Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Oscars: 1944

With the return of 10 Best Picture nominees this year, I'd like to go back to the first year that the nominees were reduced from 10 to five.

When the Academy Awards first began, the best picture (or best production) category consisted of five nominees. But for whatever reason, in its fifth year, that list grew to eight nominees -- although the lead acting categories and director category were reduced to three nominees each. Go figure.

I do know that the music categories expanded during this time period to allow every studio a chance to have a nominee. I suspect the best picture category was expanded for a similar reason, so that all of the major studios had a better shot at placing a movie in the top race.

For more than a decade, the best picture race consisted of 10 or more movies. I'm not sure why the reduction took place after 1943, because movies were still as popular as ever. During the war years, the studios were cranking out movies, attendance was high and resulted in huge profits.

Yet the reduction took place, and the Best Picture list for 1944 featured "Double Indemnity," "Gaslight," "Going My Way," "Since You Went Away" and "Wilson."

There easily could have been another five nominees. Consider these non-nominees from 1944: "Cover Girl," "A Guy Named Joe," "Hail the Conquering Hero," "Laura," "Lifeboat," "Meet Me in St. Louis," "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek," "Mr. Skeffington," "None But the Lonely Heart," "The Sullivans" and "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo." In fact, Otto Preminger and Alfred Hitchcock were both nominated for best director.

During the next few weeks, I'll look at several of the films that didn't make it and then the best picture nominees, finishing up with my own list of 10 nominees, a poll of these 10 films for you to select from, and who the winners were.

So, sit tight, and my 1944 Oscar review will begin soon!

(Note: My apologies for not posting more. This has been a busy time between work and other commitments, including some major family commitments. Plus I'm an avid Olympics watcher!)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Polls, Oscars and Groundhog Day ...

First off, thank you for everyone for taking my poll. It appears several people tied with two votes each -- Ingrid Bergman, Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Greer Garson, Rita Hayworth and Barbara Stanwyck.

And, tomorrow is one of my favorite days: The Oscar nominations are announced! In honor of that great event, above is Greer Garson with her Oscar for "Mrs. Miniver," presented by Joan Fontaine, the previous year's Oscar winner for "Suspicion."

I'm planning an Oscar-themed column (or series of columns) for February. I'm thinking either the last year that Oscar had 10 Best Picture nominees (in honor of the return of 10 Best Picture nominees this year) or the first year after the 10 went away and what that list might have looked like. E-mail me and let me know what you think.

Happy Oscar nominations day! And, if an Oscar nominee sees his shadow, does that mean six more weeks of winter? Something to ponder ...