The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1943
This is the last year of ten nominees. I never mentioned the number of the nominees yet. The way it had been until this point was: three the first year, no official nominees the second, then five from 1930-1932, then they went to ten from 1933 until this year (with the exception of 1934 and 1935, the two “write-in” years, which had 12 nominees). After this year, they went strictly to five, which lasted until 2009.
Outside of that, the great thing about this year is that it’s the year of Casablanca, which makes it quite easy to discuss. Two things to note about the film: first, while the film did premiere in November of 1942, it didn’t go into wide release until early 1943, which is why it counted amongst the films of 1943. (It’s basically the same as a film getting that late December limited release nowadays to qualify for Oscars, but not getting a wide release until January, only with different rules since it was 1943.) The other thing is that: while the film is a classic and one of the best films ever made, it also is a war film. The story is about Bogart, a neutral man, choosing a side in a war. So it does actually fit with the times. Oh, and, aside from Best Picture, Michael Curtiz won Best Director for the film (talked about here). Nice to see him finally get his due.
Other winners this year included Paul Lukas as Best Actor for Watch on the Rhine (talked about here), which is one of the worst Best Actor decisions of all time (it’s so bad), Jennifer Jones as Best Actress for The Song of Bernadette (talked about here), which was deserved (since Ingrid Bergman was nominated for the wrong film), Charles Coburn as Best Supporting Actor for The More the Merrier (talked about here), which, despite my love for Claude Rains as Louis Renault, is a good decision, and Katina Paxinou as Best Supporting Actress for For Whom the Bell Tolls (talked about here), which — meh. So, overall, many of the individual categories are either forgettable or not particularly memorable, yet the year remains strong simply because of the Best Picture choice. Which again shows how a good or bad Best Picture choice can make or break a year.
BEST PICTURE – 1943
And the nominees were…
Casablanca (Warner Bros.)
For Whom the Bell Tolls (Paramount)
Heaven Can Wait (20th Century Fox)
The Human Comedy (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
In Which We Serve (United Artists)
Madame Curie (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
The More the Merrier (Columbia)
The Ox-Bow Incident (20th Century Fox)
The Song of Bernadette (20th Century Fox)
Watch on the Rhine (Warner Bros.) (more…)