among the weakest films he did in the 40's and certainly nothing like his best work (Blimp, Matter, Canterbury)

Wake Island - #39 of the year - weak *** - can't really remember much about after all this time - it really failed to make much of an impression on me

The Silver Queen
The War Against Mrs. Hadley
Joan of Paris
Johnny Doughboy
Klondike Fury
Desperate Journey
Friendly Enemies
War Comes Through
Always in My Heart
The Mayor of 44th Street
Youth on Parade

My Top 10:
1 - Sullivan's Travels - a crime that it got 0 nominations
2 - Bambi
3 - Yankee Doodle Dandy
4 - The Magnificent Ambersons
5 - Kings Row
6 - To Be or Not to Be
7 - The Palm Beach Story
8 - The Pride of the Yankees
9 - Now, Voyager
10 - Woman of the Year

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#81 Post by reno dakota » Wed Jun 10, 2009 12:16 am


The Adventures of Robin Hood – A fun and entertaining film with great acting throughout. Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland are better together here than they were in Captain Blood, and Claude Rains and Basil Rathbone give us wonderfully treacherous characters. The whole production has a light, playful tone and a wonderful energy about it, which certainly fits this material. This was not a film that moved me very much, but I did enjoy it a great deal.

Alexander’s Ragtime Band – Little more than a showcase for a series of musical numbers, none of which is presented in a visually interesting way. What story there is here is not boring, exactly, but it’s not compelling either. This is yet another inexplicable nominee in a year when so many great films were entirely ignored.

Boys Town – Not a good film, but one that nonetheless has its moments. Spencer Tracy turns in solid work, as do most of the child actors, but the screenplay is infected with a soft sentimentality that ruins the film’s cumulative impact. So many of the “serious” scenes are presented in a far more somber and emotionally exaggerated way than they ought to have been, and the conclusion involves a striking about-face from one of the characters that simply rang false for me (even though, I understand, it is based in fact). I just couldn’t bring myself to like this one, despite its worthy subject matter.

The Citadel – A decent film about the trials of idealism. The storyline is a bit formulaic, and the whole thing ends rather abruptly, but it’s easy to get swept along by Vidor’s passion for this material. Robert Donat and Rosalind Russell give fine performances here, but ultimately I appreciated this one more for its social aims than for its artistic merits.

Four Daughters – A rather average domestic drama with a bittersweet ending and a really great performance from John Garfield. It’s not a terribly ambitious film, but what it does it does well, and it was enjoyable to watch.

Grand Illusion – One of the great films, and the finest nominee of the lot. There are so many things to praise here—from the elegant structure of the narrative, to the excitement and tension of the prison-break sequences—but what I found particularly impressive on seeing the film again is the way it handles the issue of camaraderie and affection across enemy lines. A lesser film wouldn’t have taken the time to develop these relationships in such an observant and touching way, or give them such a prominent place in the story.

Jezebel – A very good film that, in a number of ways, feels like a more distilled, tightly constructed Gone With the Wind. Bette Davis is in top form here as a reckless woman, jealous and vengeful, and Henry Fonda matches her with an equally fine performance as the level-headed object of her desire. Their scenes together are passionate and full of tension. The supporting players also turn in solid work, and the period detail provides a rich, textured backdrop for the story, all leading to an emotionally satisfying conclusion.

Pygmalion – The year’s funniest nominee. Leslie Howard gives a great comedic performance (his delivery of the “draggle-tailed guttersnipe” line still makes me laugh) and Wendy Hiller is effortlessly charming, and quite funny too, in her role. The masterstroke, however, is the screenplay, which drives the whole production along beautifully and delivers one delight after another.

Test Pilot – This was the nominee that surprised me the most. I expected an entertaining film with maybe a good performance or two, but I didn’t expect to be moved as much as I was. Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy are wonderful together in a relationship that is very sensitively developed, no doubt owing to Howard Hawks’ contribution to the screenplay (in fact, some of the elements here seem to anticipate his splendid Only Angels Have Wings). And then there’s Myrna Loy, whose character serves as a great balancing force. She seems to understand the complex Gable/Tracy dynamic better than either one does, and the way she embraces the two of them is one of the film’s great strengths.

You Can’t Take It With You – I must admit that I am rather resistant to this sort of story in the first place, so this film did have its work cut out for it from the beginning as far winning me over was concerned. That said, there are enough engaging passages and funny (though tremendously silly) moments here to make the whole experience mildly entertaining. That it won Best Picture is a pity, though, as it is one of the weaker nominees in the lot. But, on the whole, the film is just too good natured to warrant much resentment.

My vote: Grand Illusion

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#82 Post by movielocke » Wed Jun 10, 2009 3:28 am

nighthawk4486 wrote:1941

When I did my recent Great Director post on Alan J. Pakula, I noted that there are certain years where people feel the Academy got it right (like 1943 or 1962), certain years where everyone agrees that the Academy got it wrong and what it really should have chosen (1980, 1990, 2005) and then there are the odd years where everyone agrees that the Academy got it wrong, but there isn't necessarily a consensus on what should have won (51 has a lot of Place in the Sun people and a lot of Streetcar people, for 81 the Atlantic City people argue with the Raiders people with several Reds people thrown in). That argument was relevant to Pakula because the classic case of the last one was 1976 (people argue over Taxi Driver vs Network vs All the President's Men - no one says Rocky). 1941, of course, is the classic example of the second type of year.
actually, I pick How Green Was My Valley over Citizen Kane, HGWMV is my number 3 film of all time, CK only about number 45. I value warmth over coldness, apparently. And really, nothing in CK is emotionally comparable to Ford's parallel shots of Gwyllum Morgan rising out of the culliery cradling his dead son (paralleled to) Huw Morgan rising out of the culliery cradling his dead father. The shots are elegant and understated, separated by an hour of screen time, but that connection is one of the best ever done, an incredible thematic and emotional payoff. Capturing much of the film's meaning not in a single shot, but in the idea of time spanning between the shots and the associations we build into the evolution between the shots.

additionally, Valley was viewed as one of the years the Academy got it most right up until at least the mid fifties. For example Film Review Monthly's article in May 1955 about the years oscar got most wrong, Casablanca is listed as the most egregious winner, robbing the much 'worthier' Song of Bernadette simply because the moderately pleasing Casablanca happened to be topical that year what with the invasion of North Africa. they cover the history of the oscars up til then, and 41 is one of the few years not mentioned as getting Best Picture wrong). Even by 71, Andrew Sarris was saying that although he'd have voted for CK, HGWMV was still the best film to ever win best picture (excepting Sunrise, different category). I've ran across other old critiques of the oscars in various aged periodicals or books and almost never see 41 mentioned as one of the bad years in the older volumes. I never tracked down when opinion suddenly changed about the film, but I imagine it was sometime after Dec. 1962 (canonized objects have a pernicious way of self-reinforcing themselves). Speaking of old periodicals, if you're ever in a library with old American cinematographer volumes, pull out 1942, and flip through until you find Arthur Miller's article discussing how they reinvented interior lighting design for the film. Goes a long way towards explaining why the film took the cinematography award. In terms of the literary design of the film, it's one of the most liberal films to take home the BP award ever. It is unabashedly pro-union (thanks to Dunne and Ford's undermining Zanuck's attempts to tone down the pro-union sentiments of the source material), so much so that the film had an almost 1:1 shooting ratio. Ford knew he wouldn't be allowed in the cutting room for two reasons, the content of the film and because he was shipping off for the navy as soon as it was complete, much of the film was in essence cut in the camera. Then again you had three founding officers of the Director's Guild, Writer's Guild, and ASC (iirc they were all presidents, had been presidents, or would be presidents of their labor associations) as the primarily shapers of the film versus one of the men who would have liked to break the unions if possible, so perhaps its not so surprising that the film is so pro-labor, although it is surprising it did get made. I've also always liked (though never seen anyone else comment on this facet) how Ford opens the film with a salute, of sorts, to silent filmmaking. Crisp and McDowell pantomime for the camera in the first shot together in a way you don't see repeated anywhere else in the film. the whole opening sequence (with the narration) is told in these sort of broad exaggerated movement. I think it's a beautiful understated way to awaken a nostalgia in 1941 audiences for a bygone era. Tying Huw's memories of better days to the audience's memories of silent filmmaking is a quite nice play on the subconscious by Ford.

