Posts tagged “1929-1930

The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1929-1930

These were the 3rd Academy Awards, and this was really the point where Hollywood figured it out. The first awards were just laying groundwork, and the second was sort of a period of chaos, since after the first awards, Hollywood had to shift from one style of filmmaking (silent) to another (sound). Here was really the first year where Hollywood started getting sound down pat. It shows. The films, of course, were not perfected yet, but they’re definitely a marked improvement from the films of 1928-1929. You see more complex sound design, and more dialogue. The films of the year before this were more silence than dialogue. Here, they were able to tell stories.

The great thing about this year is that this was really the first year where there was a quintessential “Best Picture.” (Grand Hotel was the first “Academy” decision.) All Quiet on the Western Front is the total package. It’s a big, epic picture. Classy, based on a novel. And it also happens to be one of the greatest achievements ever put to film. The reason for that is — when you see what films of this era looked like (and watch the other nominees to see what I’m talking about), what Lewis Milestone (who won Best Director for the film, talked about here) was able to accomplish with sound design and staging and camera movement — I said it in that Best Director article, but this film is one that, were it made at any point in the first eleven years of the Academy Awards, it would still be better than just about every other film nominated. It’s incredible. And this was an important film for the Academy because it did also establish the classical “Oscar” film (which we really wouldn’t see again until maybe Grand Hotel and then for sure with The Great Ziegfeld). There wouldn’t be another slam dunk winner until Gone With the Wind.

The other winners this year were George Arliss as Best Actor for Disraeli (talked about here), which makes sense (it’s the kind of role that would win Best Actor), and Best Actress was Norma Shearer for The Divorcée (talked about here), which also makes sense, given that she was an actress who would basically become the first lady of Hollywood and was a huge star in the 30s. So, in all, it’s a very solid year, and really the first that you can point to as being representative of the classical Oscar decisions.

BEST PICTURE – 1929-1930

And the nominees were…

All Quiet on the Western Front (Universal)

The Big House (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

Disraeli (Warner Bros.)

The Divorcée (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

The Love Parade (Paramount) (more…)

The Oscar Quest: Best Actor – 1929-1930

1929-1930 is the first great Best Picture winner. Sure, Wings and Sunrise are great, but they were the first ones, and the fact that they were separate kind of detracts from them. But All Quiet on the Western Front is really the first great Best Picture winner. It also won Best Director for Lewis Milestone. You can read my way too in depth analysis of why it’s an amazing decision here.

Best Actress for this year was Norma Shearer for The Divorcee (talked about here). It seems to have been the best decision in the category. Most people think Garbo should have won, her being the bigger star, but I think Shearer was the more respected actress. Honestly, I just accept that Shearer won and leave it at that.

Since there are no Supporting categories in the early years, they’re mainly judged by their Best Picture choices. This is a particularly great one. As for this category — this is actually a good choice. Sure, we all love Maurice Chevalier, but the biopic performance has been a standard Oscar winner for years and years. It’s nice to see one in the early years.

BEST ACTOR – 1929-1930

And the nominees were…

George Arliss, Disraeli & The Green Goddess

Wallace Beery, The Big House

Maurice Chevalier, The Big Pond & The Love Parade

Ronald Colman, Bulldog Drummond & Condemned

Lawrence Tibbett, The Rogue Song (more…)

The Oscar Quest: Best Actress – 1929-1930

I call 1929-1930 the year with the first real (or is it great? Either way, really…) Best Picture winner. There aren’t any real definitive Best Picture winners for the first decade, really. I mean, Wings, but there you have the confusion of two winners. But here — All Quiet on the Western Front. A definitive winner. And something you can point to as an “Oscar” film, too. We wouldn’t get another one of these until The Great Ziegfeld, and then Gone With the Wind. (Though, It Happened One Night is also a real Best Picture winner.) The rest just feel like decisions. You know?

Lewis Milestone also won Best Director for All Quiet on the Western Front (talked about here), which is a top ten decision for all time. And George Arliss won Best Actor for Disraeli, which is actually a strong decision, historically, based on all it represents.

And then this category — I don’t really know what to do with it. I really don’t like any of the nominees. So it’s pretty much a crap shoot. (Note the pun.)

BEST ACTRESS – 1929-1930

And the nominees were…

Nancy Carroll. The Devil’s Holiday

Ruth Chatterton, Sarah and Son

Greta Garbo, Anna Christie & Romance

Norma Shearer, The Divorcée & Their Own Desire

Gloria Swanson, The Trespasser (more…)

The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1929-1930

One of these things is not like the other…

Seriously, look at this category. It doesn’t even require anything more than a simple glance. One nominee is so superior to the rest that they shouldn’t have even had voting this year.

All Quiet on the Western Front is so far and away the best film on on this list, it’s like, if, in the mid-90s, you had a bunch of regular PC computers — the big ass towers, with the floppy disks and the dial up internet, and then put a 2011 Macbook in the middle of them. It’s not even close how much better this is than the rest of the nominees.

It of course wins Best Picture this year, in one of the best decisions of all time. Best Actor for this year was George Arliss in Disraeli, which is a pretty good decision, from what I’ve seen (it’s one of the few categories I haven’t finished yet). And Best Actress was Norma Shearer for The Divorcée, which, I also like based on what I’ve seen (or simply just because of her as an actress. I’ve also not finished the category). But, outside of the acting categories — which, before 1934 are mostly whatever, regardless of who won — they really, really got this year right. Because All Quiet on the Western Front is just ten years ahead of its time.

BEST DIRECTOR – 1929-1930

And the nominees were…

Clarence Brown, Anna Christie and Romance

Robert Z. Leonard, The Divorcée

Ernst Lubitsch, The Love Parade

Lewis Milestone, All Quiet on the Western Front

King Vidor, Hallelujah (more…)