In order to show you how great this year was, it’s worth listing all of the nominees for Best Picture of 1940:
“Gone With the Wind”, “Dark Victory”, “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”, “Love Affair”, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, “Ninotchka”, “Of Mice and Men”, “Stagecoach”, “The Wizard of Oz”, and “Wuthering Heights”.
But that’s not all:
If there was any year that proved Hollywood deserved to exist, it was 1939. Want more proof? Here are some of the movies that DIDN’T get nominated for much or for anything:
“Destry Rides Again”, “Drums Along the Mohawk”, “Each Dawn I Die”, “Gunga Din”, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, “Intermezzo”, “Million Dollar Legs”, “The Old Maid”, “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex”, “Son of Frankenstein”, and “Young Mr. Lincoln”.
I’m not as pro Ninotchka as Elliott is, although I did enjoy the movie immensely the second time I saw it. But when it comes down to the battle between Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz, I’m firmly on his side. Both are grand Hollywood spectacles of the highest order, Technicolor extravaganzas that kicked the doors wide open for film as an art form — but only one remains timeless, pristine, as relevant and magical as when it played before our grandparents. The Wizard of Oz was the best movie of 1939. The final tally is accurate: Elliott 9, Academy Awards 3.