That was rather lengthy, but the point I intended to make was that it is only relatively recently (I'd say sometime since the late 70s/80s) that 1941 began to be viewed as an inexplicably wrong BP win, rather than as a year a masterpiece won when many masterful films were also nominated. The idea that 1941 is one of "the odd years where everyone agrees that the Academy got it wrong" (and there is an accompanying universal consensus 'right' film) is an idea that has only really developed in the home video era. Having seen both HGWMV and CK on the big screen and home video several times each, I think I can comprehend that evolution. I think there's also a minor socio-political element to the changing perceptions of the films as well. Kane is the sort of figure whose popularity waxed with the Reagan/Clinton/Bush era, while unions popularity waned during the same era.

As for 76, I also say Rocky is the best of the five, and I would disagree with your assertion that no one picks Rocky. over the years of debating that 1976 often on various internet film forums I generally see it break about 35% for Taxi Driver and Network and about 15% for Rocky and All the President's Men. Some forums, more oriented towards gear, I've seen closer to a 33/33/33 split between Taxi Driver, Network and Rocky. Rocky, like Dances with Wolves, is much more popular than cineastes give it credit for.
reno dakota wrote:1938:
Test Pilot – This was the nominee that surprised me the most. I expected an entertaining film with maybe a good performance or two, but I didn’t expect to be moved as much as I was. Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy are wonderful together in a relationship that is very sensitively developed, no doubt owing to Howard Hawks’ contribution to the screenplay (in fact, some of the elements here seem to anticipate his splendid Only Angels Have Wings). And then there’s Myrna Loy, whose character serves as a great balancing force. She seems to understand the complex Gable/Tracy dynamic better than either one does, and the way she embraces the two of them is one of the film’s great strengths.
I agree completely, I think Test Pilot was probably my biggest surprise of all the 1930s nominees.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#83 Post by nighthawk4486 » Fri Jun 12, 2009 11:48 pm

movielocke wrote:As for 76, I also say Rocky is the best of the five.
It's always interesting to go against the grain of the "established taste." I am a big believer in the importance of Citizen Kane, but think Touch of Evil is a better film. And I mentioned 2005, and while I believe Brokeback is brilliant, I actually wrote an entire article on the reasons I think Munich is the best film of that year. And I get slammed for not liking The Crowd. Although, if Valley is that high on your list, what ranks above it? And if you value warmth over coldness what do you think of 2001?

And I'll ruin the surprise of sometime in November and mention that I think Rocky is a very good film - mid range ***.5 - but it ranks #12 on my list for 76 (ranked above it, in order, are: All the President's Men, Network, Taxi Driver, Solyaris, Face to Face, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Carrie, Seven Beauties, The Front, Voyage of the Damned, Marathon Man).


Casablanca - I agree with the Academy for the second time (first was All Quiet) - the perfect romantic film - any and all film marketing people who believe that films must have happy endings should be hit with a shovel and made to watch this again - I just watched Woody Allen on TCM talking about Purple Rose and saying that the studio said if he gave it a happy ending, it would do great box office and Allen replied, I wouldn't have done it without the ending it has

In Which We Serve - #3 on the year - excellent Lean debut and the perfect way to do it - being brought along by Noel Coward - possibly the best war film ever made while still fighting the actual war

For Whom the Bell Tolls - #4 - one of the best literary adaptations ever made, in that it was a great book to begin with, it was faithfully adapted, and it was a great movie - great performances all around

The Ox-Bow Incident - #5 - the last film ever nominated for Best Picture and nothing else - which is ridiculous, because the acting, directing, script, editing and cinematography were all top-notch - certainly more deserving of nominations than Madame Curie - how the hell did Rooney get nominated and Fonda didn't?

Heaven Can Wait - #8 on the year - enjoyable low ***.5 comedy - easily the best thing Ameche did before Cocoon

Watch on the Rhine - #9 on the year - solid drama - just makes it to ***.5 - Lukas was very good, but no way should he have won the Oscar over Bogart (I also rank him below Cooper and Joseph Cotton)

The More the Merrier - #10 - also just makes it to ***.5 - again, Coburn is good, but absolutely should not have won the Oscar over Claude Rains - I do adore Jean Arthur though, and Joel McCrea is always charming

The Song of Bernadette - #18 on the year - mid *** - I don't know - do I just not think this is a film worthy of 12 nominations because I think it's a weaker film or because I have no religious belief at all - bit of a perplexing question when it comes to films like this

The Human Comedy - #20 on the year - another one of those sappy Hollywood melodramas, one of which seemed to get nominated every year - I never was much of a Mickey Rooney fan

Madame Curie - #30 on the year - typical Hollywood biopic - part of Garson's streak of nominations, but really, she's done so much better

In Old Oklahoma
Something to Shout About
Corvette K-225
Commandos Strike at Dawn
Fallen Sparrow
Johnny Come Lately
Moon and Sixpence
Riding High
Flight for Freedom
Mission to Moscow

My Top 10 of the year
1 - Casablanca
2 - Shadow of a Doubt
3 - In Which We Serve
4 - For Whom the Bell Tolls
5 - The Ox-Bow Incident

worst fall off of any year from 5 to 6 - from mid range **** to low ***.5
6 - This Land is Mine
7 - Five Graves to Cairo
8 - Heaven Can Wait
9 - Watch on the Rhine
10 - The More the Merrier

1944 - finally, the era of 5 nominees

Going My Way - #12 on the year - high *** - see my note to Song of Bernadette - and I don't think Crosby or Fitzgerald should have won, though they both deserved nominations (my winners are Charles Boyer and Clifton Webb)

Double Indemnity - #1 on the year - the first winless BP nominee in the 5 film era remained the biggest until Quo Vadis in 51 - which is ridiculous, because it should have won Picture, Director, Screenplay and Cinematography - rivals Some Like It Hot and The Apartment for the position of 2nd best Wilder film

Gaslight - #2 on the year - for a long time I actually felt this was the best film of the year, until I re-watched and upped the marks for Double Indemnity - this is a great film with incredible acting from Bergman, Boyer and Lansbury, all of whom should have won (not just Bergman) - the only drama to make my top 5 Cukor films list

Since You Went Away - #20 on the year - solid drama, but nothing great - it was kind of weird to see a more grown up Shirley Temple - I forget that she didn't just disappear after her early films

Wilson - #26 of the year - I remember being excited when I finally got to see this because of the 10 nominations and 5 Oscars, but I couldn't understand the acclaims - I really thought this was pretty standard Hollywood biopic without even the kind of solid performance you would have expected from Paul Muni

except for the first few years, 44 and 45 have the longest lists I still need to see - there were still so many nominees (65 and 62 films) - when there were no limits from 1940-45, there was an average of 61 films nominated a year - since 1945, the most in any one year is 46 - and since the mid-50's only once have we had more than 40 (46 in 1996)
Voice in the Wind
Address Unknown
None Shall Escape
Lady Let's Dance
Song of the Open Road
Home in Indiana
Hairy Ape
Summer Storm
Three Russians Girls
Up in Mable's Room
Merry Monahans
Music in Manhattan
Desert Song
Story of Dr. Wassell

My Top 5
1 - Double Indemnity
2 - Gaslight
3 - Miracle of Morgan's Creek
4 - Hail the Conquering Hero
5 - Arsenic and Old Lace

Since we're into the Golden Globe era, and down to 5 BP nominees, I will list my 5 BP nominees split into Comedy / Drama as well from here on out - but since I only give nominations to ***.5 or **** films, sometimes there won't be 5

Drama - Double Indemnity / Gaslight / Ministry of Fear / Laura
Comedy - Miracle of Morgan's Creek / Hail the Conquering Hero / Arsenic and Old Lace / Princess and the Pirate


The Lost Weekend - the third time I agree with the Academy - a truly great film that I think still holds up very well - great performance by Milland

Spellbound - like Gaslight, I once had this as the Best Picture, but then re-ranked the Wilder film - #2 on the year - simply amazing - the dream sequences are still fantastic (but I love Dali) - Bergman should have been nominated for this instead of Bells

Anchors Aweigh - ***.5 - #7 on the year - very enjoyable - it's always so amazing to watch Gene Kelly dance and sing

Mildred Pierce - #14 on the year - *** - solid, but not great - I do agree with the Crawford Oscar, but it's a weak year and she wouldn't have won in most years - I've never been a Crawford fan

The Bells of St Mary's - #23 on the year - okay film, but see above note to Going My Way

