Watch TCM's 31 Days of Oscar

Turner Classic Movies celebrates the Oscars with a look back at historical winners.

by | March 3, 2015 | Comments

31 Days of Oscar-winning and Oscar-nominated films airing 24/7? That’s what Turner Classic Movies has in store throughout the month of February (and beyond). This year’s theme for 31 Days of Oscar is “History of the Oscars,” as they go chronologically from the ceremony’s inception in 1927 through 2011 — highlighting at least one Best Picture winner every night from now until March 3rd. Each night we’ve got an inside scoop for what’s in store, while TCM’s own Ben Mankiewicz offers up his thoughts on each film, so check back here every day!

March 3rd


Dodsworth (1936)
88%

A shockingly honest and mature film for its time — it feels more like a pre-code release rather than coming at a time when Hollywood censors were first flexing their muscles. Dodsworth didn’t get much of a reception when released; the critics liked it OK, but it didn’t do great business at the box office. We know better now.

Nominated for: Best Art Direction (Won), Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Writing – Screenplay, Best Sound

Airing at: 10am PT, 1pm ET


Now, Voyager (1942)
91%

Count my father among the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of men, who learned from Paul Henreid the sexiest trick in the book: lighting two cigarettes in your mouth and handing one to a pretty girl. Now, if only cigarettes weren’t lethal…

Nominated for: Best Score (Won), Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress

Airing at: 11:45am PT, 2:45pm ET


No Country for Old Men (2007)
93%

Joel and Ethan Coen’s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel is set in West Texas in 1980. I remember 1980. I have fond memories of 1980. Here’s where I wouldn’t want to be in 1980: West Texas. At least not the Coen Brothers version. I’ve seen No Country for Old Men once — when it first came out. I’ll certainly see it again, but I’m still feeling that initial experience.

Nominated for: Best Picture (Won), Best Actor (Won), Best Director (Won), Best Writing – Adapted

Airing at: 9:30pm PT, 12:30am ET

March 2nd


Them! (1954)
100%

How can you not love a movie with an exclamation point in the title? You can’t have an exclamation point unless it’s good. I’m pretty sure that’s a rule in Hollywood. You’ll be sold on this Sci-Fi classic in the first few minutes.

Nominated for: Best Special Effects

Airing at: 10:30am PT, 1:30pm ET


The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
79%

Ernest Borgnine once told me this story right before a TCM event we did together. The Poseidon Adventure had a lot of technical jargon about the ship in the dialogue. During a line run-through before shooting, Gene Hackman asked Borgnine if they were really supposed to memorize all of it. “Well, yeah,” said Borgnine. Hackman hadn’t even tried to learn those lines – and subsequently didn’t talk to Borgnine off camera for the rest of the shoot. I have no idea if that story was recounted to me correctly, but I badly hope it’s true.

Nominated for: Best Original Song (Won), Special Achievement Oscar for Visual Effects, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Editing, Best Original Score

Airing at: 3pm PT, 6pm ET


The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
91%

Truthfully, I’m not recommending you merely watched the first film in Peter Jackson’s trilogy — I’m suggesting you watch (or DVR) all three. But view them in quick succession if you can. I’m not a fantasy film buff, and the books mean little to me — heck, I’ve never even been to Middle earth — but I can tell you this is an exquisitely made trilogy, full of drama, horror, laughter, tension, suspense, deceit and triumph. In all, 30 Oscar nominations and 17 wins.

Nominated for: Too many to list — as I said, 30 nominations for all three films. The Return of the King won Best Picture. In fact, it won 11 Oscars — winning in every category it was nominated.

Airing at: 5pm PT, 8pm ET

March 1st


The Music Man (1962)
94%

Because only one movie gives you this: “Ya got trouble, folks. Right here in River City. Trouble with a capital ‘T’ and that rhymes with ‘P’ and that stands for Pool.” Robert Preston played Harold Hill over 800 times on stage, but Jack Warner wanted a proven box office commodity. He wanted Cary Grant. Grant turned Warner down in legendary fashion: “Not only will I not play it, but if Robert Preston doesn’t do it, I won?t even see the picture.” Do Cary Grant a solid and watch Preston dazzle.

Nominated for: Best Adapted Score (Won), Best Picture, Best Art Direction – Color, Best Costume Design – Color, Best Sound, Best Editing

Airing at: 11am PT, 2pm ET


Chicago (2002)
85%

Rob Marshall’s movie was the first musical in 34 years (Oliver!) to win Best Picture. And it deserved to win.

Nominated for: Best Picture (Won), Best Supporting Actress (Won), Best Art Direction (Won), Best Costume Design (Won), Best Editing (Won), Best Sound (Won), Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Original Song

Airing at: 7:15pm PT, 10:15pm ET


Shakespeare in Love (1998)
92%

Unlike Chicago, Shakespeare in Love‘s Oscar win is one of the great injustices in Academy history. Three words: Saving. Private. Ryan. It was only the most important World War II movie in half a century. That said; don’t let the Oscar theft deprive you of another viewing of this high quality film. Then rent Saving Private Ryan.

