Did They Get it Right? – Best Picture – Oscars 1940


dtgirbp-1940Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

All This and Heaven Too
Foreign Correspondent
Grapes of Wrath, The
Great Dictator, The
Kitty Foyle
Letter, The
Long Voyage Home, The
Our Town
Philadelphia Story, The
Rebecca

Biggest Snub:

Pinocchio

My Overall Thoughts:

The nominees this year were quite diverse and really showed the range and differences possible when looking at the spectrum of films made that year.

I think that they made a good choice in the end, but in retrospect, they could have made a better choice!

My Rankings:

Movies

  • 10. – All This and Heaven Too – Davis is quite good here, but the story itself drags a bit too much and the slow pace of it all makes one lose interest along the way. The premise itself is quite timeless tho and the fact that it is somewhat based on truth makes for a compelling idea yet it unfortunately needs to be edited down a bit in order to be even more interesting. Was nominated for three Oscars that year, Picture, Supporting Actress and Cinematography but didn’t win any of them.
  • 9. – Kitty Foyle – This is a film that has an interesting idea that unfortunately just doesn’t feel as original as it probably could have been. I liked the way that they deal with social classes here and show the various struggles of the characters as they try to find a way to bridge the gap between them. Rogers definitely stands out ion the lead role and deservingly won an Oscar for her performance.
  • 8. – The Philadelphia Story – Interesting rom-com from the 40’s, but very dated.  Great cast with Stewart garnering a Best Actor Oscar for this role.
  • 7. – Our Town – Film that seem to be just average because of the way it’s presented yet, if you look closer, you can see some amazing things happen. Loved the way the narration is done because it gives us a very omniscient view of the characters as we learn about their present, past and future all at once. The message of the film is quite clear and is shown in a very interesting way. Not 100% sure that this film deserved a Best Picture nomination, but it still remains a classic after all these years. Holden is fine as a younger character but perhaps due to my familiarity of his future roles, he seems slightly out of place.
  • 6. – The Long Voyage Home – Nice premise about the difficulties of men who live their lives at sea where not everyone does things in the proper and just way. The way that they show the cyclical nature of their lives following each voyage says much about the culture of these men both prior to and during the outbreak of World War II. Great cast helps this story work especially with the ‘regulars’ of Ford doing their part.
  • 5. – The Letter – Davis is great here as a woman who committed murder who she claims was in self-defense. The way they explore love, racism and even the way the court system work in foreign occupied countries are all done expertly by Wyler.
  • 4. – Rebecca – Interesting psychological thriller when Hitchcock was still warming up. Nice cast and Hitchcockian twists galore. Seems a bit dated now tho.
  • 3. – The Grapes of Wrath – Excellent film that shows the true difficulties of families during the Depression who faced even more hardship when they moved along to “supposedly” better situations. Fonda is superb in the title role and is helped by some great supporting performances, most notably Jane Darwell as his mother. Ford knew how to create the right atmosphere for such a film and kept things feeling as realistic as possible as we follow the Joad family’s journey across the country.
  • 2. – Foreign Correspondent – The fact that this plot was originally written 5 years before War actually broke out in Europe also shows a bit of prophesy that worked to everyone’s benefit in the end. Hitchcock’s genius in setting up a story and keeping us thrilled throughout is quite evident here.
  • 1. – The Great Dictator – Chaplin at his best. This is my favorite of all of his movies.  It’s amazing how astute he was to what was going on without really knowing it.  He does a perfect imitation of Hitler and we laugh at the absurdity of it all.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Yes and No! Rebecca is a great thriller by Hitchcock, but when comparing films that defined the year in retrospect, it is clear that The Great Dictator was a spectacularly made film showing the absurdity of the direction that the world was heading at the time.

Let me know what you think about these films and my rankings!

Let me Know what you think!!

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