The Oscar Quest: My Oscar Nominations — Best Picture (1950-1969)

To run down the intro quickly — this is a series of articles about what I would nominate in every single Oscar Quest category if I had a ballot. I always felt I should do them, but didn’t want to pull that shit everyone pulls of, “Here’s what I’d nominate,” even though it’s all the same five films they add on and they haven’t even seen half the stuff that was nominated. I know my stuff’s legit, because I’ve seen all the films, but I refused to start this discussion unless I was going to do it with the ability to tell people how to do it the right way, since unless you keep them honest, it’s fucking chaos.

So I decided to, along with picking what I’d vote for, create what I’m calling a Compromise List. The Compromise List is — aside from my personal nominations (which on the whole are pretty close to what would fit the typical notion of “Oscar,” since I’ve seen everything and know what is and what isn’t an “Oscar” movie and actually respect the precedents in place even though I don’t always agree with them enough to not be like, “I vote for Star Trek!”), a list of films that are basically a mix of my nominees and their nominees that I think everyone could live with. The idea is to make a list that works for everyone that’s great, and to cut out all the shit that so clearly shouldn’t be there.

The things to keep in mind: 1) if a category has five nominees, I’m only nominating five films. 2) The lists are only based on what I’ve seen. 3) Don’t bother me with your opinion unless you’re gonna go the full nine and do every single year. 4) If you’re going to attempt something like this — be honest. Don’t get too subjective, and DO NOT take off a film you haven’t seen just to put on a film you have seen. And most importantly, 5) YOU CANNOT take off a Best Picture winner. You can not vote for it on your list, but on your compromise list, the Best Picture winner MUST BE THERE. If it won, you have to include it. No exceptions.

Okay, let’s get to the next set of Best Picture years:

1969

Actual Nominees:

  • Anne of the Thousand Days
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  • Hello, Dolly!
  • Midnight Cowboy
  • Z

My Vote: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

I’m pretty okay with 1969. It’s a good year. Personally, I don’t care for Z or Hello, Dolly.

My Nominees:

  • Anne of the Thousand Days
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  • Midnight Cowboy
  • They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
  • The Wild Bunch

My Vote: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

For the Compromise List — They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, I believe, is either the #1 or #2 film in terms of most nominees without a Best Picture nominee. So it should be there. I take off Hello, Dolly for it and not Z since Z got a Director nomination and is very 70s, so it fits. Otherwise, I like the list. I also say hell no to Easy Rider. I know it’s culturally a big film, but to me, it’s an incoherent mess.

Compromise List:

  • Anne of the Thousand Days
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  • Midnight Cowboy
  • They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
  • Z

My Vote: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

1968

Actual Nominees:

  • Funny Girl
  • The Lion in Winter
  • Oliver!
  • Rachel, Rachel
  • Romeo and Juliet

Not much you can do with 1968. Planet of the Apes shouldn’t be there, Rosemary’s Baby is intriguing, but won’t make a Compromise List. Once Upon a Time in the West probably wasn’t even eligible this year, not that they’d have put it on there anyway. I feel like all those Leone films were released a year later in the U.S. Honestly, I don’t much care about 1968, so let’s just cut straight to the Compromise List — swap out Rachel Rachel for 2001 and everybody’s happy. It’s that simple.

My Vote: Oliver!

Compromise List:

  • Funny Girl
  • The Lion in Winter
  • Oliver!
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey

My Vote: 2001: A Space Odyssey

1967

Actual Nominees:

  • Bonnie and Clyde
  • Doctor Dolittle
  • The Graduate
  • Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
  • In the Heat of the Night

1967 is nearly perfect, and Doctor Dolittle is clearly the weak link to what might have been the strongest Best Picture category of all time next to 1939. Seriously, just put on Cool Hand Luke.

My Vote: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

My Nominees:

  • Bonnie and Clyde
  • Cool Hand Luke
  • The Graduate
  • Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
  • In the Heat of the Night

My Vote: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Tell me my list is perfect. I dare you.

