A couple of very deserving Oscar winners from 1948 - a happy father and son.

A couple of very deserving Oscar winners from 1948 – a happy father and son.

Introduction:

This is a companion piece to three different series.  The first is The History of the Academy Awards, in which I covered each category in individual posts.  This was originally done in 2009 and additions were included in 2010.  You can find links to all of these pieces in each individual category.  I have grouped all of the categories together for the same reason that I did so originally – because most pieces on the Oscars don’t approach the awards through the categories, but through the years.  This specific piece is designed to take a closer look at the decade (with a couple of extra years, since there was no point in doing a separate piece on the first two years of the Oscars) and how I think the Academy did in those years.

The second series is my Year in Film series.  That is mentioned here because in those pieces I included paragraphs about the Oscars as a whole for each year and included a considerable amount of trivia.  Since I had based my Year in Film series and eligibility as such on the Academy calendar, it all seemed very relevant.  Also, starting in 1930-31, I started including various prizes (Worst Oscar, Worst Nomination, Worst Omission, etc) and I didn’t want to repeat myself, so following the links will bring you there.  Those links are at the end of this piece, where I do a brief summation of each year and how the Academy did.

The third series is my History of the Academy Awards: Best Picture series, where I reviewed every film ever nominated for Best Picture (except The Patriot, which is lost).  Those links are also down below, grouped by year.

Keys to all the Numbers / Ranks / Scores, etc:  There are a lot of numbers and lists down below.  The lists are often easy to understand, the numbers not so much.

  • Average Winner Rank at Nighthawks:  That takes the winner (say, Actor in 1945) and says where I would rank it for the year (#1 in this case).  Then I average it out, either for category (the first part) or by year (the bottom part).  The closer to 1, the better.
  • Average Winner Rank (without Picture):  Because I rank all films for the year but don’t rank every film in every category, the Best Picture category can really throw things off, especially since every film is eligible in this category.  So, in a year like 1932-33, where Best Picture (Cavalcade) is my #99 film of the year but no other winner ranks below #22, the average winner rank goes from 9.13 to 19.11.  So, down below, in the years, I include a score both with and without Best Picture.
  • Average Winner Rank among Nominees:  Quite simply what it says.  Cavalcade may have rank 99th on the year, but only 8th among the 10 Best Picture nominees.  This number is higher in this decade (and the 40’s) because the tech categories had so many nominees.  After 1951, when all the categories settled in at five nominees, this will be more regular.  But the key is this – the first Average Winner rank tells you what I think of the winner.  This one tells you what I think they in relation to what they nominated.  Like, in Best Art Direction (color), where from 1946 to 1949 my Winner Ranks are 6, 1, 1 and 5.  But all four of them were the best choice among the nominees, so the score here is 1, 1, 1, 1.  A high disproportion between the two scores means I think they chunked the nominees, but that will show up in the Score.  Again, the closer to 1, the better.
  • Score:  This is a score of their nominees versus mine.  It’s complicated and bizarre and has to do with assigning a numeric value to a function of art.  But it measures a year against itself.  1978 is a good example – not a single one of my Best Picture nominees from 1978 would have made my list for 1977.  But if the Academy and I agreed 5 for 5, it would still score 100.  It’s a comparison between what the Oscars nominated and what I think they should have nominated, not a comparison to any other year.  Suffice it to say, the closer to 100 the better.  By the way, the Score determines the Best and Worst Year in everything except Picture, which is ranked based on my original ranked list.
  • Score  (P-D-S):  The score, averaged among Picture, Director and Screenplay.
  • Score  (Acting):  The score, averaged among the two (27-28 to 35) or four (36-) acting categories.
  • Score  (Tech):  The score, averaged among Editing, Cinematography, Score, Sound, Art Direction and Visual Effects (and in later decades Sound Editing, Costume Design and Makeup).

Stats and Trivia for the Decade:

  • Most Nominations:
  1. Mrs. Miniver  /  The Song of Bernadette  /  Johnny Belinda  (12)
  2. Rebecca  /  Sergeant York  /  The Pride of the Yankees  (11)
  3. How Green Was My Valley  /  Going My Way  /  Wilson  (9)
  • Most Oscars:
  1. Going My Way  /  The Best Years of Our Lives  (7)
  2. Mrs. Miniver  (6)
  3. How Green Was My Valley  /  Wilson  (5)
  • mrsminiverposterMost Points:
  1. Mrs. Miniver  (610)
  2. Going My Way  (585)
  3. The Best Years of Our Lives  (520)
  4. How Green Was My Valley  (480)
  5. The Song of Bernadette  (480)
  6. Wilson  (435)
  7. Rebecca  (425)
  8. The Lost Weekend  (415)
  9. Gentleman’s Agreement  (415)
  10. Johnny Belinda  (415)
  • Most Nominations without Best Picture:  Joan of Arc  /  Come to the Stable  (7)
  • Most Nominations with No Wins:  The Little Foxes  (9)
  • Films Nominated for All 4 Acting Categories:  Mrs. Miniver  /  For Whom the Bell Tolls  /  Johnny Belinda
  • Films Nominated for All 5 Major Tech Categories:  Citizen Kane  /  How Green Was My Valley  /  Sergeant York  /  The Pride of the Yankees  /  The Song of Bernadette  /  Wilson  /  Johnny Belinda
  • Director with Most Films Nominated for Best Picture:  Sam Wood  /  William Wyler  (5)

note:  Wyler would win Picture and Director twice and be nominated for Director all five times.  Wood would fail to earn a Director nomination three times.

