Sunday, September 9, 2018

1949 Alternate Oscars

My choices are noted with a ★. Historical Oscar winners are noted with a ✔.

Of 1949's Oscar-eligible movies, I would have gone with The Heiress but I prefer a couple of British movies which I have placed here — The Third Man and the hilariously droll Kind Hearts and Coronets.

If you haven't seen Kind Hearts and Coronets — a comedy about a man (Dennis Price) who can't climb the family tree so he chops it down — you really should look for it. Alec Guinness plays eight parts in that one, including Lady Agatha D'Ascoyne.

In the category of best actor, Broderick Crawford represents a philosophical conundrum for me. On the one hand, he is, as alternate Oscar guru Danny Peary put it, "arguably the worst actor ever to win a Best Actor Academy Award." On the other hand, his (extremely) limited range perfectly fit the part, he was ferocious in it and the movie wouldn't have worked without him. Is that worthy of a nomination? I've gone back and forth. Yesterday he was in, today he's out.

On the other hand, Dean Jagger was a pretty good actor and I didn't nominate him either. To me, he isn't even the best supporting actor in Twelve O'Clock High, much less of the entire year. But maybe his performance as a World War II veteran feeling nostalgic about the best years of his life struck a chord with audiences who were beginning to realize that peace and prosperity, for all their charms, could be pretty damn dull.

I didn't nominate the best director winner, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, either. I like Mankiewicz, especially for his work on All About Eve in 1950, but while I think A Letter to Three Wives is a nice picture, well worth seeing, ten or fifteen other movies squeeze it out of my annual list.

But I could be wrong.

Well, that's the way it goes with alternate Oscars — they're often just as screwed up as the Oscars themselves. But the exercise helps me focus on what I truly value and why, and after all, this all about me, right?

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