Best Picture nominees:
A Farewell to Arms
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
Lady for a Day
The Private Life of Henry VIII.
She Done Him Wrong
What won: Cavalcade
Even though the Academy Awards still was in its formative years, Cavalcade seems to be a piece that screams "Oscars." I can see why this was chosen as Best Picture. Although it is widely regarded as one of the least known and worst Best Picture winners, it still is not a bad movie. A domestic drama spanning over thirty years takes the viewer through historical events in England's history in the early twentieth century. I don't think anything stood out very much so it might have been the "safe pick" we see continue into modern day Awards.
What should have I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
This is a no-brainer. It has everything a Best Picture winner should possess. Strong acting, a gripping story, excellent cinematography, and social commentary (on the prison system). Paul Muni gives the best performance of the year. I understand why Laughton won for his portrayal as King Henry, but Muni shines bright in this dark, gritty tale of a prisoner who has to serve time on chain gangs, even though he is innocent from crime. There are suspenseful chase scenes after his escape, a breather int he second act as Muni makes a name for himself in Chicago, and just sheer weight in how the prison system is discussed. This should have won back then and this is my pick to win now. One of the only must-see movies of the early 1930s.
My Best Picture nominee ranking:
1. I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (8/10)
2. Lady for a Day (7/10)
3. Smilin' Through (7/10)
4. 42nd Street (7/10)
5. Little Women (6/10)
6. The Private Life of Henry VIII. (6/10)
7. A Farewell to Arms (6/10)
8. Cavalcade (6/10)
9. State Fair (6/10)
10. She Done Him Wrong (6/10)
My favorite movie out of the sixth Oscar batch: I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
What more can I say about this film? It is a picture that evokes an emotional response to the injustice of the prison system of the state of Georgia in the early twentieth century. You really feel for Muni and absolutely hate to see how he is treated. The climax and very last scene are also something to admire. There is so much to this movie and it is a crying shame that it didn't even win one award (it was nominated for three).
Highest rating on IMDb: One Way Passage
The exclusive award winner for Best Story beats out Fugitive by .1 with the 8.2, although Fugitive has more than 6,000 more votes included in its score. It is strange that it has the high of a score but it is still a very enjoyable narrative. It is easy to see why it won this category as most of the big films back then were based on novels or plays. Original screenplays were hard to come by and when a strong one like this comes along, it is a treat. I really like William Powell playing the lead role and there are some pretty funny moments scattered throughout as well. Still not better than Fugitive though.