The Angry Silence
The Apartment (winner)
The Facts of Life
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Never on Sunday
There are always questions about whether or not a particular movie is eligible for a slot here. The one that I question this time is Peeping Tom, which could be considered original, but might be based on a published work. That’s less true of The Magnificent Seven, which is clearly influenced by Kurosawa but was evidently not considered an adapted work. Breathless would have been an interesting choice, but Godard would have almost certainly boycotted the ceremony. With two foreign language/foreign adjacent films already in the mix, L’Avventura is certainly going to be left out. And while I’d love to see it, there’s no way 13 Ghosts is going to get talked about here. As a final note, this is the last Oscar post for completed categories except for last year. Everything left is either from 2019 or a category for which I can't find at least one movie.
Weeding through the Nominees
5. There’s something tonally off for me about a movie that treats marital infidelity as fodder for comedy, with the main characters being the ones who are cheating. There’s a great deal that feels off with The Facts of Life. The biggest issue here is that it stars Lucille Ball—one of the greatest comedians of her (or any) era—and it gives her nothing to do. There’s comedic potential in this movie and it never pays off. It’s a huge missed opportunity because it’s potentially risky and settles for dumb Bob Hope one-liners instead of anything deeper.
4. The Angry Silence, for someone who is as politically left as I am, is disturbingly pro-management and anti-worker, but that’s not why I’ve put it in fourth place. The reason it’s here is that this is a movie worth seeing specifically for the performances, not the plot. Richard Attenborough is the central performance, but it’s the work of Michael Craig that makes the film worth seeing. Would it go higher with a differently aligned story? I don’t think so. It’s simply not as interesting as the other nominees regardless of temperament.
3. Honestly, the only real knock I have against Hiroshima Mon Amour is that it’s not a movie I want to watch a second time. I said above that there’s something strange about making people who are cheating in a relationship the heroes of the film, but that’s what happens here, and it works because of how tragic this is. It’s meant to be tragic, and the affair (an interracial one in 1960, no less!) is brutal because of its intensity and (for the time) taboo-breaking. It’s just such a hard film to see, and like it or not, that’s always a detraction for me for an Oscar.
2. In a lesser year, or a year without such a clear winner, I would love to put Never on Sunday on the top spot. This is a movie that does something so wonderfully rare that it’s a joy to discover it. There is a clear path at the start of the movie to a conclusion we know we’re going to get…and we get somewhere completely different, more interesting, and completely honest. It’s a surprise how this turns out, and it’s also an ending that is completely earned. As good as it is, though, second is as high as I can go.
1. The only real winner here could be The Apartment. Oh, I might want to talk about Peeping Tom were it eligible, but probably not. This is the right way to handle a comedy about infidelity. It’s funny, but it’s also dark in the right ways. Our hero is someone who isn’t the cheater, but someone who eventually stands up to that cheater. It’s uplifting by the end, which is what we want with a comedy. And, true to Billy Wilder’s talents and penchants, it’s sardonic when it needs to be. It wins in a walk.