This is my kind of film and behind it is the single best view of my old city.

This is my kind of film and behind it is the single best view of my old city.

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 (or Globe, in the Globes section).  Films in blue were nominated.  Films with an asterisk (*) were Consensus nominees (a scale I put together based on the various awards) while those with a double asterisk (**) were the Consensus winners.

I’m listing 10 in each category because there are a strong Top 10 in most of the categories but only the top 5 make the nomination list (except for Actor).

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture
  1. Rebel Without a Cause
  2. Mister Roberts
  3. Bad Day at Black Rock
  4. To Catch a Thief
  5. East of Eden  *
  6. Lady and the Tramp
  7. Othello
  8. The Man with the Golden Arm
  9. Mr. Hulot’s Holiday
  10. Samurai I: Miyamato Musashi

Analysis:  These 10 films are an interesting group.  Rebel is the weakest #1 film since 1935.  It would have ranked no higher than 3rd in any other year in this decade and in some years would have been the #5 film.  On the other hand, Samurai is the second best #10 film to date.  That’s because there’s a larger gap between my #4 and 5 films (2 points), then there is between my #5 and 10 films (1 point).  It took a while to decide what the fifth film would be because those films are all so close on my list.  And there’s a good mix of great comedies in the Top 10 as well – 3 of the top 9.  Unfortunately, that’s it for the Comedies, as you’ll see down below.
This was a year without a whole lot of consensus (except for Marty, which everybody loved, but which I think never rises above good).  Two of the Oscar nominees (Picnic and The Rose Tattoo) are also on my Best Picture list, lower down.  Picnic is my #11 film, also a **** film (this is the first year since the initial 1912-26 year to have more than 10 great films).  The Rose Tattoo comes in 18th, but is still a ***.5 film (my full Picture list, the **** and ***.5 films, run to 20, the other 10 are Picnic, The Night of the Hunter, Ugetsu, The Heart of the Matter, The Wages of Fear, A Generation, Summertime, The Rose Tattoo, The Blackboard Jungle and The Desperate HoursMarty was my #21 film).  The difference between my #1 and #20 films is only 18 points – the first time in 8 years it wasn’t at least 23 points.  East of Eden was the first, and still one of only two films, to win Best Picture – Drama at the Globes and not earn an Oscar nom.

  • To-Catch-A-ThiefBest Director
  1. Alfred Hitchcock  (To Catch a Thief)
  2. John Sturges  (Bad Day at Black Rock)  *
  3. Nicholas Ray  (Rebel Without a Cause)
  4. Elia Kazan  (East of Eden)  *
  5. Orson Welles  (Othello)
  6. Hiroshi Inagaki  (Samurai I: Miyamato Musashi)
  7. Otto Preminger  (The Man with the Golden Arm)
  8. Charles Laughton  (The Night of the Hunter)
  9. John Ford  (Mister Roberts)
  10. Kenji Mizoguchi  (Ugetsu)

Analysis:  Ironic, that Hitchcock finally wins my Best Director award, but not for one of his top works.  To Catch a Thief ranks 9th among Hitchcock’s films on my list, but the circumstances are finally right.  This is an extremely rare year in which a comedy wins Best Director but doesn’t win Best Picture.
Delbert Mann, the director of Marty won the Consensus, winning the DGA and Oscar.  I can understand (though disagree with) Marty winning Best Picture, but Director?  It’s the first (and only) nomination for Ray, the first for Sturges, the third for Kazan (with his two wins, he’s now in the Top 10 for points), Welles moves into a tie for 7th and Hitchcock, with his only win, moves up into a tie for 3rd place.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Mister Roberts  *
  2. East of Eden  *
  3. To Catch a Thief
  4. Picnic
  5. Bad Day at Black Rock  *
  6. The Man with the Golden Arm
  7. The Heart of the Matter
  8. Lady and the Tramp
  9. Samurai I: Miyamato Musashi
  10. Ugetsu

Analysis:  This is an interesting mix of source materials, from magazine stories, to truly great novels, to successful plays.  Like with many of the categories, not as strong of a winner, but a very good 1 through 10 (and continuing, all the way down to a full list of 18, the rest being The Blackboard Jungle (Oscar, WGA, Consensus nom), The Rose Tattoo, The Seven Year Itch, Marty (Oscar, WGA and Consensus winner), Othello, Summertime, Trial and The Desperate Hours.  Compare that to Original, where, in spite of two Oscar categories, I couldn’t manage to fill out a Top 5.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Rebel Without a Cause  *
  2. Mr. Hulot’s Holiday  *
  3. La Pointe Courte
  4. Killer’s Kiss

Analysis:  The lack of solid original scripts mean that we see our first Stanley Kubrick nomination (and a rare one in the original category).

  • Best Actor:
  1. James Dean  (Rebel Without a Cause)
  2. Henry Fonda  (Mister Roberts)
  3. James Dean  (East of Eden)
  4. Frank Sinatra  (The Man with the Golden Arm)
  5. Orson Welles  (Othello)
  6. Robert Mitchum  (The Night of the Hunter)
  7. Ernest Borgnine  (Marty)
  8. Spencer Tracy  (Bad Day at Black Rock)
  9. Toshiro Mifune  (Samurai I: Miyamato Musashi)
  10. Trevor Howard  (The Heart of the Matter)

Analysis:  Mitchum actually earns a Nighthawk nomination because of the two nominations for Dean.  This year is representative of the strangeness of the Academy.  They nominated Jimmy Cagney for Love Me or Leave Me – not one of his best performances.  Yet, they passed up Henry Fonda.  I’m at a loss to understand the passing over of Fonda – all of the others in my Top 10 who weren’t nominated make sense on at least some level (independent films, smaller films, British films, foreign films, already nominated).

  • Best Actress
  1. Anna Magnani  (The Rose Tattoo)  **
  2. Katharine Hepburn  (Summertime)  *
  3. Deborah Kerr  (The End of the Affair)
  4. Grace Kelly  (To Catch a Thief)
  5. Eleanor Parker  (Interrupted Melody)
  6. Julie Harris  (I am a Camera)

Analysis:  Hepburn and Kerr both earn more points but go up no spots – Kerr is still in 5th and Hepburn is still in 2nd (where she has been since 1941 and where she will stay until 1968).  Neither Kelly nor Magnani manage to move up into the Top 10, and this will be it for Kelly who earns an impressive 135 points in just four years.  Parker actually earns two nominations here (see below), but is tied with Kelly for points (and is also done).
Magnani joins Grace Kelly from the year before as the second full sweep winner of Best Actress (Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, NYFC, NBR).  There would not be another winner of 5 awards in this category until 1977, by which time two more critics groups would have been added.