Nominated for: Best Picture (Won), Best Actress (Won), Best Supporting Actress (Won), Best Writing – Original Screenplay (Won), Best Art Direction (Won), Best Costume Design (Won), Best Original Score (Won), Best Supporting Actor

Airing at: 9:30pm PT, 12:30am ET

February 28th


The Narrow Margin (1952)
100%

First of all, what a day! Thrillers all day, Best Picture nominees from the ’90s at night — picking only three seems like a crime. The Narrow Margin, one of the decade’s great noirs, kicks off a killer double feature of train movies, followed by one of Hitchcock’s best, Strangers on a Train. The star in The Narrow Margin is Marie Windsor, the “Queen of the B’s.” Charles McGraw, the detective sent to escort Windsor — playing the wife of a mobster — on a train from Chicago to L.A., assesses her character this way: “She’s the sixty-cent special. Cheap. Flashy. Strictly poison under the gravy.” How do you not love that?

Nominated for: Best Writing – Story

Airing at: 9:45am PT, 12:45pm ET


The China Syndrome (1979)
84%

Richard Dreyfuss was set to play Jane Fonda’s cameraman, but he became too expensive following Close Encounters and his Oscar turn in The Goodbye Girl, so Michael Douglas, already a producer on the film, took over role. The movie was doing moderate box office business until the partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant two weeks after the film’s opening nearly mirrored The China Syndrome‘s story. The daily coverage of the dangers of nuclear power gave the film a huge, unforeseen boost.

Nominated for: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Writing – Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction

Airing at: 2:45pm PT, 5:45pm ET


A Few Good Men (1992)
82%

Because it’s Tom Cruise’s best performance. Because it’s a reminder of how great a screenwriter Aaron Sorkin can be. Because when Wolfgang Bodison salutes Cruise and says “Ten-hut… There’s an officer on deck,” you’re watching of the one great movie moments of the decade.

Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Sound, Best Editing

Airing at: 7:30pm PT, 10:30pm ET

February 27th


Running on Empty (1988)
85%

This is a strange, but effective Sidney Lumet-directed family drama where the mother and father are constantly on the run from the FBI for a wee bit of 1970s anti-war terrorism. However, their son is growing tired of the family’s nomadic, fugitive lifestyle. The son is played by River Phoenix, in his first genuine grown-up role. An Oscar nomination followed. Surely there would’ve been more had he lived past 23.

Nominated for: Best Supporting Actor, Best Writing – Original Screenplay

Airing at: 5pm PT, 8pm ET


Glory (1989)
93%

For decades, Hollywood has had an unfortunate habit of telling civil rights stories through the prism of the “white savior” (Amistad, Mississippi Burning, etc…). Count Glory among them, but at least Glory fully empowers the black soldiers — this is their decision to fight, to sacrifice, to die. And the characters played by Denzel Washington, Andre Braugher and Morgan Freeman are each stronger than Matthew Broderick’s lead character, the white savior.

Nominated for: Best Supporting Actor (Won), Best Cinematography (Won), Best Sound (Won), Best Art Direction, Best Editing

Airing at: 10:30pm PT, 1:30am ET


A Cry in the Dark (1982)
93%

Because a dingo. Ate her baby.

Nominated for: Best Actress

Airing at: 12:45am PT, 3:45am ET

February 26th


Seven Days in May (1964)
91%

Imagine the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff orchestrating a coup against the president of the United States? Now imagine the president is played by Fredric March and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs is Burt Lancaster? Then what if Kirk Douglas plays a loyal assistant to Lancaster, but he’s deeply troubled by the coup. Toss in John Frankenheimer directing a Rod Serling screenplay and here’s what you end up with — maybe the finest political thriller of all time.

Nominated for: Best Supporting Actor, Best Art Direction – Black and White

Airing at: 6pm PT, 9am ET


The Candidate (1972)
87%

If Seven Days in May is Hollywood’s greatest political thriller, then Michael Ritchie’s The Candidate may be the best film about a political campaign. Great political movies are eerily prescient about the dawn of the new media age and The Candidate runs like a how-to guide on why modern politics crushes authenticity and devours innovative political discourse. Plus there’s Robert Redford.

Nominated for: Best Writing – Original Screenplay (Won), Best Sound

Airing at: 3pm PT, 6pm ET


The Verdict (1982)
93%

Forced to choose between two great Paul Newman films, Sidney Lumet’s The Verdict and Sydney Pollack’s Absence of Malice, which airs at 8pm ET, I’m taking The Verdict, but it’s a coin toss. Do yourself a favor and watch both — I challenge you to find a better way to spend a Thursday night. By the way, both Frank Sinatra and Cary Grant expressed interest in playing Newman’s role.

Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay

Airing at: 7pm PT, 10pm ET

February 25th


Mister Roberts (1955)
92%

Henry Fonda, Jimmy Cagney, William Powell, Jack Lemmon — what could go wrong? Apparently plenty, if you’re John Ford, the director. Ford, for probably the first time in his life, lost a battle of wills — in this case against Henry Fonda, his old friend and longtime colleague. But this time, their relationship soured. Fonda was unhappy with Ford’s decisions and Ford responded by taking a swing at him. Ford apologized, but left the production not long after — drunk and defeated — his friendship with Fonda permanently fractured. On the flip side, it’s a pretty great movie.

