Friday, April 9, 2010

Best Picture of 1937

And we finally reach the conclusion of the 1937 race for Best Picture. It's been a long road (the longest since I started this project) but quite a satisfying one. Lots to admire with this pack, but my favourite was relatively easy to single out.

The nominees for Best Picture of 1937 are:
  • The Awful Truth
  • Captains Courageous
  • Dead End
  • The Good Earth
  • In Old Chicago
  • The Life of Emile Zola
  • Lost Horizon
  • One Hundred Men and a Girl
  • Stage Door
  • A Star Is Born
I managed to discover something inspiring in each of these ten nominees, but for some, the inspiration was limited to a few scenes. The Good Earth is clearly at the bottom of the pack for me. Heavily superficial, even the engaging riot scene doesn't redeem it. Similarly, Dead End contained one gripping sequence, but otherwise, it pales in comparison to greater film noir stories.

The rest of the nominees utterly deserve their place on this prestigious list, featuring some truly engrossing or entertaining (or both) cinematic elements. Stage Door's lightning comic style is particularly captivating, even though it feels a little samey. Lost Horizon and Captains Courageous have very compelling beginnings. In Old Chicago and A Star Is Born have very compelling endings. And the Awful Truth nails the screwball comedy genre.

Nearly taking my top spot, One Hundred Men and a Girl was a thoroughly beguiling piece of light-hearted entertainment. But ahead of it, in my estimation, is the consistently engaging The Life of Emile Zola. Not without its flaws, its depth and emotion were enough to sway the Academy to give it their seal of approval, and likewise, I am naming it my favourite Best Picture nominee from 1937.

Best Picture of 1937
Academy's choice:

The Life of Emile Zola

Matt's choice:

The Life of Emile Zola

Your choice:

Vote for your own favourite with the poll above. Selecting the next Best Picture race for Matt vs. the Academy has required a touch of controversy. After my call earlier this week to resolve the tie that had emerged between 1970 and 1975, a few more votes trickled in. Unfortunately, both years picked up an extra vote and so the tie prevails. Hence, I will make the executive decision to go with the year that my beautiful wife voted for.

And the nominees for Best Picture of 1975 are:
  • Barry Lyndon
  • Dog Day Afternoon
  • Nashville
  • Jaws
  • One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Once again, an impressive collection of cinema to look forward to over the next couple of weeks.


  1. Honestly, I would cast a vote but I dont think I've seen one nominee from that year. In fact, about 4 I never even heard of, but now I'm curious. Now with instant watch on netflix, maybe I'll give it my assessment. I so think cuckoo's nest was the best of 1975 though. 1970... What was that, French connection? Cabaret?

  2. 1937's 10 nominated films were diverse, entertaining and emotionally satisfying. While no one film would threaten my all time best 100 movies, they were competitive enough to offer a challenge selecting the overall winner.

    I think I can separate them into two groups of five without too much difficulty. My also ran list would probably be:
    10. One Hundred Men and a Girl
    09. In Old Chicago
    08. The Life of Emile Zola
    07. Dead End
    06. The Good Earth

    The final five is more difficult to separate:
    05. A Star is Born
    04. Lost Horizon
    03. Captains Courageous
    02. The Awful Truth - funny, sexy and virtually flawless screwball comedy.

    #1: Stage Door - I can't say that many so-called women's pictures are high up in my all-time favorites, but I can visit this group of would-be actresses over and over again - laugh with them and get a lump in my throat when "The calla lilies are in bloom again." It does have some shortcomings, but worms itself into my heart.

    My brief 1937 omission list would include Leo McCarey's Make Way for Tomorrow - a heartbreaking, yet unflinchingly honest story of loving but flawed parents falling on desperate times and their selfish children who cause them to separate after 50 years of marriage. Also missing is Walt Disney's landmark first full length animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

    I had a few of the 1975 nominees in my rental queue for weeks now and thought I may have to do a quick switch to 1970 nominees. My pick was also '75, so I'm ready to re-watch these. It is a very competitive year. Looking forward to it.

  3. Stage Door and Captains Courageous come to mind immediately. I honestly can't remember having seen the original A Star is Born. I'm surprised you like Zola...I know it's win is not thoroughly loved.

  4. Evan: Yep, Cuckoo's Nest definitely has the edge going in to this. But I will force myself to keep an open mind. This IS scientific, you know. :)

    Mike: I don't think you and I have differed so much before. Our final rankings usually look pretty similar. Perhaps, like you say, it's because 1937 isn't the strongest year despite some solid entries. Makes it tougher to single one out.

    Andrew: I guess, like so many other winners, Zola's slightly epic narrative got it over the line. I think perhaps I'd make a great Academy member. When there's a diverse mix of nominees, I also seem to lean towards the more epic films. :)

  5. Matt, yes our order of films for 1937 are pretty different, but other than a couple, our enjoyment of them are similar. I pretty much made my decision based on which titles I would watch again if they showed up on TCM in a year.

    I'll also keep my options opened while reviewing the 1975 nominees. However, based on my current mindset, we may differ once again. Lets just say that of all the nominees, the film I haven't seen in the longest time is the one that took the Oscar. I'm actually anxious to revisit it.

  6. I voted for The Good Earth...not necessarily a favorite of mine, but I like it enough to vote for it.

  7. A brave man you are! :)

    i haven't seen all, not even half I think. I know I dislike the winner and I find it hard 2 believe u didn't find a better one :) especially as I know for sure A Star is Born & Good Earth are better...