  • Jack Lemmon Mister RobertsBest Supporting Actor:
  1. Jack Lemmon  (Mister Roberts)
  2. Sal Mineo  (Rebel Without a Cause)
  3. Arthur Kennedy  (Trial)
  4. James Cagney  (Mister Roberts)
  5. Arthur O’Connell  (Picnic)
  6. Raymond Massey  (East of Eden)
  7. Burt Lancaster  (The Rose Tattoo)
  8. William Powell  (Mister Roberts)
  9. Burl Ives  (East of Eden)
  10. Sidney Poitier  (The Blackboard Jungle)

Analysis:  Arthur Kennedy is probably far and away the least known performance of my top 5.  Lemmon very rightfully won the Oscar, including getting possibly the greatest ending line to any film.  Mineo was brilliant and tragic and provides such a sense of pathos to Rebel.  Cagney is perfectly overbearing as the captain.  O’Connell is part of the great group of supporting performers in Picnic (and the only one to get nominated).  But Trial is very hard to find (I had to see it on TCM) and Kennedy gives what might actually be his best performance.

  • natalieBest Supporting Actress:
  1. Natalie Wood  (Rebel Without a Cause)  *
  2. Rosalind Russell  (Picnic)
  3. Jo Van Fleet  (East of Eden)  *
  4. Eleanor Parker  (The Man with the Golden Arm)
  5. Susan Strasberg  (Picnic)
  6. Kim Novak  (The Man with the Golden Arm)
  7. Kaoru Yachigusa  (Samurai I: Miyamato Musashi)
  8. Marisa Pavan  (The Rose Tattoo)  **
  9. Betsy Blair  (Marty)  *
  10. Peggy Lee  (Pete Kelly’s Blues)  *

Analysis:  Russell and Parker each earns their fourth nominations.  Wood earns her first while Van Fleet and Strasberg early their only nominations.  I must admit that I fell head over heels for Wood in this film when I first watched it at age 16 (which was appropriate, since she was 17 when it was filmed).
Picnic is one of those films where the leads aren’t all that great (Holden is okay, but Novak is not very good) but the supporting cast is fantastic.  Russell would somehow be completely ignored – according to Inside Oscar, she was going to be pushed, but she told studio head Harry Cohn “I’ve been a star for a good many years and I don’t intend to change to a supporting actress now simply in hopes of winning an Oscar.”  (p 260).  But the more showy performances from Russell and O’Connell almost make you miss the great Susan Strasberg as the brainy (and I think sexier) younger sister.

  • Best Editing:
  1. Mister Roberts
  2. To Catch a Thief
  3. Samurai I: Miyamato Musashi
  4. Bad Day at Black Rock
  5. Mr. Hulot’s Holiday
  6. Rebel Without a Cause
  7. East of Eden
  8. The Man with the Golden Arm
  9. The Wages of Fear
  10. Picnic

Analysis:  As usual, I can’t really fathom how the Academy decides what the nominate in this category.  The films in this year weren’t awful choices (that will come with 1956), but they weren’t great and none of them had the crisp clean editing of my list.

  • Best Cinematography:
  1. To Catch a Thief
  2. East of Eden
  3. The Night of the Hunter
  4. Samurai I: Miyamato Musashi
  5. Othello
  6. Ugetsu
  7. Rebel Without a Cause
  8. Picnic
  9. The Wages of Fear
  10. Bad Day at Black Rock

Analysis:  Yes, they gave the Oscar to Thief.  That gives Robert Burks his third nomination (and first win) in less than five years, getting him into the Top 10 in points.  They also nominated Guys and Dolls and Love is a Many-Splendored Thing.  And that was just the color category – the black and white category skipped some truly noteworthy films (seriously, how did they pass over Night of the Hunter in favor of I’ll Cry Tomorrow and Queen Bee?).

  • Best Original Score:
  1. Samurai I: Miyamato Musashi
  2. The Man with the Golden Arm
  3. The Night of the Hunter
  4. To Catch a Thief
  5. East of Eden
  6. The Rose Tattoo
  7. Picnic
  8. Mister Roberts
  9. The Far Country
  10. Rebel Without a Cause

Analysis:  For the first time in six years everyone on my list is a first-time Nighthawk nominee.  The actual Oscar went to Academy all-star Alfred Newman for Love is a Many-Splendored Thing.

  • Best Sound:
  1. Mister Roberts
  2. The Wages of Fear
  3. Bad Day at Black Rock
  4. The Dam Busters
  5. Samurai I: Miyamato Musashi
  6. To Catch a Thief
  7. Killer’s Kiss
  8. The Far Country
  9. The Man with the Golden Arm
  10. Lady and the Tramp
  • East of Eden (1955)Best Art Direction:
  1. East of Eden
  2. To Catch a Thief
  3. The Night of the Hunter
  4. Samurai I: Miyamato Musashi
  5. The Man with the Golden Arm
  6. Rebel Without a Cause
  7. Ugetsu
  8. Guys and Dolls
  9. The Rose Tattoo
  10. Oklahoma

Analysis:  For an Oscar winner and nominee in major categories, East of Eden really wasn’t properly appreciated by the Academy.

  • Best Visual Effects
  1. The Dam Busters

Analysis:  The Bridges at Toko-Ri won the Oscar but this is the only film I felt really merited mention (The Rains of Ranchipur was also nominated).

  • Best Sound Editing
  1. The Dam Busters
  2. Mister Roberts
  • musashi2Best Costume Design:
  1. Samurai I: Miyamato Musashi
  2. Ugetsu
  3. Kismet
  4. To Catch a Thief
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Daddy Long Legs
  7. The Virgin Queen
  8. East of Eden
  9. Guys and Dolls
  10. The Seven Little Foys

Analysis:  Another freakin Oscar for Love is a Many-Splendored Thing, which is just ridiculous.  The black-and-white Oscar went to I’ll Cry Tomorrow.

