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The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1950

This year is sure a contentious one, isn’t it? I tried to think of something more to say about the year, but that’s what it seems to be about — All About Eve vs. Sunset Boulevard. Which is a good situation to be in.

All About Eve wins Best Picture, Best Director for Joseph L. Mankiewicz (talked about here) and Best Supporting Actor for George Sanders (talked about here). It’s clear which way the Academy went on this decision. I like the Supporting Actor decision, don’t mind the Best Picture decision, and hate the Best Director decision. (Carol Reed seriously deserved that so badly.) Best Actor was José Ferrer for Cyrano de Bergerac (talked about here), which is a pretty boring decision. Best Actress was Judy Holliday for Born Yesterday (talked about here), which is pretty weak considering she beat Anne Baxter and Bette Davis for All About Eve and Gloria Swanson for Sunset Boulevard. She was good, but — not as good as those other three. And Best Supporting Actress was Josephine Hull for Harvey (talked about here), which was a spirited decision.

So it’s clear that the Academy sided with All About Eve. I can’t tell which of the two (if either) has held up better over the years. Either way, it’s a good year, and when the choice is between two great films, everybody wins.

BEST PICTURE – 1950

And the nominees were…

All About Eve (20th Century Fox)

Born Yesterday (Columbia)

Father of the Bride (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

King Solomon’s Mines (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

Sunset Boulevard (Paramount)

All About Eve — It’s All About Eve. You should know what it’s about. It’s a perfect film.

Born Yesterday — This film is about a gangster (Broderick Crawford) who comes to Washington D.C. with his girl (Judy Holliday), looking to buy some politicians to get the law off his back. And while there, he is worried that her uncouth demeanor won’t go over in high society, so he hires William Holden, a journalist, to tutor her. And he teaches her to speak better, and they fall in love. It’s a nice romantic comedy. This is also Judy Holliday at her absolute best. She’s so damn charming here.

It’s a great film, but it stands no chance in a category with All About Eve and Sunset Boulevard.

Father of the Bride — This is a very simple film, actually. Spencer Tracy has to deal with his daughter’s (Elizabeth Taylor), wedding. And it deals with all the chaos of the event. They decide to have it in their house, so they have to do all this stuff in preparation, then the bride and groom have these little fights and stuff, and the wedding is on, the wedding is off — it’s quite funny. It’s a very sweet film, too. The ending is so good.

I liked this film a lot, but it didn’t stand a chance here. It was lucky to be nominated.

King Solomon’s Mines — I can say quite definitively, having watched this twice, that this was a pretty boring film.

It’s about a hunter in Africa who brings a woman and her brother out in search of her husband, who went missing searching for the titular mines. And of course, the hunter falls in love with the woman along the way, and there’s adventure and chases and stuff, and then they get to the mines where they find her husband dead. And they have to decide between living with all the treasure or escaping without it.

It’s a standard adventure film, but it just felt flat to me. There was really nothing interesting there. It was colorful, that was about it. It’s not a bad film, it’s just — compared with all the films I saw on this Quest, this one was pretty boring. I don’t think it should have been nominated. The Third Man is a vastly superior film.

Sunset Boulevard — You should also know what this is about. Come on, now.

My Thoughts: Between All About Eve and Sunset Boulevard, I vote Sunset Boulevard. I just like it better. Either way, both are terrific. It’s a win-win situation.

My Vote: Sunset Boulevard

Should Have Won: Sunset Boulevard, All About Eve

Is the result acceptable?: Yes. Either way they went here would have been a terrific decision. It’s not my preferred decision, but it’s very acceptable nonetheless.

Ones I suggest you see: If you haven’t seen Sunset Boulevard or All About Eve, you’re dead to me and you don’t love movies.

You should definitely check out Father of the Bride. It’s incredible. It’s hilarious. Spencer Tracy and Liz Taylor — I much prefer it to the Steve Martin version. Highly recommended.

Born Yesterday is another terrific film. It’s Judy Holliday at her very best. Highly recommended. Check this one out.

King Solomon’s Mines — meh. I don’t much care for it. It’s colorful. Might be worth a watch. I don’t know. I say take it or leave it.

Rankings:

5) King Solomon’s Mines

4) Born Yesterday

3) Father of the Bride

2) All About Eve

1) Sunset Boulevard

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4 responses

  1. Michael

    I totally agree that any one of the two movies that you pick would be brilliant decisions. I personally prefer All About Eve but Sunset Boulevard is inarguable as a choice just as All About Eve is. When your two options are two films consistently ranked in the top 20 ever made you can’t possibly go wrong. I haven’t seen KSM and I’ve seen The Third Man but would put it in 1949, so I would nominate The Asphalt Jungle in its place probably.

    June 11, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    • Third Man was eligible this year since it didn’t get a U.S. release until 1950, so it has to be considered for this set of Oscars, not 1949 (also the reason why Carol Reed was nominated for The Fallen Idol in ’49 even though it’s a ’48 film). That stupid U.S. release thing was the cause of so many little issues throughout the years (mostly with The Emigrants and Battle of Algiers each being nominated in two separate years).

      June 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm

      • Michael

        Ok. Could you tell me where you found that TTM had a 1950 release date? I’ve looked but couldn’t find it. Things like that are annoying. For instance, Seven Samurai could’ve been a BFLF nominee in 1954 but if it had been a BP nominee it would have been in 1956

        June 11, 2012 at 3:41 pm

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