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Archive for November 28, 2011

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1938

I don’t much like 1938 as an Oscar year. It feels like a series of cop outs and weak choices. Almost like them saying, “We don’t know what we should do, so let’s do what we did before. That worked.”

Example 1: You Can’t Take It With You wins Best Picture out of a relatively weak set of nominees. It seems like the Academy, when faced with a French (Grand Illusion) and British (Pygmalion) film as potential winners (those two were clearly just as good, if not better, choices), they got nervous and said, “Well, It Happened One Night was a good choice, let’s do it again!” They also gave Frank Capra Best Director (talked about here), which makes sense, considering the Best Picture choice.

Example 2: Best Actor was Spencer Tracy for Boys Town (talked about here). It seems, faced with giving this to James Cagney for a performance in a gangster film (or Leslie Howard for Pygmalion), they balked and said, “Well, we gave it to Spencer Tracy last year, let’s do it again!” (This is the single worst Best Actor-winning performance of all time.)

Example 3: Best Actress was Bette Davis for Jezebel (talked about here). It seems, when faced with giving Wendy Hiller an Oscar (or Norma Shearer a second one), they decided, “We gave one to Bette Davis. That worked. Let’s do it again!”

And then Best Supporting Actress was Fay Bainter, also for Jezebel, and this was actually a good decision. Bainter was nominated for Best Actress as well, and was a well-respected actress. That one worked. And then there’s this category, which, again, feels like them not knowing what to do, and going, “Well, we gave it to Walter Brennan once before. That worked. Let’s do it again!”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – 1938

And the nominees were…

Walter Brennan, Kentucky

John Garfield, Four Daughters

Gene Lockhart, Algiers

Robert Morley, Marie Antoinette

Basil Rathbone, If I Were King (more…)

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Pic of the Day: “Give way, little man.” “Only to a better man than m’self.” “He stands before you.”