Friday, September 25, 2015

1946 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged By Clicking on Them]

1946.  This was a great year.  Even Oscar got a lot of stuff right.  The year was great even before 1945 stepped in and handed it some treasures.  Yes, due to the Fisti rule that any foreign film nominated for an Oscar must compete in the year in which it was nominated, there are quite a few 'technically' 1945 films that are competing here.  

One of which is my Best Picture winner.

But more on that in a minute.  First, let's talk about Oscar.  While the debate will continue to the end of time as to whether of not The Best Years of Our Lives should have defeated It's a Wonderful Life for Best Picture, the fact remains that both films are truly beautiful.  Personally, I feel that The Best Years of Our Lives IS the better film, while It's a Wonderful Life is understandably the more iconic feature.

They're both treasures, and that's the most important thing.

One thing that The Best Years of Our Lives was able to capture, and a clear reason as to why it won (and won SO MUCH) on Oscar night, was the state of the times.  It understood that, in that moment, the message it carried was a very important one.  In fact, with WWII just barely over, the welcome home of the men and women who defended the country was on the minds of every single person, and so the year became a bounty of films that tried to understand more fully the mindset, not only of the soldiers coming home, but also of the men and women standing at the front door to greet them.  

And that brings us to...another Lee Hirsch Award for Change!

Yes, with the war over, the incredible John Huston put together a series of PSA-Documentaries, and the final film in that series is a chilling look at PTS-Syndrom.  Let There Be Light is a film designed to help the general public understand that there is help for those soldiers returning home and that they can and should be accepted back into a normal way of life.  The fear to hire these young men and women was real, and so John Huston's powerful documentary served a real purpose and is still stirring even today.

Alright, alright, alright...let's get on with it!  I now present to you the Fisti Awards of 1946!

Award's Tally

[6 Wins]

La Belle et La Bete

[4 Wins]

Brief Encounter

[2 Wins]

Children of Paradise

[1 Win]

Let There Be Light*
Rome, Open City

*Because of the Special Award handed out this year, there are a total of 18 Awards given instead of the usual 17.


  1. Wow. I didn't realize 1946 was such a stellar year for movies. Interesting pick with Best Picture. I like Brief Encounter but it doesn't hold up all that well for me as many other of Lean's films do.
    Best Years of Our Lives and It's A Wonderful Life are both great but I just love Children of Paradise too much which is why that would be my pick. Unfortunately these 4 films are the only ones i've seen from this year so can't comment much on the others.

    1. Children of Paradise was my #3, and alongside Brief Encounter and La Belle et La Bete, I'd say it's a complete masterpiece!

      Can't wait for you to dig into this year more.

  2. Brief Encounter. BRIEF ENCOUNTER! UGH that fucking beautiful, sad, perfect little film. SO glad it shows up all over your nominations.And if there was a film to beat it in actual wins, of course it should be the glorious La Belle et la Bete. Combine those two with Notorious and Best Years of Our Lives and Les Enfants du Paradis and they would dominate my own awards for this year. And I have yet to see Humoresque and A Matter of Life and Death, which look wonderful.

    I would find it difficult to choose between Notorious, Brief Encounter, and Belle/Bete for cinematography. Can't believe Notorious didn't even make your five!

    Surprise misses: Leopoldine Konstantine in Supporting Actress for Notorious; Trevor Howard in Lead Actor for Brief Encounter; Jean Marais in Lead Actor for La Belle et la Bete; everyone in Best Years of Our Lives (LOL - but that entire cast is just so stellar).

    1. Having the awards pretty much split between Brief Encounter and La Belle et La Bete seems rather fitting, considering that they pretty much define everything I love about cinema. Brief Encounter has that intimate unravel of real emotion and human tragedy and La Belle et La Bete richly emphasizes all the dreamy, fantastical elements of film that make my heart sing. They are PERFECT films.

      As far as Cinematography is concerned, this year was INSANE, and that fifth spot was between Notorious, The Stranger and Deception. Haller was having a crazy good year with Humoresque and Deception, but a recent watch of The Stranger had me in awe of those angles, so I threw it a bone (since it missed in other places).

      But really, this year was INSANE, I tell you...INSANE in that department.

