1930-1931 is one of the early years. Different set of rules.
Cimarron wins Best Picture. The first Western to win, and, honestly, a decent choice. I’d have probably went another way, but it’s a matter of personal preference. Cimarron is an epic western, takes place over a number of years, is based on a best-selling book — it’s a good choice. Best Actor was Lionel Barrymore for A Free Soul (talked about here). He was a respected actor, and was a good choice for a year that was about legitimizing the awards. I wouldn’t have voted for it, but it makes sense. And Norman Taurog wins Best Director for Skippy (talked about here), which is a terrific, terrific decision, and one of my favorites of all time.
Okay, now we’re at this one. Tough call. Like I said — different set of rules. The rules dictate that the most respected/popular actors of the day win, in order to legitimize the award. You have Janet Gaynor, Mary Pickford, Norma Shearer winning — and here, Marie Dressler, the most popular star in Hollywood (at age 60, to boot), is nominated. Of course she’s going to win. But does that mean it was the right decision? I don’t know.
BEST ACTRESS – 1930-1931
And the nominees were…
Marlene Dietrich, Morocco
Marie Dressler, Min and Bill
Irene Dunne, Cimarron
Ann Harding, Holiday
Norma Shearer, A Free Soul (more…)