Friday, November 25, 2016

1950 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged by Clicking on Them]


1950.  The battle of the two masterpieces that define Classic Hollywood in the most incredible ways.  How can you chose?  HOW CAN YOU CHOSE?!?!  It's a flip of the coin type ordeal because both films are tremendous in nearly every possible way and yet, one must chose and so chose I have.

I agree with Oscar; sort of.

All About Eve is a tremendous feat and a film that is, in a word, unforgettable.  And yet, Sunset Boulevard is just as tremendous and just as unforgettable and so, while I side with Oscar and their decision to reward All About Eve the title of Best Picture...I can't let is sweep here (it won 6 Oscars) because Sunset Boulevard deserves just as much recognition.

Honestly, if I allowed myself a tie in Best Picture, I would dole it out this year.

But as a wise friend (cough-Joel-cough) said to me:

1950 is just an insanely competitive year, I think because All About Eve & Sunset Blvd.'s reputations loom so large that much of the other bounty of quality available doesn't get its proper due.
He's right, this is one incredible year and it's a shame that so little outside of those two Oscar giants are even remembered, let alone talked about.  The film noir soars this year, with Huston, Preminger, Lewis, Dassin, Mankiewicz, Curtiz, Ray and yes, Wilder, delivering a bounty of films that will keep you glued from start to finish in a sea of tension.  Daves and Mann deliver standout westerns while Minnelli takes on the dramedy with lavish results.  The year is aces from top to bottom and with that in mind I present to you the Fisti Awards for 1950 (now with comments on all ballots)!




NOTES: Like I already mentioned, this was between All About Eve and Sunset Boulevard, and as hard as it was to choose one, this year was so rich that chosing a Top 12, let alone a Top 5, was extremely hard.  Films like The Furies and Gun Crazy were inches from my final ballot, and it pained me to snub films like No Man of Her Own and Variety Lights from my Top 12.  As for the remaining actual nominees here, my heart says that Father of  the Bride was #3 and my brain tells me The Breaking Point is the better film and yet, No Way Out is the most poignant film of the year and sadly still so VERY relevant, so maybe that one should be #3.


NOTES: Mankiewicz had a killer year, with two films that made my Top 5, but it was Wilder who proved his weight in gold as one of the most versitile directors of all time.  When I think of the best directors ever, his name comes to mind almost immediately because of the diversity of his talent.  His take on the noir should be studied.  Dassin and Curtiz pile on the suspence with real human bite, and Mann tackles the Western with a real refined grit, but Wilder takes this in a walk.  


NOTES: Sharp edits all over these glorious films, but it was the tention built and sustained by Night and the City that earned it this win.  Gun Crazy is my personal runner-up and would have also made a very deserving winner, and The Breaking Point rests comfortably in 6th place.


NOTES: There was no other option for the win, honestly, but the bounty of choices made narrowing this ballot down to five a burden.  So many films wound up battling out for that fifth spot, including The Furies, Harvey and Where the Sidewalk Ends...but it was the complex layers running throughout The Asphalt Jungle that earned it that coveted nomiantion. 


NOTES: This is the second year that I was unable to gather a Top 12 in this category, but so many (SO MANY) films were adapted works this year, and these are literally the ONLY films I saw that had an Original Screenplay (yup, just six) but thankfully they are all worthy of mention, so despite the lack of options, there is no filler here.  The win was hard, despite what you may think.  Sunset Boulevard is as smart a noir as they come, but the poignancy of No Way Out almost took this.  It was a VERY close race.


NOTES: This category, for me, was ALL ABOUT Joan Bennett, who gives what I consider to be the perfect dramedic (yes, Father of the Bride is a dramedy) Supporting performance...but then I saw No Way Out and I could not deny Linda Darnell the gold for her tremendously layered portrayal of a character who does a complete about face and actually transforms, organically, before our eyes.  This is possibly one of my favorite lineups I've ever had in this category, with each and every actress delivering surprising and 'win worthy' work.  It's just a shame that the Oscar winner, Josephine Hull, finished 6th place and was denied a nomination.


NOTES: Sanders.  Only Sanders.  His performance (and Oscar win) is so iconic and just plain perfect that there really was no other alternative, but his clear win here doesn't discredit the strength of the rest of these nominees, let alone the richness of the year itself.  I didn't even get to see some of the more acclaimed performances due to their lack of accessibility (I mourn not seeing Morning Departure) and yet it hurt to leave off Jaffe and Huston in particular.  Even Tully's 5 minutes of screen time is absolutely worthy of mention.  But, next to Sanders, there was no one.  Widmark's incredible performance (and year in general) brought him closest, followed by Erich's haunting anchor to Swanson's OTT performance.


