1936 makes me happy. This is the first top ten list where I can honestly give a resounding thumbs up to all of the films. I look at this list and I feel actual excitement at the films that are on it.
The one thing that jumps out at me for this list in particular: William Powell. He’s in four films in this top ten. And Myrna Loy is in three of them too! Which, honestly… that pretty much sums me up as a film goer.
Otherwise — a lot of the standard stuff appears, both in terms of my taste and the classics. The big thing about this year in particular for me is that it contains one of the great hidden gems of all time, one of those films that I am constantly shouting about as one of the greatest films ever made that has never fully gotten its due. (more…)
This is another one of those years where the Academy established what they really consider to be a Best Picture. The Great Ziegfeld has everything you’d expect to see in a Best Picture. Though they were still figuring things out, despite that. Until this point, Best Picture and Best Director only synched up three times, which is the opposite of how we know it to be nowadays. (And it wouldn’t start synching up until 1941, with only 5 of the first 14 Best Director winners synching up with Best Picture.) It seems as though they were still equating Best Director with Best Screenplay at this point (since you’ll notice that a lot of the Best Director winners had stronger writing in their films than they did noticeably superior direction. With exceptions, of course), which explains how they could give Best Director this year to Frank Capra for Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (talked about here). That film isn’t so much well-directed as well-written, especially next to something like San Francisco or even Dodsworth and The Great Ziegfeld. But even so, at least they knew, for the most part, what they were doing with Best Picture.
This year was also the first year in which the Supporting Categories were introduced. The first Best Supporting Actor Oscar was given out, which went to Walter Brennan for Come and Get It (talked about here), which — who better to be given the first Supporting Actor Oscar than Walter Brennan? Even though they were still figuring out what “supporting” actually meant here. The category was insanely weak. And the first Best Supporting Actress winner was Gale Sondergaard for Anthony Adverse (talked about here), which I don’t much agree with, but, just like the pre-1934 years, you can’t really fault them, since they didn’t yet establish the category. You can tell they didn’t really know what constituted a supporting performance, since they gave Best Actress to Luise Rainer for The Great Ziegfeld (talked about here). Her performance is definitely what we’d consider nowadays to be a supporting performance, even though she was good in it.
The other winner was Paul Muni as Best Actor for The Story of Louis Pasteur (talked about here), which seems too much like a rush to get Muni a statue, since William Powell and Walter Huston had much better years (and performances) than he did (plus, he could have easily won the year after this for The Life of Emile Zola, which would have helped legitimize that film as a Best Picture winner).
In all, though, 1936 is a strong year. One of those years with several potential winners in most categories. That’s always a good year to have.
BEST PICTURE – 1936
And the nominees were…
Anthony Adverse (Warner Bros.)
Dodsworth (Goldwyn, United Artists)
The Great Ziegfeld (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Libeled Lady (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (Columbia)
Romeo and Juliet (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
San Francisco (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
The Story of Louis Pasteur (Warner Bros.)
A Tale of Two Cities (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Three Smart Girls (Universal) (more…)
I call 1936 the year with the first “Academy” film. That is, a film that seemed designed from the start to win Best Picture won Best Picture. The Great Ziegfeld is one of those films that has everything the Academy looks for in a Best Picture, and it makes perfect sense that it would win.
Luise Rainer also won Best Actress for the film (talked about here), which I don’t really like as a decision, but would have been okay with it, if only she didn’t also win Best Actress the year after this. Best Actor this year was Paul Muni for The Story of Louis Pasteur (talked about here), which is a good decision, since Muni deserved an Oscar, but I felt it came a year too early. Best Supporting Actress (the first in the category’s history) was Gale Sondergaard for Anthony Adverse (talked about here), which makes no sense to me. And Best Director was Frank Capra for Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (talked about here), which I really can’t even begin to fathom for a lot of reasons. That was a very poor choice, I felt.
And now we have the very first Best Supporting Actor category in the history of the Oscars. The problem with it is — when you look closely at it — it stinks. It’s weak as hell. But fortunately, Walter Brennan is Walter Brennan, so him winning alleviates any concerns of how shitty the category is.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – 1936
And the nominees were…
Mischa Auer, My Man Godfrey
Walter Brennan, Come and Get It
Stuart Erwin, Pigskin Parade
Basil Rathbone, Romeo and Juliet
Akim Tamiroff, The General Died at Dawn (more…)
1936 is a year I feel was the first real Academy decision. You know? Typically, when I say “Academy decision,” I mean one of those films that — of course it won Best Picture. From Here to Eternity, The Sound of Music, Forrest Gump, Titanic — films that you know were gonna win Best Picture no matter their quality. The English Patient. That’s an Academy decision. It’s big, expensive, and it has all the things the Academy likes in their films.
The Great Ziegfeld, to me, is the first obvious Best Picture winner. Strange though, that its director didn’t also win Best Director. That went to Frank Capra for Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (talked about here). That decision makes no sense to me at all. Best Actress was Luise Rainer for Ziegfeld (talked about here), which I think was a bad decision, but one I can sort of understand based on the category. It’s worse, though, that she won the year after this as well. It highlights all the reasons she shouldn’t have won here. Best Supporting Actor (the first in the category’s history) was Walter Brennan for Come and Get It. If anyone should have won the first Best Supporting Actor Oscar, it was Walter Brennan. And Best Supporting Actress was Gale Sondergaard for Anthony Adverse (talked about here). I do not understand this decision at all, and I feel Alice Brady was a much better decision in almost every way.