  • Best Makeup
  1. none
  • Best Original Song:
  1. “The Ballad of Davy Crockett”  (Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier)
  2. “Bella Notte”  (Lady and the Tramp)
  3. “Unchained Melody”  (Unchained)
  4. “(Love is) The Tender Trap”  (The Tender Trap)
  5. “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing”  (Love is a Many-Splendored Thing)

Analysis:  You have to go with the song as it is presented.  So, even all the many brilliant renditions of “Unchained Melody” in the years since, don’t make the song as presented in the film any better (and it’s very hard to find).  I’ve always been a bit surprised that “Bella Notte” wasn’t nominated.  But “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” is a rightful classic – I’ve known the words since I was a little kid (there is the possibility that it wasn’t eligible because of being written for the television show, but Inside Oscar lists it as eligible and it’s listed in the Oscars.org database).  Oscars.org lists 144 songs for this year, of which I have seen 80 of them (even if I have heard the song I don’t count them unless I have seen the film).

  • MPW-59537Best Animated Film:
  1. Lady and the Tramp

Analysis:  One of my favorite Disney films – I ranked it 7th among all the Disney films.  Oscars.org lists one other animated film, The Crimson Flower, but at 44 minutes, it’s doesn’t qualify as a feature film and thus, I don’t include it in my awards consideration.  (I have seen it, but even if I included it, it would not have made my ***.5 cut-off for the category).

  • smilesBest Foreign Film:
  1. Smiles of a Summer Night
  2. Diabolique
  3. Samurai I: Miyamato Musashi
  4. Death of a Cyclist
  5. Pather Panchali
  6. Ordet
  7. Lola Montes
  8. I Love in Fear
  9. Rififi
  10. A Generation

Analysis:  This is the last year of the Honorary Award for Best Foreign Language Film.  Starting the next year, the Academy would create the competitive award with countries submitting films.  Samurai is a good choice – it is a **** film.  But Smiles is far and away the best film on this list – there’s as big a point difference between Smiles and Diabolique as there is between Diabolique and Rififi: 6 points.

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.

  • Rebel Without a Cause  (385)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Mister Roberts  (365)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actor, Editing, Sound, Sound Editing
  • To Catch a Thief  (350)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Original Score, Art Direction, Costume Design
  • East of Eden  (290)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Original Score, Art Direction
  • Samurai I: Miyamato Musashi  (190)
    • Editing, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Art Direction, Costume Design, Foreign Film
  • Bad Day at Black Rock  (180)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Sound
  • Picnic (130)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actress
  • The Man with the Golden Arm  (110)
    • Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Score, Sound
  • Othello  (105)
    • Director, Actor, Cinematography
  • Mr. Hulot’s Holiday  (105)
    • Original Screenplay, Editing, Foreign Film (1953)
  • The Night of the Hunter  (105)
    • Actor, Cinematography, Original Score, Art Direction
  • The Dam Busters  (100)
    • Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • The Rose Tattoo  (70)
    • Actress
  • Lady and the Tramp  (50)
    • Animated Film, Original Song
  • Killer’s Kiss  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • La Pointe Courte  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • The Wages of Fear  (40)
    • Sound, Foreign Film (1953)
  • Summertime  (35)
    • Actress
  • The End of the Affair  (35)
    • Actress
  • Interrupted Melody  (35)
    • Actress
  • Ugetsu  (35)
    • Costume Design, Foreign Film (1953)
  • Trial  (30)
    • Supporting Actor
  • Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier  (20)
    • Original Song
  • Kismet  (15)
    • Costume Design
  • Oklahoma  (15)
    • Costume Design
  • Unchained  (10)
    • Original Song
  • The Tender Trap  (10)
    • Original Song
  • Love is a Many-Splendored Thing  (10)
    • Original Song

Analysis:  As I mentioned before, this is a year of a lot of low-level **** films and high-level ***.5 films.  As a result, all of the films on my list from 6 to 15, with one exception (noted below) earn at least 2 nominations and most of them earn at least three.  But many of them weren’t as well respected at the time; both Othello and Night of the Hunter were completely ignored by the awards groups.

Best Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • The Heart of the Matter

Analysis:  At #14, this is the only film in my top 15 which earns no Nighthawk nominations.  I actually reviewed the film here, when I thought it ended up in 1954.  It is very good, but in a year as stacked as this one with great and very good films, it only ends up above 10th once – in Adapted Screenplay, where it finishes 7th.

Biggest Awards Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • Marty

Analysis:  Because it spoke to them, so many people loved Marty so much that they never stopped to actually think about how good it was.  I rank it about as high as a *** film can go (a 75), but not enough to even make my list for Picture.  Its highest finish from me is Borgnine’s Oscar winning performance for Best Actor, coming in at 7th.  But it was the big winner at the Oscars (8 noms, 4 wins, 445 points), critics (306 points) and guilds (DGA and WGA – 170 points) and earned points at the BAFTAs and Globes as well.  It wins 13 awards out of 18 nominations for 1150 points – over twice as many as any previous film not to earn any Nighthawk noms.

Nighthawk Golden Globes:

Drama:

  • Best Picture
  1. Rebel Without a Cause
  2. Bad Day at Black Rock
  3. East of Eden
  4. Lady and the Tramp
  5. Othello

Analysis:  This group clumps together really closely.  Othello is the best #5 film in this category in four years.  On the other hand, Rebel is the weakest #1 film in this category in 20 years and the overall average for the five films is the lowest in 10 years.

  • Best Director
  1. John Sturges  (Bad Day at Black Rock)
  2. Nicholas Ray  (Rebel Without a Cause)
  3. Elia Kazan  (East of Eden)
  4. Orson Welles  (Othello)
  5. Hiroshi Inagaki  (Samurai I: Miyamato Musashi)

Analysis:  Kazan moves into the Top 10 in points (although he won’t get any more points) while Welles moves into a tie for 6th.  I’d have to look to see how out of place this is, but it’s probably strange to have two directors who aren’t in my Top 100 followed by two who are in the top 25.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. East of Eden
  2. Picnic
  3. Bad Day at Black Rock
  4. The Man with the Golden Arm
  5. The Heart of the Matter
  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Rebel Without a Cause
  2. La Pointe Courte
  3. Killer’s Kiss
  • Rebel-Without-A-Cause-james-dean-30567012-463-320Best Actor:
  1. James Dean  (Rebel Without a Cause)
  2. James Dean  (East of Eden)
  3. Frank Sinatra  (The Man with the Golden Arm)
  4. Orson Welles  (Othello)
  5. Robert Mitchum  (The Night of the Hunter)

Analysis:  Dean actually tied with Borgnine at the Globes in a year where there no nominees, only winners.

