Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1931

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Clarence Brown (A Free Soul)
Lewis Milestone (The Front Page)
Wesley Ruggles (Cimarron)
Josef von Sternberg (Morocco)
Norman Taurog (Skippy)

Biggest Snub:

Charles Chaplin – City Lights

My Overall Thoughts:

This is a year with some ok nominees They once again missed the best choice for this award, but things were definitely viewed very differently back then than they are now.

My Rankings:


5. Norman Taurog – Not Yet seen

4. Wesley Ruggles
3. Josef von Sternberg
2. Lewis Milestone
1. Clarence Brown


5. Skippy – Not Yet seen

4. CimarronPretty boring and drawn out movie. Stay away unless you have trouble sleeping. Among the worst Best Picture winners.
3. MoroccoInteresting idea that was probably much more appreciated when it came out than it can be now. The characters aren’t developed well enough and that makes the viewer care even less as to what will happen to them. Dietrich and Cooper are quite good here together and they have nice chemistry in all of their scenes. Menjou is also great as the millionaire who is also search for love and companionship. The landscape shots are quite exotic looking and make us truly believe that this was filmed on location in Africa instead of right outside of LA which is part of the reason why director Von Sternberg probably got a Best Director nomination for this film at the Oscars. The story is fine, but doesn’t manage to do anything out of the ordinary love story as presented.
2. The Front PageFun screwball comedy that shows the power of the press when a crime happens. Menjou and O’Brian are fun to watch as they deliver the rapidfire dialogue that is spot on!
1. A Free SoulInteresting film that deals with a great story that is quite layered and not something that one would expect to see during the era of film. Barrymore is superb in the lead and was quite deserving of winner a Best Actor Oscar for this role. They deal with some great issues throughout that include alcoholism, justice, young love and of course a child doing something to rebel against the wishes of her parents. Great courtroom scenes help make this film quite memorable.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Can’t say!  This is the first time that the winner is one which is absolutely unavailable and I have therefore no idea if it was deserving of winning or not.  Of the 4 that I’ve seen, I think Brown does the best job and would have been a deserving winner.

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

One thought on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1931

  1. Can’t argue at all on the “snub” of Chaplin. And maybe if he was in, he would’ve won. Front Page, adapted from the play – was terrific – and remade a few times afterwards so Milestone setting the template should get major props. Agree with you – tough call. What stood out to me was that in ’31 – there were 5 nominees – and then the next few years – dropped to only 3. Wondering why?


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