Movie: Gentleman's Agreement
Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (Elia Kazan), Best Actor (Gregory Peck), Best Actress (Dorothy McGuire), Best Supporting Actress (Anne Revere), Best Supporting Actress (Celeste Holm), Best Editing, Best Writing, Screenplay
Wins/Snubs: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress - Celeste Holm
This was one of the 20+ Best picture winner I'd never seen. And as usual, the winners are really great movies, often putting together a theme that, looking back, was pretty revolutionary for its time. Sometimes they don't win for the same reason (Brokeback Mountain anyone?). The short description of this film: Phil Green (Peck) moves to NYC to work as a journalist with his son (Dean Stockwell) and mother (Revere). He gets the chance to write a series of articles about antisemitism. To really gain an understanding of what it means, he changes his name to Greenberg and even tells his son that they're Jewish. His new fiancee, Kathy (McGuire - later Mother Robinson from Swiss Family Robinson) is so adamant that she's not an antisemite that eventually they break up because of it (she really is). While overly simplified for such a hugely complex topic - particularly so soon after World War II - the story is an honest attempt to look at different issues of racism and bigotry. We see the small indignities of name calling and slurs, as well as the larger issues of not being hired for jobs, or able to stay at a "restricted" hotel. This is 15 years before Peck was Atticus Finch, but it's a shining example of why he should be cast in all movies where someone needs to quietly, but determinedly change society, and the people around him.
I'm kind of surprised that that Celeste Holm took the Oscar over Anne Revere. Holm plays a fellow journalist that befriends Phil, and later hits on him. But her part is pretty small. Revere, however, has to support Phil at home - she has heart issues, so she's the counterpoint to his "perfect world". She was a much stronger character overall. As for Dororthy McGuire, she's got a strong part - trying to pull off antisemitism without being overt about it or unkind about it is pretty great. She has a moment when she finally realizes that by not speaking up when her friends and family say terrible things, she's a part of the problem. But Loretta Young in The Farmer's Daughter had to take it. As I've neither seen, nor heard of, A Double Life, nor Ronald Colman in his Oscar winning role, I can't speak to Peck's loss, but the film definitely deserved its Best Picture win.