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: (more…)
It’s that time again. I love doing these lists.
The thing about them, though, is that they’ve been progressively more work each time. The first few, the 2000s and the 1990s, I saw most of those by just being alive. And then the 1980s, all I really had to do was watch the big movies I’d never seen, so it wasn’t that bad. Then the 1970s, I had just finished the Oscar Quest and was looking for things to watch, so it was a smooth transition. Then the 1960s and 1950s (see how smoothly I worked in the links this time?) went up while I was in the middle of finishing the Quest articles, so I just powered through them. This time, though — I had stuff going on. I was watching Disney movies and writing a script. I barely got started on watching all the movies (and there were a lot) until the end of July.
To recap how these lists work: I list my ten favorite films for each year. Underneath that, I list an 11-20 of films just outside the top ten. Then, under that, is a “fun” list. To give you more stuff to watch. The 2000s had the “Terrible Ten,” of films I really disliked. The 90s had the “Films of My Childhood,” films I loved when I was growing up. The 80s had the “Awesomely 80s Movies,” films I feel perfectly capture that decade. The 70s had the “70s Recommendations,” a list of quintessentially “70s” films that I recommend highly (many of which are hidden gems). The 60s had “Out with the Old, In with the New,” films that represent the crumbling studio system and coming of New Hollywood. And the 50s had the “Gems of the Studio System,” which were (mostly) films from major directors that have flown under the radar among their filmographies (and history). This year, it’s going to be pretty simple — just “More Great 40s Movies.” I doubt most people are versed in the 40s, so I’m not gonna get complicated. Just 10 more great movies from each year on top of the other 20. Plain and simple. Also, since it bears repeating — I haven’t seen everything. I can only watch so much within three months. The lists are only based on what I’ve seen. I’ll update them as I watch more stuff and like it.
All right… list time: (more…)
I’ve been wanting to do this for a while. Once I got done with all the Oscar Quest categories, I said to myself, “What other categories can I write up that would be fun?” And most of them wouldn’t be terribly interesting. Who really wants to hear me talk in depth about Best Sound? This one seemed like an obvious one because — we can all do it so easily.
All you really need to do to put forth an opinion on the Best Original Song category is listen to all the songs. Pretty simple. The hard part’s just finding them. Which I did. Though I’m linking to so many Youtube videos I can only do a couple of years at a time. Five, in fact. Otherwise it gets crazy and the pages take forever to load.
So that’s what we’re going to do. We’ll go through every year of Best Original Song, I’ll link to as many songs as I can find, and I’ll tell what I like and what I’d have voted for. And we’ll get to go over the rich history that is original songs in movies. (more…)
It’s hard to follow up 1939. But 1940 makes a real go of it. This is, while not in 1939 territory, an exceptionally strong Best Picture list. And the decisions they made this year were really strong too. Which is a bit of a shame, since it’s sandwiched between the strongest year in film history and the biggest Best Picture screw job in Academy history.
Rebecca wins Best Picture, which isn’t a great decision based on the category, but is lessened by the fact that the film that should have won Best Picture, The Grapes of Wrath, won Best Director for John Ford (talked about here). If John Ford didn’t win Best Director, then we’d be talking about how weak a choice Rebecca is (if some people don’t already do that). It’s a great film (and a Hitchcock, which is what leads people to defend it so vehemently), but it’s just not on the level The Grapes of Wrath is. And the split does help alleviate some of that tension (kind of the way the Shakespeare in Love/Saving Private Ryan split does), because at least then you can say, “Well, at least they recognized one was superior, but they just preferred the other.” So I can accept it. Jane Darwell also won Best Supporting Actress for The Grapes of Wrath (talked about here), which is awesome, since she is the “Ma” of cinema. Best Actor this year was Jimmy Stewart for The Philadelphia Story (talked about here), which is the most blatant makeup Oscar perhaps in the history of cinema. It’s terrible. He should have won the year before this. But, it gave him an Oscar, and for that, it’s okay. Even though he did beat both Charlie Chaplin and Henry Fonda, depriving Chaplin of an Oscar and delaying Fonda’s win for 41 years. Best Actress was Ginger Rogers for Kitty Foyle (talked about here), which I love as a decision. Joan Fontaine, to me, gave the best performance, but Rogers was likely to never have another shot at winning, so I support the win (plus Fontaine got her makeup Oscar the year after this anyway. For a Hitchcock again, no less). And Best Supporting Actor was (surprise, surprise), Walter Brennan, for the third time in five years, for The Westerner (talked about here). This was actually the strongest of the three performances he won for (in a terribly weak category too), so he deserved it.