      As far as the acting misses, it's a shame, but these categories were really tight. Howard and Marais are very good in their respective films, but for me La Belle et La Bete is all about Cocteau and his story/vision, and Howard, while very good, is just completely upstaged by Johnson in one of the greatest performances of all time, ever, not even a question, top ten performance of all time regardless of category or sex. Like...JAW ON THE FLOOR, she's that good.

    2. Um, big huge gigantic YES to everything in that first paragraph. In every way that Brief Encounter is intimate and tragic, La Belle et la Bete is big and fantastical, and both are those things in such interesting ways.

      TOTALLY agree about Celia Johnson. She's beyond stellar and she'd be my winner this year in a tight race with Ingrid Bergman. Comparatively speaking, it's very easy to discount Trevor Howard's work opposite her, but the film flat-out doesn't work if he isn't so perfectly non-threateningly charming and almost ordinary while at the same time possessing some inner sadness/discontent AND the slightest hint of danger. That's NOT easy. It's a near-perfectly judged performance.

    3. You have a point regarding Howard. It is easy to dismiss him (as I have) but he shouldn't be overlooked because he really is the perfect match to Johnson...she's just so consuming. She's all I can think about.

  3. OK I am drooling right now...really...not a pretty sight. I would have no idea what to pick because so many films are just amazing and I would want to switch them around and have some be picked for 1952 or 1957 or whatever. Now I just got the Criterion collection of la Belle et la Bette! I can't wait to watch all of it. I love The Best years and i think the talk about a great marriage that Myrna Loy delivers to her "daughter" Teresa Wright" is brilliant. The again Brief Encounter is a wonderful telling of an almost affair and it made my heart pitter patter for Trevor Howard. Of course I love It's A Wonderful Life-this is a great year-maybe better than 1939

    1. Drool is alright when it's over films like La Belle et La Bete and Brief Encounter!

  4. It looks like I need to see Brief Encounter!

  5. Okay we’re going to be here for a while! Where to even start with this year!! Let me start by saying that I am THRILLED with all the nods for Deadline at Dawn!! Even though it never finished in the money anything that raises awareness of that hidden gem is awesome.

    There are just so many worthy competitors in every category I’m taking a leaf from your book this time and listing my runner ups.

    Beauty and the Beast
    The Best Years of Our Lives-Winner
    Brief Encounter
    It's a Wonderful Life
    In the running: Deadline at Dawn, My Darling Clementine, The Spiral Staircase, The Stranger and Great Expectations.

    Our lineup is so close with only one difference, I liked Children of Paradise-especially visually but I’m not an ardent fan. This was so tight for me between Notorious and Best Years before adding Brief Encounter into the mix, I’ve always thought of it as a ’45 release but I’ll draw within the lines. I can’t fault your picking it as your winner, it would be mine in ’45 and it’s my runner up but while it tells its story with delicate grace the broader scope undertaken by Years just seems the slightly greater achievement. Neither can really be bettered though.

    Frank Capra-It's a Wonderful Life
    Jean Cocteau-Beauty and the Beast
    Alfred Hitchcock-Notorious-Winner
    David Lean-Brief Encounter
    William Wyler-The Best Years of Our Lives
    In the running: Harold Clurman-Deadline at Dawn (as with Charles Laughton what a shame that this is the only theatrical film he ever directed) John Ford for My Darling Clementine, Robert Siodmak-The Spiral Staircase

    So close again! Any of these men could have been the winner and I couldn’t find fault in the choice. Beauty & the Beast is such a masterwork for Cocteau. Lean and Wyler both create something so special with their films I’m not even sure which would be my runner up between the two but Hitch keeps the reins pulled tight on Notorious and never lets up.

    Dana Andrews-The Best Years of Our Lives
    Henry Fonda-My Darling Clementine
    John Garfield-Humoresque
    Cary Grant-Notorious-Winner
    Orson Welles-The Stranger
    In the running: Aldo Fabrizi-Open City, John Garfield-The Postman Always Rings Twice, Fredric March-Best Years of Our Lives, Laurence Olivier-Henry V and James Stewart-It’s a Wonderful Life

    This might be where we are the farthest apart. Barrault is very good in Paradise but there are many other performances that impressed me more. Fonda, Garfield (what a year he had!) and Welles are all super but this was between Andrews and Grant and while this is one of Andrews's best I think Devlin is Cary's top performance out of the many excellent ones throughout his career. The nod for Errol Flynn in the delightful Never Say Goodbye is a nice surprise as is Van Heflin in Martha Ivers!

