The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1944
And this is where we settle into routine (for the most part) for the next 65 years. From here on out (until 2009), it’s five nominees a year. Also, we’re nearing the end of the war. This is the year where the tide turned. Not to mention, this is the year where America started to tire of the war. At first it was nice: “Support the war! Support our troops!” But then, after three years and no end in sight, it’s understandable that you wouldn’t be so quick to support that message. So what happens is — they try escapism. They go for the gay musical starring the biggest star in Hollywood. Then, when that doesn’t work, they become cynical. That’s when the noir kicks in. If Double Indemnity came out in 1945, it would have won. But here, America wasn’t cynical yet.
Going My Way wins Best Picture, Best Director for Leo McCarey (talked about here), Best Actor for Bing Crosby (talked about here), and Best Supporting Actor for Barry Fitzgerald (talked about here). I support all the wins except Best Director (though that makes sense). Then, Best Actress was Ingrid Bergman for Gaslight (talked about here), which feels like a makeup Oscar for the year before this (where she should have been nominated for Casablanca). Shame that she beat Barbara Stanwyck, but — shit happens. And Best Supporting Actress was Ethel Barrymore for None But the Lonely Heart (talked about here), which is just a weak and boring decision.
So that’s 1944. Most people would (and rightfully so) say that Double Indemnity should have won here. But, when you take into account the state of the industry (and the country) at the time — it makes sense why it didn’t.
BEST PICTURE – 1944
And the nominees were…
Double Indemnity (Paramount)
Going My Way (Paramount)
Since You Went Away (Selznick, United Artists)
Wilson (20th Century Fox) (more…)