Nominated for: Best Supporting Actor (Won), Best Picture, Best Sound

Airing at: 2:45pm PT, 5:45pm ET


Arthur (1981)
88%

Movies where we laugh at alcoholics make me uneasy, but somehow, Arthur warrants a permanent exemption. The role seems written for Dudley Moore, but the first plan was an American actor — James Caan, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson and Richard Dreyfuss were all considered. Thankfully, we ended up with Moore and John Gielgud as his butler, Hobson. “Hobson,” says Arthur, “do you know what I’m going to do?”

“No, I don’t,” responds Hobson.

“I’m going to take a bath.”

“I’ll alert the media.”

To this day, when someone tells me something unimportant, I say, “I’ll alert the media.”

Nominated for: Best Supporting Actor (Won), Best Original Song (Won), Best Actor, Best Writing – Original Screenplay

Airing at: 5pm PT, 8pm ET


Gloria (1980)
92%

Naturally, a film John Cassavetes didn’t want to make became his most critically successful movie. “I wrote this story to tell, strictly to sell,” he said. MGM originally hired him to write a movie for their hot new child star, Ricky Schroeder. But when Schroeder left MGM, Cassavetes ended up with a movie crafted around his wife, Gena Rowlands. It’s my favorite kind of film — tense and ambiguous. “I hate entertainment,” Cassavetes says in the book, Cassavetes on Cassavetes, “There’s nothing I despise more than being entertained.” Apologies to the late director, but you’ll be entertained.

Nominated for: Best Actress

Airing at: 2am PT, 5am ET

February 24th


Being There (1979)
96%

In the wrong hands, Being There could have gone off the rails. Instead, it gets better with age. Jerry Kosinski’s script, from his own novel, never undermines its premise. And the actors — Peter Sellers was never so honest, so vulnerable and Melvyn Douglas just oozed likability and humanity. But Shirley MacLaine had the role that could’ve made the film a joke — a good joke, but a joke. Her loneliness and compassion seep through every line, even in perhaps the least “hot” sex scene in the history of movies.

Nominated for: Best Supporting Actor (Won), Best Actor

Airing at: 7pm PT, 10pm ET


Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
91%

You already know how great it is, but consider this: Kramer vs. Kramer made more money at the box office than Apocalypse Now, The Muppet Movie, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Moonraker. So a movie about a couple getting divorced and fighting for custody of their son beat Kurtz, Kermit, Kirk and Bond.

Nominated for: Best Picture (Won), Best Actor (Won), Best Supporting Actress (Won), Best Director (Won), Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay (Won), Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Editing

Airing at: 9:30pm PT, 12:30am ET


The Great Santini (1979)
94%

Of all the adaptations of Pat Conroy’s novels (and this barely counts as a novel — it so closely mirrors Conroy’s life), The Great Santini is the best. Robert Duvall plays a character completely based on Conroy’s father. Conroy says his dad “took full credit for Duvall’s career.” The movie was a huge box office loser — pulled from theaters quickly when producers struck a deal to air it on HBO, a cable channel that was never heard from again.

Nominated for: Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor

Airing at: 11:30pm PT, 2:30am ET

February 23rd


Of Mice and Men (1939)
100%

1939 may be Hollywood’s greatest year, but you can make an argument that this Lewis Milestone picture is the best of the lot. It’s certainly the most slighted from 1939. Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney, Jr. are brilliant as George and Lennie. On the set, Meredith began a lifelong friendship with John Steinbeck.

Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Sound, Best Music, Best Original Score

Airing at: 9:15am PT, 12:15pm ET


The Goodbye Girl (1977)
88%

Look, it’s not a big deal — he makes his point clearly, “I like to take showers every morning and I don’t like panties on the road.” And so Richard Dreyfuss begins one of best rants in the history of movies. Let’s call it the best petty rant of the 70s, with deference to Peter Finch’s big picture rant the year before in Network.

Nominated for: Best Actor (Won), Best Picture, Bes Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay

Airing at: 7pm PT, 10pm ET


All the President’s Men (1976)
93%

I cry at the end. Every time. This is what journalism is supposed to be — what it’s still capable of being. Every time I see it, I feel a perceptible surge in patriotism. Robert Redford delivers my favorite acting performance of the decade. Just watch him while he’s on the phone tracking down the story. He’s delivering a clinic on how to act while saying almost nothing.

Nominated for: Best Supporting Actor (Won), Best Writing — Adapted Screenplay (Won), Best Art Direction (Won), Best Sound (Won), Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Editing

Airing at: 9pm PT, Midnight ET

February 22nd


The Time Machine (1960)
77%

It’s the finest adaptation of any H.G. Wells novel. The special effects were visionary in 1960, though the actual time machine was a turn-of-the-century barber chair. But mostly, it made of a star of an underappreciated actor, Rod Taylor.

Nominated for: Best Special Effects (Won)

Airing at: 6:15am PT, 9:15am ET


Forbidden Planet (1956)
98%

MGM’s first endeavor into science fiction became a film that influenced a few significant sci-fi pioneers — Gene Rodenberry, Ridley Scott, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Plus it stars Leslie Nielson as the commander of a space cruiser heading toward a distant star.

“A distant star? What is it?”

“It’s a far-off natural luminous sphere of plasma visible in the night sky, but that’s not important right now.”

