The 2020/1920 Movies Silently Awards Nominees!

I have been considering this for a while and goodness knows I didn’t invent the idea of flashback awards but last year’s Academy Awards really made me think seriously about it. And so, one year later, here we are! I am nominating 1919 films for a fictional 1920 awards show, the Movies Silently Awards or the Fritzis because my ego knows no bounds.

Before we dig into the nominees, several points:

  1. This will not be a direct copycat of the Oscars. I will be eliminating categories and adding them as I see fit.
  2. The selection process will be a hybrid. I plan to consider historical resources like the original Photoplay Medal of Honor nominees AND bring in a modern perspective. I originally planned to hold a contest based on the Photoplay noms but decided that I wanted to give 1919 a little bit of love first. It was such a smashing year.
  3. All awards show nominations are arbitrary and there is no such thing as objectivity. I make no claims of fairness.
  4. This is just for fun. If you absolutely hate all my nominees, you are free to set up your own awards on your blog.
  5. Obviously, I must restrict the list to what survives and what is available for viewing. This limits the scope quite a bit but I think it’s the only fair thing to do in this situation.
  6. I am also limiting myself to features because there is no way in hell I am opening the Chaplin vs. Keaton can of worms.

I think that’s everything on the “trying not to get yelled at on the internet” list so let’s do this thing!

Best Feature-Length Picture

Back to God’s Country
Blind Husbands
Daddy Long Legs
The Daughter of Dawn
The Dragon Painter
Madame DuBarry
Male and Female
When the Clouds Roll By

Best Director

Cecil B. DeMille (Male and Female)
Germaine Dulac (La Cigarette)
Abel Gance (J’Accuse)
Marshall Neilan (Daddy Long Legs)
Erich von Stroheim (Blind Husbands)

Best Actress

Pola Negri (Madame DuBarry)
Ossi Oswalda (The Doll)
Mary Pickford (Daddy Long Legs)
Gloria Swanson (Male and Female)
Nell Shipman (Back to God’s Country)

Best Actor

Hobart Bosworth (Behind the Door)
Sessue Hayakawa (The Dragon Painter)
Romuald Joubé (J’Accuse)
Thomas Meighan (Male and Female)
Erich von Stroheim (Blind Husbands)

Best Supporting Actress

Tsuru Aoki (The Dragon Painter)
Kathleen Clifford (When the Clouds Roll By)
Bebe Daniels (Male and Female)
Colleen Moore (The Busher)
Jane Novak (Behind the Door)

Best Supporting Actor

Wallace Beery (Behind the Door)
Lon Chaney (The Wicked Darling)
Emil Jannings (Madame DuBarry)
Gerhard Ritterband (The Doll)
Rudolph Valentino (Eyes of Youth)

Best Screenplay

Abel Gance (J’Accuse)
Agnes Christine Johnston (Daddy Long Legs)
Jeanie Macpherson (Male and Female)
Nell Shipman (Back to God’s Country)
Erich von Stroheim (Blind Husbands)

Best Cinematography

Dal Clawson and Joseph Walker (Back to God’s Country)
Henry Cronjager (Daddy Long Legs)
Frank Hurley (South)
Julius Jaenzon (The Outlaw and His Wife)
Alvin Wyckoff (Male and Female)

Best Costumes

The Doll
The Daughter of Dawn
The Dragon Painter
Madame DuBarry
Male and Female

Best Editing

Daddy Long Legs
The Doll
The Eyes of Youth
When the Clouds Roll By

Best Visual Effects

Behind the Door
Daddy Long Legs
Madame DuBarry
When the Clouds Roll By

Best Title Cards

Back to God’s Country
Behind the Door
Blind Husbands
The Busher
Male and Female

Best Foreign Language Feature Film

One film to a country or else this would be an all-German list! And trust me, I did not take my German selection lightly.

El automóvil gris (Mexico)
La Cigarette (France)
The Doll (Germany)
The Outlaw and His Wife (Sweden)
Towards the Light (Denmark)

Phew! I hope you enjoyed these nominees and that you maybe have some new material for your to-watch lists!

“Did you… did you just snub Broken Blossoms?”

Yes, yes, I did. Next!

Update: I am not publishing any more comments complaining about my decision regarding Broken Blossoms. As stated above, feel free to hold your own award show. I wrote a Twitter thread detailing why the film turns my stomach, if you’re interested.

“When will we learn about the winners?”

Oscar night! February 9, 2020!


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12 Replies to “The 2020/1920 Movies Silently Awards Nominees!”

  1. Speaking of Best Costumes of 1919 films, I found myself wondering if Nell Shipman wore a body stocking in her apparently nude swimming scene in Back to God’s Country.

    I suppose a “birthday suit” wouldn’t qualify as a costume for film award purposes.

    Still, Nell wore it well! The right attitude makes all the difference.

  2. I’ve long thought that AMPAS should actually give out some Oscars for silent film. Have a ceremony for everything released before the eligibility date for the first Oscar ceremony, let people vote, hand out statues. The statues would probably be going to great-grandchildren when they went to anyone at all, but it would be cool.

    Nominate, oh, eight films. And naturally, “Broken Blossoms” would have to be one of those films. As would “The Gold Rush”, and “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”. Probably “The Big Parade” too!

    1. I think we can easily do without Broken Blossoms but the Hugos are doing a lovely job with their retro awards and I don’t see why the Academy can’t do something similar to honor past years in film history.

      1. I don’t do torture p*rn and even if I did, I wouldn’t do torture p*rn that was made because the director had a rape fetish and even if I did torture p*rn that was made because the director had a rape fetish, I still wouldn’t do Broken Blossoms. If nothing else, I get sick of people yipping about how a stereotyped yellowface performance somehow absolves Griffith of racism.

      2. –“Broken Blossoms” must be included in any sensible list.

        Yes, you really can’t discuss film of 1919 or hand out any awards for that year without having “Broken Blossoms” on your short list. It’s one of the best films of the entire era.

        Other names on this list are really excellent, however, and this is a really good idea. Can’t wait to see ‘The Kid’ nominated next year!

      3. Watch me, buckaroo. Broken Blossoms is the last outpost of the “DW Griffith was sorry for racism!” brigade even though it perpetuates nasty stereotypes and was essentially designed to indulge Griffith’s fixations with women and girls being sexually assaulted and/or beaten in enclosed spaces. It’s not my duty to indulge his special tingles but thanks for mansplaining my personal list to me, much appreciated.

  3. Did you just snub The Oyster Princess?

    One of the surprises on the list was Madame DuBarry. I was so disappointed of Sumurun and Anna Boleyn that I thought there is no need to see more Lubitsch’ German dramas. Haven’t seen any super positive reviews either.

    1. The German offerings were STRONG in 1919 and I didn’t want to nominate more than one German picture in foreign language so…

      DuBarry is better than Anna Boleyn for sure but the main reason it figures in so strongly is that American audiences of 1920 LOVED it. Went absolutely bonkers for it. The nominees are partially me and partially channeling the era, so I had to include it.

    1. I was thinking of doing a vote but I knew I would have some trouble with the Griffith diss and I don’t really have the emotional bandwidth for a full ballot so I opted for a benevolent dictatorship this year. 😉

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