Friday, February 8, 2013

A Fisti Flashback: 1939

So, I’ve been busy behind the scenes wrapping up my personal Fisti Awards for a certain year in film history that is often considered to be the VERY best; 1939.  I don’t know if you’ve browsed my Awards pages recently, but if you did you would have seen that over the past week or two I’ve been dropping random ballots on the 30’s page, working to complete my awards.  I finished yesterday, posting up Lead Actor (obviously the most important award, right?) around 5PM and then I logged off. 

I try to have a life!

I don’t know if I’ve ever posted my personal requirements for finalizing my personal awards, but now seems as good a time as any to put them down in writing.  For any years post 2000 (all of the aughts are completed, but this rule would apply to every year to follow) I require myself to have seen at least 100 films and require that I could fill a ballot of five for all major categories.  For every year that falls below 2000, I require myself to have seen at least 50 films and must be able to fill all major ballots with at least five nominees, except for Visual Effects, which I allow myself to drop to three nominees (much like the Makeup category).  I do not require myself to watch all the Oscar nominated films, because that isn’t always practical and there are times when I just KNOW that I’m not going to like something.  Still, I do make an effort to do so.

So, for 1939, I saw EXACTLY 50 films, and they are as follows:

6,000 Enemies
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
At the Circus
Babes in Arms
Bachelor Mother
Beau Geste
Captain Fury
Dark Victory
Daughters Courageous
Drums Along the Mohawk
Each Dawn I Die
Everything Happens at Night
Five Came Back
The Four Feathers
Golden Boy
Gone with the Wind
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Gulliver’s Travels
Gunga Din
Hollywood Cavalcade
The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Idiot’s Delight
In Name Only
Intermezzo: A Love Story
Jesse James
Le Jour se Leve
The Little Princess
Love Story
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Of Mice and Men
The Old Maid
On Borrowed Time
Only Angels Have Wings
Port of Shadows
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex
The Roaring Twenties
The Rules of the Game
Second Fiddle
Son of Frankenstein
Stanley & Livingston
The Wizard of Oz
The Women
Wuthering Heights 
Young Mr. Lincoln

The hype is real; this year was wonderful.  I’m surprised at how little of the actual Oscar Best Picture ballot actually makes my top twelve though.  They were all good in their own rights, but I found so many hidden gems this year that it became increasingly harder to keep some of those films at the top.  There was a time when I considered Mr. Smith Goes to Washington to be one of the top 100 greatest films of all time; but now if doesn’t even make my top five for 1939!  Seriously, this year was incredible.  French film was outstanding, Jean Gabin had the year of his life, James Cagney was on FIRE, Gone with the Wind stole America’s hearts (not mine, although I do accept that it is wonderfully made) and Bette Davis starred in like every movie made. 

So, you can head on over to the 30’s Fisti Page here and browse my personal nominees and winners.  I don’t think I line up with Oscar anywhere but a few techs.  We just didn’t see eye to eye this year (our nominees overlap in a few places, but that is all).  Still, I admire their choices to a degree and can’t fault them much.  1939 was an extremely strong year, so no matter which way you slice or dice it you come out a winner.

I can't wait to read your comments!  I'd love to know what tops your ballot.  Were you on the GWTW train too, or did you find some other film that stole your heart?


  1. Fantastic stuff! I'm WAY behind in this year, as I haven't even seen Beau Geste, Midnight, Port of Shadows, The Rules of the Game, or Le Jour se Leve yet. Actually, I've only seen 14 of the 50. I'd recommend Blind Alley (starring Chester Morris and Ralph Bellamy) if you can find it.

    Love seeing Gladys George win. She's probably my runner-up behind Jean Arthur, who I'd place in supporting for Mr. Smith and lead for Only Angels Have Wings.

    I have a feeling Beau Geste will be my Film Editing winner as well. I'm definitely going to see it soon. Might start with the 4 from your Best Picture lineup next week.

    Right now, Gone with the Wind has 7 wins (Picture, Director, Actress, A. Screenplay, Cinematography, Costumes, Score). I suspect that will change as I see more from that year.

    1. Beau Geste is amazing, one of my favorite films of all time! The Rules of the Game isn't that far behind it. You really should check those out. I just love this year.

      Gone With the Wind was one of those films that I really respect and yet find it to be uneven in parts and overblown in others. I give it a B+