A Medal for Benny (won Golden Globe - really need to see it)
A Thousand and One Nights
Affairs of Susan
Music for Millions
Salty O'Rourke
What Next Corporal Hargrove
Why Girls Leave Home
Hitchhike to Happiness
Sunbonnet Sue
Enchanted Cottage
G.I. Honeymoon
Guest Wife
This Love of Ours
Spanish Main
Captain Eddie
Three is a Family
Earl Carroll Vanities
Sing Your Way Home

I'm missing as many films in 45 as I am in the next 5 years combined

My Top 5
1 - The Lost Weekend
2 - Spellbound
3 - To Have and Have Not
4 - The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
5 - The Story of G.I. Joe

no Golden Globes, as Anchors Aweigh is the only comedy to merit a nomination

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#84 Post by movielocke » Sat Jun 13, 2009 3:20 pm

nighthawk4486 wrote:
movielocke wrote:As for 76, I also say Rocky is the best of the five.
It's always interesting to go against the grain of the "established taste." I am a big believer in the importance of Citizen Kane, but think Touch of Evil is a better film. And I mentioned 2005, and while I believe Brokeback is brilliant, I actually wrote an entire article on the reasons I think Munich is the best film of that year. And I get slammed for not liking The Crowd. Although, if Valley is that high on your list, what ranks above it? And if you value warmth over coldness what do you think of 2001?
I'm not a contrarian deliberately going against the grain. I think established taste is a rather nebulous and mutable standard more dependent upon the experiences and knowledge of the community than on a universal standard.

I'll agree with you on Brokeback, at the time, that was a very strange year for me, I first had Munich at number 1, then reevaluated and had Brokeback at 1, then reevaluated again and had them tied. From a few years of reflection later it is clearly Munich that is the better film, far deeper and meaningful that resonates much more across the years.

What ranks above Valley? Empire of the Sun and Lawrence of Arabia. Just below it are The Apartment and A Matter of Life and Death

I've had an odd relationship with 2001. When I first got into film it was one of the first 'big' films I sought out. I started off trying to watch it on a small tv on TCM in widescreen. I was mesmerized by the Dawn of Man sequence and began to doze sometime after the impressive shot of Dave running around the ship. That said, I quite liked much of the film, and not long after watched it straight through. I found it tremendously dense, but still thought that very good. I later watched it projected from a DVD and really begin to get the film more. But it wasn't until I saw it in 35mm that I unreservedly got the film as a great (if not perfect) film, and that damned long acid trip at the end of the film finally worked and no longer felt like indulgent nonsense. I still need to see it in 70mm some day, but it's one of those films that I just won't watch on home video (not even hidef) anymore. It's simply not worth it for the immense loss of quality of watching a film like this at home. I wait for the screenings that crop up at least twice a year in LA, though I've not seen it in a couple years. (I sometimes think that I use home watching as a sort of 'screener' to decide if I want to watch the film properly some day. Gunga Din is a good example. Okay/very good film on home video, fucking fantastic on the big screen, comparable to Bond or Jones). As with any Kubrick, it really needs to be seen as many times as possible so you can enjoy unpacking all the new stuff you discover on subsequent viewings. If I do watch it again at home it'll be with the sound off and a notepad to analyze the relationship between the composition and editing, something that's been in the back of my mind to do for a while. I think Tarkovsky's Solaris may be better, but I need another viewing of both, really.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#85 Post by reno dakota » Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:16 am


All This, and Heaven Too – A melodrama that takes overwrought to an entirely new level. Bette Davis and Charles Boyer give good performances, but the film is too long, too slowly paced, and has one of the most cringe-inducing endings I’ve seen in quite a while. I blame the screenplay for most of these problems, though its funniest line—“Sometimes it is difficult to tell from the sound of the French mob whether the people are inciting a revolution or merely having a good time”—was an unexpected delight.

Foreign Correspondent – A very entertaining film, but a notch or two below Hitchcock’s best works. Hitchcock is far better, I think, when he builds intrigue and suspense from the psychology of his characters, rather than letting the plot do most of the work. Here we get a good, mysterious story, but one that lacks a really compelling central character. The most resonant scenes are the windmill sequence and the final flight, both of which are beautifully filmed and full of tension, but the film rarely rises to that level in its surrounding passages. And the patriotic ending feels more like studio tinkering than Hitchcock’s artistic vision.

The Grapes of Wrath – One of the finest Ford films I’ve seen (so far). Directed with grace and full of delicate and heartbreaking moments, it’s easy to get swept up in the film’s powerful narrative and striking images. Watching this one a second time, though, what stood out the most was Henry Fonda. It’s an understated and moving performance that certainly ranks among his best work.

The Great Dictator – For the first thirty minutes or so, Chaplin works very hard for each laugh, and he gets them. Then the gags become repetitive, and he works even harder for each laugh. Eventually, I stopped laughing, and then I stopped smiling, too. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but too much of Chaplin’s material just doesn’t work as well as it should. Maybe it’s the chaotic storyline, or the erratic pacing that put me off. In any case, the high point, for me, was the lovely scene with the globe, but the rest of the film never quite lives up to the elegance and charm of that scene.

Kitty Foyle: the Natural History of a Woman – A good film with high production values and a memorable performance from Ginger Rogers. It’s probably best not to think too deeply about the social message this one is trying to drive home (how many times did Rogers utter the line, “At least I’m white” in casual conversation?) because the film works best as a straightforward romantic drama. The storytelling is lively (even if the flashback and voice-over narration doesn’t work any better than linear narration would have), the chemistry between Rogers and her male co-stars is palpable, and the bittersweet ending feels just right.

The Letter – A well-made film, but one that never once drew me in or made me care about its story or its characters. I’m not sure if it was Bette Davis’ scenery-chewing performance that kept me at a distance, or whether it was Wyler’s very somber presentation of this material (hell, maybe I was just in the wrong mood for it), but I came away from this one thinking that the whole exercise was a misfire and a lost opportunity.

The Long Voyage Home – A good, but uneven, offering from Ford. Narratively, the film is all over the place, with numerous abrupt shifts in tone and a handful of inscrutable passages along the way (owing, no doubt, to the screenplay having been adapted from three separate plays), and I could have done without the theatrics of the final fifteen minutes. However, the fine work from the cast and Gregg Toland’s beautiful cinematography were enough to make this one enjoyable overall.

Our Town – It’s been a long time since I’ve read or seen Wilder’s play, but I don’t remember it being as dry or as lifeless as this adaptation. So many things play badly here, from the direct-to-camera narration, to the numerous testimonial interruptions from various characters, to the unbearably hokey final sequence. None of the performances stood out as particularly strong, and the slow pacing made it difficult to get invested in what was happening on screen. This was a big disappointment all around.

The Philadelphia Story – A very good film, full of humor and charm, with a great performance from Katharine Hepburn at its center. Despite its numerous strengths, I will never understand why Jimmy Stewart won for this performance, or why this was the Hepburn/Grant project that did so well at the box office and garnered all of the attention (over the vastly superior Holiday and Bringing Up Baby). On the whole, though, this is one of the stronger nominees in the lot.

Rebecca – A wonderful film from Hitchcock that I think deserves to be counted among his best. This one has it all: it’s beautifully filmed, intensely atmospheric, strangely erotic, and as exciting as it is haunting. Du Maurier’s novel always seemed to me a sort of ghost story, and the film certainly gets that right, both in the way that it reveals its secrets slowly and in the way that it presents Rebecca to us. I cannot image a better adaptation of this material. Here is another year where I agree with the Academy.

My vote: Rebecca

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#86 Post by nighthawk4486 » Mon Jun 29, 2009 10:57 pm

The History of the Academy Awards: A Guess at Best Picture 6-10

That is my new post in which I take a guess, based on the various precursors (Globes, guilds, critics, other Oscar nominations) if there had been 10 nominations all along from 1944 to 2008 what the other five would be. I try to be objective and I thought you might all find it interesting.

Oh, and movielocke - I wasn't trying to suggest that you're contrarian by nature, but rather that I like the fact that you don't necessarily fall in line with what so many others say. I'm often that way myself (I hate Godard) and enjoy others who feel free to go with their own opinions.