Compromise List:

  • Bonnie and Clyde
  • Cool Hand Luke
  • The Graduate
  • Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
  • In the Heat of the Night

1966

Actual Nominees:

  • Alfie
  • A Man for All Seasons
  • The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming
  • The Sand Pebbles
  • Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

My Vote: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Not a huge fan of this category, but it’s a tough year. Again, let me remind people who would probably not do research and put it anyway — I’m like 90% sure The Good, the Bad and the Ugly WAS NOT ELIGIBLE for 1966. So don’t just fucking put it on your lists.

Either way, it’s not a particularly great year, so I’m partial to just leaving stuff alone. I don’t even have nominees. I’ll stick with the Compromise list. Some people will probably want to put Blowup on, but I am an opponent of the foreign language films nominated for Best Picture in general (occasionally is okay), just because — well, there’s a whole long-winded answer there. Basically I think they’re overrated in general and their reputation is populated by pretentious film students and scholars. Blowup is one where I could almost make a case in this category, but I decided it didn’t fit.

Compromise List:

  • Alfie
  • A Man for All Seasons
  • The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming
  • The Sand Pebbles
  • Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

1965

Actual Nominees:

  • Darling
  • Doctor Zhivago
  • Ship of Fools
  • The Sound of Music
  • A Thousand Clowns

My Vote: Darling

Lots of choices for 1965. Ship of Fools doesn’t belong on this list, so we’ll have to find a replacement for it. Otherwise, there are some choices here.

My Nominees:

  • Darling
  • Doctor Zhivago
  • The Sound of Music
  • The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
  • A Thousand Clowns

My Vote: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

I thought about A Patch of Blue, The Collector, and maybe Flight of the Phoenix. But ultimately I like their list, for the most part. And I love Spy Who Came in from the Cold.

I still say Ship of Fools doesn’t belong, so we’ll have to replace it with something. The obvious choices are either A Patch of Blue or The Collector. I say A Patch of Blue, personally, which seems, if it’s not a victim of racism, a very popular film this year. Unless you’re gonna let me get away with The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.

Compromise List:

  • Darling
  • Doctor Zhivago
  • A Patch of Blue
  • The Sound of Music
  • A Thousand Clowns

My Vote: Darling

1964

Actual Nominees:

  • Becket
  • Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
  • Mary Poppins
  • My Fair Lady
  • Zorba the Greek

My Vote: Dr. Strangelove

There’s really nothing we can do here. I can’t even really pick out personal nominees. I say we leave it. I have nothing to add to it. And I certainly don’t see anything to take away. So in that case, we should probably leave it.

Compromise List:

  • Becket
  • Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
  • Mary Poppins
  • My Fair Lady
  • Zorba the Greek

My Vote: Dr. Strangelove

1963

Actual Nominees:

  • America, America
  • Cleopatra
  • How the West Was Won
  • Lilies of the Field
  • Tom Jones

My Vote: Cleopatra

Oh, this is easy.

My Nominees:

  • America, America
  • Cleopatra
  • The Great Escape
  • How the West Was Won

My Vote: 

For Compromise — obviously we leave Tom Jones, because we have to. I love How the West Was Won as pure spectacle, so why not leave it? America America might actually be the best film on that list, so I say leave it. Cleopatra is also amazing, so that totally needs to be left on. And Lilies of the Field is a joke. The other potentials to go on are The Cardinal and Hud, but  is too good not to put on. I don’t often say a foreign film should go on, but here, I like the call. (And if you think it’s bullshit, fine, let’s put on The Cardinal. Which film do you really think had a better shot at getting nominated by the Academy in 1963?)

Compromise List:

  • America, America
  • Cleopatra
  • How the West Was Won
  • Tom Jones

My Vote:

1962

Actual Nominees:

  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • The Longest Day
  • The Music Man
  • Mutiny on the Bounty
  • To Kill a Mockingbird

My Vote: To Kill a Mockingbird

This year begins with two perfect entities. Problem is — the other three are pretty weak. But we’ll deal with that in a second. I’ve got some films I want to nominate:

My Nominees:

  • Birdman of Alcatraz
  • Days of Wine and Roses
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • The Miracle Worker
  • To Kill a Mockingbird

My Vote: To Kill a Mockingbird

My deepest sympathies to The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and The Manchurian Candidate, but those five are actual legitimate possibilities that year.

