The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actress – 1940
I’m not quite sure what to do with 1940. On one hand, Rebecca, which won Best Picture, is a fine film. A really fine film. The thing is, though, The Grapes of Wrath is a better film. And that didn’t win Best Picture. It did, however, win Best Director for John Ford, so I guess that makes everything okay (though Hitchcock fans might be pissed about that, considering this was probably the closest he ever got to winning).
Best Actor this year was Jimmy Stewart for The Philadelphia Story (talked about here), which is the most blatant makeup Oscar as has ever happened, and is a terrible decision in every way except the “Jimmy Stewart has an Oscar” way. Henry Fonda and Charlie Chaplin were much better decisions there. Best Actress was Ginger Rogers for Kitty Foyle, which some people don’t like because they feel Joan Fontaine should have won for Rebecca. I agree that Joan Fontaine was incredible in Rebecca, but I also love Ginger Rogers, and think she is one of the great actresses for all time, and I think her Kitty Foyle performance is strong enough where it was okay to reward her for all the great work she did over her career. Her winning there is no different from people like Reese Witherspoon or Sandra Bullock winning Oscars (except Ginger is better than they are). So I’m cool with it. (Plus Fontaine would get an Oscar, and things would mostly work themselves out smoothly. So everything worked out fine.) Then Best Supporting Actor was Walter Brennan for The Westerner, his third, which, I’m cool with, because the category sucked, and Brennan’s performance there was actually the best of all the three performances he won for.
And then there’s this category, which is just so goddamn strong. And no matter what anyone’s opinion on who should have won is (including mine) — it’s Ma. You can’t be upset that Ma won.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – 1940
And the nominees were…
Judith Anderson, Rebecca
Jane Darwell, The Grapes of Wrath
Ruth Hussey, The Philadelphia Story
Barbara O’Neil, All This, and Heaven Too
Marjorie Rambeau, Primrose Path (more…)