    Ingrid Bergman-Notorious-Winner
    Olivia de Havilland-To Each His Own
    Susan Hayward-Deadline at Dawn
    Celia Johnson-Brief Encounter
    Dorothy McGuire-The Spiral Staircase
    In the running: Arletty-Children of Paradise, Josette Day-Beauty & the Beast, Laraine Day-The Locket, Rita Hayworth-Gilda, Deborah Kerr-I See a Dark Stranger, Rosalind Russell-Sister Kenny, Barbara Stanwyck-My Reputation, Barbara Stanwyck-The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Gene Tierney-The Razor's Edge and Lana Turner-The Postman Always Rings Twice

    Without hyperbole I think it’s fair to say this is one of the greatest years for lead actress roles and performances in film history!

    There were so many great contenders that this was the toughest category for me to get down to just five. I’m handing the prize to Ingrid for her brilliant performance of the complicated Alicia Huberman but it pains me to then not have picked Celia Johnson’s beautiful work.

    1. I love how much we match up this year!!! Your BP lineup is wonderful. Notorious has grown so much for me with a rewatch and it's my #6...and so is Capra, so I'm loving your Director ballot as well.

      I didn't see My Darling Clementine before wrapping up these awards. There was a long wait on Netflix and so I just gave up. It didn't seem like a film up my alley (I've seen quite a few films on the story, and Fonda is not an actor I'm too fond of) so I didn't view it as a complete loss.

      McGuire was my #6, and I almost put her in over Turner last minute...but for Till the End of Time. I haven't seen The Spiral Staircase.

      And yes...this year was tremendous for Lead Actresses. I love your Hayward nod...she was probably #7 for me. Incredible of hers that I've seen.

    2. Clementine is revisionist but John Ford does wonderful things in directing it plus it does have an excellent performance from Victor Mature, not a great actor but much better than he's given credit for, and some nice work by Linda Darnell, as the unfortunately named Chihuahua, but not enough to squeeze her into the super crowded supporting field. It's worth catching someday but since you're not that big a fan of Hank Fonda nothing to go out of your way to find.

      I liked Till the End of Time and Dorothy McGuire in it, I almost always do enjoy her work, as well as Robert Mitchum but while Guy Madison may have been one of the best looking men in the movies he was never much of an actor and he was a drag on the picture. Back to Dorothy, she's very good in this but playing a mute in Spiral Staircase gave her a chance to really flex her acting muscles and she is tremendous in it, yet another outstanding performance in a year overflowing with them. The movie is a great little suspenser, it will probably pop up somewhere now that Halloween is coming on.

    3. OMG, Guy Madison prevented me from loving Till the End of Time, which was a very well written and otherwise acted film.

  6. Supporting Actor:
    Lionel Barrymore-It's a Wonderful Life
    Victor Mature-My Darling Clementine
    Vincent Price-Dragonwyck
    Claude Rains-Notorious-Winner
    Harold Russell-The Best Years of Our Lives
    In the running: Kirk Douglas-Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Paul Lukas-Deadline at Dawn, George Macready-Gilda, Clifton Webb-The Razor's Edge and Claude Rains-Deception (if I hadn't chosen him for Notorious this would have been my winner-I noticed you have him in lead and depending on how you look at Henreid’s role Rains could go either way)

    Our ballots are so close and yet this is the only category were we match. Another category that’s filled to bursting with worthy contenders. Clementine is Mature's career best, Price entertainingly bizarre, Russell deeply touching and Barrymore the very picture of a twisted soul but as with his cast mates Rains imbues his part with that little something extra that lifts him above and into the winner's slot.

