Jean Gabin and Marcel Dalio escape the war in The Grand Illusion (1937, eligible in 1938).

Jean Gabin and Marcel Dalio escape the war in The Grand Illusion (1937, eligible in 1938).

You can read more about this year in film here.  The Best Picture race is discussed here, with reviews of all the nominees.  First there are the categories, followed by all the films with their nominations, then the Globes, where I split the major awards by Drama and Comedy, followed by a few lists at the very end.  If there’s a film you expected to see and didn’t, check the very bottom – it might be eligible in a different year.  Films in red won the Oscar in that category.  Films in blue were nominated.  The Academy added one category this year – splitting Score into Score and Original Score, though they are vague over what the precise difference is.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture
  1. The Grand Illusion
  2. The Adventures of Robin Hood
  3. Bringing Up Baby
  4. Pygmalion
  5. You Can’t Take It With You

Analysis:  It’s much better than the year before, with one **** film, Angels with Dirty Faces, unable to make the top 5.  It’s the highest top 5 in five years.  And The Grand Illusion is the first 99 film – the best of the best.  This year also has the best top 3 to date, though that will only last until 1941.

  • Best Director
  1. Jean Renoir  (The Grand Illusion)
  2. Michael Curtiz  /  William Keighley  (The Adventures of Robin Hood)
  3. Howard Hawks  (Bringing Up Baby)
  4. Michael Curtiz  (Angels with Dirty Faces)
  5. Frank Capra  (You Can’t Take It With You)
  6. William Wyler  (Jezebel)

Analysis:  No first-timers here.  It’s a third nomination for Hawks and Capra, second for Renoir, second and third for Curtiz and the second of three straight for Wyler, who gets in because of the multiple Curtiz nominations.

  1. Bringing Up Baby
  2. Pygmalion
  3. You Can’t Take It With You
  4. Merrily We Live
  5. The Adventures of Robin Hood
  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. The Grand Illusion
  2. Angels with Dirty Faces

Analysis:  There are only two nominees and neither one is even a Comedy.  These are the only two original scripts in the top 13 films.

  • Best Actor:
  1. Leslie Howard  (Pygmalion)
  2. James Cagney  (Angels with Dirty Faces)
  3. Jean Gabin  (The Grand Illusion)
  4. Cary Grant  (Bringing Up Baby)
  5. Robert Donat  (The Citadel)

Analysis:  Leslie Howard moves into a tie for third-place in actor points with Chaplin and March (behind Laughton and Chaney).  It’s the second of consecutive nominations for Grant and Gabin.  The Oscar winner is Spencer Tracy, who I rank fifth among the nominees and seventh overall.

  • Best Actress
  1. Wendy Hiller  (Pygmalion)
  2. Katharine Hepburn  (Bringing Up Baby)
  3. Bette Davis  (Jezebel)
  4. Fay Bainter  (White Banners)
  5. Margaret Sullavan  (Three Comrades)

Analysis:  Katharine Hepburn finishes second for the second year in a row.  She and Davis are now 2-3 in points, with Hepburn five points ahead.  They both have five nominations with two wins, but one of Davis’ nominations is in supporting.

  • Grand-IllusionBest Supporting Actor:
  1. Erich von Stroheim  (The Grand Illusion)
  2. Claude Rains  (White Banners)
  3. Ralph Richardson  (The Citadel)
  4. Allen Mowbray  (Merrily We Live)
  5. Claude Rains  (Four Daughters)
  6. Lionel Barrymore  (You Can’t Take It With You)

Analysis:  Von Stroheim is nominated for the first time since 1929-30 and the first time as a supporting actor.  It’s Barrymore’s fourth nomination, his third in supporting and his first since 1931-32.  It’s the third and fourth nominations for Rains.  But don’t forget Allen Mowbray, pictured just below with Billie Burke, who is fantastic as the butler who can’t cope with the crazy family he works for.  I rank all six of these, of course, above all of the nominees.