Nominated for: Best Special Effects

Airing at: 8am PT, 11am ET


Network (1976)
92%

Like A Face in the Crowd 19 years earlier, Network seemed to provide a tragic road map for where television news was headed. Screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky left notes on the actor he wanted to play Howard Beale — the part eventually played by Peter Finch. Chayefsky’s list featured Henry Fonda, Cary Grant, Paul Newman and Jimmy Stewart. Fonda was offered the part, but found it “too hysterical.” It’s fascinating to wonder, “What if?” — but the fact is, they hired the right actor.

Nominated for: Best Actor (Won), Best Actress (Won), Best Supporting Actress (Won), Best Writing – Original Screenplay (Won), Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Editing

Airing at: 12:15am PT, 3:15am ET

February 21st


Ruggles of Red Gap (1935)
100%

The plot description is enough to make this a must-see: “A Western rancher wins a British valet in a poker game.” I mean, come on! This also marked Charles Lauhgton’s first comedy — it turned into one of his biggest hits.

Nominated for: Best Picture

Airing at: 11am PT, 2pm ET


Auntie Mame (1958)
93%

This film does so many of the things we want movies to do: It’s funny, it’s inspiring and it makes you wish Rosalind Russell were your aunt.

Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography – Color, Best Art Direction, Best Editing

Airing at: 12:45 PT, 3:45pm ET


McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
88%

This has to be Robert Altman’s most underrated film — it may well be his best. The sense of time and place feels intensely accurate. Only HBO’s Deadwood has been as effective. Everything about McCabe & Mrs. Miller feels authentic, starting with Warren Beatty’s bowler and absurd fur coat.

Nominated for: Best Actress

Airing at: 8pm PT, 11pm ET

February 20th


I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)
95%

This is a night of great last lines. In Fugitive, a punishing indictment of the prison system in the Deep South, Paul Muni delivers perhaps the best final line of any movie of the decade. It’ll stay with you.

Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Sound

Airing at: 7am PT, 10am ET


Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
90%

I often find myself debating which actor delivers a better performance, Paul Newman or Robert Redford. It’s a silly debate because the answer is clear: it’s Redford. He’s always been underrated. By the way, it’s INSANE that neither was even nominated. And the last line from Butch? Pretty great, too.

Nominated for: Best Writing – Original Screenplay (Won), Best Cinematography (Won), Best Original Song (Won), Best Original Score (Won), Best Picture, Best Director, Best Sound

Airing at: 5pm PT, 8pm ET


Planet of the Apes (1968)
88%

The last line in Apes is as chilling as the last line in Fugitive. All three of the movies I’m picking represent a creative willingness to deny audiences the endings they want, while still leaving us immensely satisfied.

Nominated for: Best Costume Design, Best Original Score, Honorary Oscar for Outstanding Makeup Achievement

Airing at: 7pm PT, 10pm ET

February 19th


Trial (1955)

This is a massively underappreciated film, a direct response to the anti-American witch hunts of the House Un-American Activities Committee, but with a nice little twist. Yes, the screenplay comes from my uncle, Don Mankiewicz, based on his own novel, but I’m telling you, this one is worth checking out.

Nominated for: Best Supporting Actor

Airing at: 7:15am PT, 10:15am ET


Dr. Strangelove (1964)
98%

Peter Sellers excels in three roles in Kubrick’s memorably brilliant satire. Yet Dr. Strangelove is only the second best movie about accidental nuclear annihilation released in 1964. See this, then immediately go watch Sidney Lumet’s Fail Safe, with Henry Fonda as the president.

Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay

Airing at: 5pm PT, 8pm ET


The Sand Pebbles (1962)
94%

Oddly, Steve McQueen’s sole Oscar nominated performance is one of his more underappreciated films. The movie is set on an American gunboat patrolling the Yangtze River in China in 1926. But its big picture message is about getting in over our heads in foreign conflicts. In 1966, that meant Vietnam. Pity it isn’t relevant today.

Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography – Color, Best Art Direction – Color, Best Sound, Best Editing, Best Original Score

Airing at: 6:45pm PT, 9:45pm ET

February 18th


The Apartment (1960)
94%

Any movie that ends with the line “Shut up and deal” deserves to be appreciated as often as possible. I like movies that challenge orthodoxy and this Billy Wilder masterpiece takes on a bunch of them: the self- righteousness of corporate America, the illusion of fidelity, the reality of depression — and he does it all in a subtly serious comedy.

Nominated for: Best Picture (Won), Best Director, Best Writing – Screenplay (Won), Best Art Direction (Won), Best Editing (Won), Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography – Black and White, Best Sound

Airing at: 5pm PT, 8pm ET


The Hustler (1961)
98%

This will always be my favorite story from The Hustler: Professional pool player Rudolph Walter Wanderone wasn’t a great player, but he was a heck of a self-promoter. When the movie became a hit, Wanderone assumed the name of the character “Minnesota Fats.” When Wanderone/Minnesota Fats died in 1996, his obituary in the AP claimed the character was based on Wanderone – even while the obit acknowledged that he took the name after the movie came out.

Nominated for: Best Cinematography – Black and White (Won), Best Art Direction (Won), Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay

Airing at: 9:30pm PT, 12:30am ET


Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
100%

This is the film that showed the world that Jack Lemmon was much more than a comedy actor. Perhaps because it came first for me, it also remains the best movie I’ve ever seen about alcoholism.