The Best Years of Our Lives - #2 on the year - the best American film of one of the best years in film history - a truly great film that really is a transcript of a time in history - the return of the soldiers from WWII - I have an entire speech by one character in an unfinished novel where he explains how it's his favorite film

It's a Wonderful Life - #3 on the year - one of my all time favorite films - I wrote a poem about it once that I won't make you all endure

Henry V - #7 on the year - high **** - there is a huge drop off after the top 7, but these 7 are as good as any 7 films in any year in film history

The Yearling - #17 on the year - solid *** - enjoyable kids movie and Peck and Wyman are good, of course, but I can't really see it is as more than that

The Razor's Edge - #33 on the year - **.5 - I am not a big Maugham fan and I don't like Tyrone Power - he joins the list with Victor Mature and Robert Taylor of people that I can't understand how they became stars

My top 7:
#1 - Children of Paradise (eligible and nominated for Original Screenplay)
#2 - The Best Years of Our Lives
#3 - It's a Wonderful Life
#4 - Brief Encounter
#5 - The Big Sleep
#6 - Notorious
#7 - Henry V

I'll skip the Golden Globes because I haven't seen any comedies or musicals from 46 that I would rank ***.5 or higher

Road to Utopia
Centennial Summer


Gentleman's Agreement - #4 on the year - very good social drama and Peck is great, but to me, it isn't quite as good as my other three

Great Expectations - #2 on the year - great Dickens adaptation - the best in my opinion and the first major role for my favorite actor of all time (Guinness)

Miracle on 34th Street - #6 on the year - very charming Christmas classic that actually deserves its status - ****

Crossfire - also a **** - #7 on the year - should have won Best Supporting Actor over Miracle

The Bishop's Wife - a charming movie - *** - #26 on the year - not really deserving of classic status the way Miracle is - I have also never like Loretta Young - never could understand why she was a star as I never found her that attractive and didn't think she was much of an actress (she so didn't deserve her Oscar in this year - Deborah Kerr gave the two best performances of the year in I See a Dark Stranger and Black Narcissus and didn't get nominated for either one)

My top 5:
#1 - La Belle et la Bette - eligible in this year, though not nominated for anything
#2 - Great Expectations
#3 - Stairway to Heaven (A Matter of Life and Death) - great film with 0 nominations
#4 - Gentleman's Agreement
#5 - Ivan the Terrible Part I - great Eisenstein film, but what Eisenstein film isn't

Golden Globes
Drama - same as above
Comedy - Monsieur Verdoux / Song of the South / Fun and Fancy Free

The Time, the Place and the Girl
Forever Amber
My Wild Irish Rose
Foxes of Harrow

Ride the Pink Horse - my #8 of the year

Hamlet - my #2 of the year - wrote a huge essay on it for my Olivier post on my blog because I wrote a paper in grad school on film versions of Hamlet - great film, though Branagh's is better

Treasure of the Sierra Madre - #1 of the year - in my top 30 of all-time

The Snake Pit - #20 of the year - solid *** - very good De Havilland performance - the kind of solid serious picture that used to get nominated even though it's not really good enough to be

Johnny Belinda - #22 of the year - pretty much the same description as above with Wyman substituted for De Havilland

The Red Shoes - #25 of the year - finally re-watched and raised the ranking of this film considerably - part of the reason I had never liked it was because I didn't care about the subject matter - I still don't, but I can see its strengths now - though I will never like it as much as Scorsese does

My top 5:
#1 - Treasure of the Sierra Madre
#2 - Hamlet
#3 - Red River
#4 - The Eagle Has Two Heads (Cocteau)
#5 - Fanny - original 1932 French film finally released in the US

Golden Globes
Drama - same as above
Comedy - Melody Time / State of the Union

When My Baby Smiles at Me


All the King's Men - solid ***.5 in what is a very weak year - #5 on the year - the last time a ***.5 actually gets a Best Picture nomination from me

A Letter to Three Wives - **** - #2 on the year - won Director and Screenplay but not Picture in a year where the Best Picture didn't win either Screenplay award - something that didn't happen again until 2000 - a great film that really should have earned a Supporting Actor nomination (and win) for Kirk Douglas

The Heiress - **** - #4 on the year, but wouldn't make the top 10 in many years - very good acting and production values - De Havilland deserved her Oscar

Battleground - middle *** - #28 on the year - okay WWII film, but really no better than so many others

12 O'Clock High - middle *** - #32 on the year - not deserving of its Supporting Actor Oscar or its Picture nomination - nor really should Peck have been nominated over Cagney in White Heat or Ralph Richardson in The Fallen Idol

my top 5:
#1 - The Bicycle Thief
#2 - A Letter to Three Wives
#3 - A Canterbury Tale - great Michael Powell film released in the US in 49
#4 - The Heiress
#5 - All the King's Men

no Golden Globes as the only comedy worth it is Whiskey Galore

The Window
Mother is a Freshman
Beyond the Forest
Look for the Silver Lining
Once More My Darling

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#87 Post by movielocke » Tue Jun 30, 2009 9:18 pm

Love the post on the other five nominees. I've been hoping someone would crunch the numbers for just the recent years (rather than everyone saying, OMG my favorite would totally have been nommed!!!1!) so that post was even more than I hoped for. the one nominee I expected to see but didn't was The Lion King, I think that one would be an exception to your formula. Perhaps a box office variable is worth looking into? Something as tremendously popular as Lion King may have been pretty likely to earn a nom, though granted 94 was an immensely tougher year than 91. Though I suppose the trouble is figuring what sort of weight to give box office, perhaps by figuring a correlation between your score and the film's performance that year (was it the number 1 earner or the 23rd earner of the year?) to try to suss out if box office is functioning as a confounding factor. I don't think it will make a big difference, but if it is a confounding factor, it may change some things in the 6-15 range, as well as better explaining, statistically, why films like Ghost get nominated. :/ or bump a film like Back to the Future up from 10th.

out of curiosity, where did Finding Nemo and Lion King place their respective years?

I should be finishing off a year tonight, and now only two films away from finishing off 1940. :D Now that I've watched nearly all the criterion blurays, my next focus will be on finishing off the nommed films for this thread.

And I have Beyond the Forest on DVD and can get Bright Victory and North West Mounted Police. PM me.
Last edited by movielocke on Mon Jul 20, 2009 8:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#88 Post by movielocke » Thu Jul 02, 2009 12:36 am

1945 was not a particularly stellar year, in my opinion for academy nominations, all the films are solid, but none stood out to me.

The Lost Weekend definitely contains the best filmmaking of these five films. As a film I found it almost impossible to watch because of the tangible intensity he’s going through, I dreaded each new moment so much, the film is completely unrelenting, and in that respect I’m not especially drawn to rewatch it and am probably somewhat underrating it because it made me feel miserable. 8 of 10

Anchors Aweigh is a quite fun film whose parts are better than its sum. It’s sort of middling for a musical nominee, imo, there is the famous cartoon dance, but I was much more impressed by the dance in all the other numbers, in many ways the famed number was completely anticlimactic. Charming, but not great. 8 of 10

Mildred Pierce is a terrific melodrama noir-esque film for Joan Crawford and is a film I would not mind revisiting, but her, the photography and spectacular ending are mainly all that stands out in my memory at the moment. 8 of 10

Spellbound is one of the weaker of Hitch’s more well known films, I think the psycho analysis dates it very badly which is unfortunate. However its got many excellent elements, such as the Dali dream. 6 of 10

The Bells of St. Mary’s is a sometimes maligned film, it has an earnestness to it that some might find off-putting but that I find to be an essential part of both its charm and appeal. I think the chemistry and performances are outstanding. The scenario is not the strongest, I appreciate the vignettes more than the ongoing ‘main story’ such as the fist-fight rematch, or the first graders’ Christmas pageant. 8 of 10.

It’s a tough call, but I think the amazing Christmas pageant won me over, and, upon reflection is the film I'd most like to see in a theatre (already seen Spellbound that way), and in a tie between a comedy and drama, one should always pick the comedy, so my pick is, The Bells of St. Mary’s

1. The Bells of St. Mary’s
2. The Lost Weekend
3. Mildred Pierce
4. Anchors Away
5. Spellbound

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#89 Post by reno dakota » Wed Jul 08, 2009 3:01 am


Blossoms in the Dust – An above average drama that works better as a character study than as a social issue picture. Greer Garson turns in a solid performance here, and the film’s best moments involve her work with the children. The twists and turns of the opening half hour and the didactic tone of the court and legislative hearings near the end are far less effective, but there are enough delicate and satisfying moments along the way to make the whole thing worthwhile.

