It’s Oscar night tonight (I may be live-blogging over at thoughtfulthinkingthoughts.wordpress.com). So here’s part 2 of the list of Obscure Oscar Nominees.

Our Town (1940)
It’s hard to believe than an adaptation of one of the greatest plays ever written, starring William Holden, which was nominated for Best Picture, is practically forgotten today. It’s not quite as brilliant as most stage productions you’ll find of it, but it’s an extremely poetic movie.

Hold Back the Dawn (1941)
This was one of the more worthy nominees of this year, and sadly the most forgotten. With the trio of Charles Boyer, Olivia DeHaviland, and Paulette Goddard, it’s a sexy, romantic tale.

The Talk of the Town (1942)
Cary Grant, Ronald Coleman, and Jean Arthur are delightful in this wonderful mix of comedy, drama, and suspense. It’s not a perfect movie, but at the same time it’s hard to really look at it as having any faults. It’s just a delightful movie.

Watch on the Rhine (1943)
I think if this were released on DVD it would find a new life. It’s an incredibly powerful film about self-sacrifice and nobility. Paul Lukas, who I sometimes find dull, especially in the last two films I watched with him (Downstairs and Ladies In Love), but he gives an incredible performance here, which beat out Bogart’s Casablanca performance for Best Actor.

Crossfire (1947)
A gritty as all get-out film noir starring three Roberts (Young, Mitchum, and Ryan) that gets nominated for Best Picture? And not even one of those early, ten nominees years, but the later, much more selective five nominees a tear Oscars? AWESOME.

The Snake Pit (1948)
This is an eerie, unsettling drama about life in an insane asylum. DeHavilland’s performance in this is incredible, one of her very best.  DeHavilland lost the Best Actress Oscar to Johnny Belinda‘s Jane Wyman. It’s definitely a close race, but I’d give it to DeHavilland.

And that’s all I’ve got for you, folks. Enjoy the Oscars tonight!

It’s that wonderful time of the year again! It’s nearing the Academy Awards. In less than a month, we’ll see who gets to take home the statue.

I always wonder, “Will anybody even remember some of these nominees 70 years from now?” There are certainly a lot of Best Picture nominees from the past that have completely left the public’s  memory. So I figured I’d try to help people remember. Here are some of the best obscure and forgotten Best Picture  nominees of the classic era.

The Racket (1928.)
The Racket was nominated for Best Production at the very first Academy Awards. John Cromwell (who directed some of the all time greatest melodramas) directed this crime tale, making it on of the definitive crime stories of all time. Because it was unavailable for so long, it’s been overshadowed by gangster classics like Public Enemy and Little Caesar, but it deserves to stand up there with the rest of them. Watching The Racket is almost like observing a little slice of the time. It lacks glamor, and it a downright gritty films that really captures the feel of the era it was made and set in.

The Big House (1930)
This prison drama was nominated for Best Picture the year that  the WWI masterpiece All Quiet on the Western Front took home the prize. The Big House, however, did earn Frances Marion a screenwriting award. It truly is a fantastic script and a beautifully told story about life behind bars. I think what really makes it great is its cast. Chester Morris, Wallace Beery, Robert Montgomery, and Leila Hyams all give top notch performances.

Bad Girl (1931)
One of Borzage’s Depression era masterpieces, Borzage took home his second Best Director Oscar for this film, while it lost to Grand Hotel for Best Picture. Raw and real, it’s a beautiful love story that ignores sentimentality and truly puts you in the time and place of its setting, the Depression

Five Star Final (1931)
This is a brilliant newspaper. Most of the movies you see about newspaper men are comedies (The Front Page, Platinum Blond). Five Star Final is an excellent drama starring Edward G. Robinson as a newspaper man who is struggling with morality and the guilt of a story gone wrong. It’s one of Robinson’s very best performances.

Smilin’ Through (1932)
This is one of my favorite love stories. There are two love stories going on at once, the past and present, bound together forever by desting and blood. Norma Shearer’s performance is top notch, and it’s told so meticulously, perfectly, beautifully, and emotionally. I wish love stories like this were made today.

The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934)
This is definitely Norma Shearer’s finest dramatic performance. She plays the ill poet Elizabeth Browning, and the film tells the story of her relationship with her tyrannical father, and falling in love with Robert Browning. It’s a great love story, but the most interesting part of the film comes from the strange relationship between Elizabeth and he father, playing absolutely brilliantly by Charles Laughton.

Dodsworth (1936)
It isn’t often you find a movie like Dodsworth. Instead of focusing on young lovers, it tells the story of an older couple after the husband retires. Not only does it focus on older characters, it also deals with the characters facing their older age. Both Walter Huston and Ruth Chatterton are amazing, not fearing playing these older characters.

Dead End (1937)
This is one of the strongest gangster films ever. It’s not about the life of crime.  It subtly shows the evolution of the gangster, a victim of circumstance. We see a young gang that will probably eventually turn into the character portrayed by Humphrey Bogart. Claire Trevor received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for a performance that’s only a few minutes long, but absolutely perfect and beautiful. The whole cast is amazing. It’s a brilliantly performance film.

Four Daughters (1938.)
This movie almost doesn’t seem like it fits among the other nominees (among them Jezebel, Pygmalion, The Grand Illusion) until you see that the winner was the small comedy You Can’t Take It With You. Four Daughters is a very quiet family drama that draws from its complicated and conflicted characters to form its story. This movie made John Garfield a star. He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

To be continued…..

By Katie Richardson