Did They Get it Right? – Best Supporting Actress – Oscars 1938

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Fay Bainter (Jezebel)
Beulah Bondi (Of Human Hearts)
Billie Burke (Merrily We Live)
Spring Byington (You Can’t Take it with You)
Miliza Korjus (The Great Waltz)

Biggest Snub:

May Whitty – The Lady Vanishes

My Overall Thoughts:

This is a year with two very good performances, 2 ok performances and one WTF nomination.

My Rankings:

Supporting Actress

5. Billie Burke
4. Miliza Korjus
3. Beulah Bondi
2. Spring Byington
1. Fay Bainter


5. Merrily We LiveExtremely boring comedy of errors that doesn’t work at all. The characters are all quite silly and nothing in the storyline works as social commentary like they attempt. This film probably was much more entertaining when it came out, but it doesn’t age well at all. The cast is too quirky here and things are seen as being silly instead of impactful or poignant. Burke was somehow nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her work here, but she like the rest of the cast are far from perfect in making this film entertaining enough.
4. The Great WaltzPretty tame biographical film. The characters aren’t developed very well and this makes things quite boring along the way. The music is the best part of this film and it allows us to hear some of the great Waltz music composed by Strauss. Rainer and Gravet are both fine in the lead roles. Korjus was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her work on this film. In addition, the cinematography of this film is amazingly shot and the dance scenes are choreographed really well. Cinematographer Joseph Ruttenberg won an Oscar for his work here since it looks great even if the story itself is far from engaging.
3. JezebelStory that doesn’t work as well as it might have. The performances are quite good, but the story moves along too slowly. Davis and Bainter both won Oscars for their roles and Fonda is quite good here too (as he usually was). One of the best things about this film is the characterization of Davis’ character as a Jezebel because it comes across really well.
2. Of Human HeartsInteresting look at how the way one is brought up could affect the way that they live their lives in future years.  This film unfortunately falls slightly short of its goal and things aren’t as impactful as one would hope. The characters are developed quite well which allows us to try and get a grasp of the how and why they act as they do. The cast is quite good with Huston, Stewart and Coburn leading the way quite well. Bondi was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the family matriarch who is willing to do all she can for her family no matter the cost.
1. You Can’t Take it with YouExcellent film that shows that there may be vast differences between the classes, but one thing will always stay the same no matter what and that’s the fact that we all came from the same place and will end up in the same place and nothing can ever change that. Excellent cast helps bring out the story so well. Capra does a superb job with this story that he was quite deserving on winning his 3rd Best Director Oscar for this film. Excellent script is filled with very witty and crisp dialogue that works on numerous levels. Winner of Best Picture that year.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – I guess so!  Both FB and SP are great in their roles here and either of them would have been the most worthy choices.

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

One thought on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Supporting Actress – Oscars 1938

  1. Finally saw JEZEBEL when it screened on TCM – mostly to see Bette Davis (who was excellent) – so I’ve now seen Bainter in it. I think I’ve seen You can’t Take It With You – a long time ago – I have seen it on Broadway – very funny play – but never even seen the other 3 performances from this year.

    Liked by 1 person

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