NOTES: I know that my choice is not going to be a popular one, but for me there really isn't another choice.  Spencer Tracy was one of those natural actors who didn't rely on theatrics to sell a character.  He just WAS and while he was upstaged in many years by more dramatic performers, there is something so beautiful about the way he captures every ounce of raw emotion in this very authentic fatherly performance.  As a father myself, I can't shake him.  Stewart and Holden would have battled it out for the win had Tracy not been a factor, and Widmark pretty much secured his nomination with such a tremendous year.  As for narrow misses, know that Garfield and O'Brien hurt to delegate to the also-ran status.


NOTES: Like for many, this boils down to two options; Davis and Swanson.  These are two very different performances that center of very similarly carved women/themes and they couldn't be any more iconic if they tried, and so choosing between the two of them is nearly a Sophie's choice.  At the end of the day, it is the layers told by Davis's eyes that seal this win for her.  As for the rest of the nominees, Stanwyck rests in third for a tragic performance that would have won in almost any other year.  It doesn't hurt that she also nailed a very different kind of performance in The Furies and would have been nominated for that as well if I allowed multiple nominations for actors/actresses.  Cummings and Stephane are very good here, and Anne Baxter sadly just misses the cut for an undervalued performance, due mostly to the adoration of her co-star.


NOTES: So many movies deserved to be here, but The Furies was probably the closest to making my actual ballot.  Of my nominees, this was no easy choice.  There is so much variety within Variety Lights (pun intended) and that picture does it NO justice (but it's all I could find) and the autheticity of Treasure Island's ship was awe inspiring.  Destination Moon has a lot of offer, from the office sets to the spaceship and actual Moon, and Les Enfants Terribles is drenched in gothic beauty, but it was the hushed detials in Sunset Boulevard and that haunting house that won me over.


NOTES: This year was SO RICH here, but even with that undeniable richness, these five were not close to going anywhere.  All five are WIN worthy to the point where deciding a winner was somewhat of a flip of a coin.  I can't say which one is best, which is runner-up, which would be last...because all are top of their game incredible.  I literally went with Sunset Boulevard because, well, a) it's deserving and b) I liked the idea of it winning another award.


NOTES: Like with Art Direction, there was a LOT to chose from and so many snubs.  But, for me, this boiled down to two films; Les Enfants Terribles and Treasure Island.  The subtle gothic overtones in Dior's work almost won out, but upon reflection the mix of authentic garb and childlike embelishments made me chose Disney's classic.  There is just something so bright and fresh about every design there.


NOTES: It was close, but ironically it was Treasure Island that won by a nose over Cyrano de Bergerac's actual nose.


NOTES: This year wasn't very rich in this particular category, at least from what I saw, and honestly I almost debated just doling the award out to Destination Moon and not even having other nominees/also-rans, but whatever.  


NOTES: Westerns, noirs, crime thrillers, Disney adventures...this year had it all and the soundscapes created by many of them were exceptional.  The biggest snub here was Orpheus, which created very textured dreamscapes beautifully, but it was edged out by the five nominated here.  While Gun Crazy was close, it was the atmospheric tension sustained throughout Night and the City that won this one fair and square.


NOTES: He may share this award, but we can all agree here that the real winner of this year in scoring was Franz Waxman.  Three of my nominated scores were delivered by him, and quite frankly he was only competing against himself as his three scores were the best of the year.  Night and the City edged out the competition on the strength of his (and Frankels) work because both scores provided for the film are outstanding.  Cinderella's song/score was 6th for me, but it's snub doesn't bother me much.


NOTES: So, this year didn't have a lot to offer in Original Songs, that I heard, which left it up to Cinderella (which is one of my least favorite Disney 'Classics') to fill a ballot.  My feelings on the film aside, the music is delightful, so I don't begrudge this ballot at all.

Award's Tally

[4 Wins]

All About Eve
Sunset Boulevard

[3 Wins]

Night and the City

[2 Wins]

Treasure Island

[1 Win]

Cinderella
Destination Moon
Father of the Bride
No Way Out

40 comments:

  1. I'm right with you on All About Eve and Sunset Boulevard. They are two incredible films that really are each other's equals, right down to those brilliant performances by their leading ladies. The one big miss you have is a film not mentioned at all, unless I just missed it: Kurosawa's Rashomon. For me, that would be up for, and win a number of these awards.

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    1. Rashomon will factor into the 1952 Fistis due to the fact that it was nominated for an Oscar that year for Art Direction...but a little heads up, I don't like that film very much at all and outside of Film Editing and or Supporting Actress, it won't really factor in anywhere (unless that year is DEAD once I get into it). I just don't get the love for it, to be honest.

      And I am a fan of Kurosawa.

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  2. Love love love this hehe. I'm preferential to Sunset Blvd, and I thought Eve was kinda dull, but this is still really cool! btw where's Rashomon? Or are you saving that for '51? haha~

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    1. Rashomon was nominated for Art Direction at the 1952 Oscars, and so according to Fisti rules, that is where it will factor here.