  • constance-bennett-alan-mowbray-billie-burke-merrily-we-liveBest Supporting Actress:
  1. Billie Burke  (Merrily We Live)
  2. Bonita Granville  (Merrily We Live)
  3. Fay Bainter  (Jezebel)
  4. Spring Byington  (You Can’t Take It With You)
  5. Bonita Granville  (White Banners)
  6. Beulah Bondi  (Of Human Hearts)

Analysis:  Bainter would be the first person nominated for lead and supporting in the same year, and would set the standard that would be repeated in 1942 by Teresa Wright and in 1982 by Jessica Lange, winning the supporting while losing for lead.  She’s very good, but I think Burke, as the loony mother and Granville as the sassy (and adorable) younger sister are just a bit better.  Granville plays a much more serious role as the daughter in White Banners, which is what Bainter was nominated for Best Actress in.

  • Best Editing:
  1. The Grand Illusion
  2. Bringing Up Baby
  3. The Adventures of Robin Hood
  4. Angels with Dirty Faces
  5. You Can’t Take It With You

Analysis:  Robin Hood is excellently edited, but the editing in Grand Illusion helps tell the story and the editing in Bringing Up Baby knows exactly when to move from scene to scene and what to leave out.

  • Best Cinematography:
  1. The Grand Illusion
  2. The Adventures of Robin Hood
  3. Angels with Dirty Faces
  4. Jezebel
  5. Algiers

Analysis:  Sol Polito doesn’t earn Oscar nominations for either Robin Hood or Angels, but he moves into a tie for third-place at the Nighthawks.

  • Best Original Score:
  1. The Adventures of Robin Hood
  2. The Grand Illusion
  3. Algiers
  4. Jezebel
  5. Marie Antoinette

Analysis:  Bear in mind that Jezebel was nominated for Best Score while the other two were nominated (and won) for Best Original Score.  That’s a Max Steiner score, already his eighth Nighthawk nomination.  But nothing here compares to Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s magnificent score for Robin Hood.

  • Best Sound:
  1. The Adventures of Robin Hood
  2. The Grand Illusion
  3. Angels with Dirty Faces
  4. Test Pilot
  5. The Drum

Analysis:  It’s really rather ridiculous that none of these films were nominated while the Oscar went to The Cowboy and the Lady.  I mean, really, they nominated Test Pilot for Picture and Original Story but not Sound?

  • robin_hood1Best Art Direction:
  1. The Adventures of Robin Hood
  2. Marie Antoinette
  3. Jezebel
  4. The Grand Illusion
  5. You Can’t Take It With You

Analysis:  Robin Hood sets the stage for the kind of film that will soon win this award every year – lush color films with period set decoration.

  • Best Sound Editing
  1. The Adventures of Robin Hood
  2. Test Pilot
  • Best Costume Design:
  1. The Adventures of Robin Hood
  2. Marie Antoinette
  3. Jezebel
  4. The Great Waltz
  5. If I Were King
  • Best Original Song:
  1. Jeepers Creepers”  (Going Places)
  2. Thanks for the Memory”  (Big Broadcast of 1938)
  3. Now It Can Be Told”  (Alexander’s Ragtime Band)
  4. Change Partners and Dance with Me”  (Carefree)
  5. Merrily We Live”  (Merrily We Live)

Analysis:  A much better job than the year before, in that all of my nominees were nominated.  But that’s because the nominee list is expanded: “From 1938 through 1945, each studio’s music department submitted a single song which would then automatically be nominated.  Omissions during there years are therefore the responsibility of the studios and not the Academy.”  (Inside Oscar, p 1012)

  • portBest Foreign Film:
  1. Port of Shadows
  2. Alexander Nevsky
  3. La Bête humaine
  4. The Baker’s Wife

Analysis:  It’s the first Soviet nomination since 1929-30, but it’s still France that wins it.  We have third consecutive nominations for Jean Renoir (humaine) and Marcel Pagnol (Wife), but it’s Marcel Carné who has the winning film.

By Film:

note:  They’re in points order.  You get twice as many points for a win as for a nomination.  Hopefully your math skills will let you figure out the system.

