What Should Have Won the 1945 Best Picture Oscar?

Welcome to Year Eighteen of the Best Picture discussion, concerning movies released in 1945!

The war would soon be over; Hollywood could soon begin to slap itself on the back for winning it. Here’s what I had to say about the state of the movies in 1945, from V. 2 of WHO Won?!?: An Irreverent Look at the Oscars, 1944-1952:

“Very little is right this year – both in the awards, and in Hollywood. The war had continued to drain away their best and brightest, which shows in the cracks in many of the year’s nominated films…Careers were also coming to an end, and none more tragically than the brilliant Preston Sturges, who reached near-perfection twice in 1944 with The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek and Hail the Conquering Hero – and would never make another great film again (with the possible exception of 1948’s Unfaithfully Yours). With the war won, the dominance of the studio system would soon be over as well, as the court case United States vs. Paramount Pictures, Inc. began moving forward. In 1948, the Supreme Court would find against the movie studios, who would be forced to divest themselves of their theater chains, at almost the same time they would be facing the rising threat of television. But a third threat was already developing in 1944 and 1945, as many stars and directors began forming their own independent companies. Although almost all of these would be very short-lived, they too would signal the imminent demise of the monopoly the film studios had over what Americans saw in film. When we add to that the rise of film noir, the demand for more mature handling of adult subject matter, and the impending influx of foreign films back into the market, 1944 and 1945 can easily be seen as the beginnings of the end of the Golden Age of Hollywood.

I can’t really blame the Academy for not choosing well this year – I had a hard time too.”

Perhaps you will as well.

The Lost Weekend poster.jpg

The original Best Picture Oscar went to The Lost Weekend, an earnest attempt to show the dangers of alcoholism from Billy Wilder.  The other original nominees included Gene Kelly dancing with a mouse as well as Frank Sinatra in Anchors Aweigh; Ingrid Bergman and Bing Crosby going sacramental in The Bells of St. Mary’s; Joan Crawford rebooting her career in Mildred Pierce; and Alfred Hitchcock playing around with Salvador Dali, Gregory Peck, and Ingrid Bergman in Spellbound.

Other choices include the equally alcoholic A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; Bette Davis saving miners’ children from a life of ignorance in The Corn is Green; Robert Mitchum making an impressive appearance in The Story of GI Joe; Elizabeth Taylor and her horse in National Velvet; MGM giving the lavish treatment to Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray; the documentarian feel of the FBI investigation in The House on 92nd Street; Errol Flynn singlehandedly beating the Japanese in Objective, Burma!; Reservoir Dogs‘ Lawrence Tierney as Dillinger; Gene Tierney in one evil role in the color film noir Leave Her to Heaven; Powell and Pressburger’s British classic, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp; Danny Kaye on full display in Wonder Man; John Ford’s return to directing with the somber They Were Expendable, starring Robert Montgomery and John Wayne; Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi in the historical chiller The Body Snatchers; the existential angst of Edward G. Ulmer’s very low-budget Detour;  Gregory Peck in a cassock in China in The Keys of the Kingdom; Jean Renoir’s depiction of rural America in The Southerner; John Garfield blind in The Pride of the Marines; and Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Walter Brennan in William Faulkner and Howard Hawks transformation of Ernest Hemingway’s weakest book into a remake of Casablanca, To Have and Have Not.

As always, I have much more to say in my book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PKK8MBY

What is your choice for Best Picture? Here’s the poll:

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