Nominated for: Best Original Song (Won), Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Art Direction – Black and White, Best Costume Design – Black and White

Airing at: Midnight PT, 3am ET

February 17th


Monsieur Verdoux (1947)
97%

This is Charlie Chaplin’s Cold War-era film about a French serial killer. Chaplin called it the “Most brilliant film I have yet made.” Critics called it something else. And the idea for the story? That came from Orson Welles, who sold it to Chaplin for $5,000 and the promise of a screen credit.

Nominated for: Best Writing – Screenplay

Airing at: 6:15am PT, 9:15am ET


The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
78%

Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway play a riveting game of cat and mouse and the sexiest game of chess ever filmed, but I’m going to commit a major classic movie crime here and say I think the 2000 remake, with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo, is better. Don’t hate me. They’re both great.

Nominated for: Best Original Song (Won), Best Score

Airing at: 1:15pm PT, 4:15pm ET


Psycho (1960)
96%

I also think 1998 remake with Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche is bett… Just kidding — I’m not insane. I recommend Psycho because it’s been parodied so often, you might have forgotten just how truly suspenseful and chilling it is.

Nominated for: Best Director, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography – Black and White, Best Art Direction – Black and White

Airing at: 9pm PT, Midnight ET

February 16th


Exodus (1960)
64%

This story — about the birth of Israel after World War II — is a long movie, a shade under four hours. It spawned a great Hollywood story. During an early screening of the film — with director Otto Preminger present — comedian Mort Sahl stood up and shouted, “Otto, let my people go.”

Nominated for: Best Score (Won), Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography – Color

Airing at: 6:15am PT, 9:15am ET


Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
100%

That director Otto Preminger got this film — with its boundary-pushing sexual and violent subject matter — past the Production Code Office is a victory against censorship. It’s also a great courtroom movie, anchored by an actor seemingly put on this earth to play to a trustworthy small town lawyer, Jimmy Stewart.

Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography – Black and White, Best Editing

Airing at: 5pm PT, 8pm ET


Pillow Talk (1959)
92%

If I didn’t recommend Pillow Talk, my wife would make sure there wasn’t any pillow talk here at home. I immediately regret that sentence. She adds that Doris Day plays the most delightful uptight person you’ll ever see on screen. She’s right.

Nominated for: Supporting Actress, Best Art Direction – Color, Best Score

Airing at: 8pm PT, 11pm ET

February 15th


The Naked City (1948)
86%

It’s the movie that gave us the line, “There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.” It’s brilliant film noir and a killer episode of Dateline all wrapped together in one 96 minute body bag.

Nominated for: Best Cinematography – Black and White (Won), Best Editing (Won), Best Writing – Story

Airing at: 7:45am PT, 10:45am ET


The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
95%

Is Alec Guinness’ character, Col. Nicholson — the leader of a group of Allied POWs during WWII — a hero or a fool? I’ve seen the movie 14 times and I still don’t know. Sometimes the word “epic” is code for “long and dull.” Not here. This is movie making at its absolute finest.

Nominated for: Best Picture (Won), Best Actor (Won), Best Director (Won), Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay (Won), Best Cinematography (Won), Best Editing (Won), Best Score (Won), Best Supporting Actor

Airing at: 5pm PT, 8pm ET


I Want to Live! (1958)
92%

Trying to choose between I Want to Live and The Defiant Ones is the Sophie’s Choice of “31 Days of Oscar.” But I figure most of you have seen The Defiant Ones. By the way, the great Renaissance Man Theodore Bikel, who escaped the Nazis in Austria and went on to play Tevye on stage in Fiddler on the Roof more than 2,000 times, is in both movies. I Want to Live is a sober, intense, important examination of both the death penalty and how we sensationalize crime in America.

Nominated for: Best Actress (Won), Best Director, Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography – Black and White, Best Sound, Best Editing

Airing at: 10pm PT, 1am ET

February 14th


Libeled Lady (1936)
83%

This is worth getting up early for. Jean Harlow, Spencer Tracy, Myrna Loy and William Powell make this a double dose of screwball comedy brilliance. It’s two adorable bickering couples for the price of one.

Nominated for: Best Picture

Airing at: 5:15am PT, 8:15am ET


The Harder They Fall (1956)
100%

It’s Humphrey Bogart’s last movie — he died just eight months after the film’s release — but he gives one of his best performances as a worn-down press agent for a sleazy boxing promoter. He plays a man who’s too tired to realize he’s ashamed of himself. There’s a short film within the film, showing a real-life boxer named Joe Greb. He’s living out of his car and the fight game has so damaged his brain, he can’t even answer simple questions. It’s a scathing mid-’50s indictment of the dangers of the inappropriately labeled “sweet science.”

Nominated for: Best Cinematography – Black and White

Airing at: 5:45pm PT, 8:45pm ET


Marty (1955)
100%

Ernest Borgnine was shooting Bad Day at Black Rock with Spencer Tracy when he got the call to audition for Marty. Tracy first told him not to do it — he was too big to be auditioning. But when Borgnine told Tracy about the story, Tracy relented. “Go ahead,” he said. Borgnine won the part, getting director Delbert Mann, screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky and the camera operator to cry during the audition. Then he beat Spencer Tracy for the Best Actor Oscar.