  • The Grand Illusion  (570)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Editing, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Art Direction, Foreign Film (1937)
  • The Adventures of Robin Hood  (385)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Art Direction, Sound Editing, Costume Design
  • Bringing Up Baby  (270)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Editing
  • You Can’t Take It With You  (240)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Editing, Art Direction
  • Pygmalion  (230)
    • Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress
  • Jezebel  (195)
    • Director, Actress, Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Original Score, Art Direction, Costume Design
  • Angels with Dirty Faces  (190)
    • Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Editing, Cinematography, Sound
  • Merrily We Live  (170)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actress, Original Song
  • White Banners  (95)
    • Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Marie Antoinette  (80)
    • Original Score, Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup
  • The Citadel  (65)
    • Actor, Supporting Actor
  • Algiers  (50)
    • Cinematography, Original Score
  • Test Pilot  (40)
    • Sound, Sound Editing
  • Three Comrades  (35)
    • Actress
  • Four Daughters  (30)
    • Supporting Actor
  • Of Human Hearts  (30)
    • Supporting Actress
  • The Drum  (20)
    • Sound
  • Going Places  (20)
    • Original Song
  • The Great Waltz  (15)
    • Costume Design
  • If I Were King  (15)
    • Costume Design
  • The Big Broadcast of 1938  (10)
    • Original Song
  • Alexander’s Ragtime Band  (10)
    • Original Song
  • Carefree  (10)
    • Original Song

Best Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife

Analysis:  A very good comedy, almost great, but it continually falls short.  It gets 6th place finishes in Adapted Screenplay and Editing, 7th place in Director and Supporting Actor, 8th place in Picture and Actor.

Biggest Awards Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • Boys Town

Analysis:  For the second year in a row, this category is taken by a film that was nominated for Best Picture and for which Spencer Tracy won Best Actor.  This is a better film than Captains Courageous and Tracy’s performance is actually solid this time, though ending up in 7th place on my list.

Nighthawk Golden Globes:

Drama:

  • Best Picture
  1. The Grand Illusion
  2. Angels with Dirty Faces

Analysis:  Yes, that’s it.  Two films.  In the first 11 Nighthawk Awards, the top 5 Drama films averaged 6.7 points higher than the top five Comedy films.  Here, we have the second-lowest average ever for the top 5 Drama films (81.4), better only than 1934.  (For the record, the other three Drama films are Of Human Hearts, Algiers and The Citadel, all films near the top of ***, but still only ***).  Combining that with the high average Comedy films (see below) and we get a -10 point differential – the most lop-sided differential in favor of Comedy in all of film history.

  • Best Director
  1. Jean Renoir  (The Grand Illusion)
  2. Michael Curtiz  (Angels with Dirty Faces)
  3. William Wyler  (Jezebel)

Analysis:  Renoir goes up from third the year before and Wyler moves up from two straight fourth place finishes.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. The Citadel
  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. The Grand Illusion
  2. Angels with Dirty Faces
  • Angels8Best Actor:
  1. James Cagney  (Angels with Dirty Faces)
  2. Jean Gabin  (The Grand Illusion)
  3. Robert Donat  (The Citadel)
  4. Charles Boyer  (Algiers)
  5. Spencer Tracy  (Boys Town)

Analysis:  Unlike the Comedy list, which has a lot of performances outside the top 5 which I considered, this is it for the Drama list.

  • Bette_Davis_Jezebel_1938Best Actress
  1. Bette Davis  (Jezebel)
  2. Fay Bainter  (White Banners)
  3. Margaret Sullavan  (Three Comrades)
  4. Norma Shearer  (Marie Antoinette)

Analysis:  It’s a stronger overall group than the Comedy list, but I could still only find four performances worthy of the list.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Erich von Stroheim  (The Grand Illusion)
  2. Claude Rains  (White Banners)
  3. Ralph Richardson  (The Citadel)
  4. Claude Rains  (Four Daughters)
  5. Robert Morley  (Marie Antoinette)

Analysis:  With Mowbray, Barrymore and Horton in Comedy, we finally get an Oscar nominee on this list – Morley.  Rains wasn’t nominated for either of his performances, though John Garfield was for Four Daughters.  The actual Oscar winner, Walter Brennan (Kentucky), finishes in sixth.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Fay Bainter  (Jezebel)
  2. Bonita Granville  (White Banners)
  3. Beulah Bondi  (Of Human Hearts)

By Film:  The list splits perfectly, with half in Drama and half in Comedy and Granville in second place on both lists.  Sadly, she wasn’t nominated for either performance.