Citizen Kane – Forget all of the dubious technical firsts commonly associated with this film, and never mind the outrageously hyperbolic praise it usually receives. What is really remarkable about this film is the way it presents Kane himself—a charismatic and ambitious man whom everyone remembers, but whom, ultimately, it seems no one really knew at all. The screenplay is a marvel in the way that it allows us only third-person perspectives of Kane’s life that, when viewed as a whole, offer a complex (and not always consistent) account of a lonely and intensely insecure man who achieved greatness at the expense of his own happiness. And, of course, it is hard to imagine any of this material working as well as it does without Orson Welles’ powerful performance, which is another marvel in itself.

Here Comes Mr. Jordan – A good film, but one whose nomination is a curiosity. It’s not that the film has any deep inadequacies, exactly, but there is nothing particularly remarkable about it. If there is a weakness worth mentioning, it is certainly the screenplay. Once it sets our expectations for how the material is going to be presented, it somehow manages to stay several steps behind us for the duration. Rather than delighting us with fresh developments, the screenplay bogs down and becomes repetitive as it moves along. The concluding scene is surprisingly tender and effective, but it falls short of redeeming the early material.

Hold Back the Dawn – A good film that starts slowly and gets better as it goes along. I could have done without the voiceover flashback framing device that the screenplay contrives to drive the story along, and the plot races into near screwball territory toward the end (which I doubt was the effect Leisen was going for), but the onscreen chemistry between Charles Boyer and Olivia de Havilland is just enough to hold this one together.

How Green Was My Valley – A good film, but one I appreciate more for what it tries to do than for what it actually accomplishes. I am no fan of this brand of nostalgia—the gentle, reverent voiceover flashback to better times gone by, saturated with sentimentality and the swell of saccharine music—or of Roddy McDowall, whom I like about as much as I do Mickey Rooney. But, in the passages where the film breaks free of its structural constraints—particularly in the Walter Pidgeon and Maureen O’Hara storyline—and in its warmth and good humor, the film is most effective and satisfying.

The Little Foxes – A better Wyler/Davis film than The Letter, though not by much. Bette Davis gives us another of her devious, manipulative Southern belles, but this time the wickedness runs in the family. The story consists of plotting, backstabbing, and more plotting!—and one particularly chilling moment of silent passiveness. Despite Davis’ undeniable screen presence, Herbert Marshall gets the best role, and gives the best performance, as the ailing husband whom Davis lures from his self-imposed exile for one last rotten deal.

The Maltese Falcon – A great film, mysterious and thrilling, down to Humphrey Bogart’s memorable final line. The screenplay provides one surprise after another, keeping us guessing about what’s really going on, and worrying as Bogart’s character repeatedly puts himself in danger. I cannot recall any other noir film in which a crafty detective makes as many thickheaded moves as he does clever ones, but that’s all part of the fun. The overly talky final exchange between Bogart and Mary Astor does feel a bit out of place, given what has come before, but otherwise this is a superb entertainment.

One Foot in Heaven – A decent film that is both well-acted and deadly earnest, but way out of its league among these nominees. It’s clearly designed to be an inspirational piece, but the didactic tone of the picture makes it difficult to be moved in any way by what is on screen. Fredric March gives a good performance here, as usual, but it is not enough to elevate the film above its weaknesses.

Sergeant York – It is still amazing to me that this is the only Howard Hawks film ever nominated for Best Picture (I would have nominated at least 12 of them!), but it is certainly a deserving one. I love the way the film invites us to get to know York, first through a few of his hard-earned disappointments, then later though his triumphs in the war. This slow and steady development of the York character, with the help of Gary Cooper’s honest and endearing performance, is one of the films great strengths.

Suspicion – Not one of Hitchcock’s finest, but not a bad film either. The production values are, expectedly, first-rate, and Joan Fontaine is very effective in her role. Cary Grant, however, seems miscast here. Ordinarily I love Grant’s work, even in films I don’t like (i.e., Sylvia Scarlett), but he never quite pulls of his character in this one because he is neither charismatic enough to make his hold on Fontaine believable, nor mysterious enough to lead us to suspect that he really may have sinister intentions lurking just below his affable façade. He just seems too good-natured here to smile, and smile and be a villain, which is exactly what the film needs of this character.

My vote: Citizen Kane

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#90 Post by brendanjc » Wed Jul 08, 2009 4:53 pm

I find Here Comes Mr. Jordan to be one of the worst films I've seen this era. The whole picture feels calculated to be light and satisfying, but nothing really works for me. The script lagging behind the audience, like reno pointed out, manifests itself in a terrible way to me by making Robert Montgomery's character come off as insufferably dimwitted. I find all the supporting character's comedic work to be far too broad and mugging. Claude Rains is the only person who delivers a decent performance. The real killer for me, though, is that the ending is just awfully confused and completely unsatisfying, spoilers I suppose...
The other boxer is killed and his soul presumably ascends to heaven, so Montgomery's soul can assume its place without any of his prior memories. I just can't get past that being treated as an acceptable solution; to me it's an incongruously despressing ending to a trifling film. I feel like he would have been far better off enjoying himself in heaven with memories intact that effectively becoming a completely different person.
I haven't seen all of the nominess from 1941 so I won't bother picking a favorite, but I'd like to make a small defense of Suspicion, which I feel has a slighted reputation as subpar Hitchcock these days because everyone is aware of the changes to the ending mandated by the production code and they consider it a compromised work. I've seen the film referred to elsewhere as a precursor to every Lifetime TV movie, and I don't think that's really a knock against it at all - it's a very effective type of film and the legions of similar works it has spawned attest to that. The brilliance of the film for me is that pretty much everything we see is subjectively experienced along with Joan Fontaine's character, a very important technique in Hitchcock's repertoire. We don't see Cary Grant being overtly villainous because she doesn't see that; it's the combination of the little hints, the building anxiety over jumping into a marriage too soon, and finding out about his other indiscretions that she does see, and eventually begins to see where they might not exist, that build satisfyingly into her paralyzing, forgive me, suspicion. I find the ending as is pretty unconvincing but I don't see that as a flaw - I think the ambiguity it leaves you with is more intriguing than a straightforward tragic ending would have been. I'd be hard-pressed to pick it over The Maltese Falcon or Citizen Kane for the year but it's a very strong film.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#91 Post by reno dakota » Wed Jul 08, 2009 10:06 pm

brendanjc on [i]Suspicion[/i] wrote:We don't see Cary Grant being overtly villainous because she doesn't see that
I don't think we need to see any overt villainous acts from Grant's character, but he does need to embody, in a very convincing way, the possibility of such villainy. My problem with the film, then, is down to Grant's inability to pull off this character. The ending--compromised though it is--did not bother me in the least because, given how unconvincing I found Grant's character, there was no satisfying way for the film to end. You're right, though, that the film does get kicked around quite a bit because of the ending, but there are those who admire the film all the more for it.

As for Here Comes Mr. Jordan, I agree with your criticisms, but I do believe that there are far worse films from the era. Have you had the misfortune of seeing One Hundred Men and a Girl yet?

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#92 Post by movielocke » Mon Jul 13, 2009 2:58 am

1947: One of the year’s oscar got most wrong, with the worst of the lot winning BP

The Bishop’s Wife – 9 of 10 – this film would be perfection if it weren’t for the atrociously over the top scoring, loved every other aspect.

Crossfire – 8 of 10 – an outstanding Noir that is one of Mitchum’s best roles. Gorgeously shot; tense and riveting.

Gentleman’s Agreement – 4 of 10 – The most prominent thing I remember about this film is that I found it deadly dull. I should really give it another chance, but I found it torpid and tedious the first go round. I remember it had something to recommend it, I think I was outraged somewhat by the discrimation, but I suspect that I felt the film had its hypocritical moments regarding something else, probably women’s rights or something. Been several years since I last saw this.

Great Expectations – 10 of 10 – the film I’ve seen the most times from this year, it’s a film that’s actually better than the book (which is excessively padded in the manner of serials). Lean and his cowriter brilliantly encapsulated the entire essence of the novel into the film (they were slightly less successful with Oliver Twist, a story of such many complexities that it resists compression much more). The cinematography here is so iconic, breathtaking from beginning to end. If I’ve a fault for the film it’s that I’ve never been much taken with Pip as an adult (Guiness would have have been such a better choice), but it is a rich film that improves with repeat viewings, an artifact of the excellence and depth of Dickens’ story as well.