Nominated for: Best Picture (Won), Best Actor (Won), Best Director (Won), Best Writing – Screenplay (Won), Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography – Black and White, Best Art Direction – Black and White

Airing at: 10pm PT, 1am ET

February 13th


The Bad Seed (1956)
63%

Getting the censors to sanction The Bad Seed, the story of a potentially truly evil child, was a battle for Warner Brothers. Still, it’s a striking film for its time. And stick around for the credits.

Nominated for: Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography – Black and White

Airing at: 8am PT, 11am ET


The Birds (1963)
94%

Hitchcock cast a Hollywood unknown, a model named Tippi Hedren, to star in his story of birds gone wild. She delivered — but it was a risk, as Hitch was in the midst of an unprecedented run of success. The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Wrong Man, Vertigo, North by Northwest and Psycho were all made in the preceding seven years. By the way, Tippi’s granddaughter, Dakota Johnson, is completely engaging in Fifty Shades of Grey. There — I did it — I got Alfred Hitchcock into a Fifty Shades conversation.

Nominated for: Best Special Visual Effects

Airing at: 12:45pm PT, 3:45pm ET


Roman Holiday (1953)
100%

In 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK reportedly viewed the film while waiting for the Soviets to respond to his ultimatum. So it seems fairly clear that Audrey Hepburn saved the world from nuclear Armageddon.

Nominated for: Best Actress (Won), Best Writing – Story (Won), Best Costume Design – Black and White (Won), Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Writing – Screenplay, Best Cinematography – Black and White, Best Art Direction – Black and White, Best Editing

Airing at: 6:45pm PT, 9:45pm ET

February 12th


The Gunfighter (1950)
100%

John Wayne wanted to play the lead, Jimmy Ringo, the finest gunfighter in the West, but a man not even remotely interested in actual gun fighting. But Wayne hated Columbia studio boss Harry Cohn and refused to work for him. Then Cohn sold the project to Fox — and Gregory Peck got the part. He also got a period-authentic mustache, which sent Fox boss Darryl Zanuck into a frenzy, arguing you don’t take the best looking actor in Hollywood and give him an 1880s mustache. For years, Zanuck maintained the ‘stache cost Fox millions at the box office.

Nominated for: Best Writing – Story

Airing at: 5pm PT, 8pm ET


Born Yesterday (1950)
95%

There is a school of thought that Bette Davis and Anne Baxter, the two stars of All About Eve, split the Best Actress Oscar vote, enabling Judy Holliday to sneak in and win for Born Yesterday. That disrespects Holliday, who gives perhaps the best comedy performance of the first half of the 20th century. Or the second half.

Nominated for: Best Actress (Won), Best Picture, Best Director, Best Writing – Screenplay, Best Costume Design – Black and White

Airing at: 10:30pm PT, 1:30am ET


The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)
100%

I get it. It’s 5:30 in the morning. Just set your DVR. Here’s your chance to see Obi-Wan Kenobi pull off a gold heist, delivering a memorably funny performance in the process. Turns out, Alec Guinness was a force to be reckoned with 25 years before Star Wars.

Nominated for: Best Writing – Screenplay (Won), Best Actor

Airing at: 2:30am PT, 5:30am ET

February 11th


All the King’s Men (1949)
97%

I have three passions — movies, politics and baseball. This movie encompasses two of the three. And any ballplayer would take a two-for-three night. My dad — who spent his life thriving and deal-making in the smoky backrooms of American politics — loved this movie. Good enough for me.

Nominated for: Best Picture (Won), Best Actor (Won), Best Supporting Actress (Won), Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Writing – Screenplay, Best Editing

Airing at: 5pm PT, 8pm ET


The Bicycle Thief (1948)
98%

It’s no accident this Italian film appears on so many lists of the top movies of all time. If you’ve never seen it, I suspect you’ll be stunned to learn the bulk of director Vittorio De Sica’s cast is comprised of non- professional actors. In the States, the Production Code office rejected the movie, but a few independent theater chains ran it anyway, dealing a critical blow to the industry’s aggressive self-censorship.

Nominated for: Best Writing – Screenplay

Airing at: 9:15pm PT, 12:15am ET


The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
100%

Any movie that includes the line, “Badges… I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges.” It’s also — without any question — one of Humphrey Bogart’s three best roles.

Nominated for: Best Supporting Actor (Won), Best Director (Won), Best Writing – Screenplay (Won), Best Picture

Airing at: 11pm PT, 2am ET

February 10th


Charade (1963)
95%

Often — and accurately — described as “the best Hitchcock film that Hitchcock never made,” Charade marked the first and only pairing of Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. Here’s a shocker: they’re fantastic together.

Nominated for: Best Original Song

Airing at: 3pm PT, 6pm ET


Gentleman’s Agreement (1947)
78%

This is one of two Best Picture nominees from 1947 to confront anti-Semitism in America. Crossfire, which airs this morning at 9am ET, does it in the context of a film noir. This was a big studio release — from Fox — though the other studio heads urged Daryl F. Zanuck to stay away to steer clear of the subject. Thankfully, Zanuck, who wasn’t Jewish by the way, ignored them.