  • The Grand Illusion  (365)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor
  • Angels with Dirty Faces  (205)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor
  • Jezebel  (175)
    • Director, Actress, Supporting Actress
  • The Citadel  (145)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor
  • White Banners  (95)
    • Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Marie Antoinette  (65)
    • Actress, Supporting Actor
  • Algiers  (35)
    • Actor
  • Boys Town  (35)
    • Actor
  • Three Comrades  (35)
    • Actress
  • Four Daughters  (30)
    • Supporting Actor
  • Of Human Hearts  (30)
    • Supporting Actress

Analysis:  Even though Drama is usually a much tougher category, Stage Door would have only done one better in the Comedy category, with a Director nomination.

Best Drama Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • Four Men and a Prayer

Analysis:  A solid John For Mystery that just doesn’t rise up enough in any category to get noticed.

Comedy / Musical:

  • Best Picture:
  1. The Adventures of Robin Hood
  2. Bringing Up Baby
  3. Pygmalion
  4. You Can’t Take It With You
  5. Merrily We Live

Analysis:  These five films average a 91.4, the best average in this category up to this point.  And Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife is the best film not to get a Best Picture – Comedy nomination to this point.

  • Best Director:
  1. Michael Curtiz / William Keighley  (The Adventures of Robin Hood)
  2. Howard Hawks  (Bringing Up Baby)
  3. Frank Capra  (You Can’t Take It With You)
  4. Ernst Lubitsch  (Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife)
  5. Norman Z. McLeod  (Merrily We Live)

Analysis:  A year after only getting one nominee in this category, I manage to fill it.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Bringing Up Baby
  2. Pygmalion
  3. You Can’t Take It With You
  4. Merrily We Live
  5. The Adventures of Robin Hood

Analysis:  All five Nighthawk nominees are here.  How rare is that – to have all the adapted scripts be Comedies?  Especially since I can’t manage to find a single original script for the other category.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. none

Analysis:  You have to go all the way down to Blockheads, my #9 Comedy and my #21 film on the year, to find a film that even qualifies for this.

  • Leslie-Howard-006Best Actor:
  1. Leslie Howard  (Pygmalion)
  2. Cary Grant  (Bringing Up Baby)
  3. Gary Cooper  (Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife)
  4. Charles Laughton  (The Beachcomber)
  5. Cary Grant  (Holiday)

Analysis:  A year after Cary Grant gets two nominations, he’s back with two more.  But he flips with Howard, who came in second the year before behind Grant.

  • Best Actress:
  1. Wendy Hiller  (Pygmalion)
  2. Katharine Hepburn  (Bringing Up Baby)
  3. Katharine Hepburn  (Holiday)
  4. Jean Arthur  (You Can’t Take It With You)
  5. Elsa Lanchester  (The Beachcomber)

Analysis:  The list is completely different from the year before, though Constance Bennett (Merrily We Live) and Ginger Rogers (Vivacious Lady), who were both on the 1937 list, are just off the list.

  • Best Supporting Actor
  1. Allan Mowbray  (Merrily We Live)
  2. Lionel Barrymore  (You Can’t Take It With You)
  3. Edward Everett Horton  (Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife)

Analysis:  For the second year in a row, the winner is a servant in an under-appreciated Screwball Comedy.

  • Best Supporting Actress
  1. Billie Burke  (Merrily We Live)
  2. Bonita Granville  (Merrily We Live)
  3. Spring Byington  (You Can’t Take It With You)

Analysis:  Burke goes from second the year before to a win here.