    Supporting Actress:
    Anne Baxter-The Razor's Edge
    Joan Crawford-Humoresque
    Leopoldine Konstantin-Notorious
    Myrna Loy-The Best Years of Our Lives-Winner
    Virginia Mayo-The Best Years of Our Lives
    In the running: Ethel Barrymore-The Spiral Staircase, Ava Gardner-The Killers, Gloria Grahame-It's a Wonderful Life, Martita Hunt-Great Expectations, Anna Magnani-Open City, Donna Reed-It's a Wonderful Life, Martha Vickers-The Big Sleep and Teresa Wright-The Best Years of Our Lives

    Another heavily crowded field, was there any field this year that wasn’t packed? Magnani is magnificent in Open City, so good in fact it seems crazy that she didn’t make my top five but she would be my number 7 just behind Martha Vickers’s brilliant work in The Big Sleep. Aargh this year just has too many choices!!!

    I adore Madame Konstantin's rendering of the monstrous Mme. Sebastian, so evil she doesn't even rate a first name! Virginia's rapacious tramp Marie is the best role she ever had, along with Verna in White Heat, and expertly played, a talented actress it’s a pity she was wasted in one decorative role after another in B movie junk. Crawford considered her performance in Possessed, her next film after Humoresque, her best work but many critics point to this performance of Helen Wright for that honor and I think I’d agree. I don’t think she would have ever allowed herself to compete in supporting at this point in her career but she isn’t the film’s main focus and her screen time is limited so placement here makes sense. With her here it became a three way race between Anne Baxter's sadly broken Sophie, Myrna's almost superhuman Millie and she. I went with Myrna because resolute patience and decency is harder to play than dipsomania no matter how well it's done.

    1. Rains is just undeniable. I honestly don't know a single person who wouldn't hand him the win here. What a great year he had. And yeah, I consider him Lead in Deception, and he was my #6 there. He was there up until I saw Rome, Open City. I was sad to take him out, but he had a sealed win in Supporting, so it wasn't too painful.

      Supporting Actress was ALMOST as rich as Lead, honestly. I have Great Expectations in 1947, because that is where Oscar recognized it, but love your mentions for it. I tried to get my hands on The Killers, but couldn't. I ran into that problem with a lot of the smaller films (and some larger ones)...they just aren't readily available.

      Loy was the last to leave my ballot. LOVE her work (love everyone's work, sans March, in that ensemble) but I had to let her go.

      You know how I feel about Crawford. She was my runner-up.

    2. That's too bad about not being able to get a hold of The Killers, aside from that terrific Ava Gardner performance it's a great little noir directed by Robert Siodmak (someone else who had a very strong year). It's actually going to be on TCM next Sunday at noon, too late for this but worth catching up with nonetheless.

    3. I'll try and see it if I can, and possibly make any amendments, but I have SO MUCH TO DVR is full, and I need to watch as many of them before moving as I can because it can't come with me :'-(

  7. Love so many of your tech picks and wins. Glad to see Humoresque take the editing prize, there’s so many instances that are breathtaking but the one that comes to mind is the intercutting between Crawford in the audience while Garfield plays his first big concert. Just amazing. If I’m correct that’s what scene your picture of Joan is from. It would have been my pick for cinematography as well despite the wonderfully evocative work of Brief Encounter.

    Costume Design is a tough call, B&B is stunning but this is the one category where Children of Paradise would prevail for me. It’s also nice to see that makeup & hairstyling nod for Caesar and Cleopatra which despite the astonishing cast is the one element I thought stood out in that thundering bore of a film.

    Hope you’ll have time in amongst all your moving, which I hope is progressing without too much trouble, to do that post you mentioned on the actresses of ’46!

    1. So happy to see you comment on the techs here. For me, pretty much every tech was between La Belle et La Bete and Children of Paradise...except cinematography, which was all Brief Encounter. It's just stunning work. Humoresque was such a great film, and one that continues to linger, mostly because of that sharp editing and the wonderful use of music (thus the Sound win).

      Caesar and Cleopatra is a film that I kind of checked out of. It was terrible, to be honest. The dialog was atrocious and the performances verged on camp. BUT, the makeup, costumes and to a much (MUCH) lesser degree the set pieces were all at least well intentioned.

      I'm trying to get that post compiled. I really, really want to do it!

    2. Agree wholly on Caesar and Cleo. Shows that assembling what would seem to be all the proper elements to a project is no guarantee of a successful outcome.

      Fingers crossed that you have time to do that post, it will make fascinating reading!