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    2. So if you put Ikiru in for that year too you'll have Kurosawa V. himself, that oughta be fun! Also happy late Thanksgiving haha!

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  3. Great work! Maria Casares is my pick in Female Supporting for her performance in the wonderful Orpheus, but Linda Darnell is a terrific choice too. I'm now very interested in seeing Joan Bennett's performance in The Father of the Bride.

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    1. Thank you so much, and welcome to the blog! Love seeing new faces here.

      Darnell is just wonderful. Casares was heavily in consideration for a nom and finished 7th for me.

      I love Father of the Bride with my whole heart, to be honest, and Bennett just steals every scene even when she isn't the focus of that scene. Brilliant performance.

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  4. Not incredibly well-versed in 1950. I've only seen the two biggies in your BP lineup. I think you did it right by giving All About Eve Best Film and going Wilder for Directing. That makes perfect sense to me. Love both of those films!

    Great post! I really need to see more of '50.

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    1. Yes, you need more 1950!!! What a great year, but the two biggies you saw are clearly the best!

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  5. I've covered three of these categories so far.

    Best director--My winner is Carol Reed for The Third Man, with Wilder coming in second. I'd love to see Kurosawa nominated for Rashomon. I realize The Third Man is a 1949 release, but it was nominated for the 1950 Oscars.

    Best Actress--I'm going with Gloria Swanson.

    Original Screenplay--I agree. Ace in the Hole belongs on the list, though, and I'd probably want to nominate In a Lonely Place as well.

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    1. Alright, so I forgot all about The Third Man having Oscar mentions this year, because I consider it 1949 and always assumed that is where those noms came from. UGH...looks like I'm breaking a Fisti rule because I'm not changing these...so The Third Man will factor into the 1949 Fistis.

      Rashomon factors into the 1952 race and Ace in the Hole factors into the 1951 race, since that is where their Oscar nominations can be found. Head up, though...I don't like Rashomon much at all.

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  6. Well we don’t share 1964’s almost eerie confluence of matches but we’re awfully close! I’m so very excited that you tackled this year! Unquestionably one of the absolute best for film and as you’ll see one I could go on about almost endlessly!! As you said not only two of the best classics Hollywood ever turned out but there is just an unbelievable array of other quality films and performances to consider in every category.

    We do have one big dividing point, Harvey-love the play but the movie leaves me cold. I will admit though that it gave me the twitch so bad when I watched it that it’s been decades since I last saw it…so I might give it another look someday.

    Picture:
    Right off the top we agree!! But then even with Sunset Blvd in the mix the excellence of Eve is undeniable. As for your others, a big YES to the inclusion of The Breaking Point! LOVE that film!! No Way Out is my number six and still unfortunately fearfully relevant. While I like Father of the Bride my fondness for it is nowhere near yours but my real surprise is to not see In a Lonely Place even in your long list. One that is there that I don’t know how I missed is Les Enfants Terribles. I haven’t seen it but I might have bypassed it for this since it was released in the States in 1952.

    My choices:
    All About Eve-Winner
    The Asphalt Jungle
    The Breaking Point
    In a Lonely Place
    Sunset Blvd.
    Runners-Up-The Furies, No Way Out, Where the Sidewalk Ends

    I guess a five way tie is out of the question, well four…I could live with Asphalt Jungle finishing out of the money. In a Lonely Place may be the darkest noir with the most damaged protagonist ever made, but it grabs you by the throat and holds you straight through to the end. Jungle and Sunset Blvd. are diamond hard examinations of what damaged souls can do to each other and Breaking Point the best adaptation of a Hemingway story I've ever seen, though The Macomber Affair comes close. But Eve is so brilliantly constructed, its laser sharp dialog handled expertly by perfectly cast performers even against those tremendous films it still is just that little bit better.

    Director:
    We’re three for five and those other two are in my long list. I can’t argue against Wilder, he’s my runner up, and his boldness at ripping off the gauzy patina of “Hollywood” to show the cancerous bile underneath at the very real risk of being blackballed for it is all the more reason for his winning.

    My Choices:
    Michael Curtiz-The Breaking Point
    John Huston-The Asphalt Jungle
    Joseph Mankiewicz-All About Eve-Winner
    Nicholas Ray-In a Lonely Place
    Billy Wilder-Sunset Blvd.
    Runners-Up- Jules Dassin-Night and the City, Joseph Mankiewicz-No Way Out, Anthony Mann-The Furies, Otto Preminger-Where the Sidewalk Ends

    I was close to going with Wilder and his dark tale of thrown away people but all those great things which make Eve the best picture originate with Mankiewicz's deft handling of his script and players. You know it’s an exceedingly strong year when three of the best films made by three of the best directors ever are also rans.

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    1. YAY! I love how much we match AND how much we differ!

      Love your lineup in BP! The fact that In a Lonely Place is outside my Top 12 only goes to show how strong this year was, because I loved that film. So happy to see us agree on our winner.