Miracle on 34th Street – 9 of 10 – An utterly charming Christmas film which never seems to set a foot wrong and a story that’s pulled off so successfully that iconography cribbed from this film is prevalent throughout modern media.

My vote: Great Expectations
2. The Bishop’s Wife
3. Miracle on 34th Street
4. Crossfire
5. Gentleman’s Agreement.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#93 Post by movielocke » Tue Jul 14, 2009 1:12 pm

1946 - a very strong year for the academy, even the worst film nominated is not bad, though it never becomes great either.

Best Years of Our Lives - one of the great winners, but not the film I'd pick to win, but a winner in almost any other year because it is perfect.

Henry V - This is so vastly superior to Hamlet in every respect its a shame the latter film won. I didn't expect to like this at all based on Olivier's Hamlet, yet this was one of the most vibrant, alive and brilliant adaptations of shakespeare ever put on film. For once the words were not sacred intonations and gregorian chants (as in Hamlet) but rather a living language. And for once someone understood that most of the Bard's plays are tremendously funny.

It's a Wonderful Life - It really does get better each time I watch it. The performances, especially, are outstanding. Like all the best Christmas stories this one is actually quite dark, about a man committing suicide because its the only way he can conceive of to help his family. It's easy to forget that the greatest fear, postwar, was that the depression was going to return, which is what this film's message hints at with a socialist undertone that the nasty depression-bringing capitalists like Lionel Barrymore can only be defeated with solidarity. ;)

The Razor's Edge - Bloated is the best word to describe this film, perhaps because there are so many long takes dramatic scenes go on and on in an unending fashion--like watching glaciers improv. That said, on the technical side of things the film is utterly superb, gorgeous to look at and the supporting cast is marvelous. But with 1940s Keanu Reeve (Tyrone Power) in the main role the film just creaks along without any charisma to support it. The supporting cast, though, particularly Clifton Webb and Herbert Marshall are worth the price of admission--very self important, a Benjamin Button of its day, though not nearly so good a film as the latter.

The Yearling - Beautifully made film that is an outstanding adaptation and in some ways is almost better than the great novel. I love the experience of this one on the big screen, it is lucky it was made before Disney began doing live action regularly and transformed the perception that stories like these were nothing more than kiddy fare to be treated without respect from filmmaker to critic. That's partially why this film is a big cut above the films that came after it, because like National Velvet, it was made before there were rules about how these sorts of films were to be patronizing and childish.

My Vote: It's a Wonderful Life

2. The Best Years of Our Lives - 10
3. The Yearling - 9
4. Henry V - 9
5. The Razor's Edge - 6

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#94 Post by movielocke » Mon Jul 20, 2009 3:25 am

The year the academy returned to five films and had one of their strongest lineups, overall, ever. That said, they still managed to pick the weakest of the five, which is a shame.

Double Indemnity – the film that will undoubtedly win any vote involving this year, and it is one of the all time greats. It is not one of my favorite Wilder films, but it is excellent.

Gaslight – a terrific suspense thriller that isn’t made by Hitchcock. Memorable and remarkable.

Going my Way – a charming comedy-drama on faith and very relevant to the culture of the moment without dwelling on the war. It would have felt immediate and impactful which we can’t really grasp today. In a way the film must have felt less tied to the war than Since you’ve went Away, and I imagine many felt that this film would be more timeless.

Since You Went Away – possibly my favorite of these nominees, actually, I find it hard to watch the decisions of these women and not think of my grandmothers, one who was known as ‘sawdusty’ for working in construction and another who was a nurse. I love this intimate vision of the homefront we see in this film, and its almost irrational, but it’s a film that clicks for me beautifully.

Wilson – a film I’ve just seen and am about to become an evangelist for. Alexander Knox gives one of the great performances of the forties (and he’s aided by one of the best scripts of the forties. The production is one of Zanuck’s best and it’s a shame that it is not more well remembered as it is a far stronger achievement than Razor’s Edge, Snake Pit, Gentleman’s Agreement for example. Loved pretty much every aspect of it.

1. Wilson (cause no one else will vote for it. ;)
2. Since You Went Away
3. Double Indemnity
4. Gaslight
5. Going My Way


This was a solid year for the Academy, unfortunately one of the three excellent films did not win.

Hamlet – everything about Henry V that is full of life and wonderful is absent from Hamlet. From the annoying voice overs for the soliloquies, to the pretentious black and white milieu, and I also found the treatment of Shakespeare to be much more typical of the day, all ‘ohh the words are so elegant!’

Johnny Belinda – Surprisingly this film is quite stunning with a rather affecting story (imo) for female melodrama. I think the greater sense of modernity that is necessary in a story of rape and community prejudice helps the film quite a lot. Jane Wyman is marvelous in the film.

The Red Shoes – A gorgeous film from the Archers, not their best, but another outstanding achievement from them. I like it less than several of their other films. The cinematography is undeniable though.

The Snake Pit – the social consciousness genre at its worst, in many ways, but it also has quite a lot to recommend it. More of an interesting film, today, than a great film on its own merits. It’s interesting how a film that would have been scorned as far too middlebrow in its own day (middlebrow often defined as faux-artistic, or pretensions to artistry which critics are more than happy to disabuse the filmmakers of) now has so much kitsch that it would be embraced as camp.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre – The standout film of the year, clearly the best, and my vote.

1. Treasure of the Sierra Madre
2. Johnny Belinda
3. The Red Shoes
4. The Snake Pit
5. Hamlet

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#95 Post by nighthawk4486 » Tue Jul 21, 2009 11:46 am


Sunset Boulevard - the single greatest film ever made

All About Eve - very high **** - good enough for #1 in a lot of years, #2 in most years, but only for #3 in the same year with Sunset and Third Man

King Solomon's Mines - mid *** - #30 on the year - I always think of it as an enjoyable adventure film that was the first film my father ever went to (my first was Star Wars and my son's was Wall-E, so I think we have him beat)

Born Yesterday - mid *** - #38 on the year - it pains me so much that Holliday, who I don't think was ever much of an actress won the Oscar over three of the greatest lead actress performances in history (Swanson, Davis, Baxter) - it's one of the most perplexing Oscars ever, ranking with Art Carney over Nicholson and Pacino in 74 and Whoopi Goldberg over Lorraine Bracco and Annette Bening in 1990

Father of the Bride - barely *** - #51 on the year - stuns me that was nominated over Third Man or Asphalt Jungle, both of which got Director nominations - and the older I get, the less I like Spencer Tracy

my top 5:
#1 - Sunset Boulevard
#2 - The Third Man
#3 - All About Eve
#4 - Rules of the Game (eligible here according to Inside Oscar)
#5 - Night and the City (great film which got no nominations)

my Globes
Drama - Sunset Boulevard / Third Man / Eve / Night / Asphalt Jungle
Comedy - Rules of the Game / Harvey / Kind Hearts and Coronets / Cinderella / Sin of Harold Diddlebock

still need to see among the nominees:
Mister 880
I'll Get By
Red Danube
Captain Carey
(most recent winner I am missing)

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#96 Post by reno dakota » Thu Jul 23, 2009 9:29 pm


49th Parallel – A solid early Powell and Pressburger collaboration. One thing that never fails these two is their gift for storytelling, and their films always feel alive even when certain elements are not working as well as they should. Such is the case here. The energy of the production and a number of really fine performances (most notably from Anton Wallbrook, in a small role) keep things moving along enjoyably, despite an irritating performance from Laurence Olivier and an awkwardly (almost shapelessly) sprawling storyline. I do wish the Academy had recognized some of their better films (The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and I Know Where I’m Going for starters), but it is nice to see a Powell and Pressburger project in contention.

Kings Row – A surprisingly wonderful film. At one level, I suppose the screenplay is a bit too ambitious for its own good—it’s an intimate story told through a grand arc, and it’s full of strange and dark twists—but the very audaciousness of its material and the finely attuned performances from just about everyone around (even Ronald Reagan!) are more than enough to redeem any suspect elements within the story. I have a feeling that this one is not going to win much support on the board, but I loved it.

The Magnificent Ambersons – Another great film from Welles, produced at the height of his artistry. From the economy of its opening sequence, which swiftly and effectively establishes the backdrop for the narrative, to the skillfully controlled tone and pacing of its generational drama, the story of the Ambersons is never less than completely absorbing. I cannot help but to wonder how great Welles’ full cut was, but the surviving version is rich, novelistic in scope and quite powerful, despite its brief runtime.