  • Anna-Magnani-in-The-Rose--001Best Actress
  1. Anna Magnani  (The Rose Tattoo)
  2. Katharine Hepburn  (Summertime)
  3. Deborah Kerr  (The End of the Affair)
  4. Julie Harris  (I am a Camera)

Analysis:  This is really strange, not being able to fill out this category.  But many of the best dramas of the year didn’t have lead female performances and some of those that did (Picnic) didn’t have good ones.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Sal Mineo  (Rebel Without a Cause)
  2. Arthur Kennedy  (Trial)
  3. Arthur O’Connell  (Picnic)
  4. Raymond Massey  (East of Eden)
  5. Burt Lancaster  (The Rose Tattoo)

Analysis:  I had to think about for a long time before I decided that Lancaster was a supporting role.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Natalie Wood  (Rebel Without a Cause)
  2. Rosalind Russell  (Picnic)
  3. Jo Van Fleet  (East of Eden)
  4. Eleanor Parker  (The Man with the Golden Arm)
  5. Susan Strasberg  (Picnic)
  • Rebel Without a Cause  (415)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • East of Eden  (270)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Bad Day at Black Rock  (180)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay
  • Picnic (130)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actress
  • Othello  (130)
    • Picture, Director, Actor
  • The Man with the Golden Arm  (105)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress
  • The Rose Tattoo  (100)
    • Actress, Supporting Actor
  • Lady and the Tramp  (50)
    • Picture
  • Samurai I: Miyamato Musashi  (45)
    • Director
  • The Heart of the Matter  (45)
    • Adapted Screenplay
  • Killer’s Kiss  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • La Pointe Courte  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • The Night of the Hunter  (35)
    • Actor
  • Summertime  (35)
    • Actress
  • The End of the Affair  (35)
    • Actress
  • I am a Camera  (35)
    • Actress
  • Trial  (30)
    • Supporting Actor

Best Drama Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • Ugetsu

Analysis:  Ugetsu is a very good film but it just didn’t come anywhere close in any of the major categories.

Comedy/Musical:

  • Best Picture
  1. Mister Roberts
  2. To Catch a Thief
  3. Mr. Hulot’s Holiday

Analysis:  After three films in the top 9, it’s a big drop to Oklahoma at #26.

  • Best Director
  1. Alfred Hitchcock  (To Catch a Thief)
  2. John Ford  (Mister Roberts)
  3. Jacques Tati  (Mr. Hulot’s Holiday)

Analysis:  Because the Comedy category has so much less, Hitchcock’s win gets him up to 135 points and a tie for 8th place.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Mister Roberts
  2. To Catch a Thief
  3. The Seven Year Itch

Analysis:  Billy Wilder earns a second straight Comedy nomination, moving him up to 400 points and a tie with Preston Sturges for second place.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Mr. Hulot’s Holiday
  • james-cagney-and-henry-fonda-in-mister-robertsBest Actor:
  1. Henry Fonda  (Mister Roberts)
  2. Cary Grant  (To Catch a Thief)
  3. Jacques Tati  (Mr. Hulot’s Holiday)
  4. James Cagney  (Love Me or Leave Me)
  5. Gene Kelly  (It’s Always Fair Weather)

Analysis:  If only Alec Guinness had a film this year it would be the cream of the crop of comedic actors.  Grant is in 2nd place in Comedy points, Cagney in 3rd (with another nomination for Supporting Actor, below) and Kelly in 5th.

  • gracekellyBest Actress
  1. Grace Kelly  (To Catch a Thief)
  2. Eleanor Parker  (Interrupted Melody)

Analysis:  Yes, that’s really all there is.  Mister Roberts and Mr. Hulot’s Holiday don’t have lead female performances (or even much in the way of supporting performances).  Oklahoma didn’t have a performance I thought worth nominating.  I didn’t think Doris Day was particularly good in Love Me or Leave Me.  And Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch is really just the sexpot – it’s the one film where I think her acting has the least to do with it.  Of course, in 1954, Audrey Hepburn couldn’t win with Sabrina, because of Judy Garland, but she would have won this by a long way.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Jack Lemmon  (Mister Roberts)
  2. James Cagney  (Mister Roberts)
  3. William Powell  (Mister Roberts)
  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Peggy Lee  (Pete Kelly’s Blues)

Points:

  • Mister Roberts  (415)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actor
  • To Catch a Thief  (285)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress
  • Mr. Hulot’s Holiday  (210)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor
  • Pete Kelly’s Blues  (60)
    • Supporting Actress
  • The Seven Year Itch  (40)
    • Adapted Screenplay
  • Love Me or Leave Me  (35)
    • Actor
  • It’s Always Fair Weather  (35)
    • Actor
  • Interrupted Melody  (35)
    • Actress

Analysis:  In a bit of strangeness, Rebel and Roberts both end up with the same amount of points – both win Picture, Screenplay, Actor and Supporting Actor and both lose Director.  The only differences is that Rebel wins Supporting Actress while Roberts earns two noms for Supporting Actor.

Best Comedy Not Nominated for any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • Oklahoma

Analysis:  Oklahoma is a good film, but none of the acting performances stood out for me and it’s not a ***.5 film and so doesn’t make the cut in Picture.

Roundup for the Year in Film:

Eligible Films I Have Seen:  125

By Stars:

  • ****:  11
  • ***.5:  9
  • ***:  71
  • **.5:  24
  • **:  8
  • *.5:  1
  • .5:  1
  • Average Film Score for the Year, out of 100:  65.9

Analysis:  In spite of more great films, there is a slight drop because of the number of low-level films.  Without Jail Bait and Napoleon, it would go up almost a whole point.

Oscar-Nominated Films I Have Not Seen:

  • none

Other Award Nominated Films I Have Not Seen:

  • The Divided Heart  (Picture, British Picture, British Actress, Foreign Actress, Screenplay)
  • Carrington V.C.  (Picture, British Picture, British Actor, British Actress, British Actress)
  • The View from Pompey’s Head  (NBR  –  Supporting Actress)
  • Eyes of Children  (GG  –  Foreign Film)

note: Both The Divided Heart and Carrington V.C. were 1954 films for the BAFTAs but are here because this is the year they were Oscar eligible.  This is the heart of what I am missing to date.  These two films account for over 20% of all the BAFTA nominations I am missing and the only two wins.  View accounts for one of only two critics awards I am missing and is the only Supporting Actress award in any category I am missing (it is one of only two Supporting Actress nominations I am missing).  I am missing four winners here – in the remaining 60 years I am only missing three (from here on out the only winners I am missing are Golden Globes winners for Best Foreign Film in these early years when they gave the award to multiple films).