Which brings us to this category. Paul Muni was gonna win an Oscar at some point. It was only a matter of time. Here’s a dude who just bled Oscar. Everything he did, it seemed, was worth a nomination. He’s the only guy to have his very first performance (The Valiant) and his last performance (The Last Angry Man) be nominated for Oscars. Thing is, though — I don’t think he should have won here. He deserved it, but I don’t think this should have been his year.
BEST ACTOR – 1936
And the nominees were…
Gary Cooper, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
Walter Huston, Dodsworth
Paul Muni, The Story of Louis Pasteur
William Powell, My Man Godfrey
Spencer Tracy, San Francisco (more…)
Like me some 1936. But I don’t love it. This would be the fuck on the “Fuck, Marry, Kill” list. Fuck 1936, Marry 1939, Kill 1937.
The Great Ziegfeld wins Best Picture for 1936, and it’s a fantastic decision. It’s a quintessential Oscar film, and a really great film at that. Everything a film from 1936 that won Best Picture should have. Best Director this year was Frank Capra for Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (talked about here). I like that the film got recognized, but I don’t like the decision. Leonard should have won for Ziegfeld or Van Dyke should have won for San Francisco and that great recreation of the earthquake they have there.
Best Actor this year was Paul Muni for The Story of Louis Pasteur, which is a fine decision, although I say William Powell should have won for his Ziegfeld performance and his My Man Godfrey performance. Muni was better served winning the year after this for The Life of Emile Zola, which would have added a bit more legitimacy to that film winning Best Picture. Best Supporting Actor (the first in the category’s history) was Walter Brennan for Come and Get It, which makes sense. He is the quintessential supporting actor. Best Supporting Actress was Gale Sondergaard for Anthony Adverse (talked about here), which I don’t get at all. To me, Alice Brady was a much better choice.
And then this category — I don’t get it at all. Not at all. She was a supporting character in the film, for one, and they seem to be basing the award on one scene. Plus she won the year after this — I don’t like this decision at all.
BEST ACTRESS – 1936
And the nominees were…
Irene Dunne, Theodora Goes Wild
Gladys George, Valiant is the Word for Carrie
Carol Lombard, My Man Godfrey
Luise Rainer, The Great Ziegfeld
Norma Shearer, Romeo and Juliet (more…)
Oh hey, it’s the very first Best Supporting Actress category ever. That means several things. Most of all, it means that the rules don’t apply. You can’t judge this based on strictly the performances. You have to think of it as establishing the category. This sets the trend for what exactly is a supporting performance as we know it.
As for the rest of the year, The Great Ziegfeld wins Best Picture, which, is a pretty good choice, since it’s big and epic (at least, for 1936), and Best Actress for Luise Rainer, which, is a terrible decision. She was a supporting character at best in the film. And, surprisingly, William Powell does not win Best Actor for that film and for My Man Godfrey (being nominated for the latter), but rather, Paul Muni wins Best Actor for The Story of Louis Pasteur, which I don’t really like as a decision. It just seemed like too easy a performance to vote for. Powell, and especially Walter Huston, were better choices. (They could have given it to Muni, who very much deserved an Oscar, for The Story of Louis Pasteur the year after this. It would have made perfect sense.) Then Best Supporting Actor (the very first of that category) went to Walter Brennan for Come and Get It. While I don’t much care for the film or the performance, Brennan does play Swedish, and is an actor who epitomizes the category, so ultimately it was a good decision. Then Best Director was Frank Capra for Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, which, as much as I loved the film (as I said here), I think is a terrible decision.
So, keeping in mind it’s not so much the performance as much as it is a foundation for a category, let’s take a look at this one…
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – 1936
And the nominees were…
Alice Brady, My Man Godfrey
Beulah Bondi, The Gorgeous Hussy
Bonita Granville, These Three
Maria Ouspenskaya, Dodsworth
Gale Sondergaard, Anthony Adverse (more…)
1936 is a tough year. There are a lot of good films that were nominated. I’d say, of all the Best Picture nominees, there were only three I didn’t care for. And even of those three — two of them were just monotonous for me, and the other was, whatever. 7 out of 10 is pretty good.
The only thing is, it’s tough to guess what should have won, because — the Best Picture choice, The Great Ziegfeld, is the first biopic to ever win an Oscar. That’s one thing it had going for it. Two is that it’s actually a good movie. It’s a nice mixture of drama, comedy, and larger than life musical numbers. (Larger than life meaning not like Busby Berkeley, but rather — literally larger than life. The sets are fucking huge.) The downsides to it are — it’s long, three hours, and, there are much more “watchable” films on the list. By that I mean, they’re films you’d want to watch more often than the film that won. So ultimately the decision is, which do you vote for? Because the film is a standard “Oscar” film, and an enjoyable one at that (at least, compared to some other epic Best Picture winners), but, on the other hand — there are alternatives.
That aside, we have this category, which, strangely, split from Best Picture. I feel it says a lot when the Best Picture winner and Director split. It’s like they were compelled to vote for the film that seemed most obvious, then went with what they liked for the other choice.
Oh, yeah, Best Actor was Paul Muni for The Story of Louis Pasteur, and Best Actress was Luise Rainer for The Great Ziegfeld. Oh, yeah — the Supporting categories are here. First time ever. The first Best Supporting Actress winner was Gale Sondergaard, for Anthony Adverse, and the first Best Supporting Actor winner — very fittingly too — was Walter Brennan, for Come and Get It. (more…)