My Top 10:

Ray Milland drinking himself to a clean sweep of Best Actor for his performance in The Lost Weekend: Oscar, Golden Globe, NBR, NYFC, Nighthawk

  1. The Lost Weekend
  2. Spellbound
  3. To Have and Have Not
  4. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
  5. The Story of G.I. Joe
  6. The Southerner
  7. Anchors Aweigh
  8. The Body Snatcher
  9. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  10. And Then There Were None

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  The Lost Weekend
  • Best Director:  Billy Wilder  (The Lost Weekend)
  • Best Actor:  Ray Milland  (The Lost Weekend)
  • Best Actress:  Joan Crawford  (Mildred Pierce)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  James Dunn  (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Anne Revere  (National Velvet)
  • Best Screenplay:  The Lost Weekend (from the novel by Charles R. Jackson)
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Marie-Louise
  • Best Original Story:  The House on 92nd Street

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  The Lost Weekend
  • Best Director:  Billy Wilder  (The Lost Weekend)
  • Best Actor:  Ray Milland  (The Lost Weekend)
  • Best Actress:  Ingrid Bergman  (Spellbound / The Bells of St. Mary’s)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  J. Carrol Naish  (A Medal for Benny)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Angela Lansbury  (The Picture of Dorian Gray)

Top 5 Films  (Top 1000):

  • The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp –  #147
  • To Have and Have Not –  #300
  • Detour –  #390
  • They Were Expendable –  #403
  • Mildred Pierce –  #495

Top 5 Awards Points:

  1. The Lost Weekend –  939
  2. The Bells of St. Mary’s –  391
  3. Mildred Pierce –  301
  4. Spellbound –  290
  5. National Velvet –  200

Nighthawk Awards:

The face the director fell in love with: Deborah Kerr in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

  • Best Picture:  The Lost Weekend
  • Best Director:  Billy Wilder (The Lost Weekend)
  • Best Actor:  Ray Milland  (The Lost Weekend)
  • Best Actress:  Joan Crawford  (Mildred Pierce)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Robert Mitchum  (The Story of G.I. Joe)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Deborah Kerr  (The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Lost Weekend
  • Best Original Screenplay:  The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
  • Best Foreign Film:  Children of Paradise

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  Anchors Aweigh
  • Best Scene:  To Have and Have Not – when Lauren Bacall gets up from the kiss
  • Best Line:  “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve?  You just put your lips together and blow.”  (To Have and Have Not – Lauren Bacall)
  • Best Ending:  The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
  • Performance to Fall in Love With:  Deborah Kerr in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
  • See the Movie, Skip the Book:  To Have and Have Not

Ebert Great Films:

  • Detour
  • The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

Top 5 Films (Box Office Gross):

  1. The Bells of St. Mary’s –  $21.3 mil
  2. Mom and Dad –  $16.0 mil
  3. Leave Her to Heaven –  $13.8 mil
  4. The Lost Weekend –  $11.0 mil
  5. State Fair – $10.0 mil

1945 is even a worse year for film than 1944.  Many of the best films of 1945 do not get a U.S. release until 1946, such as Children of Paradise, Brief Encounter and Open City and of the four films I give **** to, two of them are holdovers from previous years (The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and To Have and Have Not).  The grand result of 1945, with 62 different feature films nominated for an Academy Award is exactly two films, The Lost Weekend and Spellbound, were truly great films.

Film History: Studios actually stop production twice during the year; the first time is to honor Franklin Roosevelt after he dies in April and the second time is in August to celebrate the end of the World War II.  Frank Sinatra stars in Anchors Aweigh, immediately making him a film star.  The J. Arthur Rank Productions Ltd. is formed, which will become one of England’s biggest production companies.  Warner Brothers introduces Sylvester the Cat while Paramount develops their own cartoon star: Casper the Friendly Ghost.  Judy Garland marries director Vicente Minnelli.  Children of Paradise premieres in Paris on 9 March, having been shot in occupied France, getting around the 90 minute film limit by splitting it into two films.  Open City is released in Rome, giving birth to Italian Neo-Realism.