Oscar Quality:

Best Picture:  The five nominees include two great films, one very good film and one film at the highest level of ***.  Yet, it ranks at #72.  Why?  Well, two reasons.  First, the fifth nominee is Love is a Many-Splendored Thing, which ranks way down in the bottom 25 of all BP nominees.  Second, it doesn’t have a top-level film.  Mister Roberts, the best of the five nominees is at #171.  Only six other years have a best nominated film worse than that.  And it is only of only 23 years that doesn’t have two Top 200 films.  Like with the other years in the decade, it would do better with the Best Director nominations, with three films different.  Mister Roberts is almost a wash, replaced by Bad Day at Black Rock and the same with The Rose Tattoo replaced by Summertime.  But the final one is Love is a Many-Splendored Thing, a terrible film, replaced by East of Eden, a great film.

The Winners:  There is a big step back in this year.  The average winners rank among the nominees is 2.76, the worst since 1943.  There are three last place finishes (Director, Story and Screenplay, Costume Design (Color)) for the first time since 1946.  The major categories (Picture, Director, writing) earns a 4.2 – the worst score since 1931.  Among all films, the average winner rank is a 7.91, the worst in three years.  But, factoring out Best Picture, it’s a 7.29, the worst score since 1933.  There are eight categories where the winner doesn’t rank in my Top 10, with the Tech categories averaging a 7.91, the worst since 1937.

The Nominees:  The nominees aren’t as bad.  The overall score is 54.9, down significantly from the year before, but still not bad compared to other years.  The major categories earn a 54.9, down from 1954, but higher than both 53 and 52.  The acting is a respectable 75.2.  The tech is a 44.0, which isn’t great, but still better than 52 and most of the late 40’s.

Golden Globe Best Picture – Comedy / Musical:

There is still only a winner in the category.  That winner is Guys and Dolls, which is my #46 film on the year and my #12 among Comedies or Musicals, so not really a great choice.

Top 5 Films of the Year:

THE story of teen angst and it's still relevant.

THE story of teen angst and it’s still relevant.

1  –  Rebel Without a Cause  (dir. Nicholas Ray)

It is very true that without Marlon Brando and Monty Clift there never would have been a James Dean to whip everyone into a frenzy in 1955.  But it was James Dean, living too fast and too hard, dying too young, that would create the legend that so many future actors would rally around.  His performance is a bolt of electricity that runs through Rebel Without a Cause.  Two years before, when Brando was asked, in The Wild One, what are you rebelling against, he famously answered “Whaddaya got?”  But it’s easy to see what Dean is rebelling against, and not only Dean but Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo, caught up in his charismatic web.  It’s mindless authority, or the imitation thereof; the very thing that teenagers have rebelled against since the dawn of time and the very thing that makes this movie still work so well 60 years later, even when so much about the life has changed.

There is a reminder that while all of this happening to these three main characters, they are still only on the cusp of adulthood.  They are not yet adults.  They rebel against authority and against each other, but given the chance will reach out for help from each other.  After the knife fight with the local tough guy, Dean then meets him that night for a race.  They introduce themselves, shake hands.  And after the race has left them all in the shadow of death, Dean sees Wood standing there on the edge of the cliff, having just watched her guy go off and he reaches out for her.  And she takes his hand.  Yes, there’s a clear attraction between the two, but it’s more than that.  It’s the human connection.  It reminds me of something I once wrote: “I walk her into the kitchen, moving my arm to hers to keep her from falling. The same thing we all do for each other. We try to make sure people don’t fall.”

That’s what the scenes in the mansion are all about in this film.  We have a group of people who bond themselves into something like a family unit; that the bond comes from three people who don’t have much of an attachment to their own family units says much about what is going on.  There’s a powerful attraction here for the chance of a normal life, for love within the family, for a place to belong.  The characters in this film aren’t rebelling against that.  They’re rebelling against the parental figures who aren’t giving them that chance.  There might not be switchblades anymore and the friendships might evolve in different manners in the era of social media, but the concept is still the same.

And all of this works so well because it is so intelligently made.  It is well-directed, it is well-written, with a good understanding of teens.  It looks good, all through the film.  And most important, it has three phenomenal acting performances at the heart of the film.  From the first time we see the three of them, brought into the police station separately, we absolutely believe in all three of those performances.  And it’s good that we do, because without those performances, there’s no way this film would work.  You need Dean’s magnetic charisma.  You need Wood’s poetic pain and beauty.  You need Mineo’s needy desperation.  And with all three of them together, you get a poetry in itself.

One final word about Los Angeles.  I was raised in its suburbs, grew up watching it grow, and explode (in the 92 riots).  Recently, in the 2011 Muppets film, Amy Adams character mentions “I’ve always dreamed of seeing Los Angeles.”  That line struck me as very odd.  Hollywood, yes.  Disneyland, yes.  The beaches, yes.  But Los Angeles itself?  It’s not London, it’s not Paris, it’s not Boston, it’s not (god help me) New York.  What would you want, specifically, to see in Los Angeles?  Well, my answer would be, Griffith Observatory.  Part of it is that it’s a magnificent building with a stunning view (on a not so smoggy day).  I knew that before I ever saw Rebel, but I had already seen Rebel by that day in January of 92 when four of us drove up there.  And ended up on the wrong road.  We had a choice of driving miles around to get on the right road.  Or we could climb up to it.  We climbed.  It’s not an easy climb, especially the way we did it, basically straight up the side of the hill.  But when we made it up, well, it was ever so worth it.  If you go to L.A., even if you have never seen Rebel (why the hell haven’t you seen it?), you have to go to Griffith.  There is no single place in L.A. more worth seeing.

2  –  Mister Roberts  (reviewed here)

Yes, a Spencer Tracy film that is actually under-rated.

Yes, a Spencer Tracy film that is actually under-rated.