Overall, 1940 is a strong year, and anything weak about it is actually alleviated in context. Jimmy Stewart shouldn’t have won, but he should have won the year before this, so it’s understandable. Ginger Rogers never had another shot at an Oscar, so the win makes sense. And Rebecca isn’t as good as The Grapes of Wrath, but Grapes of Wrath won Best Director. So, to me, 1940, while not being a standout year, is still a damn good one.
BEST PICTURE – 1940
And the nominees were…
All This, and Heaven Too (Warner Bros.)
Foreign Correspondent (Wanger, United Artists)
The Grapes of Wrath (20th Century Fox)
The Great Dictator (Chaplin, United Artists)
Kitty Foyle (RKO Radio)
The Letter (Warner Bros.)
The Long Voyage Home (Argosy, Wanger, United Artists)
Our Town (Lesser, United Artists)
The Philadelphia Story (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Rebecca (Selznick, United Artists) (more…)
I like 1940. Rebecca is a fine Best Picture choice, and while The Grapes of Wrath really should have beaten it (just because it’s stood up over time as the better film), it won Best Director for John Ford (talked about here), so that kind of made up for it.
Best Actor this year was Jimmy Stewart for The Philadelphia Story (talked about here), which is the most blatant makeup Oscar in Academy history. Good that he has an Oscar, but the performance was not even close to win-worthy. Best Supporting Actor was Walter Brennan for The Westerner (talked about here), which I actually like, because the category was so weak, and because Brennan was fantastic, despite it being his third Oscar. And Best Supporting Actress was Jane Darwell for The Grapes of Wrath (talked about here). Ain’t nobody gonna argue with “Ma.”
And then we have this category, which I’ve said many times is one where it was the only time they could really award an actress of this stature, and that, plus the performance itself, make this a perfect decision.
BEST ACTRESS – 1940
And the nominees were…
Bette Davis, The Letter
Joan Fontaine, Rebecca
Katharine Hepburn, The Philadelphia Story
Ginger Rogers, Kitty Foyle
Martha Scott, Our Town (more…)
1940 is a year that I always say is good, but possibly not as good as it could have been (yet, it still ranks as a solid year). Rebecca wins Best Picture, beating The Grapes of Wrath. Maybe not the best decision, historically, but it’s still a solid film. Plus, there was this category to even it out. So it actually kind of works.
Jimmy Stewart won Best Actor for The Philadelphia Story (talked about here), which is the most blatant makeup Oscar of all time. They were clearly giving it to him for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington the year before. Henry Fonda or Charlie Chaplin really should have won that one. Best Actress was Ginger Rogers for Kitty Foyle, which I love, since it was the only time they could really reward her, and Joan Fontaine, who probably should have won, won the year after this, so it worked out. Best Supporting Actor was Walter Brennan for The Westerner (talked about here), which, despite it being his third, I feel actually was a good decision. And Best Supporting Actress was Jane Darwell for The Grapes of Wrath (talked about here), which makes perfect sense, because she’s “Ma.”
And then there’s this category, which, aside from the fact that Hitchcock never won an Oscar (not this category’s fault, really), is a fantastic decision.
BEST DIRECTOR – 1940
And the nominees were…
George Cukor, The Philadelphia Story
John Ford, The Grapes of Wrath
Alfred Hitchcock, Rebecca
Sam Wood, Kitty Foyle
William Wyler, The Letter (more…)
I like 1940 a lot, but I can’t help but feel they made the wrong choice. Rebecca is a fine film, and it winning Best Picture normally would be okay. But The Grapes of Wrath is an American classic. I’m not particularly sure why it didn’t win. Especially when John Ford won Best Director for the film. But, since I love both films, I don’t mind it so much.
Jane Darwell also won Best Supporting Actress for The Grapes of Wrath, which, as I said here, is a very acceptable decision, even if I think Judith Anderson gave a better performance than she did. Best Actor this year was Jimmy Stewart for The Philadelphia Story (talked about here), which is the most blatant makeup Oscar in the history of the Academy. Based on performance alone, it was a terrible decision (Henry Fonda and Charlie Chaplin were much better choices), but, in terms of Jimmy Stewart having an Oscar, it’s totally acceptable. And Best Actress this year was Ginger Rogers for Kitty Foyle, which I really like as a decision, since it was really her only chance to win one, and Joan Fontaine would get her Oscar the year after this for Suspicion. So it all worked out.
As for this category — this is actually the one of the three Walter Brennan Supporting Actor Oscars that I think is the strongest performance. And it’s the last one, so it’s the one where I’m most looking for someone else to vote for. So that should tell you something abut the category, when Brennan is a clear-cut winner.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – 1940
And the nominees were…
Albert Bassermann, Foreign Correspondent
Walter Brennan, The Westerner
William Gargan, They Knew What They Wanted
Jack Oakie, The Great Dictator
James Stephensen, The Letter (more…)