6 Times The Academy Got It Right: 1930s Edition


During the 1930s, American suffered through the Great Depression and the rest of the world first tried to prevent and then fearfully prepared for another world war.  It was a dark time and it’s not surprising that movies became an escape for many.  With so many people going the movies, it’s also not a surprise that the Oscars themselves became a far bigger deal than anyone had initially expected.  Today, it can be easy to forget that the awards were almost an afterthought, something that was added to the Academy’s original charter at the last minute.  In the 1930s, they went from being a quiet industry dinner to being a major cultural event.

Here are 6 times the Academy got it right in the 1930s.

  1. 1939

1939 was one of the first truly great years in American cinema and, for once, the Academy honored that greatness.  The slate of nominated films, which included everything from Gone With The Wind to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington to The Wizard of Oz to Stagecoach, and performances was the best that Academy had presented so far.  All of the nominees were impressive and deserved to be there.  One can perhaps disagree with some of the eventual winners but 1939 was one of the few years when no one can disagree with who and what the Academy chose to nominate.

2. It Happened One Night Win Best Picture

In 1934, the Academy honored It Happened One Night with the award for Best Picture.  Not only was it entirely deserved but it was also the first comedy to win the big prize.

3. The Thin Man Is Nominated For Best Picture

The same year that It’s Happened One Night won Best Picture, The Thin Man was nominated.  1934 was a great year for comedy.

4. Grand Illusion is Nominated For Best Picture

Jean Renior’s anti-war classic was nominated for Best Picture in 1937.  Not only was the nomination deserved but it also became the first film in a language other than English to receive a best picture nomination.

5. Fredric March Wins Best Actor for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

At the 5th Academy Awards ceremony, March became the first actor to win an Oscar for a horror role and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde became the first horror film to win anything.  Of course, Wallace Beery also won Best Actor for The Champ.  This was one of the few years in which there was a tie.

6. Charles Laughton Wins Best Actor For The Private Life of Henry VIII

At the 6th Academy Awards ceremony, Laughton won an award for his lusty performance as Henry VIII.  While one could argue that Paul Muni technically gave a better performance in I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang, no one can deny that Laughton’s lusty and comedic performance set the template by which all future Henry VIII’s would be judged.  Add to that, Laughton became the first of many actors to win for their performance in a British-made film.

Up next: the 1940s!

One response to “6 Times The Academy Got It Right: 1930s Edition

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 3/21/22 — 3/27/22 | Through the Shattered Lens

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