Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1953

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

George Stevens (Shane)
Charles Walters (Lili)
Billy Wilder (Stalag 17)
William Wyler (Roman Holiday)
Fred Zinnemann (From Here to Eternity)

Biggest Snub:

Henri-Georges Clouzot – The Wages of Fear

My Overall Thoughts:

This si another year with some great nominees. 4 of the 5 could have taken home Gold for their work.

My Rankings:


5. Charles Walters
4. William Wyler
3. George Stevens
2. Fred Zinnemann
1. Billy Wilder


5. LiliInteresting idea that was probably much better enjoyed when it came out than it can be now. The story itself seems a bit too naive (like the main character) on the surface but actually deals with some very complex issues that are still relevant to today’s world. The use of puppets for a character who cannot express his own feelings about things due to a war injury works quite well. The cast is pretty good but the chemistry between Caron and her two leading men is quite lackluster throughout. Director Charles Walters was nominated for Best Director at the Oscars for this film, and I can’t really say that I understand why.
4. Roman HolidayHepburn is amazing in this film and it help cement her career. The story is light and works in most cases and stays enjoyable throughout. The chemistry between Hepburn and Peck is a bit iffy but is still passable. Shows a nice perspective on how a “stuffy” royal life might sometimes be too much for a young heir and therefore must need a chance for a “break”.
3. From Here to EternityInteresting drama that shows the complexity of life in the Army prior to the outbreak of WWII. It moves quite slowly at the beginning, but has some great scenes.
2. ShaneGreat film about choices in life and standing up for what is right. Loved the way that both Shane and Starrett want the same thing but each does things differently based on their own personal experiences in life. The Starrett family feels quiet real and genuine and it’s possible to believe that such a relationship can easily be formed between such like-minded and simple people. Rightfully was nominated for 6 Oscars that year, but only managed a win for Best Cinematography. The music is nice and subtle and helps keep the tension high the whole way through. Ladd is amazing as the soft spoken lead and fits the character so perfectly.
1. Stalag 17Amazing film that manages to try and show some of the issues faced by POW’s under the careful watch of their captors while also presenting a clever whodunit. The way that the story plays out works really well and we get a clear idea of the conditions they were faced with the entire time. The cast is superb but Holden clearly stands out as the best in the lead role which garnered him a Best Actor Oscar for playing such a character. The mix of humor and drama actually works to this films advantage because of the dark nature of the environment presented since it allows us to feel more comfortable watching such a situation. Wilder deservingly got an Oscar nomination for Best Director for this film. This film remains one of the best prisoner of war films every made.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Yes and No!  Zinnerman does a wonderful job with FHTE but Wilder is slightly better because he is able to capture the feeling of being a prisoner.  It’s understandable why the Academy went with FHTE and they still made a nice choice for the winner.

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

One thought on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1953

  1. Solid year, and some great contenders, but I think the Academy got it right. I am a huge fan of the 4 films you have in your top ranks – and all were certainly worthy. Big Wilder fan – and Stalag 17 is a fave – but as good as it is – it’s not HIS best (nor do I actually think it was Holden’s best performance…), But Zinneman’s film had greater scope and a far more diverse set of characters to work with – to say nothing of the fact that the novel was far racier – and he had to contend with putting the story on screen in an era where censorship didn’t permit a lot of what the book had in it. Lancaster and Clift were both excellent (and probably canceled one another out – paving the road for Holden) as was Sinatra and Borgnine and even George Reeves (whose part was cut down after the audience overreacted to him since he was SUPERMAN on TV at the time). Goody-two-shoes Donna Reed won an Oscar for playing a hooker. It was all masterfully done – so have to go with the Academy choice here – even though as you said – Stalag is a GREAT POW movie (up there with The Great Escape), Roman Holiday leaves me with tears in my eyes at the end every time I watch it – and Shane is a classic.


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