  • Director with Most Films Nominated for an Oscar:
  1. Vincente Minnelli  (10)
  2. George Cukor  /  Jean Negulesco  (9)
  3. Henry Koster  /  Fred Zinnemann  (8)
  • Greer-Garson-William-Wyler-Mrs-MiniverDirector with Most Total Nominations for their Films:
  1. William Wyler  (47)
  2. Sam Wood  (41)
  3. Michael Curtiz  (39)
  4. Henry King  (34)
  5. Alfred Hitchcock  (33)
  • Director with Most Oscars for their Films:
  1. William Wyler  (18)
  2. Henry King  (12)
  3. Michael Curtiz  /  John Ford  /  Leo McCrey  /  Michael Powell  (8)
  • Director with Most Points for their Films:
  1. William Wyler  (2125)
  2. Michael Curtiz  (1480)
  3. Sam Wood  (1375)
  4. Henry King  (1300)
  5. Alfred Hitchcock  (1225)
  • 20th_Century_Fox_Logo_1935_1966Studio with Most Best Picture Nominees:
  1. 20th Century-Fox  (13)
  2. Warners  (12)
  • Studio with Most Best Picture Wins:
  1. Paramount  /  20th Century-Fox  (2)

note on Studios: Many Best Picture nomination streaks ended with the drop in 1944 to five nominees.  Warners had gone 11 straight years (no nominee in 1944) and MGM went 18 straight years (1929-1946) but both not only ended, but actually began consecutive years of no nominations.  The only studio in the 40’s not to have back-to-back years without a Best Picture nomination was 20th Century-Fox, which was only missing 1945.  In fact, Fox wouldn’t have back-to-back years without a nomination until 1974-75.  All of the majors and minors would win Best Picture with one asterisk involved – Universal’s only two nominations (and only winner) would be Universal-International distributions of British films, so technically Universal didn’t win for Hamlet, Rank-Two Cities did.  Paramount’s two wins were back-to-back (1944-45).  The Red Shoes would be the only nominee in the decade not distributed by a major (even in the States it was distributed by Eagle-Lion).

Best Picture:

The acting in Best Picture winners went in opposite directions.  Prior to 1940 five Best Picture winners won Best Actress and only one won Best Actor.  In the 40’s, five would win Best Actor (in the space of only six years) while Mrs. Miniver would become the only film on the decade, and in fact the only film until 1975, to win Best Actress.  How Green Was My Valley would be the only winner in the decade to not earn a Best Actor nomination while Hamlet would be the only one without a writing nomination.  In surprising firsts, Going My Way would be the first Picture winner to win Best Song, two years before The Best Years of Our Lives would become the first to win Best Score.  Among acting, Henry Travers would be the big man – he would be in six different nominees (and one winner).

I have already said so much on this category in my other posts (see at the bottom, listed under each year).  The nominees are much better, averaging a 80.98 (a mid-range ***.5).  1947 would have the highest average, with an 86.4  There’s not a tremendous difference between the years with 10 nominees (average of 80.3) and the ones with 5 (81.8).  In the 30’s, the average winner ranked at #281 in the Best Picture complete list; the average winner here is at #187.

  • Best Year:  1947
  • Worst Year:  1942
  • Best Winner:  Casablanca
  • Worst Winner:  Going My Way
  • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  Citizen Kane
  • Worst Nominee:  All This and Heaven Too
  • Most Egregious Snub:  Children of Paradise
  • Most Egregious English-Language Snub:  Sullivan’s Travels
  • Average Winner Rank at Nighthawks:  6.6
  • Average Winner Rank among Nominees:  2.7
  • Score for the Decade:  57.2

Casablanca-PosterWinners (ranked):

  1. Casablanca
  2. The Best Years of Our Lives
  3. Rebecca
  4. The Lost Weekend
  5. Hamlet
  6. Gentleman’s Agreement
  7. All the King’s Men
  8. How Green Was My Valley
  9. Mrs. Miniver
  10. Going My Way

Poster - Citizen Kane_0210 Best Nominees That Didn’t Win:

  1. Citizen Kane
  2. The Maltese Falcon
  3. The Grapes of Wrath
  4. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  5. It’s a Wonderful Life
  6. Double Indemnity
  7. Great Expectations
  8. The Great Dictator
  9. The Philadelphia Story
  10. Yankee Doodle Dandy

allthis10 Worst Nominees (#1 being the Worst)

  1. All This and Heaven Too
  2. The Razor’s Edge
  3. Kitty Foyle
  4. Wilson
  5. Blossoms in the Dust
  6. Madame Curie
  7. The Yearling
  8. Wake Island
  9. The Song of Bernadette
  10. Since You Went Away

les-enfants-du-paradisTen Biggest Snubs  :

  1. Children of Paradise
  2. La Belle et la bête
  3. Bicycle Thieves
  4. Sullivan’s Travels
  5. Fantasia
  6. Bambi
  7. The Big Sleep
  8. Brief Encounter
  9. A Matter of Life and Death
  10. The Lady Eve

Humphrey-Bogart-Tim-Holt-John-Huston-Treasure-of-the-Sierra-MadreBest Director:  William Wyler would dominate this category in the 40’s, as George Stevens would in the 50’s.  Wyler would win two Oscars and earn three other nominations.  The most amazing thing is, because of the war, he only made 6 films (and his other one still won an Oscar).  His 315 points crushes anyone else for the decade (he’s followed by John Ford, with 180, for winning the first two Oscars of the decade and then not getting another nomination for the rest of the decade).  Hitchcock and Clarence Brown would be the unrewarded – each would earn three nominations but no win.  By decade’s end Wyler and Capra (the big nominee of the 30’s) would be tied with 405 points each, though Capra would be done and Wyler would have another huge decade in the 50’s.

While there were 10 nominees for Picture, Director would remain linked with it.  No one would earn a Best Director nomination without a Best Picture nomination during those four years.  But that changed in 1944.  In the last six years, nine times there would be a split and some of the nominated directors include Hitchcock, Lean and Renoir.  George Cukor would be the only director in that period to earn a Picture w/o Director (Gaslight) and then a Director w/o Picture (A Double Life).  But Olivier would be the most sinned against – he would fail to earn a Director nomination in 1946 for Henry V and then would fail to win for Hamlet in 1948.

