A Century of Film


Film History Through 1929

I’m certainly not going to discuss all of film history through 1929.  That has been done in numerous books in far more detail than I could ever discuss here.  There are some important dates that should not be ignored like 1912 (the release of Richard III, the oldest surviving feature-length film), 1915 (the release of The Birth of a Nation), the formation of the major studios (remember that what you think of as major may not meet that definition – it’s the five studios that both distributed films and owned theaters to which they could distribute the films and those were Fox, MGM, Warners, Paramount and RKO Radio, the last of which began releasing films in 1929, thus cementing the status of the five majors) and the double whammy of the introduction of sound with The Jazz Singer and the inception of the Academy Awards. (more…)

A couple of famous Oscar winners in 1939.

A couple of famous Oscar winners in 1939.

Introduction:

This is a companion piece to three different series.  The first is the 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. (more…)

Still a powerful ending after 83 years.

Still a powerful ending after 83 years.

You can read more about this year in film here.  The Best Picture race is discussed here, with reviews of all the nominees.  First there are the categories, followed by all the films with their nominations, then the Globes, where I split the major awards by Drama and Comedy, followed by a few lists at the very end.  If there’s a film you expected to see and didn’t, check the very bottom – it might be eligible in a different year.  Films in red won the Oscar in that category.  Films in blue were nominated.  But remember, there’s still only eight categories at this point.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture
  1. All Quiet on the Western Front
  2. Lucky Star
  3. Asphalt
  4. The Wonderful Lies of Nina Petrovna
  5. A Cottage on Dartmoor

(more…)

"So long as I don't know his name perhaps I may still forget him, time will obliterate it, this picture."  All Quiet on the Western Front, p 224

“So long as I don’t know his name perhaps I may still forget him, time will obliterate it, this picture.” All Quiet on the Western Front, p 224

My Top 5:

  1. All Quiet on the Western Front
  2. Lucky Star
  3. Anna Christie
  4. Au Bonheur des Dames
  5. The Cocoanuts

Note:  Again, we only have a top 5.  It was originally more, but in re-watching some films, while I have found more to add in the acting categories, I have found more to subtract in the writing categories.  The Great Gabbo was here at one point, as was Hitchcock’s Blackmail and even Murnau’s City Girl but I ended up cutting all three of them.  This is what I am left with and it’s not an impressive top 5.  All Quiet would be a winner in most years but in a decent year, none of the others would even come close to my top 10, let alone earn actual nominations. (more…)

NosferatuShadowYou can read more about this year in film here.  The Best Picture race is discussed here, with reviews of all the nominees.  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.  Films in red won the Oscar in that category.  Films in blue were nominated.  But remember, there were only a handful of Oscar categories in this, the second year of the Oscars (and, in fact, several fewer than the year before).

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture
  1. Nosferatu
  2. The Wind
  3. Steamboat Bill Jr
  4. L’Argent
  5. Lonesome (more…)

One of the amazing surreal scenes in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919)

As I have gone through each year in film, both in covering the year, and later, in covering the Oscar nominees for Best Picture, I have included very little of my own nominees.   Partially it’s because I don’t want to throw too much of my own stuff in these and partially because I included all of my own nominees in my History of the Academy Awards series as I covered each category.

But, as I finish each decade, I’d like to take a look back and cover the best of each decade in each category.  So, I’ll go with each current Oscar category (other than documentaries and shorts) and I’ll list my top 5 covering an entire decade (in this case, covering all of film history up until 1929).

Because I’m covering a whole decade at a time, I am doing away with my requirement to keep to Academy eligible years and I just go with the original release date. (more…)

The haunting final shot of All Quiet on the Western Front, easily the best film of 1930.

The 3rd Academy Awards for the film year of August 1, 1929 to July 31, 1930.  The nominations were announced on September 19, 1930 and the awards were held on November 5, 1930.

Best Production:  All Quiet on the Western Front

  • Disraeli
  • The Big House
  • The Love Parade
  • The Divorcee

Most Surprising Omission:  Anna Christie

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  City Girl

Rank (out of 82) Among Best Picture Years:  #76

(more…)

Anita Page, Bessie Love and Charles King in The Broadway Melody (1929), the second, and worst, Best Picture winner.

The 2nd Academy Awards – for the film year of August 1, 1928 to July 31, 1929.  The awards were held on April 30, 1930.

Best Production:  The Broadway Melody

  • In Old Arizona
  • Alibi
  • The Hollywood Revue of 1929
  • The Patriot

Most Surprising Omission:  The Divine Lady

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  Nosferatu

Best Eligible U.S. Film Not Nominated:  Steamboat Bill, Jr.

Rank (out of 82) Among Best Picture Years:  #82

(more…)

My Top 10:

allquietonthewesternfront

The final poignant moment in All Quiet on the Western Front

  1. All Quiet on the Western Front
  2. City Girl
  3. Arsenal
  4. Hell’s Angels
  5. The General Line
  6. Under the Roofs of Paris
  7. The Great Gabbo
  8. Anna Christie
  9. Blackmail
  10. Diary of a Lost Girl (more…)

My Top 10:

the menacing shadow in Nosferatu (1922, US release - 1929)

the menacing shadow in Nosferatu (1922, US release - 1929)

  1. Nosferatu
  2. October
  3. Steamboat Bill Jr.
  4. Napoleon
  5. The Fall of the House of Usher
  6. The Wind
  7. The Wedding March
  8. Pandora’s Box
  9. Street Angel
  10. Spite Marriage

(more…)