Mrs. Miniver – A fine film and compelling document of the effects of war on those who lived through it. Every element of the production is strong and the cumulative effect is moving without being overly sentimental. I didn’t particularly care for the film’s final five minutes, which dispense with the tender and subtle in favor of the direct and heavy-handed, but even this unfortunate shift in tone is not enough to sully the film’s overall impact. It is not the best of the nominees, but it is a respectable winner nonetheless.

The Pied Piper – A well-meaning, but mediocre film. As a tale of surviving the horrors of war, it is neither inspirational nor enlightening, while as a straight-forward adventure picture, it is neither lively nor particularly engrossing. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is one of the thinnest wartime pictures I have seen from the era. However, it does feature Otto Preminger in a small, crucial role, and it is never boring along the way.

The Pride of the Yankees – A solid biopic and moving tribute to Lou Gehrig. It works equally well as a sports film and as a character study, and features another endearing performance from Gary Cooper. The last half hour is surprisingly affecting and the film earns the sentiment of its delicately handled final sequence.

Random Harvest – A very good film whose storyline is as improbable as it is engaging. The twists and turns of the plot are the stuff of daytime drama, but the strong performances from Greer Garson and Ronald Colman keep the whole thing grounded, and infuse the picture with a surprising amount of tenderness.

The Talk of the Town – A really ridiculous film. After a loud, obnoxious, and utterly charmless beginning, which plays like a screwball comedy minus the comedy, the film improves slightly as it moves into its central passages, then falls apart miserably at the end. There is certainly no shortage of talent here, with Cary Grant, Jean Arthur and Ronald Colman all turning in solid performances, but the narrative itself is so poorly constructed that watching it was a frustrating experience. That a film this grating and wrongheaded received seven nominations is truly astonishing.

Wake Island – A very good film that plays like a warm-up for Howard Hawks’ great Air Force from the following year. The camaraderie among the soldiers is developed here in much the same way as it is in the Hawks film, and the losses (when they happen) are devastating in a similar way. The narrative itself is carefully constructed to prepare us for the film’s rousing final sequence, which is a masterstroke of tension and inevitability.

Yankee Doodle Dandy – A very well-made film, but not one I particularly enjoyed. James Cagney’s performance is the film’s greatest asset, and he is no doubt charismatic and charming throughout, but the pacing and sheer amount of material covered make the film seem at least twice as long as it is. If the storyline had been more intimate than epic in scale, driven by its characters rather than its episodes, and told at two-thirds the current runtime, it could have been great.

My vote: The Magnificent Ambersons

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#97 Post by movielocke » Fri Jul 24, 2009 3:10 pm

A very good year for Hollywood, and don’t really have a quibble with the winner chosen by the academy. Two Hitchcock, Two Ford, Two Davis, which I find interesting and amusing.

All This and Heaven Too – excessively long and meticulously detailed, but intelligently restrained when it counts, which makes it effective, despite being predictable.

Foreign Correspondent – The other Hitchcock film of 1940 is far more of a Hitchcock film, imo, it’s not better than Rebecca but it is surprisingly excellent and far better than its reputation as middling Hitchcock affords it. Not quite a Shadow of a Doubt in terms of overlooked Hitchcock, but nearly there. Especially noteworthy is the sequence in the windmill, one of Hitch’s most suspenseful and clever sequences.

Grapes of Wrath – a terrific John Ford film I am due to rewatch. The imagery of this film is so iconic that some of it has been burned into my mind since my first viewing and the sense of composition in this film in particular affected my photography immediately and deeply.

Great Dictator – Chaplin is often a delight, but this film took me two efforts to watch it all. I think it’s excellent, in the end, not top tier Chaplin, but many incredible parts. I think what is missing, actually, is not anything in the film, but rather I’m missing the audience. A theatre packed with 1000 patrons, for example. Really need to see this properly, rather than DVD

Kitty Foyle – A female melodrama that actually clicked quite well for me, possibly because I’m more inclined to like Ginger Rogers than some of the other stars of this era (who are not so much my type).

Letter – The better Bette Davis film of 1940 is far more interesting than the other, it’s also a whole lot tighter and extremely well made, Wyler’s superb touch is evident throughout. It’s a damn shame his reputation has flagged, he’s one of the great American directors.

Long Voyage Home – The other John Ford film of the year is less well known but even more beautifully photographed. Another film that deserves a rewatch from me as I was quite tired when I last watched it. My memory of it is sharp but I think I could give it more attention and enjoy it more a second time around.

Our Town – The famed play everyone reads in middle school seemed far more effective in this iteration than in any of the tired aspects of it I’ve participated in before or seen. Perhaps its because I’m old enough to better appreciate some of the message now that I don’t have to write about what an important message it is (and mature enough for it to be somewhat affecting) I still think it is a bit trite.

Philadelphia Story – one of two masterpieces this year. A film that is glorious perfection and gets better every time. Stewart and Hepburn give two of their best performances, and Cary Grant does a great job playing the straight man to the two scene chewers. The supporting cast, led by Virginia Weidler, is uniformly delightful and outstanding. Such a superb script as well. Really one of the most magical of any of the canon classics. “C.K. Dexter Haven, you show unexpected depth!”

Rebecca – the other masterpiece of this year, Hitchcock’s most gorgeous black and white film and Danvers is one of the most iconic performances and characters in his filmography. I LOATHED the book when forced to read it in middle school (an imbecilic teacher managed to ruin the experience of reading it by dragging it out over ten weeks). And I slept through most of her showing us this film after we read it. When I finally saw it again, properly on the big screen, I was mesmerized and enthralled. So much better than I remembered.

My vote: The Philadelphia Story
2. Rebecca
3. Foreign Correspondent
4. The Grapes of Wrath
5. Kitty Foyle
6. The Letter
7. The Long Voyage Home
8. The Great Dictator
9. Our Town
10. All This and Heaven Too

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#98 Post by nighthawk4486 » Sun Jul 26, 2009 10:39 pm


An American in Paris - I am more fond of this movie than I used to be because I have gotten a better appreciation for Gene Kelly and his enormous talent, but I still rank it no higher than high *** - the ballet which Kelly wanted so badly just slows the film to a crawl for me and I'm still not high on Leslie Caron - #15 on the year

A Streetcar Named Desire - in my top 20 of all-time - when I first did lists on my blog of the 10 greatest acting performances in all 4 categories this made all 4 lists - on an acting level there is simply no other film like it in history - the change to give Bogart an Oscar (which he should have won for both Casablanca and Treasure) is the only reason it didn't win all 4 acting Oscars - easily #1 on the year

A Place in the Sun - very solid **** - #7 on the year - the movie is a perfect summation of the novel - it takes the 700 pages and condenses it without ever losing the scope of the tragedy - its 6 Oscars would hold the record for a non Best Picture until Cabaret

Decision Before Dawn - ***.5 - #12 - a very good film that was pretty much forgotten after the Oscars (maybe even during - do you think as soon as the nominations came out people were confused how this was nominated over African Queen or Detective Story, both of which were nominated for Director?) - finally released on DVD the week after I joined Netflix back in 2006

Quo Vadis - **.5 - #46 on the year - overblown Roman epic that would set the stage for the decade (though not as bad as 10 Commandments would be) - but that's okay because the book was overblown and not all the great either

my top 5:
#1 - A Streetcar Named Desire
#2 - Strangers on a Train
#3 - The African Queen
#4 - Detective Story
#5 - Oliver Twist (finally released in the U.S. after three years)

no Globes as the only comedy / musical I rank as ***.5 is Disney's Alice in Wonderland

need to see:
Bright Victory
The Blue Veil
Come Fill the Cup
Two Tickets to Broadway
Too Young to Kiss
Kind Lady
The Model and the Marriage Broker
The Mudlark
The Strip

The Greatest Show on Earth - **.5 - #54 on the year - don't get me started - kept out of the lowest spot among the winners by Broadway Melody and Braveheart

High Noon - **** - #4 on the year - given that Cooper was the star, you could see it as a parable about fighting off Communism, but if you watch Guilty by Suspicion, it makes you think that it's a parable about fighting off HUAC - either way Cooper deserved this Oscar

The Quiet Man - #7 on the year - **** - a very enjoyable movie, even though I am definitely not a Wayne fan - still surprised that it won Best Director though - it seems like High Noon should have won Director and Picture

Moulin Rouge - #11 on the year - high ***.5 - a good example of how entertaining a Hollywood biopic can be - with solid acting and production values all around