  • Best Year:  1946
  • Worst Year:  1942
  • Best Winner:  John Huston  (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre)
  • Worst Winner:  Leo McCarey  (Going My Way)
  • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  Orson Welles  (Citizen Kane)
  • Worst Nominee:  Sam Wood  (Kitty Foyle)
  • Most Egregious Snub:  Marcel Carne  (Children of Paradise)
  • Average Winner Rank at Nighthawks:  4.3
  • Average Winner Rank among Nominees:  1.9
  • Score for the Decade:  56.6

Five Biggest Snubs:

  1. Marcel Carne  (Children of Paradise)
  2. John Huston  (The Maltese Falcon)
  3. Jean Cocteau  (La Belle et la bête)
  4. Orson Welles  (The Magnificent Ambersons)
  5. Howard Hawks  (The Big Sleep)

Best Writing:  In 1940, the Academy would tinker with their writing categories again, adding a third category and dividing them into Screenplay, Original Screenplay and Original Story.  As far as I can tell, Original Story is for when someone writes a screen story but doesn’t write the script.  Most of those are original to the screen but it seems that some were not.  Original Screenplay is for those people who wrote a complete original screenplay from their own idea.  Screenplay is something not written from their own original idea, but could come from someone else’s screen story or from a previous source (novel, play, etc).  But then, in 1948, they would drop to two categories: Motion Picture Story and Screenplay, and The Search won the former and was nominated for the latter, with the same writers, so now it just gets confusing.  The next year there would be a third category again, adding Story and Screenplay; it would stay that way until the mid-50’s.

The writer of the decade is Billy Wilder, who earns 240 points (1 win, 5 total noms), followed at 200 points by his frequent partner Charles Brackett as well as John Huston, Richard Schweizer and Emeric Pressburger.  Schweizer is the most efficient, earning his points with just 2 films (an Oscar for Marie-Louise, and an Oscar for Story for The Search and a Screenplay nom for the same).  But at the end of the decade, Ben Hecht (earning two more nominations) would still have the overall lead of 320 points to Wilder’s 280.  Wilder would take the career lead in 1950 and hold it for 55 years.

Many other directors (aside from Wilder and Huston) would earn nominations or Oscars during the decade, with the Oscar list including Preston Sturges, Orson Welles, Leo McCarey, George Seaton and Joseph L. Mankiewicz and the nominee list including Charlie Chaplin, David Lean, Federico Fellini, Robert Rossen and Michael Powell (whose writing partner Emeric Pressburger would win an Oscar).  Famous writers earning nominations on the decade include Lillian Hellman (three), Dashiell Hammett, Noel Coward, John Steinbeck (two), Raymond Chandler (two) and Dorothy Parker.  Hell, even Irving Berlin earned a nomination for Best Original Story for Holiday Inn.  Nothing for Faulkner though, in spite of To Have and Have Not and The Big Sleep.

Because of the strange way things are split up, the snubs are listed in Screenplay (if it was adapted) or Original Screenplay (if it was original) as are the links.  The scores and winner ranks are based on the years the category existed.

Best Screenplay:

  • Best Year:  1947
  • Worst Year:  1942
  • Best Winner:  Casablanca
  • Worst Winner:  Going My Way
  • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  The Maltese Falcon
  • Worst Nominee:  Kitty Foyle
  • Most Egregious Snub:  The Big Sleep
  • Average Winner Rank at Nighthawks:  3.3
  • Average Winner Rank among Nominees:  2.1
  • Score for the Decade:  67.0

Five Biggest Snubs:

  1. The Big Sleep
  2. La Belle et la bête
  3. To Have and Have Not
  4. The Heiress
  5. The Ox-Bow Incident

Best Original Screenplay:  Exists from 1940-1947, 1949 (as Story and Screenplay).  After magnificent choices in the first three years of the decade (The Great McGinty, Citizen Kane, Woman of the Year), the Academy would pick the worst of the 5 choices four of the next five years (with me not having seen the other one).

  • Best Year:  1946
  • Worst Year:  1945
  • Best Winner:  Citizen Kane
  • Worst Winner:  Wilson
  • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  Children of Paradise
  • Worst Nominee:  Wake Island
  • Most Egregious Snub:  Sullivan’s Travels
  • Average Winner Rank at Nighthawks:  6.63
  • Average Winner Rank among Nominees:  3.5
  • Score for the Decade:  45.5

Five Biggest Snubs:

  1. Sullivan’s Travels
  2. A Canterbury Tale
  3. To Be or Not to Be
  4. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
  5. Germany Year Zero

Nominations I Haven’t Seen:

  • Marie-Louise  (1945)

Best Original Story:  Renamed Motion Picture Story in 1948.

  • Best Year:  1941
  • Worst Year:  1940
  • Best Winner:  Here Comes Mr. Jordan
  • Worst Winner:  The Stratton Story
  • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  The Lady Eve
  • Worst Nominee:  Sands of Iwo Jima
  • Most Egregious Snub:  n/a – hard to figure out what would have been eligible
  • Average Winner Rank at Nighthawks:  3.6
  • Average Winner Rank among Nominees:  2.4
  • Score for the Decade:  52.9

 

Yankee+Doodle+Dandy+(James+Cagney)Best Actor:  After two weak choices in 1940 and 1941, for the rest of the decade the Academy did well, picking either the best or second best of the nominees, and only in 1943 was the winner not my #1 or 2 for the year.  Gregory Peck would get the most nominations in the decade (4), but would tie for points at 140 with Gary Cooper and Laurence Olivier, who both won and had two other nominations.  This would be Olivier’s best decade at the Oscars, as he spread his 10 nominations over 40 years, never getting more than 3 in a decade.  Cooper and Peck would join Spencer Tracy in the three-straight nominations club.  Surprisingly it would be Fredric March who would have the career lead by the end of the decade, with 210 points, earning his second Oscar in 1946.