Academy Awards: National Velvet becomes the first film since 1932 (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) to fail to get a Best Picture nomination but still make the top 5 points of the year.  Bing Crosby, Ingrid Bergman and Leo McCarey, the three biggest Oscar winners of the year before are all nominated again for The Bells of St. Mary’s, the first sequel to be nominated for Best Picture.  Even though he has 30 years of directing left, will get Oscar nominated twice more and direct such classics as Strangers on a Train, Rear Window, North by Northwest and Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock receives his last Best Picture nomination for Spellbound.  Greer Garson is nominated for the fifth consecutive year.

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Special Effects for Wonder Man
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Song for Love Letters (“Love Letters”)
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Adapted Screenplay for To Have and Have Not (Faulkner!!!!)
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  A Thousand and One Nights
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Sound
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Supporting Actor
  • Academy Award / Nighthawk Award Agreements:  Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture

Golden Globes: The Lost Weekend dominates the Globes as it does the Oscars, winning Best Picture, Director and Actor.  The other winners are a scattering of Oscar nominees: Ingrid Bergman, J. Carrol Naish (in A Medal for Benny, a film that is nigh on impossible to find anywhere these days) and Angela Lansbury.

Awards:  The National Board of Review goes with a Documentary, The True Glory for Best Picture, leaving The Lost Weekend in second place, the only Best Picture nominee to make their top 10.  It gives Jean Renoir Best Director, but decides to finally give awards for Best Actor and Actress, citing the eventual Oscar winners, Ray Milland and Joan Crawford.  Milland wins again in New York, making him the first person to win four awards, completely sweeping Best Actor.  Best Actress from the NYFC goes to Ingrid Bergman, but the rest of their awards (Picture and Director) go to The Lost Weekend.  The NYFC also bestow honors upon The True Glory by naming it Best Documentary.

The great ensemble cast of And Then There Were None (1945)

Under-appreciated Film of 1945:

And Then There Were None (dir.  Rene Clair)

It’s hard to know what to do with Agatha Christie when talking about literature.  I’ve read several of her books and they are all enjoyable (my mother has actually read all of her books).  She’s certainly better than modern day hacks like Patterson and Grisham, while I wouldn’t put her anywhere near the masters of detective fiction: Doyle, Hammett and Chandler.  But her books are crisp, well paced, enjoyable and they are fairly easy to adapt into film.

In the 70’s we had a few big ensemble films of Christie novels that showcased the British ability to sink into various characters that seems to be missing these days in American acting.  It’s easy to see that British actors don’t worry about star billing or being overshadowed, they just get together and do amazing jobs, no matter how large or small the role.  But it didn’t used to always be that way in American films.  In fact, American films during the Studio Era were full of great character actors (as shown in this wonderful out of print book I picked up at a library sale a couple of years ago).  For the most part, these actors gave the great supporting performances of the Studio Era, but every now and then they would pretty much get a whole film to themselves.

This film stars several of the best of them, including Barry Fitzgerald, Judith Anderson, Mischa Auer and the masterful Walter Huston.  It allows them to sink into their characters, and because they are character actors and you never know exactly what they might be up to (unlike the big Studio stars, who you could generally tell if they were good or bad), you’re never quite sure who to trust.  Of course, this is a Christie story and you probably can’t really trust any of them.  Even better, this is based on the play that Christie wrote, adapting her novel, so don’t be certain that just because you’ve read the novel that you’ll know what happens (I went through the reverse, having seen this as a kid and clearly remembering the end, only to read the novel as an adult and realize I was wrong about what would happen).

But, even in a weak year, this somehow managed to get completely ignored.  Of course, it’s hard to know if people are supporting or leads in a character ensemble, but all the technical aspects were ignored as well, including the well paced and witty script and the solid direction from Rene Clair.  It’s tragic, really, that such mediocre films like Captain Kidd, Blood on the Sun, Lady on a Train and Paris Underground will be sought out by Oscar completists but this will slowly slip away and be forgotten.  Don’t let it be forgotten.  It’s still easy to find from Netflix.  Enjoy it today.

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