3  –  Bad Day at Black Rock  (dir. John Sturges)

By the time I first watched Bad Day at Black Rock, I was already familiar with the work of Spencer Tracy.  I had seen his Oscar-winning performances and some of his other Oscar nominated work, over-rated performances in films like San Francisco, Father of the Bride and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.  I knew that the Academy esteemed his work far more than I did.  So I was surprised when I watched this film and saw what might be the best of Tracy’s work, a bit of a mystery film, a lot of a suspense film and a first-rate film all the way.

Spencer Tracy rides into the little dusty town of Black Rock, the first man to step off the train there in four years.  None of the locals know what he’s doing there, but they’re all suspicious, especially after he mentions an area called Adobe Flats.  He is absolutely determined about something, but no one knows what that something is, and they all have something to hide out in Adobe Flats, especially after a man named Komoko is mentioned.  Tracy blazes forward with that sure-handed tenacity that seemed pompous in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and a bit unbearable at times in Judgment at Nuremberg, but works perfectly here.  He’s on a mission, and it will take most of the film before we find out what it is.  But once we do, all of this makes sense.  We understand why this is a man who will not be deterred, why this is a man who will see this out.  As I said, it’s perhaps Tracy’s best performance and he nails it, all the way through.

Of course, one really good from performance Tracy wouldn’t be enough to make this a great film.  There are the villains – a good performance that oozes menace from Robert Ryan (he was always great at the kind of performance) and solid thuggish performances from Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine as his goons.  There is the script – the slow way it builds, from the minute the stranger steps off the train, to learning slowly about him, to finally realizing why he has come to this little desert town.  There is the direction; John Sturges wasn’t a great director, but in his solid sure hand here you can see the occasional flashes of greatness that would also emerge in The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape.

Bad Day at Black Rock wouldn’t be the kind of film you’d expect to find nominated for major Oscars.  Yet, there it was, nominated for Director, Screenplay and Actor.  In some ways it’s a noir film, but with all the noir hallmarks turned upside down.  The hero really is a hero.  The darkness of city streets has been replaced by the bright desert sun and open vistas.  It’s the kind of great little film that might have been forgotten had the Academy not remembered, oh yeah, we always nominate Spencer Tracy.

Wit, beauty, suspense.  All you really need in a film.

Wit, beauty, suspense. All you really need in a film.

4  –  To Catch a Thief  (dir. Alfred Hitchcock)

Will critics someday look at Ocean’s 11 and think higher of it?  Will they think of it as anything more than a fun lark on the part of Soderbergh and Clooney?  I mention this for a reason, of course.  Think of Ocean’s 11.  It’s fun and smart and well-made.  It’s got great wit and some great flirtatious scenes.  At its heart, it is basically a fun heist film, with a great director in charge, a great (and great-looking) star as the lead and a beautiful, beautiful woman who he will win in the end.  It evens with a nice bit of humor.  It’s the lighter side of crime, with style and flair and some great scenery.  So really, how different is it from To Catch a Thief, a film which is one of the best of 1955 and which has the best direction of any film from that year?

Cary Grant was the star of Suspicion, one of the first of Hitchcock’s Hollywood films.  Hitchcock never really though that Grant was believable as a murderer and thought that undercut the film.  But, unlike Jimmy Stewart, who would star in two of Hitchcock’s films in the 50’s and undercut his clean-cut reputation, Cary Grant would return for two films in the same period and would fully embrace his reputation.  He’s smart and witty and good looking, and maybe we shouldn’t quite trust him.  Oh, and he will get the beautiful blonde (I wonder what all the films that follow this one where Hitchcock kept seeking that elusive cool blonde could have been if Grace Kelly hadn’t retired and could have instead starred in Vertigo, North by Northwest, The Birds and Marnie – she’s a much better actress than Tippie Hedren or Kim Novak and she could have been amazing).

To Catch a Thief is a perfect counterpoint to Rear Window, which, in 1954, had done so many things that Hitchcock is brilliant at – suspense, claustrophobia, obsession.  But here, we have the other things that Hitchcock is brilliant at – considerable humor (look at how casually Cary Grant eludes the police simply by getting on a bus, only to have Hitchcock sitting next to him), some great scenery to look at (Rear Window was a great set, but so obviously a set while To Catch a Thief has some absolutely gorgeous locations).  And the romance is cool and casual and there is very little about obsession to it (and has the greatest interchange between potential lovers in history).

It wasn't just hype.  Dean really was amazing.

It wasn’t just hype. Dean really was amazing.

5  –  East of Eden  (dir. Elia Kazan)

The key theme to Rebel Without a Cause, of course, is rebelling against what you have right in front of your eyes and James Dean does it better than just about any actor who ever went in front of a camera.  But in East of Eden, as Cal Trask, he is rebelling against what has been kept from him – the love of a father, the knowledge of a mother.  And just as Rebel is a story of Los Angeles and what was going on there at the time, this is the story of California itself and its transformation into the modern era.

Could there be anyone old enough to watch this film who would not understand its basic story?  With its title, with the father named Adam and the two sons Cal and Aron, could this be anything other than a variation on the Cain and Abel story?  Yet, this much more than a simple parable.  Yes, Cain slew Abel and was banished.  In this story, Cal will betray Aron, leading, in a way to Aron’s death.  But Cal is not Cain – this is a much more complex story about why we hate the ones we love, why we strive for love when there is nothing there and what we try to do for redemption.  I will leave the description of the story there, for a decent summary of the plot would be far longer than is needed for a review.

There are several things about this film which make it great.  It was nominated for four Oscars, all of them in major categories (Director, Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress, winning the last).  And yet that ignores the great sweeping cinematography when Cal is riding on top of a train or the fascinating shots of him interacting with his father in the house.  It ignores the art direction, of the farm, of the whorehouse, of Salinas and Monterey as the country was preparing for, and then heading into war.  It ignores the powerful score by Leonard Rosenman.  None of those earned nominations, but they deserved it.  Kazan’s direction was nominated and it deserved it, as does the screenplay which takes an 800 page novel and cuts right to the core of the story.

But none of these aspects are the heart of this great film.  That is in the performance from Dean (who was nominated), the performance from Raymond Massey (in some ways the harder role, playing the moralizing father) and the interactions between the two of them.  You can see how desperately Cal loves his father and wants to be loved in return and yet there is nothing but tension and hate between them.  Yet, in the end, it will be Cal sitting there with his stricken father, ready to do what is necessary to take care of him.  It is their interactions, the father-son dynamic that is the heart of the film.

