Best Picture, 1939
Dark Victory, Gone With the Wind (winner), Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Love Affair, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Ninotchka, Of Mice and Men, Stagecoach, The Wizard of Oz, Wuthering Heights
At the height of Hollywood's Golden Age, no year glittered more than 1939. Its Best Picture slate is wall-to-wall masterpieces of the studio system, two of which — the beloved musical fantasy The Wizard of Oz and the Oscar-winning epic of Lost-Cause revisionism Gone With the Wind — continue to embody the whole idea of old-school movie magic. Other entrants provided career-highlight showcases for their stars (see Bette Davis in Dark Victory), helped define the heroic ideal for public servants (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington's courageous politician and Goodbye, Mr. Chips' kindly British schoolteacher), elevated a genre to an art form (Stagecoach), and showed that literary adaptations could do justice to their source material (Of Mice and Men, Wuthering Heights). Put it all together and it's an argument for why movies mattered so much to so many.