      I also flip-flopped a bit between Wilder and Mankiewicz, especially because Mankiewicz directed TWO brilliant films this year, but ultimately the split felt right.

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    2. All the decisions were so tough this year. No Way Out probably played a part in my going with Mankiewicz without my really thinking about it, as it might have with the academy even though Eve overshadowed it completely come nomination time. I also took into consideration that Wilder had Some Like it Hot as well as several other excellent films in his future so would still be in play in future years.

      What a year when something as fine as In a Lonely Place can't crack your top 12!! Too bad all years can't have such an abundance.

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    3. I can't argue with awarding Mankiewicz this year...I mean, what a year he had.

      Wilder also wins for me in 1959...and that's why I love this win so much, too, because those two wins are for VASTLY different films.

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  7. Actor:
    A three for five match-up once more! Again our specific tastes show, I love Tracy and he gave many award worthy performances and perhaps in another year this one might have moved higher for me. It’s a fine piece of work but right now he’s my number 8 behind the second Garfield perf (though honestly that’s my number 2) and Webb. Love everybody on your long list (I didn’t see Variety Lights-I tried but it was on a wait at Netflix, of course it’s coming in the mail now!) except Ferrer in Cyrano-I rarely like him finding him fussy, affected and pompous and though I hate to say it because I’m a huge fan of his, Jimmy Stewart in Harvey.

    My Choices:
    Humphrey Bogart-In a Lonely Place
    John Garfield-The Breaking Point-Winner
    William Holden-Sunset Blvd.
    Edmond O'Brien-D.O.A.
    Richard Widmark-Night and the City
    Other worthy work: Dana Andrews-Where the Sidewalk Ends, Marlon Brando-The Men, Louis Calhern-The Magnificent Yankee, Kirk Douglas-Young Man with a Horn, John Garfield-Under My Skin, Vincent Price-The Baron of Arizona, Spencer Tracy-Father of the Bride, Clifton Webb-For Heaven's Sake and Richard Widmark-Panic in the Streets

    Bogart and Holden's damaged writers, O'Brien's doomed man and Widmark’s grifter are all portraits that can't be bettered but Garfield's conflicted captain who's run out of chances is perhaps his career best. I was torn between choosing his work in this and his equally complex performance as the troubled jockey in Under My Skin-if I double dipped he would have gained a nod for both but in a year as loaded as this there’s no reason to not spread the nominations around.

    Actress:
    We match and it was the same decision for me between those two women but it was hell to have to bypass all this amazing work. Any year that performances at the level of Cummings (my sixth place finisher), Stanwyck (I agree that in another year she would be an easy winner), Baxter and so many others come in as runner ups you know that the Dream Factory was operating at top speed.

    My Choices:
    Bette Davis-All About Eve-Winner
    Gloria Grahame-In a Lonely Place
    Barbara Stanwyck-No Man of Her Own
    Ella Raines-The Second Face
    Gloria Swanson-Sunset Blvd.

    **Since I started with 20!!! Potential contenders I decided to do a second tier list of five with the others following.
    Anne Baxter-All About Eve
    Claudette Colbert-Three Came Home
    Peggy Cummings-Gun Crazy
    Judy Holliday-Born Yesterday
    Barbara Stanwyck-The Furies
    Other worthy work: Spring Byington-Louisa, Joan Crawford-The Damned Don't Cry, Betty Hutton-Annie Get Your Gun, Eleanor Parker-Caged, Ann Sheridan-Woman on the Run, Jean Simmons-Cage of Gold, Jean Simmons-So Long at the Fair, Ann Sothern-Shadow on the Wall, Gene Tierney-Whirlpool and Jane Wyman-The Glass Menagerie

    So much exceptional work in one year it was almost impossible to get it down to five. Gloria's performance as the conflicted love interest in Lonely Place just grows deeper with each view. Stanwyck and Raines could easily have been winners in another year. I love Swanson's larger than life work as the delusional Norma Desmond but it is SO BIG that at certain points it becomes exhausting. So I went with Davis's Margo Channing, also occasionally big but with more shading and a more varied outlook.

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    1. Tracy just tugs at all the heartstrings inside of me...and this win was such a beautiful way to reward an actor who I adore but who rarely 'acts' in a way that draws undeniable attention.

      Garfield and O'Brien were very close to breaking into my ballot, so I love their inclusion. I'm sad that you weren't a fan of Stewart's performance this year. I just loved him, and Hull.

      Also love that you switched things up and gave Widmark the deserved double noms!

      And...I haven't seen or heard of The Second Face...and I'm sad that Cummings was ousted from your lineup, but I'm happy to see you went with No Man of Her Own for Stanwyck. Such a brilliant performance. And WHAT A YEAR. Love that you have a second ballot, all of which could have easily been on the first one, they're that good.