Ivanhoe - my brother has never gotten over having to read this, but I remember enjoying it - the movie is solidly enjoyable but is a *** (#26 on the year), which doesn't reach Best Picture level

my top 5:
#1 - Rashomon
#2 - Singin in the Rain
#3 - The Bad and the Beautiful (still holds AA record for 5 Oscars with no BP nom)
#4 - High Noon
#5 - The Lavender Hill Mob

Drama - Rashomon / Bad and the Beautiful / High Noon / Miss Julie / Casque d'Or
Comedy - Singin in the Rain / Lavender Hill Mob / Quiet Man / Man in the White Suit / The Card

god, the Guinness Ealing comedies are so fantastic

need to see among nominees:
The Atomic City
The Pride of St. Louis
The Thief
The Jazz Singer

an incredibly weak year - I'm only missing 5 Oscar nominees, 1 WGA nominee and 2 BAFTA nominees and still there are 6 **** and 4 ***.5 films

From Here to Eternity - finally the Academy gets it right again - on my point system it is still the most successful film in Oscar history (675 points), and I go it higher with 700 points because it so dominates the year (8 for 13 at the Oscars, 7 for 15 with me)

Roman Holiday - **** - #5 on the year though would make the top 5 in almost no other years - still, an enjoyable romance classic and Hepburn deserved her Oscar

Julius Caesar - *** - #19 on the year - the Academy has a tradition of taking films that are solid *** films, but really not any better than that and nominating them for Best Picture while ignoring better films - films that are solidly acted and well crafted but aren't really anything special (other examples over the years: The Sundowners, Judgment at Nuremberg, Fanny, America America, Lilies of the Field, Becket, The Sand Pebbles, Anne of the Thousand Days, Sounder, Julia, An Unmarried Woman, Coal Miner's Daughter, On Golden Pond, Tender Mercies, Places in the Heart, The Mission, Driving Miss Daisy, Awakenings, The Prince of Tides, Shine, Chocolat, Erin Brockovich, A Beautiful Mind, Seabiscuit, Frost/Nixon)

The Robe - *** - #23 on the year - solid film, good lead performance, good costumes, good art direction - basically Julius Caesar in color

Shane - **.5 - #41 on the year - when I did my post with the ranking of every BP nominee that ended up with my on this board, the two movies I was surprised that the film that most people attacked me for ranking too low was The Crowd - the two films I really expected to earn everybody's rancor with my rating were Shane and Nashville - two "classics" that I intensely dislike and and aside from my dislike do not think are good movies - not bad, as they get **.5 - but not good - I find the performances to be mostly terrible - Palace somewhat redeems the film, but I don't buy into Ladd in this role and the Oscar nomination for De Wilde who should have just been slapped is simply embarrasing

my top 5:
#1 - From Here to Eternity
#2 - Stalag 17
#3 - The Big Heat
#4 - Pickup on South Street
#5 - Roman Holiday

Drama - the above 5
Comedy - The Moon is Blue / The Actress / Captain's Paradise / Peter Pan

if you get a chance to see The Moon is Blue, see it - I had to get it through Interlibrary Loan and had to watch it at the library (it wasn't allowed to be checked out) - but it is very well written and one of the best performances David Niven ever gave - everyone is great and it is damn funny - a shame this has never come out on DVD

nominees I haven't seen:
Four Poster
Mississippi Gambler
President's Lady
Small Town Girl

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#99 Post by nighthawk4486 » Thu Jul 30, 2009 6:32 pm

Hey all - if you've never seen the 1931-32 nominee for Best Actor and Best Actress, The Guardsman, you can find it on YouTube here: ... annel_page.

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Re: The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

#100 Post by reno dakota » Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:15 pm


Casablanca – A good film, but one I liked a great deal less the second time through. I remember being completely enthralled during my first viewing about ten years ago, but now the film does not impress me nearly as much. The production values are first-rate and the performances are strong—Ingrid Bergman’s in particular—but the screenplay is a liability. Too often the dialogue feels contrived, as though the screenplay is reaching for an effect or an emotion that it really wants to drive home, not trusting that a more understated approach would do just as well. Of course, it doesn’t help that the years have worn away the freshness of its most famous lines, but many of them sound as though they were clichés even before they were written. I am happy to be the lone, crazy dissenting voice on this one, damning it with faint praise, but I cannot honestly sign on to the hyperbolic endorsement this film usually receives.

For Whom the Bell Tolls – Another slow and tedious Hemingway adaptation. The first half is badly paced and dramatically inert, though the second half is infused with a greater sense of urgency and purpose. The film feels most alive in its final twenty minutes, but even this material is not compelling enough to atone for the turgid banality of its previous 145 minutes. The problem here is that what I find most appealing about Hemingway’s writing is the style of his prose, not his storytelling. I am not convinced that his novels can work as cinema—and after seeing this attempt, I would be happy never to see another.

Heaven Can Wait – One of Lubitsch’s finest films. The production is so lush, and the screenplay so sharp and witty, that it’s hard not to be enraptured by the end. (Maybe it’s just the voiceover device, but there seems to be a touch of Welles here, or maybe just a bit of Tarkington.) I don’t think I’ve ever seen a comedy that feels as much like an epic as this one does. A wonderfully satisfying film from start to finish.

The Human Comedy – An entirely unremarkable film and a head-scratcher of a nomination. This is the stuff of early sitcoms, but without the usual energy and charm. There are no strong performances to note—though Mickey Rooney is a bit better here than he usually is—and the screenplay is rather flat and unfocused. Despite a few scenes that are well-constructed, the film never really comes to life or breaks free of its soft sentimentality.

In Which We Serve – A surprisingly good film and an interesting portrait of wartime Britain. The early sequences, which focus on the mechanics of a ship under siege, are reminiscent of passages in Battleship Potemkin, while the bulk of the film consists in a patchwork of character back-stories. Not everything works as well as it could, but what the narrative lacks in structure and lively pacing, is outweighed by its depth of character development and stirring battle sequences. As inspirational wartime films go, this one is a bit on the somber side, ultimately, but it strikes me as an observant and honest reflection of the times.

Madame Curie – A well-made biopic with little to rave about. I find the story of the Curies somewhat interesting, so I was never bored while watching, but neither was I particularly swept away. The trouble is that what cinematic artistry there is here takes a back seat to the agenda of the screenplay, which is to convey a sizeable amount of material in a clear, digestible way. And on that front, it is certainly a success, but the unfortunate result of this is that the whole production feels more like an dramatized lecture than anything else.

The More the Merrier – A solid and entertaining screwball comedy. Stevens gives us his best Preston Surges picture here, and for the most part he does pull it off. Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea and Charles Coburn are very appealing together, and the screenplay is laced with plenty of humor and romance. Even when the film does not work so well—some of the gags are so lengthy and repetitive that they make the characters seem far more dimwitted than they are in the surrounding sequences—it is still light and charming. This may be Stevens’ most satisfying film.

The Ox-Bow Incident – An incredibly powerful film, constructed from equal parts of anger and compassion. Every element of the production is first-rate, from the emotionally honest performances that never once ring false, to the lean but masterful direction and editing. There were moments here where I thought I was watching a film co-directed by John Ford and Howard Hawks, and that’s high praise coming from me. The only false note in the whole production occurs in the letter-reading sequence at the end: we expect something heart-wrenchingly intimate, but instead we are given an unnecessary treatise that adds little to what the film has already conveyed in both story and character. But this is a minor and forgivable misstep in an otherwise tremendous film.

The Song of Bernadette – A well-made film that, curiously, left me unmoved. Perhaps this is a film that inspires and rewards according to what one brings to it, as do so many works about faith. So, maybe it’s my lack of faith that prevented me from being fully engaged by this story (though this has usually not been a problem for me). Nonetheless, this is a decent film whose virtues are many—from Jennifer Jones’ delicate and understated performance, to King’s sensitive direction—but it is not one that I found emotionally satisfying.

Watch on the Rhine – Not a good film. Though it has decent production values, it is conceptually thin, sluggishly paced and too much a slave to its stilted screenplay. There are a few threads of the story that are somewhat interesting, but they are smothered by a great deal of dull surrounding material. Perhaps its charms are lost on me, but I didn’t enjoy this one at all.

My vote: The Ox-Bow Incident
Last edited by reno dakota on Sun Aug 02, 2009 2:53 am, edited 2 times in total.

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