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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.
All About Eve
Night and the City
All About Eve
Night and the City
Father of the Bride
No Way Out
Father of the Bride
No Way Out