Best Picture nominees:
The Front Page
What won: Cimarron
The grand scope of this film makes it a worthy winner for these Award years. The plot skips ahead years at a time to check in on the characters. This makes the narrative oddly satisfying as the viewer gets a complete picture. Also, in the Great Depression, it must have been an uplifting sight to see a family thrive while the town around them grows and grows.
What should have won: Cimarron
When I started this project, I did not think I would agree with the Academy for this film. When I just watched the Best Picture winners, I ranked this movie 84th out of 86 winners. Although it is the best film from its year, it is notoriously one of the worst winners in the history of the Awards.
My Best Picture nominee ranking (EDIT 3/18/18, I was able to watch 90% of East Lynne, which does not have an official home media release):
1. Cimarron (6/10)
2. The Front Page (6/10)
3. East Lynne (6/10)
4. Trader Horn (5/10)
5. Skippy (4/10)
My favorite movie of the fourth Oscar batch: The Dawn Patrol
The winner of the Best Writing (Story) award is the best of this batch. The simple war-time story is driven by excellent character development and edge-of-your-seat moments from a creative perspective. Instead of showing extensive dogfight scenes, the picture remains at the pilots' base, awaiting for the return, or the lack of a return, of the pilots. This unique way of portraying the war is refreshing, even for a movie from the early 1930s.
Highest rating on IMDb: The Dawn Patrol
It looks like I agree with voters on the site. I do think the 8.1 is a bit high, but it is appropriate that it ranks higher than all of the Best Picture nominees. It doesn't have much of a historical legacy like the previous highest-rated movie, All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), but the merit is there and well deserved.