What Should Have Won the 1938 Best Picture Oscars?

Welcome to Year Eleven of the Best Picture discussion, concerning movies released in 1938!

Frank Capra continued his domination of the Thirties, as You Can’t Take It with You won, over the other official nominees, Errol Flynn’s The Adventures of Robin Hood, Tyrone Power’s Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooneys’ Boys Town, Robert Donat’s The Citadel, John Garfield’s starmaking turn in Four Daughters, Jean Renoir’s Grand Illusion, Bette Davis and that red dress in Jezebel, George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, and Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable’s continuing bromance, Test Pilot.

Here’s what I had to say in V. 1 about You Can’t Take It with You: “You Can’t Take It with You is one of Frank Capra’s most celebrated films, and for sheer eccentricity and hostility to the overweening arrogance of the rich, you can’t do much better. Lionel Barrymore, Edward Arnold, Jean Arthur and Jimmy Stewart all turn in marvelous performances; Robert Riskin’s screenplay of the Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman Broadway hit is first-rate. The supporting players, including Mischa Auer and Spring Byington, are all delightful. No film has ever celebrated the great American tradition of non-conformity more than this one. I love this movie. So why strip it of its Oscar for Best Picture?  Because three movies go this wonderful film one better by reaching the peak of each of their genres. What shocks is that the Academy completely, totally, and idiotically snubbed one of them. So sad; I had begun to feel they were at least nominating the best, even if they weren’t always giving them the Oscar.”

One step forward for the Academy, but three steps back.

The other three movies I prefer? Now’s your chance to go read my book 🙂

Here are some other options that weren’t nominated originally, including some I’m not personally fond of just to be fair and offer them as choices: Norma Shearer and Tyrone Power, Marie Antoinette; Laurel and Hardy, Block-Heads; Gary Cooper and Merle Oberon, The Cowboy and the Lady; Tyrone Power, Suez; David O. Selznick’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; James Cagney, Angels with Dirty Faces; Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes; Howard Hawks’ comic masterpiece with Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, Bringing Up Baby; Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr and the Casbah, Algiers; Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, Holiday; Bob Hope, Martha Raye, and W.C. Fields in The Big Broadcast of 1938; and Gary Cooper and Claudette Colbert in Billy Wilder and Ernst Lubitsch’s Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife.

As always, I have much more to say in my book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OPEELH0


  1. I love every single delicious scene in You Can’t take it with You!!! So it gets my vote. Boy’s Town is my next favorite.

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