Ed Wood "wins" the Worst Picture of the Year Award again.  It won't be the last time.

Ed Wood “wins” the Worst Picture of the Year Award again. It won’t be the last time.

5 Worst Films  (#1 being the worst):

  1. Jail Bait
  2. Napoleon
  3. Murder is My Beat
  4. Svengali
  5. Artists and Models

Jail Bait  (dir. Ed Wood)

Those who have seen the film Ed Wood may look at the eagerness with which Wood attacked his projects, his sincere love of film and his genuine fondness for his characters, and wonder what might have happened if Wood only had a bit of a budget and wasn’t making genuinely weird shit like Glen and Glenda.  Well, here is your answer and it’s just further proof that, sincerity aside, Wood, when it came to talent, was the polar opposite of Orson Welles.

Jail Bait, which sounds more interesting than it is (it was also called Hidden Face, which is more accurate – unlike Glen and Glenda or Plan 9, it looks the title was designed to be more titillating rather than less) is a standard early 50’s crime film that wants to be noir.  It begins with a cop car screaming through the night and credits that look like they belong in an actual studio film.  But then the film begins, the dialogue begins and the “actors” begin.

The story is fairly straight-forward and actually is long enough to fill a feature film: the son of a prominent plastic surgeon has gotten mixed up with criminals, feels himself harassed by the cops, gets involved in a hold-up and kills a man.  He confesses to his father, but is captured by his partner and killed, the partner claims he has the son hostage so that he can get a new face to elude the police but at the end the surgeon knows the truth so he gives the criminal his son’s face and he is killed by the police.

All of that could have made a half-decent film.  But you forget the inability of Wood to write or direct a scene.  The sets look like the kind of cheap set-ups you saw in Glen and will see in Plan 9.  The camera never seems to know what to do.  Some scenes go on way too long because they didn’t seem to know when to turn the camera off.  But the real problem is the dialogue – it is so stilted and awkward, it sounds like it was written by someone who has seen movies but doesn’t know how to write one.  That would be bad enough if at least the acting was okay (if acting could be okay with dialogue this bad).  But the acting is horrendous.  Just look at Herbert Rawlinson, as the surgeon, when he discovers his son’s body (it is hidden in a “closet”, but it’s really just behind a curtain – when he opens the curtain the body falls down – and you will ask yourself, like I did, was the curtain holding the body up? – and if it wasn’t, why did it fall down?) and look at the pathetic expression.

Jail Bait, of course, is nowhere near the level of awfulness that Glen and Glenda or Plan 9 are.  That it earns 1 point and those earn 0 doesn’t speak to how bad they are (though it does speak to how bad this film is).  But it is proof positive that no matter what kind of budget Wood had, he was never going to be a good filmmaker.

Points:

  • Most Nighthawk Nominations:  To Catch a Thief  (9)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards:  Rebel Without a Cause  /  Mister Roberts  (4)
  • Most Nighthawk Points:  Rebel Without a Cause  (385)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Award:  Love is a Many-Splendored Thing
  • 2nd Place Award:  Mister Roberts  (Picture, Actor, Sound Editing)
  • 6th Place Award:  The Man with the Golden Arm  (Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actress)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Nominations:  Rebel Without a Cause  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Awards:  Rebel Without a Cause  (5)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Points:  Rebel Without a Cause  (415)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Drama Award:  The End of the Affair
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Nominations:  Mister Roberts  (7)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Awards:  Mister Roberts  (4)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Points:  Mister Roberts  (415)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Comedy Award:  Interrupted Melody

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

Progressive Leaders:

  • Most Nighthawk Nominations:  The Wizard of Oz  (18)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards:  The Wizard of Oz  (14)
  • Most Nighthawk Points:  The Wizard of Oz  (795)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards without winning Best Picture:  Frankenstein  /  The Magnificent Ambersons  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Nominations without a Best Picture Nomination:  Captain Blood  /  Henry V  (10)
  • Most Nighthawk Nominations without a Nighthawk Award:  My Man Godfrey (11)
  • Actor:  Humphrey Bogart  (475)
  • Actress:  Bette Davis  (555)
  • Director:  William Wyler  /  Billy Wilder  (405)
  • Writer:  Billy Wilder  (680)
  • Cinematographer:  Arthur Edeson  /  Gregg Toland  (200)
  • Composer:  Max Steiner  (450)
  • Foreign Film:  Akira Kurosawa  (260)

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

  • Drama:  50 (8)  –  Rebel Without a Cause  (65.2)
  • Foreign:  16  –  Mister Hulot’s Holiday  (69.6)
  • Comedy:  16 (3)  –  Mister Roberts  (65.4)
  • Musical:  14 (2)  –  Oklahoma  (66.1)
  • Western:  13  –  The Far Country  (64.8)
  • War:  7 (2)  –  A Generation  (65.1)
  • Adventure:  6  –  Moonfleet  (60.7)
  • Crime:  5  –  The Night of the Hunter  (70.8)
  • Action:  3 (2)  –  Samurai I: Miyamato Musashi  (79)
  • Suspense:  3  –  Bad Day at Black Rock  (75.3)
  • Mystery:  2  –  To Catch a Thief  (81.5)
  • Horror:  2  –  Cult of the Cobra  (56.5)
  • Kids:  1  –  Lady and the Tramp  (90)
  • Sci-Fi:  1  –  This Island Earth  (52)
  • Fantasy:  0

Analysis:  The three Action films ties the high from the year before and the 13 Westerns are the most I’ve seen in one year to date.  On the other hand, the 16 Comedies are the lowest in six years, even though this is the highest amount of total films in five years.  The 56.6 score is the beginning of a bad run of lots of bad Horror films – there will be more Horror films in the next few years than in all the years since the end of the Golden Age of Horror, but aside from the Hammer films, they will be terrible (lots of bad Japanese monster movies that I classify as Horror films).

For the seventh consecutive year a Drama wins Best Picture.  There are also 11 Dramas in the Top 20 – the highest amount in 7 years.  Lady and the Tramp becomes the first Kids film to make the Top 10 in five years.