By Film:

  • Merrily We Live  (285)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting ActorSupporting Actress, Supporting Actress
  • Bringing Up Baby  (245)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress
  • The Adventures of Robin Hood  (230)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay
  • Pygmalion  (230)
    • Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress
  • You Can’t Take It With You  (230)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife  (110)
    • Director, Actor, Supporting Actor
  • The Beachcomber  (70)
    • Actor, Actress
  • Holiday  (70)
    • Actor, Actress

Analysis:  In 1937, The Awful Truth crushed all the other films here.  But because we have an array of great films here, with a lot of solid acting, the results are much more spread out and no films manages to win more than two awards.  And You Can’t Take It With You, like It Happened One Night, took home the actual Oscars, but here can’t even win my Globes because of the competition.

Best Comedy Not Nominated for any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • Blockheads

Analysis:  Another Laurel and Hardy film that just doesn’t earn any points in any category but is solid entertainment.

Roundup for the Year in Film:

Eligible Films I Have Seen:  85

By Stars:

  • ****:  6
  • ***.5:  2
  • ***:  58
  • **.5:  12
  • **:  7
  • Average Film Score for the Year, out of 100:  66.0

Analysis:  A lot more *** films and a lot fewer **.5 films makes this the highest average since 1928-29.

Oscar-Nominated Films I Have Not Seen:

  • Pacific Liner  (Original Score)
  • Tropic Holiday  (Score)
  • The Lady Objects  (Song)

Oscar Quality:

Best Picture:  This is the best year to this point so far, though still only ranking 66th out of 85.  It ranks similarly to 1935, though they are very different.  This has two films better than any from 1935 but also has four out of ten films with a score below 70 while 1935 only had three out of 12.  But their average nominee is very close (77.33 for 1935, 77.5 for 1938) and they are close on the average rank (299.08 for 1935, 293.6 for 1938).  It’s because this year has Grand Illusion at #6 and, though four films below 400, none below 443.

The Winners:  When I rank the winners of all the Oscar categories, I do a few things.  One of the things I do is give an average based on where I have the winners ranked in each category, and then I do it again without Best Picture.  That’s because I rank every film for Picture and when a really bad film wins (like Cimarron) it brings down the overall score quite a bit.  That leaves this one almost unchanged, as You Can’t Take It With You is the 5th ranked film on the year, so it earns a 4.79 without it and a 4.80 with it.  There’s only one winner that doesn’t make the Top 10 (Boys Town for Best Original Story) and five of the fifteen winners are either my #1 or #2 choice.  Its rank among the nominees is a 2.33, which is much better than the year before.  Only in Actor, did the Academy pick the weakest nominee.  They picked the best choice for Score and Art Direction and they picked the best nominee for Screenplay and Editing.  Three of those choices were for The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Top 5 Films of the Year:

1  –  The Grand Illusion  (see my reviews here and here)

2  –  The Adventures of Robin Hood  (see my review here)

3  –  Bringing Up Baby  (see my review here)

4  –  Pygmalion  (see my review here)

5  –  You Can’t Take It With You  (see my review here)

5 Worst Films  (#1 being the worst):

  1. The Adventures of Marco Polo
  2. The Terror of Tiny Town
  3. God’s Step Children
  4. Under Western Stars
  5. My Bill

note:  My Bill is another John Farrow film – just like the two on this list in 1937.  The Terror of Tiny Town and God’s Step Children are both essentially gimmick films and incredibly bad (God’s Step Children has the double infamy of being directed by an actually talented director – Oscar Micheaux).

Gary Cooper as Marco Polo is far from the worst aspect of this film.

Gary Cooper as Marco Polo is far from the worst aspect of this film.