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    2. I love Tracy, rarely do I not like his work-the one exception that I can think of is one he won an Oscar for, Captains Courageous. I HATED that movie and his performance is the worst kind of hammy mugging. His work in Father of the Bride is wonderful it was just crowded out by so many other performances that I loved more. I was sadder to have to consign Webb's absolutely delightful work in For Heaven's Sake to an also ran than Spencer's.

      I really, really try never to double dip within a category but if there is good reason to hand a nod in both lead and supporting to the same person I'm okay with that. And Widmark certainly provided ample opportunity this year, what an incredible run of performances! Of course I was very happy that it turned out that way-he being my second favorite actor after Garfield but that wasn't even a consideration I had to take into account with work this superior. Ray Biddle, Harry Fabian & Dr. Clint Reed are such different people and the fact that he was able to make all three real shows what a talent he was.

      The Second Face is a recent discovery. The film itself is a trim enough little B that looks at the value of appearance over substance, with a stiff as a board Bruce Bennett in the male lead. But Raines's performance is far above the rest as a plain woman who suffers an accident which requires plastic surgery from which she emerges as a beauty and the changes that bring about in her life. It the sort of good work that does often get lost in low-budget film.

      Rita Johnson is also very good as Ella's steadfast friend but her role is small, she had just suffered a brain injury from being hit on the head with a hair dryer, though there were rumors that her gangster boyfriend had beaten her badly, and this was her first tentative step towards a return to acting. She never fully recovered though and only did a few more things before dying of a brain hemorrhage at 52.

      Stanwyck is another performer who had an great year but incredible as it seems now she had passed her major star period and while she continued to work steadily her films no longer were considered major work. The result being that she didn't get the studio push that would have resulted in nominations despite being madly deserving many times. She's excellent in The Furies but her work in No Man of Her Own is so deeply felt.

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    3. Freddie Bartholomew acts circles around Tracy in Captains Courageous, a film I don't hate but don't really...like much. Tracy hammed it up in a role he never should have had, but Bartholomew is exceptional and would most likely make my personal ballot.

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  8. Supporting Actor:
    Exactly what you said about George Sanders. There really was no other choice. Eve would actually have been diminished without him (I shudder to think how original choice Jose Ferrer would have mangled the part). And three of your other four are matches with mine. Zbyszko is an inspired pick, it’s been a while since I watched Night and the City and I don’t remember his performance in detail but do recall him being memorable.

    My Choices:
    Louis Calhern-The Asphalt Jungle
    Juano Hernandez-The Breaking Point
    George Sanders-All About Eve-Winner
    Erich von Stroheim-Sunset Blvd.
    Richard Widmark-No Way Out
    Other worthy work: Lyle Bettger-No Man of Her Own, David Farrar-Cage of Gold, Edmund Gwenn-For Heaven's Sake, Walter Huston-The Furies, Sam Jaffe-The Asphalt Jungle

    Hernandez’s work is quietly powerful but he fills in the edges of Breaking Point with a beautiful humane portrait. Jungle is full of award worthy work however Calhern stood out the most for me and von Stroheim's tragic Max is a brilliant creation but my runner-up to the prize is Widmark's fearlessly venal bigot terrifying in his unbridled hatred. It pained me to have to leave off Bettger another of those wonderful character actors who never received their due and in No Man he is memorable as a louse who causes no end of trouble in both of Stanwyck's lives but he’s my number six. Sanders's vivid work as Addison DeWitt is inimitable and unmatched, he manages the feat of having a kinetic chemistry with every actor he shares a scene with. It’s my favorite actual Supporting Actor win throughout the category.

    Supporting Actress:
    A great big YAY that we match on my girl Linda Darnell!!! I was fairly certain we would be…then I though Patricia Neal might come in as a spoiler. I don’t mean that negatively, Neal is astonishing in Breaking Point but we all have performers that are close to our heart and Linda is madly deserving this year. Joan Bennett huh? She’s another favorite of mine and my third place finisher for 1949’s The Reckless Moment but she never blew me away in Father of the Bride. She’s good as always but Tracy & Liz Taylor pulled my focus in that film. I’m even more anxious now to see Variety Lights since Masina showed up in your five finalists.

    My Choices:
    Linda Darnell-No Way Out-Winner
    Ann Dvorak-A Life of Her Own
    Celeste Holm-All About Eve
    Patricia Neal-The Breaking Point
    Lee Patrick-The Lawless
    Other worthy work: Jane Cowl-No Man of Her Own, Jeff Donnell-In a Lonely Place, Hope Emerson-Caged, Jean Hagen-The Asphalt Jungle, Elizabeth Taylor-Father of the Bride and Phyllis Thaxter-The Breaking Point

    Patricia Neal's playing of the tough, lonely prostitute fits right in with the tense air of Breaking Point, she's almost matched by Phyllis Thaxter as Garfield's wife who I hated to leave out. Lee Patrick, a truly outstanding supporting performer, gives a rich portrait as the out of town reporter tartly observing as prejudice and mob rule threaten to rend a small village apart. Ann Dvorak shows up in the middling A Life of Her Own and in her few brief scenes acts rings around everyone else in the cast and elevates the movie to a higher plane that it never regains once she’s gone. For a long time Celeste Holm and her tinkling piano laugh was my winner, she has the advantage of the best defined character but she knows exactly what notes to play to get the most out of her. However on review Karen though captivating is more or less the same person at the end as she was at the beginning of the film. Linda Darnell’s Edie Johnson has a very real arc facing big challenges and changes substantially by the conclusion of No Way Out which she handles with assured grace and emotional toughness.

