Did They Get it Right? – Best Picture – Oscars 1939


dtgirbp-1939Here are the ten nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Dark Victory
Gone With the Wind
Goodbye Mr. Chips
Love Affair
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Ninotchka
Of Mice and Men
Stagecoach
The Wizard of Oz
Wuthering Heights

Biggest Snub:

Young Mr. Lincoln

My Overall Thoughts:

1939 has one of the best classes of Oscar nominees.  I’ve only seen half of the ten films, but based on what I’ve heard, the others are also great. (two are based on classic novels).

The eventual winner is still considered today to be such an iconic film so it’s hard to argue that any of the other amazing films are better despite them being so great.

My Rankings:

Movies

 

  • 10. – Ninotchka – Not your typical screwball comedy of the 30’s because its extremely political and tries to inadvertently show the problems of communism in a light hearted way.  Some of the communist lifestyle jokes will make you chuckle but the story as a whole is quite weak. Garbo isn’t at her best as a comedienne and she and Douglas lack real onscreen chemistry together.
  • 9. – Love Affair – This is a film that was remade a few times in the 60+ years after it was made.  It is highly referenced in Sleepless in Seattle (1993) which basically tells the entire story.  The love affair between these characters doesn’t seem as realistic as some other versions of this film seem to show and it’s hard to fully believe it.  The premise itself is a great one but this time, they just don’t managed to present it well enough.  I’ll weigh in on the other versions if and when I ever see them.
  • 8.- Of Mice and Men – Great story that does a wonderful job showing us what kind of life these kind of men had during the Depression. The friendship between George and Lennie is presented really well and we know that they ultimately will do anything to help the other is needed. Lennie is the perfect example of a gentle giant who since he is simple-minded sometimes needs guidance in order to understand what he is doing. Nominated for 4 Oscars, but didn’t manage to win any of them.
  • 7.- Wuthering Heights – Nice story that really captures the essence of the novel. The cast is great and allows us to really believe the love triangle between the characters. Does a great job depicting the different views of the wealthy and the poor on society and how true love can stay with a person for so many years despite other romantic tangents along the way.
  • 6. – Dark Victory – Davis is great in this role because we can feel her debating her options the whole time. The story works really well and gives us a an intriguing look at this kind of situation. They balance the medical and social aspects of the story nice and accurately and it is easy to believe much of what happens here. This film’s premise is quite timeless and could be applied to a modern story also which helps make it even more fascinating to watch.
  • 5. – Stagecoach – One of John Ford’s earliest Westerns that is seen as one of the best in the genre. Loved the way they introduce all of the diverse characters and show how they each need to deal with one another during this dangerous and uncertain journey. Wayne is pretty good here despite showing his youthfulness in one of his most famous genres. There is so much going on here on multiple levels and it’s easy to interpret so many things in numerous ways which makes the story even more fascinating to watch unfold.
  • 4. – The Wizard of Oz – Who doesn’t love this film? Its story is so wonderful and its characters are all so iconic. The story is woven quite well that allows us to learn so much about our world and the world of Oz. The idea to have the film partially in black and white and partially in color works so well to help add wonderment to the scenes taking place in Oz itself. The dialogue is quite witty the whole way through and the message of the film is one that is timeless.
  • 3. – Goodbye Mr. Chips – Donat is superb here and really deserved his Best Actor award for playing the title character. This film has inspired so many others ever since in the way they tell a life story in the right way.  Still remains one of the best films about the life and rewards of teaching.
  • 2. – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington – A true classic about how the American political system works (and doesn’t work). Capra really found a way to show the people how even the little people can enact change in the “system”. Very interesting how it seems that little has changed when dealing with congressional corruption in the 78 years since this came out.  This is one of the movies that made me very interested in the US political system.
  • 1. – Gone With the Wind – Brilliant but over-long film. Understandable why so many love this movie. Very deserving of its 8 Oscar wins. The fact remains, though, that they achieved the Epic love story that they set out to make, and for that this movie gets a lot of credit because in achieving that goal, it changed the face of movies forever. When this movie came out in 1939, no one had seen or even conceived of seeing something like this onscreen, and all you movie lovers like me out there can be thankful that it did because without this near masterpiece we would all be bored with no movies to watch.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Most Definitely Yes! There is no denying that GWTW is one of the best films ever made and was deserving of the win this year, but it was a tough year since there were so many other amazing films nominated along with it.

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

4 thoughts on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Picture – Oscars 1939

  1. What a year! I have a complicated relationship with Gone with the Wind. It’s glorification of the south, slavery and the marital rape bother me but it’s epic qualities hold up and I have fond memories of watching it with my Grandma.
    I love Mr Smith, Stage Coach and Wuthering Heights but I think I’d go with Wizard of Oz. For my money it and Mary Poppins are the greatest live action family films ever made

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