  • Best Year:  1927-28
  • Worst Year:  1928-29
  • Best Winner:  James Cagney  (Yankee Doodle Dandy)
  • Worst Winner:  Gary Cooper  (Sergeant York)
  • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  Orson Welles  (Citizen Kane)
  • Worst Nominee:  Dan Dailey  (When My Baby Smiles at Me)
  • Most Egregious Snub:  Humphrey Bogart  (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre)
  • Average Winner Rank at Nighthawks:  3.1
  • Average Winner Rank among Nominees:  2.0
  • Score for the Decade:  75.0

bogartFive Biggest Snubs:

  1. Humphrey Bogart  (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre)
  2. Humphrey Bogart  (The Maltese Falcon)
  3. Cary Grant  (His Girl Friday)
  4. Henry Fonda  (The Ox-Bow Incident)
  5. Jean-Louis Barrault  (Children of Paradise)

gaslightBest Actress:  In the first 12 years, only one Best Actress winner finished outside my Top 5 for the year and she (Mary Pickford) finished at #8.  In this decade we have four who don’t make my top 5 and two (Ginger Rogers and Loretta Young) who don’t even make my Top 10 in their respective years.  Overall, the decades score almost exactly the same as the Academy has generally done a pretty good job of picking the nominees.  Greer Garson and Olivia de Havilland would tie for the decade lead with 210 points (1 win, 5 total noms for Garson, 2 wins, 4 total noms for de Havilland).  Garson’s nominations would all be in a row, matching Bette Davis for 5 straight nominations (and overlapping Davis for two years in her streak).  What’s more amazing is that Ingrid Bergman would be nominated in three straight years during the streak.  So, from 1943 to 1945, Garson and Bergman competed against each other for Best Actress.  But Jennifer Jones would also nominated three straight years, though the middle one was for Supporting.  Garson and de Havilland would only compete against each other once – when they both lost in 1941 to Joan Fontaine, de Havilland’s sister.  In 1942, Teresa Wright would become the second actress to earn lead and Supporting nominations in the same year.  While de Havilland would be done after the 40’s, Garson and Jones would earn an additional nomination each and Bergman would win another two Oscars.  Bette davis has the overall lead with 315 points and won’t relinquish it until 1968.  No one will even be within 100 points of her until 1959.

  • Best Year:  1948
  • Worst Year:  1947
  • Best Winner:  Ingrid Bergman  (Gaslight)
  • Worst Winner:  Loretta Young  (The Farmer’s Daughter)
  • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  Katharine Hepburn  (The Philadelphia Story)
  • Worst Nominee:  Loretta Young  (Come to the Stable)
  • Most Egregious Snub:  Bette Davis  (Of Human Bondage)
  • Average Winner Rank at Nighthawks:  4.4
  • Average Winner Rank among Nominees:  2.1
  • Score for the Decade:  74.2

lady-eveFive Biggest Snubs:

  1. Barbara Stanwyck  (The Lady Eve)
  2. Rosalind Russell  (His Girl Friday)
  3. Ingrid Bergman  (Notorious)
  4. Deborah Kerr  (I See a Dark Stranger)
  5. Ingrid Bergman  (Casablanca)

Huston, Walter (Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The)_NRFPT_03Best Supporting Actor:

Both the worst winner and the best nominee that didn’t win remain the same as in the 30’s, just for different films.  It shows that the Academy overrated Walter Brennan a great deal and underrated Claude Rains a great deal.

It was a strong decade for the category as only 1940 earned below a 70 and it earned a 69.7.  1945 earned a perfect score of 100.  Charles Coburn earned the most points for the decade (120 – one win, two other noms), tied with Claude Rains (4 noms).  But by the decade’s end not only was Walter Brennan still the all-time champ (210 points), but he was tied with Fredric March for points overall for acting, as opposed to Actress, where Ethel Barrymore was the only supporting person even in the top 10 for points.  This shows both the Academy view on Brennan and that there wasn’t a dominating actor yet like there were several in the female acting spots.  This is how much Brennan dominates – it would take until 1973 before another actor with even a single supporting nomination (Jack Lemmon) would pass him in points.  It would take until 1981 for an actor with more than one supporting nomination (Jack Nicholson) to pass him in points.  Even today, he is still 60 points ahead of anyone else when just counting points for Supporting Actor.

  • Best Year:  1946
  • Worst Year:  1942
  • Best Winner:  Walter Huston  (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre)
  • Worst Winner:  Walter Brennan  (The Westerner)
  • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  Claude Rains  (Casablanca)
  • Worst Nominee:  William Bendix  (Wake Island)
  • Most Egregious Snub:  Humphrey Bogart  (The Petrified Forest)
  • Average Winner Rank at Nighthawks:  3.7
  • Average Winner Rank among Nominees:  2.4
  • Score for the Decade:  78.7

note:  I should point out here that I choose my best year based on the five nominees, while the score is based on the nominees in relation to my own choices.  So, 1945 earns a perfect 100, because they chose the right five nominees.  But 1946 had a better group of nominees, even though I don’t think they picked the best five because 1946 just had better performances to choose from.

Cary-Grant-Philly_lFive Biggest Snubs:

  1. Cary Grant  (The Philadelphia Story)
  2. Charles Dingle  (The Little Foxes)
  3. Kirk Douglas  (A Letter to Three Wives)
  4. Peter Lorre  (The Maltese Falcon)
  5. Kirk Douglas  (Out of the Past)

Katína_Paxinoú_in_For_Whom_the_Bell_Tolls_trailerBest Supporting Actress:  Though I would rarely agree with the Oscar winner (only twice did I completely agree and once more they picked the best of the nominees), they rarely would make a bad choice – only once does the Oscar winner fail to make my top 5 (Anne Revere in 1945) and she’s my #6.  Twice the category earns a perfect 100 score (I completely agree with it) and only once does it score below a 70.  It had the best score of the acting categories in 5 of the years in the decade.