    3. I will try really hard to get it done!

  8. Belle et Belle is atmospheric and I admire it as a technical achievement, but it failed to raise an emotional response in me. Brief Encounter on the other hand was a film that to me was emotionally involving, and thrilled you gave Celia the win for best actress :) It's A Wonderful Life is my favorite of the films on that list I've watched.

    1. Celia Johnson gives a performance for the ages. There was no other choice for me. None.

  9. By chance, I did a look at the director race from 1946 yesterday. I don't normally post links to my site in the comments, but I think it's warranted in this case:

    1. Just checked out your site. Nice breakdown. Hope to see you again around these parts :-D

    2. FYI, both The Killers and The Yearling are playing on TCM in the next two months--the first at the start of October and the second close to the end of November (on Thanksgiving if memory serves). The first will almost certainly creep into a couple of these categories for you. The second...maybe.

    3. I'll do my best to catch The Killers. I won't be able to catch The Yearling (and I'm not overly upset about it, to be honest) because I'll be in the middle of moving cross country and won't be able to DVR it...but maybe one day.

    4. Yeah, it's not really essential viewing. it's not bad, but it's not worth going out of your way to see.

    5. I also happen to feel Gregory Peck is (often) hard to

  10. Great picks! Love Brief Encounter and Notorious.

    1. Thanks Alex! Yeah, both are great films. Brief Encounter is one of those films that haunts...lingers won't leave.

  11. Man, I really need to see Brief Encounter. Long overdue.

    Love all those performances you chose. I would have probably awarded Magnani, Rains, Andrews and Bergman.

    1. Bergman was my winner until I saw Brief Encounter. Just wait...Celia Johnson gives a performances for the ages. I can't wait for you to see it!

  12. This was a great year for film.

    Best Picture: It's A Wonderful Life
    runners up:
    A Matter of Life and Death
    Beauty and the Beast
    The Best Years of Our Lives
    The Big Sleep

    Director: either Cocteau for Beast or Hitchcock for Notorious
    Actor: James Stewart for It's A Wonderful Life
    Actress: Ingrid Bergman for Notorious
    Supporting Actor: Claude Rains in Notorious
    Supporting Actress: Anna Magnani in Rome Open City

    Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast takes home Art Direction, Score, Visual Effects and Cinematography

    A Matter of Life and Death would take home Costume Design

    I really need to see Brief Encounter

    1. LOVE!

      Beauty and the Beast is such a BEAST in the techs this year...just lavish beauty all over the place. Love that you recognize it.

      I hope you see Brief Encounter soon. One of my favorite films of all time.

    2. When people bring up visual poetry, Beauty and the Beast is one of the first films to come to mind.

  13. Oh, I MUST see Let There Be Light!

    So much YES in these lineups! And the winners are heaven!

    Having seen Humoresque now, LOVE the love for it! Those editing and sound wins are SO deserved.

    I don't know why I left Barrymore out (didn't forget him - just didn't put him in), but he's definitely going in my lineup. And I'm probably switching from Ann Blyth in '45 to Magnani.

    I barely remember The Razor's Edge, but I remember loving Baxter in it, so YAY!!

    I've seen most of these, though I really need to check out Deadline at Dawn, A Walk in the Sun, My Reputation, and The Stranger.

    I take it you haven't seen Duel in the Sun? Such a great western melodrama, when you get a chance. ;)

    1. Yeah, Let There Be Light was pretty powerful.

      Love that you loved Humoresque, and I'm happy to hear about the Barrymore/Magnani stuff :-D

      I didn't watch Duel in the Sun. I loathe Jennifer Jones and have decided that unless the film itself demands I watch it, I'm staying away from anything she's in. I have an allergic reaction to her brand of bad acting.

    2. I'm not in love with everything Jennifer Jones does but I don't hold her in such low esteem as you do. To me, she's a hit or miss actress depending on the script and director. She's too over the top in Duel in the Sun but
      if you want to see some truly outstanding and skillful work from her I recommend you check out her Oscar winning role "The Song of Bernadette" (1943) and "Madame Bovary" (1949) where she displays a great range in the ability to play both a saint and a fallen woman and there are none of the tics or mannerisms (grimacing) her detractors continually blame her for. These two roles are her finest work IMHO.

    3. I'll have to check those two out when I cover those years! Thanks for the heads up.