Nominated for: Best Picture (Won), Best Supporting Actress (Won), Best Director (Won), Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Writing – Screenplay, Best Editing

Airing at: 5pm PT, 8pm ET


The Killers (1946)
100%

First, The Killers is universally regarded as one of the great film noirs (wait, films noir?) of all-time. Second, it marks Burt Lancaster’s electrifying movie debut. Third, it stands as the breakout performance of a little known MGM contract player named Ava Gardner. What more could you possibly need?

Nominated for: Best Director, Best Writing – Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Score

Airing at: 7:15pm PT, 10:15pm ET

February 9th


Battleground (1949)
100%

It’s one of the best war pictures of its era — it had to be better than most, because of that release date — 1949. The immediacy of the war and the fear of loved ones in danger overseas fueled the success of many war movies made during World War II. Battleground, set during the Battle of the Bulge, had to rely on its intense examination of the humanity in each its characters. It succeeds.

Nominated for: Best Writing – Screenplay (Won), Best Cinematography – Black and White (Won), Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Editing

Airing at: Noon PT, 3pm ET


Laura (1944)
100%

Rarely does a movie that started as a “B” picture find its way to “31 Days of Oscar,” but the stars in Laura lined up perfectly. On paper, nothing about this film noir would lead you to believe it’s one of the great movies of the ’40s. But it is. You’ll see.

Nominated for: Best Cinematography – Black and White (Won), Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Writing – Screenplay, Best Art Direction

Airing at: 10pm PT, 1am ET


Mildred Pierce (1945)
86%

Our description reads, “A woman turns herself into a business tycoon to win her selfish daughter a place in society.” While all that is true, it leaves out murder, betrayal, seduction, an on-screen slap you’ll never forget — plus the only Oscar win of Joan Crawford’s brilliant career.

Nominated for: Best Actress (Won), Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Writing – Screenplay, Best Cinematography – Black and White

Airing at: Midnight PT, 3am ET

February 8th


The Brave One (1956)

It’s the simple and moving story of a young Mexican boy’s determination to save his pet bull from the matador’s blade. The story behind the screenplay is equally as compelling. Blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo, living in Mexico, wrote it, but couldn’t use his own name. When “Robert Rich” won the Oscar for Best Story, producer Jesse Lasky. Jr. accepted the award, saying “Robert Rich” couldn’t be there because his wife was having a baby. Truth is, he couldn’t be there because he didn’t exist.

Nominated for: Best Writing – Story (Won), Best Sound Recording, Best Editing

Airing at: 10:15am PT, 1:15pm ET


Casablanca (1942)
98%

Because you saw Citizen Kane last night and now you’re going to have one of the best Saturday-Sunday night combos of the year.

Nominated for: Best Picture (Won), Best Director (Won), Best Writing – Screenplay (Won), Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography – Black and White, Best Editing, Best Original Score

Airing at: 7pm PT, 10pm ET


Woman of the Year (1942)
92%

Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn made nine films together. This is where it all began — their first.

Nominated for: Best Writing – Original Screenplay (Won), Best Actress

Airing at: 11pm PT, 2am ET

February 7th


She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)
95%

Other than The Searchers, this is the best of the John Ford/John Wayne actor/director collaborations. Wayne gives the most layered performance of his career to date. But the critics weren’t impressed then. They are now.

Nominated for: Best Cinematography (Won)

Airing at: 10am PT, 1pm ET


Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)
100%

If you’ve seen Warren Beatty’s Heaven Can Wait, you know this story. A boxer named Joe Pendleton (Beatty played a quarterback in his 1978 version) dies in an accident, but it turns out his guardian angel blew it — Pendleton was supposed to survive. So now the suits in Heaven have to find Pendleton a new body to inhabit. Robert Montgomery, Claude Raines and Evelyn Keyes anchor a killer cast.

Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Cinematography – Black and White, Best Writing – Original Story (Won), Best Writing – Screenplay (Won)

Airing at: 7pm PT, 10pm ET


Citizen Kane (1941)
100%

If you’ve never seen it, what’s wrong with you? If you’ve seen it 13 times, you’ve still likely missed something. It’s the best movie of all time, Vertigo be damned. By the way, on March 13th, I’m introducing Kane inside Hearst Castle, in William Randolph Hearst’s private screening room. It?s the first time the film has ever played inside Xanadu… er, Hearst Castle.

Nominated for: Best Writing – Original Screenplay (Won), Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Cinematography – Black and White, Best Art Direction, Best Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Original Score

Airing at: 8:45pm PT, 11:45pm ET

February 6th


My Life as A Dog (1985)
100%

That this powerfully moving film was brought to the screen by one of the world’s foremost music video directors is bizarre. Lasse Hallstrom made his mark directing ABBA, then delivered this beautiful, tender story of a young boy sent to live with his quirky relatives in a small Swedish village while his mother is ill. Few films offer a better lesson of putting your particular struggles into proper perspective.

Nominated for: Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay

Airing at: 7:15am PT, 10:15am ET


Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
96%

James Dean died just a month after the film’s release, the first in a string of tragic, early deaths for the film’s stars: Nick Adams and Sal Mineo were dead before they were 40 and Natalie Wood was gone at 43. Those events might cause the film to be seen as a macabre sideshow. It isn’t. It remains among the most vibrant, intense examinations of growing up amid the antiquated expectations of adults from another era.

Nominated for: Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Writing – Screenplay

Airing at: 1pm PT, 4pm ET


Gone With the Wind (1939)
92%

There are so many reasons to love this film. And maybe just as many to dislike it. But it remains the definitive movie of Hollywood’s greatest year — perhaps of the decade, perhaps of the entire studio era.