Ethel Barrymore would easily be the top actress of the decade, winning the Oscar in 1944 and earning nominations in 46, 47 and 49.  She’s followed by Anne Revere, who won in 1945 and was nominated in 43 and 47.

  • Best Year:  1942
  • Worst Year:  1946
  • Best Winner:  Katina Paxinou  (For Whom the Bell Tolls)
  • Worst Winner:  Ethel Barrymore  (None But the Lonely Heart)
  • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  Judith Anderson  (Rebecca)
  • Worst Nominee:  Barbara O’Neil  (All This and Heaven Too)
  • Most Egregious Snub:  Maria Casares  (Children of Paradise)
  • Average Winner Rank at Nighthawks:  2.7
  • Average Winner Rank among Nominees:  2.1
  • Score for the Decade:  79.4

children-of-paradise-@Five Biggest Snubs:

  1. Maria Casares  (Children of Paradise)
  2. Teresa Wright  (The Best Years of Our Lives)
  3. Deborah Kerr  (The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp)
  4. Diana Lynn  (The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek)
  5. Kay Walsh  (This Happy Breed)

note:  The top two snubs are from 1946, which was also the worst year of the decade.

Best Editing:  Best Editing would be the only tech category to continue to have 5 nominees through the early 40’s (when many had no limit) and the late 40’s (when many dropped to 2 or 3 nominees).  It is also (along with Best Sound) one of the worst categories in this era, with the Academy constantly rewarding overlong bloated films.  Six of the Oscar winners fail to make my Top 10 in their respective years.  When the worst nominee of the decade actually won the Oscar, that’s not a good sign.  Daniel Mandell would be the high man of the decade; working for William Wyler he won two Oscars (Mrs. Miniver, The Best Years of Our Lives) and earned another nomination (The Letter).  But the all-time leader by the end of the decade would be Barbara McLean, nominated for her (undeserved) work on The Song of Bernadette and winning a very undeserved Oscar for Wilson to go along with her three nominations from the 30’s (175 points total).

  • Best Year:  1940
  • Worst Year:  1944
  • Best Winner:  The Best Years of Our Lives
  • Worst Winner:  Wilson
  • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  Citizen Kane
  • Worst Nominee:  Wilson
  • Most Egregious Snub:  Children of Paradise
  • Average Winner Rank at Nighthawks:  11.6
  • Average Winner Rank among Nominees:  2.8
  • Score for the Decade:  36.

 

Five Biggest Snubs:

  1. Children of Paradise
  2. The Maltese Falcon
  3. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  4. The Great Dictator
  5. In Which We Serve

Best Cinematography:  Like in the 30’s, the Academy often made decent choices of the nominees but didn’t make good use of the nominations.  The categories had been split in 1939 and through the decade, with far fewer color films to choose from, the Academy generally did a better job there.  Leon Shamroy and Arthur Miller would do the best in the decade.  Shamroy would win 3 Oscars in 4 years and earn 3 other nominations.  Miller would also win 3 Oscars and earn 3 other nominations.  But Miller’s was the much better – competing in the more competitive black-and-white categories.  Because I don’t split my own awards, Shamroy earns no nominations from me – most of his nominations and all of his wins were in the Color category and it just doesn’t compare.  Miller was done by the end of the decade, retiring in the early 50’s but Shamroy would earn 8 nominations in the 50’s in the color category (though not winning any).  At the end of the decade he and Miller and Ray Renehan would be tied for the all-time lead with 250 points but by 1951 Shamroy had the all-time lead and would never relinquish it (today he has 75 more points than any other cinematographer).

Black-and-White

  • Best Year:  1940
  • Worst Year:  1946
  • Best Winner:  Great Expectations
  • Worst Winner:  Battleground
  • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  Citizen Kane
  • Worst Nominee:  Madame Curie
  • Most Egregious Snub:  Children of Paradise
  • Most Egregious English-Language Snub:  The Maltese Falcon
  • Average Winner Rank at Nighthawks:  8.9
  • Average Winner Rank among Nominees:  2.7
  • Score for the Decade:  41.3

Five Biggest Snubs:

  1. Children of Paradise
  2. The Maltese Falcon
  3. The Grapes of Wrath
  4. La Belle et la bête
  5. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Nominations I Havent’ Seen:

  • Devil Dancer  (1927-28)
  • Magic Flame  (1927-28)
  • Four Devils  (1928-29)
  • The Right to Love (1930-31)
  • Wings Over Honolulu  (1937)

Color

  • Best Year:  1943
  • Worst Year:  1945
  • Best Winner:  The Thief of Bagdad
  • Worst Winner:  Wilson
  • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  For Whom the Bell Tolls
  • Worst Nominee:  The Blue Bird
  • Most Egregious Snub:  Henry V
  • Average Winner Rank at Nighthawks:  2.4
  • Average Winner Rank among Nominees:  1.7
  • Score for the Decade:  49.4

Five Biggest Snubs:

  1. Henry V
  2. Duel in the Sun
  3. The Red Shoes
  4. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
  5. Stairway to Heaven

note:  Clearly, there was no better director of color films in the 1940’s than Michael Powell.  In addition to the three films of his listed here, his films won two Oscars for Color Cinematography during the decade (The Thief of Bagdad, Black Narcissus).