Compromise List:

My Vote: To Kill a Mockingbird

1961

Actual Nominees:

  • Fanny
  • The Guns of Navarone
  • The Hustler
  • Judgment at Nuremberg
  • West Side Story

My Vote: The Hustler

My list, I’ll tell you right now, would have never happened.

My Nominees:

  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • The Hustler
  • Judgment at Nuremberg
  • Splendor in the Grass
  • West Side Story

My Vote: The Hustler

What does one do here? You almost have to leave it. I will say, La Dolce Vita is eligible this year, but the year is strong enough on its own. It doesn’t need a foreign film the way 1963 needed one. The only real film that could come off is Fanny. And actually Splendor in the Grass might have worked better. So what do you think? It’s not like half of you know what Fanny is anyway, so I’m doing it.

Compromise List:

  • The Guns of Navarone
  • The Hustler
  • Judgment at Nuremberg
  • Splendor in the Grass
  • West Side Story

My Vote: The Hustler

1960

Actual Nominees:

  • The Alamo
  • The Apartment
  • Elmer Gantry
  • Sons and Lovers
  • The Sundowners

My Vote: The Apartment

The Alamo is a joke nominee and Sons and Lovers is too serious and “Oscar bait” for me. So those are off. And while I love Elmer Gantry (I really do), it feels better suited to the acting win and maybe a Director nomination than anything. It feels like Capote in 2005, where it’s only nominated because of a weak field and would be better served with nominations all around but including Best Picture.

My Nominees:

  • The Apartment
  • Inherit the Wind
  • Psycho
  • Spartacus
  • The Sundowners

My Vote: The Apartment

For the Compromise — would they have nominated Psycho? I don’t know. He got the Director nod, so I say that gives me license to do it and say it makes some sense. You know nobody would disagree with it on quality. So that’s one, and The Alamo is off. That’s a joke and is only there because John Wayne made it and it was a huge, huge thing and people gave a shit about history back then. And honestly, Inherit the Wind is such — fuck it. I’m giving you most of my list and you’re gonna like it. Because you know what? I’m actually giving you better categories than the Academy did.

Compromise List:

  • The Apartment
  • Inherit the Wind
  • Psycho
  • Sons and Lovers
  • The Sundowners

My Vote: The Apartment

See that? I even left your “Academy” film on there and didn’t leave on Elmer Gantry like I should have. That’s compromise.

1959

Actual Nominees:

  • Anatomy of a Murder
  • Ben-Hur
  • The Diary of Anne Frank
  • The Nun’s Story
  • Room at the Top

My Vote: Anatomy of a Murder

This list is pretty good. Obviously I take off Room at the Top for my list and I probably also take off The Nun’s Story in favor of a film I like more.

Also, gonna say up front — I don’t think I vote for North by Northwest. I feel like most people would by default (because most people probably haven’t seen half the films on this list but love that one), but I don’t think it fits.

My Nominees:

  • Anatomy of a Murder
  • Ben-Hur
  • The Diary of Anne Frank
  • Rio Bravo
  • Some Like It Hot

My Vote: Anatomy of a Murder

Honestly, we probably have to leave most of it. But I think we can put on Some Like It Hot. We can probably take off The Nun’s Story for it. Since apparently they loved Room at the Top. Though honestly, if it were up to me, I take off that one. But actually — they both had a bunch of nominations. So fuck it. I’m taking off Room at the Top.

Compromise List:

  • Anatomy of a Murder
  • Ben-Hur
  • The Diary of Anne Frank
  • The Nun’s Story
  • Some Like It Hot

My Vote: Anatomy of a Murder

1958

Actual Nominees:

  • Auntie Mame
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  • The Defiant Ones
  • Gigi
  • Separate Tables

My Vote: The Defiant Ones

Not much of an opinion with this one. Not even gonna nominate stuff. Ain’t really nothing you can do here. Fuck you if you say Vertigo for a Compromise List.