The Adventures of Marco Polo  (dir. Archie Mayo)

Long before the days of Cleopatra, The Adventures of Pluto Nash and John Carter being a tremendous financial flop worked on a different scale.  Look at The Adventures of Marco Polo.  Made in 1937 and released in the spring of 1938 it was a tremendous financial disaster, losing something close to $700,000 (about $30 million today given movie prices, but a monumental flop for the time).  It was one of those projects that should have been seen as a disaster long before it hit theaters – aside from woefully miscasting Gary Cooper as the Italian traveller, there was the revolving directorial door (it started with John Cromwell, who left after five days due to disagreements, then producer Samuel Goldwyn tried to get William Wyler, who wouldn’t touch it and then got John Ford for just a few days before getting Archie Mayo to come in and actually direct the bulk of the picture) and the generally bad move of casting a new ingenue from the studio who doesn’t actually have the ability to act (and was difficult to be marketed as beautiful as she was buried under inappropriate makeup – this was a woman being banded as the Norwegian Garbo, who was actually from Brooklyn and was playing the daughter of Kublai Khan).

The film is ridiculous from the start – Marco’s father sends his servant around Venice, calling into young lady’s windows for his Marco, before finding him at a dice game, then sending him and the servant off to China.  Never mind that Marco was accompanied on his 24 year journey (yes – it was 24 years before he returned to Venice though this film makes it seem like a few months) by his father and uncle.  Never mind that after one sandstorm in the desert, they suddenly seem to just materialize in China.  Where everyone seems to speak the exact same language, conveniently the same language Marco is speaking.  And we learn this quickly, as Marco overhears a man teaching his children from the Bible and Marco stops to speak some theology with him.  This would feel like nitpicking, were not the rest of the film as ludicrous as this.  Put Gary Cooper on a horse – great idea.  Make him be a soldier – smart.  But who thought having Cooper be a Venitian far afield in China in the 13th Century would be a good diea?  With Basil Rathbone as the local villain?  And Alan Hale as a local warlord?  And a young Lana Turner as one of the Chinese women?  Everything bad you could imagine about how to cast a film that takes place across different continents actually happens in this film.

All of this, of course, could have been rectified, if, say Cooper had given a first-rate performance like he is capable of (not even close), or if perhaps the sets didn’t look so blatantly like Hollywood sets (sadly, they do) or if the story had been even remotely interesting since we know it’s not going to be even remotely accurate (it is no more interesting than it is accurate).  It was never going to be good history.  But it could have been good entertainment.  Instead, it is nothing but a fairly bad film, the worst I have seen in 1938, and one that would be remembered as the biggest flop of Cooper’s career.  Deservedly so.

Points:

  • Most Nighthawk Nominations:  The Grand Illusion  (11)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards:  The Grand Illusion  (7)
  • Most Nighthawk Points:  The Grand Illusion  (570)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Award:  Going Places
  • 2nd Place Award:  The Adventures of Robin Hood  (Picture, Director, Cinematography)
  • 6th Place Award:  Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife  (Adapted Screenplay, Editing)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Nominations:  The Grand Illusion  (5)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Awards:  The Grand Illusion  (4)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Points:  The Grand Illusion  (365)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Drama Award:  Boys Town
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Nominations:  Merrily We Live / You Can’t Take It With You  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Awards:  The Adventures of Robin Hood  /  Pygmalion  /  Merrily We Live  (2)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Points:  Merrily We Live  (285)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Comedy Award:  Holiday

Note:  * means a Nighthawk record up to this point; ** ties a Nighthawk record

Analysis:  For the record, Holiday is a much better film than Boys Town – it’s just that none of the weaker comedies got in with some good acting as happened with Boys Town.

Progressive Leaders:

  • Most Nighthawk Nominations:  All Quiet on the Western Front  (13)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards:  City Lights  /  Modern Times  (9)
  • Most Nighthawk Points:  All Quiet on the Western Front  (645)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards without winning Best Picture:  Frankenstein  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Nominations without a Best Picture Nomination:  Captain Blood  (10)
  • Most Nighthawk Nominations without a Nighthawk Award:  My Man Godfrey (11)
  • Actor:  Charles Laughton  (255)
  • Actress:  Janet Gaynor  (315)
  • Director:  Charlie Chaplin  /  Fritz Lang  (270)
  • Writer:  Charlie Chaplin  (280)
  • Cinematographer:  Arthur Edeson  /  Roland Totheroh  (125)
  • Composer:  Max Steiner  (250)