Nominations I Haven’t Seen:

  • Sand  (1949)

Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture / Best Scoring of a Musical Picture:  Because of the multiple categories (in 1940 there was Best Score and Best Original Score, followed in 1941 by Best Scoring of a Dramatic Picture and Best Scoring of a Musical Picture until in 1942 it settled on Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture and Best Scoring of a Musical Picture, where it would stay, with the exception of 1957, until 1961) and the seemingly unlimited number of nominees (in 1944 the two categories would have a combined 34 nominations) composers could rack up the nominations.  Alfred Newman would end the decade with 500 points – not only is this 150 points more than anyone else has ever earned in a decade but is more than all but 4 other composers have earned in their entire careers.  But he was one of five composers to earn at least 300 points in the decade – something that has only happened twice in the six decades since – Newman again in the 50’s and John Williams in the 80’s.  Max Steiner would earn a nomination in every year.  Newman would be nominated in every year except 1949.  From 1942 to 1945 Steiner, Newman, Morris Stoloff, Ray Heindorf, Robert Emmett Dolan and Herbert Stothart would be nominated every year and five other composers would earn nominations in three of those four years, often with multiple nominations.  Newman would earn at least two nominations every year from 1940 to 1946.  Now, I limit my nominations, so while Newman is often in my Top 10 he only earns one nomination from me; Steiner, who I prefer, wins twice and earns three other nominations on the decade from me.

The category division was much needed.  In 1940 Our Town was nominated for both Best Score and Best Original Score – it was simply too confusing.  But the problem with the division is that so many films adapted from Broadway shows would be nominated for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture, so how to know when something would qualify by today’s standards?

Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture

  • Best Year:  1941
  • Worst Year:  1947
  • Best Winner:  Spellbound
  • Worst Winner:  Since You Went Away
  • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  Citizen Kane
  • Worst Nominee:  Forever Amber
  • Most Egregious Snub:  Laura
  • Average Winner Rank at Nighthawks:  5.5
  • Average Winner Rank among Nominees:  2.8
  • Score for the Decade:  53.5

Five Biggest Snubs:

  1. Laura  (Raksin)
  2. Children of Paradise  (Thiriet)
  3. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre  (Steiner)
  4. La Belle et la bête  (Auric)
  5. Ivan the Terrible Part I  (Prokofiev)

Nominations I Haven’t Seen:

  • Mercy Island  (1941)
  • That Woman is Mine  (1941)
  • Klondike Fury  (1942)
  • Silver Queen  (1942)
  • Three Russian Girls  (1944)
  • G.I. Honeymoon  (1945)

Best Scoring of a Musical Picture

  • Best Year:  1942
  • Worst Year:  1944
  • Best Winner:  Yankee Doodle Dandy
  • Worst Winner:  Mother Wore Tights
  • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  Saludos Amigos
  • Worst Nominee:  Minstrel Man
  • Most Egregious Snub:  Modern Times
  • Average Winner Rank at Nighthawks:  2.3
  • Average Winner Rank among Nominees:  2.3
  • Score for the Decade:  93.3

Nominations I Haven’t Seen:

  • Something to Shout About  (1943)
  • Hitchhike to Happiness  (1945)
  • Sunbonnet Sue  (1945)
  • Why Girls Leave Home  (1945)

Best Sound Recording:  As mentioned in the previous decade, Douglas Shearer (MGM), Nathan Levinson (Warner Bros), Thomas T. Moulton (UA), John Livadry (Columbia) and E.H. Hansen (20th Century-Fox) would all be nominated every year from 1937 to 1944.  So would L.L. Rider (Paramount).  They would all be joined in 1938 by Bernard B. Brown (Universal).  That’s because the nomination went to the head of the studio’s department.  By 1942 they would be the top 7 in points (lead by Shearer) and they would stay that way until 1959.  Starting in 1947 the Studio itself would get the award (and nomination), which would not change until 1951.  From that point on, only Shearer (1951) and Livadry (1953) would win Oscars and only Livadry (4) and Ryder (3) would earn more than one nomination.  They had all reaped the benefit of the unlimited nominations and the set-up.  Because the sound designers themselves wouldn’t start getting nominations until 1968 (which meant that no one nominated before 1968 would ever receive another nomination), it would take until 1981 before any of these seven would fall out of the top 10 in points.

During this stretch the Academy would often make terrible choices.  Five of the Oscar winners in the decade wouldn’t even make my Top 10 and only three winners would earn Nighthawk nominations.  And in the middle of the decade they were making terrible choices – the 4th choice from 1943 to 1945, and then the next two years, with only three nominees in each year, they would make the worst choice each time.  It is the only category outside of Screenplay to have back-to-back years of giving the Oscar to the weakest nominee.

  • Best Year:  1942
  • Worst Year:  1944
  • Best Winner:  Yankee Doodle Dandy
  • Worst Winner:  Wilson
  • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  Citizen Kane
  • Worst Nominee:  Appointment for Love
  • Most Egregious Snub:  Fantasia
  • Average Winner Rank at Nighthawks:  9.5
  • Average Winner Rank among Nominees:  2.9
  • Score for the Decade:  32.1

Nominations I Haven’t Seen:

  • Behind the News  (1940)
  • The Devil Pays Off  (1941)
  • Friendly Enemies  (1942)
  • Music in Manhattan  (1944)
  • Three is a Family  (1945)
  • The Unseen  (1945)

Great-Expectations-3Best Interior Decoration / Best Art Direction – Set Decoration:  Like with Cinematography, the Academy does better here with the Color films, because there are fewer to choose from, than with the black-and-white.  Ironically, the Academy would start doing better once they reduced the number of nominees in 1946 – both in choosing better nominees and in choosing the winners from the nominees.  In 1940, the category would split and it would peak in number of nominees (4 for color, 17 total).  It would stay in double-digits through 1944, with far more for black-and-white, in 1945 would drop to 5 each, in 1946 to 3 each, in 1947 to 2 each, the same in 1948 and go back up to 3 each in 1949.