Compromise List:

  • Auntie Mame
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  • The Defiant Ones
  • Gigi
  • Separate Tables

My Vote: The Defiant Ones

1957

Actual Nominees:

  • The Bridge on the River Kwai
  • Peyton Place
  • Sayonara
  • 12 Angry Men
  • Witness for the Prosecution

My Vote: The Bridge on the River Kwai

This one is tough for me. So many great films to nominate.

My Nominees:

  • The Bridge on the River Kwai
  • A Face in the Crowd
  • Sweet Smell of Success
  • 12 Angry Men
  • Witness for the Prosecution

My Vote: Sweet Smell of Success

My apologies to Paths of Glory and The Spirit of St. Louis (and then Cranes are Flying and Seventh Seal, which I didn’t even consider because they’re foreign films). Too crowded a year.

Compromise List — Sayonara shouldn’t stay. Peyton Place has to. In fact, they pretty much both have to, but since nobody even remembers Sayonara, I’m making a historical decision here.

Compromise List:

  • The Bridge on the River Kwai
  • A Face in the Crowd
  • Peyton Place
  • 12 Angry Men
  • Witness for the Prosecution

My Vote: The Bridge on the River Kwai

Honestly, pick any number of films for that spot. I’m willing to negotiate. Either way — I think we can agree that Sayonara hasn’t held up at all. (Neither, really, has Peyton Place.) It’s actually too hard to call, since there are so many options.

1956

Actual Nominees:

  • Around the World in 80 Days
  • Friendly Persuasion
  • Giant
  • The King and I
  • The Ten Commandments

My Vote: Giant

Let’s deal with my nominees first.

My Nominees:

  • Around the World in 80 Days
  • The Bad Seed
  • Giant
  • The Rainmaker
  • The Searchers

My Vote: Giant

Weird how I kept Around the World in 80 Days on there. No idea why. Just felt like the right move.

As for changes — we pretty much need to keep four of them, as much as I don’t really want to keep The Ten Commandments. It just fits. The only real change to make is Friendly Persuasion. But for what? War and Peace got a Director nomination, but there are already too many epics in the 50s. Unless you want to swap Moses for Russians. I’m cool with that. But — honestly, I’m cool with the category if we want to leave it.

Compromise List:

  • Around the World in 80 Days
  • Friendly Persuasion
  • Giant
  • The King and I
  • The Ten Commandments

My Vote: Giant

1955

Actual Nominees:

  • Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing
  • Marty
  • Mister Roberts
  • Picnic
  • The Rose Tattoo

Awful category. Absolutely awful.

My Vote: Marty

My Nominees:

  • Lady and the Tramp
  • Marty
  • The Man with the Golden Arm
  • Mister Roberts
  • Rebel Without a Cause

My Vote: Marty

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing has to go. It’s one of the single worst Best Picture nomines of all time. And The Rose Tattoo is so badly filler. Rebel Without a Cause is a cultural landmark, and even though the film might not be the best choice for a Best Picture nominee, it’s better than what’s there. And East of Eden definitely should be there instead. And with those two, I can live with Picnic being there, though personally, I’d put on one of the many other good 1955 films instead, like All That Heaven Allows, Bad Day at Black Rock — actually, that got a Director nomination, so let’s go with that.

Compromise List:

  • Bad Day at Black Rock
  • East of Eden
  • Marty
  • Mister Roberts
  • Rebel Without a Cause

My Vote: Marty

1954

Actual Nominees:

  • The Caine Mutiny
  • The Country Girl
  • On the Waterfront
  • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
  • Three Coins in the Fountain

My Vote: On the Waterfront

This list is almost perfect. Just — Three Coins in the Fountain is horrible! Another of the worst Best Picture nominees of all time.

My Nominees:

  • The Caine Mutiny
  • The Country Girl
  • On the Waterfront
  • Rear Window
  • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

My Vote: On the Waterfront

Hitchcock got the Director nomination. You know it works.

Compromise List:

  • The Caine Mutiny
  • The Country Girl
  • On the Waterfront
  • Rear Window
  • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

My Vote: On the Waterfront

A lot of people would also take off The Country Girl, but that’s actually one of the few films this year that got both a Picture and Director nomination. It kind of has to stay.