Studio Note:  Like in six of the previous seven years, MGM and 20th Century-Fox have the most films (17 and 14).  For only the fourth time there are multiple Disney films – that’s because they have finally really started to produce other feature films aside from animated ones and they start handling their own distribution through Buena Vista, rather than through RKO.  RKO films themselves continue to decline in number (3) and quality (58.3).  United Artists has a great year however, with 12 films averaging a 73.9.  Warner Bros is also strong, with 12 films averaging a 71.3 and, for the first time since 1931, 3 films in the Top 10 (in fact, 3 in the Top 5: Rebel, Roberts, East of Eden).  Warner also joins UA and Paramount by winning its fourth Best Picture.

37 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; an asterisk means it won the Oscar):

  • Beautiful But Dangerous  (Leonard, Italy)
  • Children, Mothers and a General  (Benedek, West Germany)
  • The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz  (Buñuel, Mexico)
  • Death of a Cyclist  (Bardem, Spain)
  • Diabolique  (Clouzot, France)
  • Dreams  (Bergman, Sweden)
  • Espaldas mojadas  (Galindo, Mexico)
  • Floating Clouds  (Naruse, Japan)
  • French Cancan  (Renoir, France)
  • A Generation  (Wajda, Poland)
  • Godzilla Raids Again  (Oda, Japan)
  • The Grand Maneuver  (Clair, France)
  • A Hero of Our Times  (Monicelli, Italy)
  • I Live in Fear  (Kurosawa, Japan)
  • Journey to the Beginning of Time  (Zeman, Czechoslovakia)
  • Lady Chatterly’s Lover  (Allegret, France)
  • Le Amiche  (Antonioni, Italy)
  • Lola Montes  (Ophuls, France)
  • Miracle of Marcelino  (Vajda, Spain)
  • La Mora cu noroc  (Iliu, Romania)
  • Napoleon  (Guitry, France)
  • Ordet  (Dreyer, Denmark)
  • Pather Panchali  (Ray, India)
  • Princess Yang Kwei Fei  (Mizoguchi, Japan)
  • Rififi  (Dassin, France)
  • Rio 100 Degrees F.  (dos Santos, Brazil)
  • River and Death  (Buñuel, Mexico)
  • Samurai I: Miyamato Musashi  (Inagaki, Japan)
  • Samurai II: Duel at Inchiyo Temple  (Inagaki, Japan)
  • School for Tramps  (Gonzalez, Mexico)
  • Shree 420  (Kapoor, India)
  • Sissi  (Marischka, Austria)
  • Sleeping Beauty  (Genschow, West Germany)
  • Smiles of a Summer Night  (Bergman, Sweden)
  • Stella  (Cacoyannis, Greece)
  • The Swindle  (Fellini, Italy)
  • The White Angel  (Matarazzo, Italy)

Note:  France (7), Japan (6) and Italy (5) are the leading countries.  South-Central Europe chimes in, with first films I’ve seen from Greece, Austria and Romania.  The 37 films are a new high for one year, and yet, will pale in comparison with the last years of the decade.

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

  • Tormento  (1950)
  • Othello  (1952)
  • The Pickwick Papers  (1952)
  • Fear and Desire  (1953)
  • The Heart of the Matter  (1953)
  • Mr. Hulot’s Holiday  (1953)
  • Two Careful Fellows  (1953)
  • Ugetsu  (1953)
  • The Wages of Fear  (1953)
  • The Belles of St. Trinian’s  (1954)
  • The Dam Busters  (1954)
  • Doctor in the House  (1954)
  • Green Fire  (1954)
  • Jail Bait  (1954)
  • Mambo  (1954)
  • Phfft  (1954)
  • The Purple Plain  (1954)
  • The Sheep Has 5 Legs  (1954)
  • Svengali  (1954)
  • Vera Cruz  (1954)
  • The Young Lovers  (1954)

Note:  This a first-rate group of films.  The 21 films here average a 68.95, but would average a 69.25 if not for Jail Bait.  Two of the Top 10 and 5 of the Top 20 are on this list and they earn 10 Nighthawk nominations in this year (they even earned 4 Oscar nominations).

Films Not Listed at Oscars.org:

  • Cast a Dark Shadow
  • Children, Mother and a General
  • Espaldas mojadas
  • A Generation
  • La Moara cu noroc
  • Napoleon
  • La Pointe Courte
  • Rio 100 Degrees F.
  • School for Tramps
  • Shree 420
  • Two Careful Fellows
  • The White Angel

Note:  I use the list at Oscars.org for deciding which year films are eligible in.  For some films, however, they don’t appear in that database.  For those films, I use the IMDb.  These are the films that aren’t listed in the Oscars.org database but that end up in this year.  In this case, as every film is a Foreign film from this year, most of them never got an American release (which means I stick it in its original year).

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

  • Bride of the Monster  (1956)
  • The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz  (1956)
  • Diabolique  (1956)
  • Doctor at Sea  (1956)
  • Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer  (1956)
  • The Ladykillers  (1956)
  • The Night My Number Came Up  (1956)
  • Princess Yang Kwei Fei  (1956)
  • The Prisoner  (1956)
  • Quatermass Xperiment  (1956)
  • Richard III  (1956)
  • Samurai II: Duel at Inchiyo Temple  (1956)
  • Touch and Go  (1956)
  • The Trouble with Harry  (1956)
  • Twelfth Night  (1956)
  • The Colditz Story  (1957)
  • The Grand Maneuver  (1957)
  • A Hero of Our Times  (1957)
  • Jedda  (1957)
  • Magic Fire  (1957)
  • Rififi  (1957)
  • Stella  (1957)
  • Beautiful But Dangerous  (1958)
  • Death of a Cyclist  (1958)
  • French Cancan  (1958)
  • Miracle of Marcelino  (1958)
  • Smiles of a Summer Night  (1958)
  • Godzilla Raids Again  (1959)
  • Ordet  (1959)
  • Pather Panchali  (1959)
  • Dreams  (1960)
  • Lola Montes  (1960)
  • Mr. Arkadin  (1962)
  • Sissi  (1962)
  • The Swindle  (1963)
  • Sleeping Beauty  (1965)
  • Le Amiche  (1966)
  • I Live in Fear  (1967)
  • Journey to the Beginning of Time  (1967)
  • River and Death  (1977)
  • Floating Clouds  (1980)

Note:  Another strong group brought down by Ed Wood.  This group of 41 films average a very strong 71.1, but without Bride of the Monster, they average a 72.9.  There are six **** films and 7 ***.5 films.  Smiles of a Summer Night would win 8 Nighthawks if it was eligible here, including Picture and Director – instead it will have to make do with 5 in 1958 when it is up against Touch of Evil.

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