Short Stack’s Take 2: Another Look At Best Picture Nominees From Yesteryear

Excuse the long ass title I’m just trying to be creative. My boss will rape me if I don’t make my headlines clear as day. So, as you may have realized, I am starting a series of posts reviewing, and potentially reordering, movies nominated for best picture throughout history. My boss and colleague, Spanky, has taken the path most traveled and began covering films from recent memory. So to spite that bitch, I’ve decided to examine the cinematic achievements from 1927 onward.

Let’s take a fucking trip back to the roarin’ twenties, when hands were toilet paper and grass was food.

And the nominees are…

The very first academy awards ceremony in 1929 saw a mere three films nominated for best picture: Wings, The Racket, and Seventh Heaven. Each of these early films differ greatly from movies in the 21st century. While the installation of sound into motion pictures was accomplished in 1927, these nominees are silent. They are also absent of color. And the special effects are nothing special compared to the CGI to which we are often exposed.

All things considered, I will try my best to give each film a fair rating and ranking. Enough chit chat, let’s talk movies.

#3: The Racket

I’m placing The Racket at the bottom of the barrel. The movie follows a policeman called James McQuigg as he tries to put an end to the corruption of the law system brought forth by a Nick Scarsi, a racketeering murderer running rampant. Perhaps a precursor to shows and movies like Narcos and The Departed, The Racket portrays a cat and mouse battle to the death between Nick and McQuigg. I thought the film had great suspense, initially between Scarsi and members of a rival racket led by a man called Spike. And once Spike had been taken care of, the tension shifted to McQuigg and Scarsi until ole Nick met his ultimate demise. There was some very unique storytelling, in which Nick’s kid brother, Joe, was involved in a hit-and-run, jailed and subsequently used as bait to attract Mr. Scarsi. I felt like I was watching a very good play. There were also some funny slapstick comedic moments, like when a cop is bumped into by three different people right after one another. I feel like those old movies always have a couple characters that look like stupid assholes. Anyways, I thought the story and the way it was told were overall compelling, and I thought the portrayal was theatrical as well as comical. The Racket gets a 7.1/10 on the Stack scale. Solid flick but I wouldn’t masturbate to it.

#2: Seventh Heaven

While this movie may have had some laughable attempts at dialogue, there was much more juicy conflict in Seventh Heaven than in The Racket. Seventh Heaven is about a young man named Chico who saves a poor woman from her abusive sister. To avoid the police from arresting Diane, Chico claims the hobo is his wife. The policeman releases Diane and warns Chico that the cops will investigate his home to see if the two are truly married. So they live together at Chico’s seventh-floor apartment to save themselves from punishment by law. After the investigation, which literally took a matter of five seconds and consisted of one question (Is that your wife?), the two continue living together and eventually fall in love. And soon after, Chico is sent off to fight for France in World War I or some shit (the movie takes place in France. I probably should’ve mentioned that). At the end, Chico is thought to be dead by everyone until he whisks in at the last second, blind as a fucking bat to see, I mean hold, his precious Diane. This was a true rags to riches story. I think the main message of the film was that you could achieve anything when you’re assisted by God. The two protagonists conquer their fears and achieve their goals thanks to God and their belief in God. Their growth is very visible and was entertaining to see, especially when Diane beat the fuck out of her sister. That was pretty cool. I thought the story was going nowhere but I was pleasantly surprised when the film took an exciting turn. And while it was repetitive at times, like when Chico called himself a “remarkable fellow” about 70 times, I think the repetition helped the film translate its message across. Seventh Heaven gets a 7.4/10 on the Stack scale. Lots of twists and turns and very watchable.

#1: Wings

Now onto Wings, the actual best picture award winner at the 1929 Oscar’s. This movie had a pretty crazy love triangle/rectangle goin’ on and the cinematography was pretty nuts for 1927. The film follows Jack Powell and David Armstrong as they navigate through World War I as American pilots. They both love the same girl back home even though this girl only loves David and not Jack. One girl who does love Jack follows him all the way to Europe to win him over but Jack is completely oblivious and only falls for her in the very end of the movie. Jack is borderline stupid as shit. Jack is so stupid it hurts. So of course jack Survives and David dies. David was so much cooler than Jack, despite the fact that he practically open-mouth kisses his own mother. Apart from the story, the camera work was actually unbelievable for the time period. I think some of the shots were taken from a plane. Even the shots you know are probably fake looked pretty good. I was very entertained all-around by the personal conflicts, the overarching conflict of war, and the cinematography. Wings is on another level compared to the other 1929 nominees, and for that it gets a 7.8/10 on the Stack scale. Even though it was a clear propaganda piece, Wings wins this battle.

Ok folks, that’s it for this film review. I’m off to the DMV to meet my grandparents for drinks. Stack out!

-Short Stack

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