Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)
John Ford – My Darling Clementine
My Overall Thoughts:
This is a great year because it had two powerhouse films battling for the top two awards throughout the awards season. Both are still amazingly relevant even after 72+ years and are among the very best films ever made.
5. Clarence Brown
4. David Lean
3. Robert Siodmak
2. Frank Capra
1. William Wyler
5. The Yearling – Somewhat interesting story that probably is much better as a novel instead of on film. Peck, Wyman and Jarman are all fine here, but some of the scenes feel quite contrived. Says a lot about the hardships and loneliness of life at that time and place.
4. Brief Encounter – Somewhat interesting idea that moves so slowly that you just want something to happen and it doesn’t…
3. The Killers – Excellent film noir that manages to tell a very complex tale largely via flashback as we get to learn about everything that happened in the past based solely on recollections of other characters. It’s great how we discover new information at the same time as the investigator and just like him, we can never know what is truthful and what is not. Lancaster does a great job in his debut role, but O’Brien stands out throughout as the insurance investigator. Love the way that this film makes us piece together all the information like a complex puzzle. Siodmak was deservingly nominated for Best Director at the Oscars.
2. It’s a Wonderful Life – Amazing film with a great premise that has been copied unsuccessfully so many times over the past 70+ years. The story is done really well and is so emotional in the way that it is presented. Stewart is quite iconic in the title role and does an amazing job both playing the character over a vast number of years and in different circumstances in life. This film has become known as a Christmas film, but there is so much more to it than that because it is able to tell such a great tale that works on numerous levels to make the viewer take a look at their own life and wonder how much of an effect they have had on the lives of those around them. This film has become one of the best known classics of Capra and there is a good chance that it is excepted as his best work. The story touches upon faith yet doesn’t get preachy about it at all. The film also is realistic in the way it shows that even if everything doesn’t go exactly as we would like in the world, things can still move forward. Many people have criticized how this film doesn’t tie up all of its loose ends, yet that helps make this film so amazing because it doesn’t need to do so in order to stay superb. There is no question about the fact that even after 72 years, this film still holds up as one of the greatest films ever made because it has such a captivating, interesting and most importantly timeless story.
1. The Best Years of Our Lives – Amazing film because it remains timeless with its themes even after 70 years. Unbelievable cast helps make this film feel so real. It deservingly won 8 Oscars that year and remains extremely powerful in so many aspects. The bond shared by these men is indescribable and their need for one another to weather the return home is such a powerful and emotional theme that is repeatedly shown here.
Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Most Definitely! WW created an amazing tale with BYoOL and even a modern holiday favorite with a great message couldn’t beat it.
Let me know what you think about these films and my rankings!
It’s A Wonderful Life didn’t reach “classic” status until decades AFTER it’s initial release. That being said – The Best Years of Our Lives was an instant classic – and yes – Wyler absolutely deserved this win.