Thomas Little would be the high man for the decade (4oo points), winning 5 Oscars among 14 nominations, including both Oscars in 1942 (though those two are both my worst winners).  He would be closely followed by Cedric Gibbons, who would also win 5 Oscars in the decade, among 13 nominations (380 points).  For frame of reference, only 7 other art directors have ever earned 380 points and none who have worked since the split categories were dropped in 1968.  Gibbons and Hans Drier would each be nominated the first seven years of the decade, before the drop in nominees in 1946.  Gibbons would then begin another streak in 1949 which would last until 1956 (he would earn nominations in 19 of the 21 years from 1936-1956) and would easily have the all-time lead by the end of the decade, which he still holds today.

Black-and-White

  • Best Year:  1941
  • Worst Year:  1943
  • Best Winner:  Great Expectations
  • Worst Winner:  This Above All
  • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  Citizen Kane
  • Worst Nominee:  Mission to Moscow
  • Most Egregious Snub:  Children of Paradise
  • Most Egregious English-Language Snub:  Yankee Doodle Dandy
  • Average Winner Rank at Nighthawks:  6.4
  • Average Winner Rank among Nominees:  2.0
  • Score for the Decade:  42.2

Five Biggest Snubs:

  1. Children of Paradise
  2. La Belle et la bête
  3. Yankee Doodle Dandy
  4. Casablanca
  5. The Philadelphia Story

Nominations I Haven’t Seen:

  • Silver Queen  (1942)

Color

  • Best Year:  1948
  • Worst Year:  1941
  • Best Winner:  The Thief of Bagdad
  • Worst Winner:  My Gal Sal
  • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  Henry V
  • Worst Nominee:  San Antonio
  • Most Egregious Snub:  Meet Me in St. Louis
  • Average Winner Rank at Nighthawks:  2.9
  • Average Winner Rank among Nominees:  1.9
  • Score for the Decade:  42.2

meet me in st louisFive Biggest Snubs:

  1. Meet Me in St. Louis
  2. Heaven Can Wait
  3. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
  4. Under Capricorn
  5. The Barkleys of Broadway

Nominations I Haven’t Seen:

  • The Desert Song  (1944)

Best Special Effects:  Special Effects wouldn’t really develop much until Sci-Fi films started coming into vogue in the 50’s.  As a result, there are far more nominees in the category then I ever deem worthy.  The only effects in the decade I rate particularly high are all the well-done effects to get all the brilliant shots in Citizen Kane.

  • Best Year:  1945
  • Worst Year:  1943
  • Best Winner:  The Thief of Bagdad
  • Worst Winner:  Portrait of Jennie
  • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  Spellbound
  • Worst Nominee:  Tulsa
  • Most Egregious Snub:  Citizen Kane
  • Average Winner Rank at Nighthawks:  2.7
  • Average Winner Rank among Nominees:  1.6
  • Score for the Decade:  48.3

Nominations I Haven’t Seen:

  • Typhoon  (1940)
  • Captain Eddie  (1945)

Best Costume Design:  Costume Design would be added as a category in 1948.  In that first year, Edith Head would lose in the color category to Dorothy Jeakins (4th place all-time).  The next year, Head would win the black-and-white category (deservedly) for The Heiress.  That would put her at 45 points and in first-place (tied with Gile Steele, who worked with her on both).  No one would ever come close to her again, as she would be nominated the first 20 years of the category and win 9 Oscars.  Today, no other designer has even half her 645 points.  No active designer has even a third of that.  I won’t do awards since the category had only been around two years at this point.  All four of the first winners were good choices.

  • Most Egregious Snub:  The Red Shoes
  • Average Winner Rank at Nighthawks (Color):  3.0
  • Average Winner Rank at Nighthawks (Black-and-White):  1.0
  • Average Winner Rank among Nominees (both):  1.0
  • Score for the Decade  (Color):  50.0
  • Score for the Decade  (Black-and-White):  76.2

Top 5 Films for the Decade before the Category Existed:

  1. Children of Paradise
  2. La Belle et la bête
  3. Great Expectations
  4. Yankee Doodle Dandy
  5. The Thief of Bagdad

Best Song:  According to page 1012 of Inside Oscar, “From 1938 though 1945, each studio’s music department submitted a single song which would then automatically be nominated.  Omissions during these years are therefore the responsibility of the studios and not the Academy.” I have accounted for that in the scores, only, for the purpose of the score, allowing myself one nominee per studio.  Like all the music categories, the seemingly unlimited number of nominees (peaking with 14 in 1945) would stabilize at 5 starting in 1946.

Johnny Mercer and Mack Gordon (both of whom were lyricists) were each nominated 8 times and won an Oscar during the decade.  Mercer twice received double nominations, while Gordon was nominated every year except 1945 and 1948.  But number one all-time by the end of the decade would be composer Harry Warren, who, ironically, would write the music for both Mercer and Gordon’s Oscar-winning songs.

  • Best Year:  1942
  • Worst Year:  1948
  • Best Winner:  “When You Wish Upon a Star” from Pinocchio  (1940)
  • Worst Winner:  “You’ll Never Know” from Hello, Frisco, Hello  (1943)
  • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  “How About You” from Babes on Broadway  (1942)
  • Worst Nominee:  “Remember Me” from Mr. Dodd Takes the Air  (1937)
  • Most Egregious Snub:  “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” from Meet Me in St. Louis  (1944)
  • Most Egregious Snub Post-1945 rule:  “A Couple of Swells” from Easter Parade  (1948)
  • Average Winner Rank at Nighthawks:  2.4
  • Average Winner Rank among nominees:  2.0
  • Score for the Decade:  80.2

Nominations I Haven’t Seen:

  • “It Seems I Heard that Song Before” –  Youth on Parade  (1942)
  • “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To”  –  Something to Shout About  (1943)
  • “The Cat and the Canary”  –  Why Girls Leave Home  (1945)
  • “Endlessly”  –  Earl Carroll Vanities  (1945)
  • “I’ll Buy That Dream”  –  Sing Your Way Home  (1945)

Best Foreign Film:  This would still not an official category during this period, but, finally picking up the slack in 1948 (the NYFC and NBR had the category for over a decade by this time), the Academy would vote Monsieur Vincent “the most outstanding foreign language film released in the United States during 1948.”  Then, the next year, they would do the same for Bicycle Thieves.  Monsieur Vincent was not a bad choice, but since Day of Wrath, Fanny and The Eagle Has Two Heads were all also released in the United States in 1948, they could have done better.  But you weren’t going to get any better than Bicycle Thieves.  This award would stay a special award until 1955.  It’s true that this award wouldn’t have been much use during the war when a lot of countries weren’t making many films and those being made weren’t making it to the States, but a couple of years earlier and we could have had Children of Paradise and La Belle et la bête winning this.

Other Categories:

The following categories still didn’t yet exist by 1949: Sound Effects Editing, Makeup and Animated Film.

Like with Special Effects, there wasn’t much in the way of Sound Effects Editing in the decade.  The film that most deserved an Oscar for it was Fantasia.

The two best makeup jobs in the decade might not have earned nominations anyway, since they were both French films: Children of Paradise and La Belle et la bête.

Animated Film might have worked as a special award, but Disney was still really the only one doing anything in the decade.

By Year:

1940:

  • Best Picture:  Reviews of the films can be found here.
  • Best Picture Rank:  #51
  • Winners Average (with Picture):  5.11
  • Winners Average (without Picture):  5.28
  • Winners Average Among Nominees:  2.58
  • Nominee Score (P-D-S):  68.7
  • Nominee Score  (Acting):  78.1
  • Nominee Score  (Tech Categories):  53.0
  • Total Nominee Score:  64.9

1941:

  • Best Picture:  Reviews of the films can be found here.
  • Best Picture Rank:  #52
  • Winners Average (with Picture):  5.37
  • Winners Average (without Picture):  5.00
  • Winners Average Among Nominees:  3.00
  • Nominee Score (P-D-S):  68.2
  • Nominee Score  (Acting):  76.7
  • Nominee Score  (Tech Categories):  52.0
  • Total Nominee Score:  64.6

1942:

  • Best Picture:  Reviews of the films can be found here.
  • Best Picture Rank:  #70
  • Winners Average (with Picture):  6.00
  • Winners Average (without Picture):  5.56
  • Winners Average Among Nominees:  2.63
  • Nominee Score (P-D-S):  36.0
  • Nominee Score  (Acting):  83.9
  • Nominee Score  (Tech Categories):  46.9
  • Total Nominee Score:  54.6

1943:

  • Best Picture:  Reviews of the films can be found here.
  • Best Picture Rank:  #49
  • Winners Average (with Picture):  4.47
  • Winners Average (without Picture):  4.67
  • Winners Average Among Nominees:  2.47
  • Nominee Score (P-D-S):  59.2
  • Nominee Score  (Acting):  78.0
  • Nominee Score  (Tech Categories):  43.2
  • Total Nominee Score:  57.9

1944:

  • Best Picture:  Reviews of the films can be found here.
  • Best Picture Rank:  #64
  • Winners Average (with Picture):  5.74
  • Winners Average (without Picture):  5.06
  • Winners Average Among Nominees:  2.79
  • Nominee Score (P-D-S):  55.2
  • Nominee Score  (Acting):  85.6
  • Nominee Score  (Tech Categories):  36.3
  • Total Nominee Score:  55.1

1945:

  • Best Picture:  Reviews of the films can be found here.
  • Best Picture Rank:  #62
  • Winners Average (with Picture):  4.47
  • Winners Average (without Picture):  4.67
  • Winners Average Among Nominees:  2.22
  • Nominee Score (P-D-S):  52.4
  • Nominee Score  (Acting):  79.0
  • Nominee Score  (Tech Categories):  38.7
  • Total Nominee Score:  54.5

1946:

  • Best Picture:  Reviews of the films can be found here.
  • Best Picture Rank:  #35
  • Winners Average (with Picture):  4.11
  • Winners Average (without Picture):  4.22
  • Winners Average Among Nominees:  1.79
  • Nominee Score (P-D-S):  64.9
  • Nominee Score  (Acting):  64.7
  • Nominee Score  (Tech Categories):  36.6
  • Total Nominee Score:  54.7

1947:

  • Best Picture:  Reviews of the films can be found here.
  • Best Picture Rank:  #34
  • Winners Average (with Picture):  5.95
  • Winners Average (without Picture):  5.89
  • Winners Average Among Nominees:  2.11
  • Nominee Score (P-D-S):  58.6
  • Nominee Score  (Acting):  67.5
  • Nominee Score  (Tech Categories):  34.0
  • Total Nominee Score:  53.3

1948:

  • Best Picture:  Reviews of the films can be found here.
  • Best Picture Rank:  #36
  • Winners Average (with Picture):  2.76
  • Winners Average (without Picture):  2.80
  • Winners Average Among Nominees:  1.40
  • Nominee Score (P-D-S):  69.7
  • Nominee Score  (Acting):  80.0
  • Nominee Score  (Tech Categories):  49.0
  • Total Nominee Score:  62.9

1949:

  • Best Picture:  Reviews of the films can be found here.
  • Best Picture Rank:  #58
  • Winners Average (with Picture):  4.05
  • Winners Average (without Picture):  3.90
  • Winners Average Among Nominees:  1.81
  • Nominee Score (P-D-S):  49.2
  • Nominee Score  (Acting):  77.9
  • Nominee Score  (Tech Categories):  47.2
  • Total Nominee Score:  57.8
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