Nominated for: Best Picture (Won), Best Actor, Best Actress (Won), Best Supporting Actress (Won), Best Supporting Actress, Best Director (Won), Best Art Direction (Won), Best Cinematography – Color (Won), Best Editing (Won), Best Writing – Screenplay (Won), Best Sound Recording, Best Special Effects, Best Original Score

Airing at: 7pm PT, 10pm ET

February 5th


Smart Money (1931)

This is your chance to catch James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson at the dawn of their stardom in the kind of crime movie that made them the Hollywood heavy hitters they’d become. As a bonus, it’s the only movie they made together. It’s clever, surprising ? even funny. And though it’s pre-code, it’s not overly violent, but — and I hope you’re sitting down for this — an unmarried couple actually lives together. I know… scandalous.

Nominated for: Best Writing – Original Story

Airing at: 8am PT, 11am ET


Pete Kelly’s Blues (1955)

No doubt a movie most of you haven’t seen. But if you have a soft spot for Jack Webb as LAPD Sergeant Joe Friday on Dragnet (and you should), this is a movie worth checking out. Webb produces, directs and stars in this story of a jazz band in 1920s Kansas City that gets in over its head with the mob. Check out the supporting cast — Peggy Lee (Oscar-nominated for Best Supporting Actress), Janet Leigh, Edmond O’Brien, Lee Marvin, Jayne Mansfield and Ella Fitzgerald.

Nominated for: Best Supporting Actress

Airing at: 1pm PT, 4pm ET


You Can’t Take it With You (1938)
92%

The film marks the first of the Jimmy Stewart-Frank Capra actor-director collaborations. Stewart wasn’t yet a big star, but Capra knew a leading man was lurking insider Stewart. As usual, Capra was right.

Nominated for: Best Picture (Won), Best Director (Won), Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Sound, Best Writing – Screenplay

Airing at: 9pm PT, Midnight ET

February 4th


Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956)
82%

Everyone needs to know Paul Newman’s breakout performance as middleweight boxing champ Rocky Graziano. The part was set to go to James Dean, but Dean died in a car accident the day after meeting MGM studio boss Dore Schary.

Nominated for: Best Art Direction – Black and White (Won), Best Cinematography – Black and White (Won), Best Editing

Airing at: 11am PT, 2pm ET


The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
93%

Look, I’m duty-bound to recommend it. My grandfather, Herman Mankiewicz, co-wrote it. Herman also loved to tell this story, which is simply too good to be true: Producer Sam Goldwyn was no baseball fan and thought those scenes were dragging. “Herman,” he said, “can’t we move things along by making it three balls and two strikes?”

Nominated for: Best Editing (Won), Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Story, Best Score, Best Sound, Best Art Direction – Black and White, Best Cinematography – Black and White, Best Special Effects

Airing at: 1pm PT, 4pm ET


Grand Illusion (1937)
97%

Jean Renoir’s World War I prison escape story is the greatest anti-war film ever made. When Dick Cavett asked Orson Welles what two movies he’d save on the ark, Welles replied, “Grand Illusion… and something else.”

Nominated for: Best Picture

Airing at: 9pm PT, Midnight ET

February 3rd


Ice Station Zebra (1968)
43%

Because it has Rock Hudson AND Jim Brown IN THE SAME MOVIE. And Ernest Borgnine plays a Soviet defector. They’re all looking for a saboteur aboard a U.S. submarine. It was originally set to begin filming three years earlier with a different cast — Gregory Peck, David Niven, George Segal and Edmond O’Brien. Amazingly, the cast they got might be better for THIS movie.

Nominated for: Best Visual Effects, Best Cinematography

Airing at: 9:30am PT, 12:30pm ET


Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
94%

Charles Laughton’s performance as Captain Bligh is the template through which all other sadistic roles should be measured. Clark Gable initially refused to shave his moustache, saying “I’ll be damned if I’ll shave it just because the British Navy didn’t allow them.” He shaved it, but he never made another movie without the moustache.

Nominated for: Best Picture (Won), Best Director, Best Actor (3 nominations), Best Writing, Best Music, Best Film Editing

Airing at: 7:15 PT, 10:15pm ET


The Thin Man (1934)
97%

Every romantic comedy caper you’ve ever loved owes a debt of thanks to William Powell and Myrna Loy.

Nominated for: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Picture

Airing at: 9:45pm PT, 12:45am ET

February 2nd


The Public Enemy (1931)
100%

First, it’s got Jimmy Cagney, Jean Harlow and Joan Blondell. That’s reason enough, but it also has the best citrus-based assault in the history of Hollywood.

Nominated for: Best Story

Airing at: 8:45pm PT/11:45pm ET


Grand Hotel (1932)
86%

Not only did Grand Hotel provide Greta Garbo with the line, “I want to be alone,” it’s also the first movie to feature an all-star cast, the brainchild of MGM Production Chief Irving Thalberg. So without Grand Hotel, there’d be no Expendables 3 with Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Snipes, Statham, Gibson and Ford. Thanks, Irving.

Nominated for: Best Picture (Won)

Airing at: 10:30pm PT/1:30am ET

Check out the full schedule of TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar.

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