I meant to get around to these a month ago, but you know. I guess time stands still for a now not-so-timely tour of historical Best Picture winners, with two reviews per full decade (meaning I’ve omitted the handful of years in the late ’20s because, I mean, I’ve already reviewed Sunrise). Generally, although not exclusively, they’ll be presented in pairs so as to keep the length down at a reasonable level. For the first decade, to salvage the horrors of one of the most useless superlative awards in the film world, I’ve decided to begin with the two instances that got it right.
The Pre-Code Hollywood era, although short-lived, is often wielded as a talking point for the unwound, comparatively flexible, nimble naughtiness of the early days of American sound film. And sure enough, brusque, punchy works like Scarface and I Was a Fugitive from a Chain Gang upended traditional mores and continue to shock audiences who build the perception bridge to classic cinema out of a mortar as inflexible as modern expectations about the gentle, naïve nature of early sound cinema. Continue reading