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    1. Hernandez didn't really make an impression on me, I must say...

      LOVE the rest of your noms (obviously, since they are all also on my ballot!!!)

      And Darnell!!! I'm so glad she's your winner now, too, since when I checked your comments on Josh's site, Holm was your winner. I haven't seen two of your nominees...Dvorak and Patrick, but I'm intrigued.

      Neal was SO GOOD and I love her, but she's probably my #5 to be honest.

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    2. I went back and forth and back and forth between Hernandez and Bettger and then thought about moving Edmund Gwenn up but decided to choose the performer from the film I liked best and Breaking Point is my number three of the year. Not scientific but since only Widmark came anywhere near actual consideration with Sanders it worked well enough.

      I watched both Eve and No Way Out as a lead up to this, it had been some time since I viewed either and was able to assess them with fresh eyes. Celeste Holm was my winner for a long time, and she’s still my number two, but no matter how well she plays her Karen, who’s a little bloodied and wiser (especially after that powder room scene) by the end she doesn’t CHANGE throughout the film. But Linda’s Edie has a titanic shift and she does wonders with it so I was happy to finally be able to hand her an award. Her best opportunities always came in years where there was another clear cut winner-’44 Stanwyck owned in Double Indemnity, ’45 where the Mildred Pierce women couldn’t be beat despite her awesome work in Fallen Angel, ’49 Olivia de Havilland was unbeatable in The Heiress (but she was my runner up for Letter to Three Wives) and then finally in ’54 for This is My Love but it would be impossible to hand it to anyone but Judy Garland in A Star is Born.

      I love Patricia Neal’s performance so much! It seems nuts that she’s my number 3 since in some ways I think it’s better than her performance in Hud.

      The Lawless is a compact little noir that deals with a different aspect of racial tension than No Way Out but not as assuredly, it would have done better with a stronger leading man than MacDonald Carey.

      A Life of Her Own is a Lana Turner soap opera, not great/not bad with a good cast, Ray Milland and Jean Hagen are in it as well, but Dvorak’s performance is an example of what an exemplary performer can make of what would seem an unimportant role.

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    3. YASSSS! Like I said about Darnell in my comments, she truly transforms as a person/character before our eyes and it's rare to see these kinds of 180 turn, blossoming type performances. It's flawless.

      I am intrigued by A Life of Her Own...I mean, Turner...in a soap opera? Say it isn't so! ;-)

      She's so delicious in them, though.

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  9. Best Song:
    I don’t usually do the song category but it like everything else this year is jammed with quality selections and though the winner was easy to choose, how can you improve on Mona Lisa?, I love the other four tunes almost equally. I never considered Cinderella but while the music in it is good I stand by my nominees.

    And You’ll Be Home-Mr. Music
    Be My Love-The Toast of New Orleans
    Bluebirds Keep Singing in the Rain-Blues Busters
    Friendly Star-Summer Stock
    Mona Lisa-Captain Carey, U.S.A.-Winner

    About some of your other winners.

    Glad to see that win for Destination Moon, at least I didn’t watch that hokey mess for nothing. Some of the effects are laughable looked at from a modern day perspective but considering their age they are impressive.

    I like those wins for Sunset Blvd. and agree completely with Art/Production Design and while I can’t really quibble with it taking Cinematography I’m a bit more inclined to a choice between Gun Crazy and In a Lonely Place leaning more towards Lonely Place. Its inky darkness gels so solidly with the blackness of the film’s heart.

    Love the choice of Treasure Island for Costume Design but this is the one place that The Black Rose really gives everything else a run for their money.

    An amazing wonderful year.

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    1. LOL, I haven't seen or heard of ANY of the films on your ballot for Original Song. I should have asked you for suggestions before finalizing the year.

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    2. Ha-Ha about the songs. I guess Mona Lisa being the actual winner and such a classic I figured you’d include it but I forgot you only do music from films you’ve seen. Captain Carey, USA is a routine adventure, enjoyable but little more despite being directed by Mitchell Leisen if Mona Lisa hadn’t originated here it would be forgotten.

      That holds true for a couple of these others as well. Blues Busters is a Grade C- Bowery Boys programmer! But Bluebirds Keep Singing in the Rain is an awfully pretty song and Mr. Music a very minor Bing Crosby musical.

