Sunday, September 30, 2018

1952 Alternate Oscars

My choices are noted with a ★. Historical Oscar winners are noted with a ✔. Best foreign-language picture winners are noted with an ƒ.

Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show On Earth is the first best picture winner not to make my top ten since 1936's The Great Ziegfeld (although I was rather generous with a couple of winners in between).

As a semi-documentary of what kids might have once felt about the circus, The Greatest Show on Earth is actually pretty good. I know I myself really enjoyed the circus when I was ten. But I'm not ten anymore. (Neither, apparently, are most ten year olds these days, judging by the demise of Barnum & Bailey. But that's a subject for another time.)

If you're wondering, the other best picture winners so far that failed to crack my top ten are The Broadway Melody (1928-29), Cimarron (1930-31) and Cavalcade (1932-33). There will no doubt be others in the future. We'll see.

My pick for best picture, Singin' In The Rain, is a serious contender for the best musical of all time. It's also a great comedy and a great romance. That it's also a nifty history of Hollywood's transition from silent films to talkies is a bonus.

Certainly it's the best movie Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor and Jean Hagen ever made.

I almost gave my best actor award to John Wayne for The Quiet Man but Takashi Shimura's poignant portrayal of a dying bureaucrat determined to give his wasted life meaning is one of the most moving performances in the history of cinema. He's a worthy winner — Takashi Shimura was Akira Kurosawa's go-to guy, appearing in 21 of the director's thirty films, more than any other actor. In 1954, he starred in the action masterpiece, Seven Samurai, playing the role Yul Brenner would tackle in the English-language remake, The Magnificent Seven. Versatile actor.

John Wayne fans need not despair, however — the Duke will hoist the trophy a little later in the decade, guaranteed.

On the other hand, if you think Gary Cooper deserves an alternate Oscar, I'm pretty sure this is your last chance to vote for him ...

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