Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1954


Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Alfred Hitchcock (Rear Window)
Elia Kazan (On the Waterfront)
George Seaton (The Country Girl)
William A. Wellman (The High and the Mighty)
Billy Wilder (Sabrina)

Biggest Snub:

Akira Kurosawa – The Seven Samurai

My Overall Thoughts:

This was another year filled with 5 worthy nominees and any of them could have been deserving of a win.

My Rankings:

Directing

5. Billy Wilder
4. George Seaton
3. William A. Wellman
2. Elia Kazan
1. Alfred Hitchcock

Movies

5. SabrinaHolden, Hepburn and Bogart are all amazing here, but the story slightly misses its mark. Wilder does wonders with the dialogue and there are some really great zingers thrown in here every so often. Hepburn is a wonder to watch here because of her eyes and beauty.
4. The High and the MightyGreat disaster movie before there was even a name for the genre. Wayne does a great job in the lead and keeps things interesting. The various storylines of the passengers are good yet there is a feeling that some of the back stories are a bit long and take away from the suspense of the film. It’s also sometimes a bit difficult to differentiate between the various characters which makes things slightly confusing at times. There is no doubt that many of the episodes and scenes featured in this film were used for the basis of so many disaster movies or their spoofs decades later.
3. The Country GirlAll 3 leads are great here and they all do a wonderful job making their characters feel real. Amazing dialogue helps this film move along at a great pace. Kelly won Best Actress for this film and she truly deserved it because of the emotional range of her character. This story manages to give us characters with lots of psychological baggage and we get to see how it effects everything they do in life.
2. On the WaterfrontShould be seen on it’s own merit and not for underlying themes. Excellent acting.
1. Rear WindowExcellent Hitchcockian thriller. Perhaps one of his best. The claustrophobic feeling really puts the viewer in the place of the characters.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Yes and No!  Hitchcock should have won, but due to the time and era of this year’s awards ceremony, it wasn’t surprising that Kazan would be awarded this award even if he wasn’t the most deserving nominee yet still worthy of it.

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

One thought on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1954

  1. This is a tough one. I absolutely agree with Kazan’s win for Waterfront – which is a spectacular film. I am also a HUGE Hitchcock fan and here’s another example of a movie for which he lost the Director Oscar (and would never win one competitively). What’s fascinating – and you haven’t gotten back to 1940 yet – is the fact that THAT year – the film Hitch directed – REBECCA – WON Best Picture, but he lost as director. This year – he lost as director for Rear Window – which inexplicably was NOT nominated for Best Picture – while other, far lesser lights like Seven Brides For Seven Brothers and Three Coins In The Fountain (!!!) were… The Academy must’ve been high on something. As for watching Waterfront “on its own merits”, I believe it was – but it’s impossible to separate it from the time and the blacklisting and the McCarthy era etc. in terms of its message, any more than you can call HIGH NOON “just a Western”. And people who are too young to know what was swirling through Hollywood at the time – would only be watching on its own merits, as they would be unaware of the underlying themes. The film is superb and could be used in acting classes to show how it’s done.

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