Each week this column will highlight one winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, progressing chronologically until all winners have been discussed. There will be a brief discussion of the film itself followed by a mention of what we wish won from the nominees in the given year (though in many cases there were films that were superior in terms of quality and/or impact that were not nominated). This week’s entry is Mutiny on the Bounty (1935).
A terrifying villain has a tendency to be among the most memorable types of characters, and Mutiny on the Bounty’s Captain Bligh is no exception. Captain Bligh is the cruelest of tyrants, a man so convinced of his righteousness, no one else could ever deter him running his ship with an iron fist and torturing any who would dare to question his authority. Charles Laughton really digs into the role and nimbly avoids becoming the cartoonish character many would have created. Though he is surrounded by a magnificent slew of actors, including Clark Gable and Franchot Tone (who would both be nominated for Best Actor that year alongside Laughton, all losing to Victor McLaglen), Laughton dominates the screen in every scene in a way few others have. As for the rest of the film, it’s an exciting and dramatic telling of the story of the real mutiny on the Bounty but nothing about it is nearly as compelling as the performances.
The Real Best Picture:
I’ve always been a fan of this one and I’m glad it won. If there was any justice, Laughton would’ve won Best Actor too.