      The Toast of New Orleans is a high grade MGM musical with top stars and terrific production design and Be My Love turned out to be a signature song for the film’s star Mario Lanza.

      The most notable one is Summer Stock-it was Judy Garland’s final MGM picture and a nightmare to make with Judy’s weight fluctuating from scene to scene-in some instances within the same scene! It’s most famous number-a legendary one that I’m sure you’ve seen clips of is the “Get Happy” number with her in the tuxedo jacket and fedora surrounded by male dancers, but it was a previously written song. Friendly Star is a delicate love song written especially for the film for Judy.

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    3. Drew, you... HAVEN'T seen Summer Stock?!?! It only has two of the greatest musical numbers in the entire MGM canon - the aforementioned Get Happy and this one CRAZY amazing solo number for Gene Kelly in an abandoned theater that is maybe my favorite thing he ever did.

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    4. I feel so guilty right now!

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  10. So far my #1 is Sunset B, #2 Orpheus.
    I consider 1950 a pretty good year for westerns (Winchester '73, The Gunfighter). I need to check out Broken Arrow and The Furies. Plus there's a bunch of acclaimed noirs I haven't gotten to yet.
    All About Eve is a classic that just wasn’t for me. Great acting, yet so overstuffed with dialogue. Honestly was quite a chore to get through. I’m glad you have J Stewart in the top 5 for Harvey, a performance for the ages.

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    1. Oh, but I just LOVED that delicious dialog!

      I love when I discover films I didn't see in the comments. Looks like I have some westerns to watch!

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  11. Oh gosh...2 great movies and always a tough choice. I would give the writing to Sunset Blvd and the art direction. It Bette was brilliant in her role as Margo. George Sanders is perfect as Addison DeWitt and deservis d the Oscar. I love his speech to Anne Baxter when he tells her all he knows. I have to agree with Spencer Tracy winning for Father of the Bride.

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    1. YASSS at you agreeing with Tracy! He's just wonderful this year.

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  12. Glad you added the commentary, buddy. All About Eve and Sunset Blvd. are masterpieces, so that split is great! :)

    Oh, I loved No Way Out! Awesome to see it make your BP lineup. I need to see The Breaking Point, Les Enfants Terribles, No Man of Her Own, and Variety Lights.

    Digging the noir love. So many great ones, as you mentioned.

    I LOVE how different our Supporting Actress lineups are! I think Darnell just missed my lineup.

    Zbyszko is an inspired choice in Supp. Actor, as is Cummings in Actress.

    Widmark!! I remember him as a co-lead(?) in No Way Out, but his double nom is EVERYTHING. Ugh, he killed it that year.

    I grew up with Treasure Island, so those multiple wins are amazing. (Why didn’t I give it any?!)

    Franz Waxman x 3! Yaasss!!

    LOL, your Song lineup. A really weak year, it seems. Love your choices though.

    I’ve apparently seen Destination Moon (and give it the VFX win). Can’t remember a thing. :/

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    1. No Way Out was brilliant, and sadly still so poignant. I hope you can track down those films you haven't seen. The Breaking Point in particular (as you can see) it incredibly worth it.

      Noirs were out front and center this year.

      LOL, we are all over the place in Supporting Actress, but in my defense you haven't seen two of my noms so...maybe we won't be that different once you catch up!

      Widmark had the best year ever! I consider him Supporting in No Way Out for sure. He's really only in the film's bookends, the entire center of the film dealing mostly with Darnell and everyone on the 'outside'. In fact, Darnell is closer to a Lead than him...but there was no way I was moving her.

      Treasure Island made a play here mostly because I recently watched it again with the kids. The movie is...sadly dull in retrospect, but gorgeous technically.

      Waxman SLAYS this year!!!

      Destination Moon is...meh...but visually nothing else touched it this year.

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  13. This is SUCH a rich year that I'm not even sure I can rightly say it's JUST between Sunset and Eve. For me, those two along with In A Lonely Place, Orpheus, and Father of the Bride duke it out for Best Picture, and I really do mean "duke it out". And that's leaving out Born Yesterday (which I ADORE), Caged, The Furies, Les enfants terribles, Night and the City, AND The Asphalt Jungle. And I haven't even seen No Way Out or The Breaking Point (and others, but those seem the most notable).

    I go back and forth on Best Director - I always want to split between Eve/Sunset, but never know which way, and I also so admire Cocteau's expansion of his earlier work in Orpheus, and Nick Ray's commitment to the darkness of In A Lonely Place. And then there is Jules Dassin's visionary work on Night and the City. HOW DOES ONE CHOOSE?!?!? If you ask me today, I suppose I would honor Sunset for Best Picture and Mankiewicz for Best Director (for Eve), but on any other given day, that would change.