Breakdown by Genre  (Foreign in parenthesis, best film in genre following, avg. score is afterwards, in parenthesis):

  • Drama:  30  (3)  –  Of Human Hearts  (63.8)
  • Comedy:  22  (2)  –  Bringing Up Baby  (70.2)
  • Musical:  13  (1)  –  Carefree  (62.6)
  • Adventure:  7  –  The Adventures of Robin Hood  (66.9)
  • Foreign:  7  –  The Grand Illusion  (71)
  • Mystery:  4  –  Four Men and a Prayer  (64.5)
  • Crime:  3  –  Angels with Dirty Faces  (75.3)
  • Western:  3 –  Gold is Where You Find It  (52)
  • War:  1 (1)  –  The Grand Illusion  (99)
  • Kids:  1  –  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer  (63)
  • Action:  0
  • Fantasy:  0
  • Horror:  0
  • Sci-Fi:  0
  • Suspense:  0

Analysis:  The Comedies are a lot better, with all of those great comedies at the top of the list.  The Adventure films also get better, with a lot more and going up several points on average.  What an oddity though, that there are 43 Dramas or Musicals and not a one of them is better than ***.  In fact, the Musicals are eerily almost exactly the same as the year before – a 62.63 average in 1937, a 62.62 average here.

Studio Note:

MGM has 17 films on the year while no other studio has more than 12.  This time it’s RKO which has the better films (an average of 73.8, though it’s only from four films).  But the studios overall are better – only Fox, with a 62.3 has an average below 64 this time, while in 1937 only two studios (UA and Columbia) average better than a 64.  Either this is a better year or I’ve just seen better films – two studios have their highest average yet (RKO and Warners (68.3)) while Paramount, with a 68.4, has its highest in since 1928-29.  I’ve seen three films from Republic, and as could be expected, they average a pathetic 53.7.

The big studios are Warners (15 films), followed by MGM, Paramount and United Artists (14 each).  The UA films are much better – averaging a 71.3 – of the other major studios, the only other one to average higher than a 64 is Columbia, which only has two films.  Of course, United Artists isn’t really a studio and the three UA films in the top 8 are from three different producers: Selznick (A Star is Born), Wanger (You Only Live Once) and Goldwyn (Dead End).  For the first time in a long time, Universal doesn’t have any Horror films and so I have only seen three films from them.  For the first time, also, we have a film from Disney, though technically, that should count as RKO, because they distributed Disney films until 1954.

13 Films Eligible for Best Foreign Film (alphabetical, with director and country in parenthesis – red are ****, blue are ***.5 – both those colors qualify for my Best Foreign Film Award):

  • Alexander Nevsky  (Eisenstein, USSR)
  • The Baker’s Wife  (Pagnol, France)
  • The Childhood of Maxim Gorky  (Donsky, USSR)
  • La Bête humaine  (Renoir, France)
  • Le schpountz  (Pagnol, France)
  • Luciano Serra, Pilot  (Allesandrini, Italy)
  • The Masseurs and a Woman  (Shimizu, Japan)
  • Port of Shadows  (Carné, France)
  • Quadrille  (Guitry, France)

Note:  We still have over half the films being from France and France is again the winner (and it has been in every year since 1931-32).

Films Eligible in This Year But Originally Released in a Different Calendar Year:

  • La Verbena de la Paloma  (1935)
  • The Dybbuk  (1934)
  • The Edge of the World  (1937)
  • The Grand Illusion  (1937)
  • La Habanera  (1937)
  • Mannequin  (1937)
  • Young and Innocent  (1937)

Films Released This Year Originally But Eligible in a Different Year:

  • Alexander Nevsky  (1939)
  • The Lady Vanishes  (1939)
  • Le Schpountz  (1939)
  • Port of Shadows  (1939)
  • Topper Takes a Trip  (1939)
  • The Baker’s Wife  (1940)
  • La Bête humaine  (1940)
  • Luciano Serra, Pilot  (1940)
  • Sidewalks of London  (1940)

note:  There are years that don’t have five films as good as Nevsky, Vanishes, Humaine, Port and Wife.

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