A Century of FilmScreen Shot 2021-01-23 at 2.28.05 PM

Film History


Filmmaking had supposedly peaked in 1939 just as the war arrived to greatly limit (outside of America, film production was massively down) and influence it (in America, War films took the forefront).  After the war concluded, came the two lawsuits that changed the way of films in America.  First came de Havilland vs. Warner Bros. Pictures which altered the notion of what a studio could put in a contract.  Second came United States vs. Paramount Pictures which meant that production studios would have to sell off their theater chains.  The first hastened the end of the way films were made in the Studio Era while the second altered how they were distributed and brought an to the end to the concept of the “majors” as they had been known. (more…)

“They were clustered / At the right waist-port; the gun was there, / And Homer hung against it, crying joy. / They saw a river; they all knew it.” (p 22)

My Top 7:

  1. The Best Years of Our Lives
  2. Brief Encounter
  3. The Big Sleep
  4. It’s a Wonderful Life
  5. Henry V
  6. The Spiral Staircase
  7. The Killers

note:  This is an interesting year.  It’s one of the greatest years in film history and the Top 7 films (Children of Paradise and Notorious are original scripts) are better than than the top 7 of any other year.  However, there’s a big drop-off after those seven and thus I only have a Top 7, not a Top 10.


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.


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. (more…)

The brilliant opening of Children of Paradise.

The brilliant opening of Children of Paradise.

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.

This is the first year of the reduced number of nominees in the tech categories at the Oscars – Sound and Interior Decoration would have three nominees each with Cinematography and Special Effects only having two each.  It’s the fourth year for the Golden Globes, but there are still no nominees and no distinction between Drama and Comedy – the films marked in red in my Globes section won the Globe.

Note:  You will see seven films in most categories listed below.  Only the top 5 are my nominees for the year.  But the seven top films of this year are so incredibly good, I decided to list more than my top 5 – in fact, this year sets a new best for Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Editing and Cinematography.  In later years, I will probably list my Top 10 in just about all categories, but still only my top 5 will earn nominations.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture
  1. Children of Paradise
  2. The Best Years of Our Lives
  3. It’s a Wonderful Life
  4. The Big Sleep
  5. Brief Encounter
  6. Henry V
  7. Notorious


the dancing mushrooms in Fantasia - the best animated film of the 1940's

Well, before I go into 1949, I’ll cover the decade as a whole.  Bear in mind the decade awards cover films by their original release date, so you might find films that haven’t shown up in individual years yet.

1940  –  1949

Total Films I’ve Seen:  617

Films That Make the Top 5 in a Category:  42

Best Film Not to Make the Top 5 in any Category:  The Best Years of Our Lives

Film of the Decade:  Children of Paradise

Worst Film of the Decade:  King of the Zombies

Worst Best Picture Nominee of the Decade:  All This and Heaven Too

Worst Film of the Decade Made by a Top 100 Director:  Under Capricorn (more…)

The amazing reunion scene in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) between Myrna Loy and Frederic March

The 19th Academy Awards, for the film year 1946.  The nominations were announced on February 9, 1947 and the awards were held on March 13, 1947.

Best Picture:  The Best Years of Our Lives

  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Henry V
  • The Yearling
  • The Razor’s Edge

Most Surprising Omission:  Brief Encounter

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  Children of Paradise

Best Eligible English-Language Film Not Nominated:  The Big Sleep

Rank (out of 82) Among Best Picture Years:  #41


My Top 10:

Les Enfants du Paradis (1945) - as Children of Paradise, the #1 film of 1946

  1. Children of Paradise
  2. The Best Years of Our Lives
  3. It’s a Wonderful Life
  4. Brief Encounter
  5. The Big Sleep
  6. Notorious
  7. Henry V
  8. The Spiral Staircase
  9. My Darling Clementine
  10. Open City (more…)

Kirk Douglas in Kubrick’s Paths of Glory, one of the best films from 1957

A little note before my article: I have a new article appearing on CinCity2000.com on Tuesday. It’s a response to a New York Times article about the lack of decent women’s roles in summer movies.

The Myth of 1939

We are so fond of anniversaries. Just look at everything we celebrated last year. The 80th anniversary of the Academy Awards. The 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love and Sgt Pepper’s. The 30th anniversary of Star Wars and the Summer of Sam. But did we forget the best anniversary from last year? Isn’t the big number supposed to be 50 (“not to fifty” Christopher Guest shouts as that classic turned 20)? Shouldn’t we have been looking back to 1957? For movies, after all, it might have been the peak of artistic creation, both on the national and international front. (more…)