    This year is so much easier to determine nominees than actual winners, with the quality being so high. This is, of course, with the sole exception of Best Supporting Actor, which Sanders walks away with so easily no one else could put up a fight. It's a PERFECT match of actor and character, and the character itself is so terrifically written (as is all of Eve) that nothing else could ever come close.

    Best Actor, when it comes down to it, is a two-horse race between Bogart and Tracy, with Holden just on the outside (although whether for Sunset or Born Yesterday, I cannot decide right now), followed by Stewart and Ferrer (childhood loves don't die easily...). I can't decide who to give the win to, honestly. It probably comes down to whether I would have awarded either of them before - I'm pretty sure I would give Bogart the win for Casablanca, but at the moment I'm blanking on that year. And Tracy would later win or almost win for The Old Man and the Sea and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. So I'm VERY TORN.

    I'm also VERY TORN on Best Actress. But not between who you might think. Gloria Swanson wins, but for me it is Judy Holliday who comes in second, and Anne Baxter in third, before Bette Davis and Gloria Grahame and Eleanor Parker and Barbara Stanwyck. It's about the character for me this time, and while Davis is nothing short of perfection in Eve, Swanson and Holliday create more memorable characters in their performances. They go big but come up gold, often in surprising places, whereas Davis is SLIGHTLY more "expected" in her performance.

    I can't even with any of the other categories, except to say that I LOVE all your nominations, I would give the Visual Effects win to Orpheus, and I LOVE your nomination for Nicole Stephane in Les enfants terribles, even though I wouldn't nominate her myself.

    And yes, WAXMAN!!!

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    1. Daniel,

      That’s an interesting struggle for Best Picture. Sunset Blvd would be my number 2 by a slender margin (one of those years where you wish it could be a tie between it & Eve) with The Breaking Point (an awesome movie! See it!!) # 3 and In a Lonely Place fourth. I’m not that crazy about the entirety of Born Yesterday, but Judy Holliday couldn’t be better. However she’s even better in the next year’s The Marrying Kind (have you seen that? It’s a so worth tracking down if you haven’t).

      Best Actress is PACKED! Swanson is completely worthy but this year has so many performances that in any other year would overwhelm the field.

      In Supporting Actor there just can’t be any other winner than George Sanders, as you said perfect meeting of actor and part. Even Richard Widmark’s brilliance in No Way Out (again SEE IT!! Heavy but compelling and Linda Darnell is tremendous!) didn’t make me wonder if maybe there should be another choice.

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    2. I haven't seen The Marrying Kind, but I know it has Joel's recommendation as well, so it's been on my list for a while. And now No Way Out and The Breaking Point have also been added to the list - with a bullet!

      Seriously, I would be A-OKAY with a tie between Sunset and Eve this year. Two flat-out masterpieces that couldn't possibly be any more different - what else were ties made for?

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    3. Daniel!!! LOVE your choices, even in the places we don't match, but I particularly love your love of Father of the Bride. That film has such a special place in my heart. Just so touching and honest and wonderful.

      Bogart is great this year, but reward him for The Treasure of Sierra Madre (because as good as he is in Casablanca, James Cagney OWNS that year) and give this to Tracy. Just...all my heart!

      The disrespect for Davis...I just can't. I mean, Holliday is funny and all, but that Oscar win is...just NO!

      LOL.

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    4. NO! No disrespect! Davis is PERFECT in All About Eve.... but so is Swanson in Sunset Boulevard and so is Holliday in Born Yesterday, and they take bigger swings than Davis does IMHO. They took more/bigger risks with their performances, so I reward that this year. Don't feel bad for Bette, though. She wins an award from me for Now, Voyager at the very least.

      I can't believe I forgot about Sierra Madre for Bogart! OF COURSE he would win for that, which makes me feel better about awarding Tracy this year. Because really... the love. SO MUCH love for that movie and that performance.

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    5. Daniel,

      Even though Bette's my winner you're spot on about the risks that those two women took. Especially true in Gloria's case, her performance treads SO closely to parody and it's thanks to her collaboration with Wilder that they stay on the right side of that line. She talks a great deal about the making of the film in her excellent autobiography "Swanson on Swanson" along with the rest of her very eventful life. She was about as far away from Norma Desmond as it's possible to get.

      However if you're interested in someone who ended up very close to be that sad creature read up on the life of Mary Miles Minter-the best source I've found on her and the destruction of her life is the book "A Cast of Killers" by Sidney Kirkpatrick based on research done by director King Vidor and silent screen star Colleen Moore-both of whom knew the participants-about the murder of director William Desmond Taylor in 1922 and the sundering of several reputations and lives as a result of the scandal that followed.

      But back to the subject at hand. Those three women did really extend themselves and take risks but that's true of Stanwyck in No Man of Her Own, Peggy Cummings in Gun Crazy (so fearlessly venal) Claudette Colbert in Three Came Home and several other actresses. It's just an extraordinary year for performances in all four acting categories but particularly actress.

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