1953

Actual Nominees:

  • From Here to Eternity
  • Julius Caesar
  • The Robe
  • Roman Holiday
  • Shane

My Vote: Roman Holiday

This list is almost perfect.

My Nominees:

  • From Here to Eternity
  • Lili
  • Roman Holiday
  • Shane
  • Stalag 17

My Vote: Roman Holiday

Lili got the Director nomination, so it’s not that far off a choice. Plus — Julius Caesar? Really? And Stalag 17 just needs to be there. And since The Robe was a huge deal at the time, I’m just gonna leave that and make the one swap for the Compromise List. That’ll make this the best possible version of 1953 they could have had, all things considered.

Compromise List:

  • From Here to Eternity
  • The Robe
  • Roman Holiday
  • Shane
  • Stalag 17

My Vote: Roman Holiday

1952

Actual Nominees:

  • The Greatest Show on Earth
  • High Noon
  • Ivanhoe
  • Moulin Rouge
  • The Quiet Man

My Vote: High Noon

Let me nominate first before we get into it.

My Nominees:

  • The Bad and the Beautiful
  • High Noon
  • Moulin Rouge
  • The Quiet Man
  • Singin’ in the Rain

My Vote: Singin’ in the Rain

Ivanhoe is a joke nominee, but I get why they did it. But nobody remembers that movie. And The Bad and the Beautiful is the film that won the most Oscars without being nominated for Best Picture. Probably should be there. And Singin’ in the Rain — come on. Problem is — that knocks off Moulin Rouge. We have to leave Greatest Show on Earth, High Noon and The Quiet Man. Though — you could make the case that they nominate it for Best Director and fuck over Donen and Kelly, which makes the most sense. So let’s go with that one.

Compromise List:

  • The Bad and the Beautiful
  • The Greatest Show on Earth
  • High Noon
  • The Quiet Man
  • Singin’ in the Rain

My Vote: Singin’ in the Rain

1951

Actual Nominees:

  • An American in Paris
  • Decision Before Dawn
  • A Place in the Sun
  • Quo Vadis
  • A Streetcar Named Desire

My Vote: A Streetcar Named Desire

All… A’s:

My Nominees:

  • Ace in the Hole
  • The African Queen
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • A Place in the Sun
  • A Streetcar Named Desire

My Vote: A Streetcar Named Desire

Okay, for the Compromise List — we have to keep An American in Paris, Streetcar and A Place in the Sun. Now — Quo Vadis shouldn’t be here, and The African Queen got all the important nominations. So that should be on. And Decision Before Dawn — I like it. William Wyler got nominated for Detective Story, but that film doesn’t really hold up. Theoretically we should have Quo Vadis staying on instead of Decision Before Dawn — but I just don’t think it’s very good. And honestly, this is a bullshit list on a fucking blog. Does it really matter?

Compromise List:

  • The African Queen
  • An American in Paris
  • Decision Before Dawn
  • A Place in the Sun
  • A Streetcar Named Desire

My Vote: A Streetcar Named Desire

1950

Actual Nominees:

  • All About Eve
  • Born Yesterday
  • Father of the Bride
  • King Solomon’s Mines
  • Sunset Boulevard

Well this is easy.

My Vote: Sunset Boulevard

My Nominees:

  • All About Eve
  • Harvey
  • Night and the City
  • Sunset Boulevard
  • The Third Man

My Vote: The Third Man

For the Compromise List — Third Man has to go on. And King Solomon’s Mines shouldn’t be there. And honestly, Father of the Bride doesn’t bother me. Neither does Born Yesterday, really. There’s really not too much that can be switched on. So let’s just make the one change. It goes a long way.

Compromise List:

  • All About Eve
  • Born Yesterday
  • Father of the Bride
  • Sunset Boulevard
  • The Third Man

My Vote: The Third Man

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2 responses

  1. samuelwilliscroft

    What do you have against Vertigo?

    May 26, 2015 at 2:44 am

  2. samuelwilliscroft

    STOP WITH THE FU’S!

    May 29, 2015 at 5:15 am

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