A lot of people cite 1939 as the greatest year in the history of cinema- "the year the movies grew up" I read somewhere once- and it's rather easy to see why. Just take a gander at the highly exalted Oscar Best Picture line up: Love Affair and Dark Victory, two of the finest "women's pictures" of their time; Gone With the Wind, the romantic blockbuster that redefined the word "epic"; The Wizard of Oz, the fantasy classic that has gone on to be adored by both adults and children; Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Frank Capra's scathing attack on Washington politics that made James Stewart a star; Stagecoach, the first proof that the Western could be used to make serious works of art; Ninotchka, the proof that after 15 years of wowing us with her dramatic skills, Garbo still had more tricks up her sleeve. Only Goodbye, Mr. Chips- inspirational teacher drama taken to the least interesting degree- and Wuthering Heights- a "romance" that never once feels romantic or passionate- really flounder among the nominees (I still haven't seen Of Mice and Men). Add to these seven Francois Truffaut's favorite film, French master Jean Renoir's society spoof The Rules of the Game, Cukor's hilarious bitchfest, The Women and one of Howard Hawks' best adventure films, Only Angels Have Wings and it turns out to be quite the year.
I would love to hear what you think about my picks, especially when it comes to my acting nominees. Four nominations for The Wizard of Oz, but none for Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West? Greer Garson moved from Lead to Supporting for Goodbye, Mr. Chips? Henry Fonda sneaking a Best Actor nom for a film I completely hated and really don't understand the appeal of? How do we feel about Jean Arthur as a whole? Is her nom for Mr. Smith deserved or is it just another retread of her Babe Bennett in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town? Are Rosalind Russell and Paulette Goddard the right women from The Women to honor with Best Supporting Actress nominations? Who would you pick? Discuss, discuss, discuss. Plus, while you're at it, answer this poll so I can see where everyone's loyalties are.