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 You Can’t Take It with You (1938).
Frank Capra’s third nomination and final win for Best Director came from You Can’t Take It with You, his 1938 romantic comedy about the love between a man (James Stewart) from a rich, snooty family, and a woman (Jean Arthur) from an odd but well-intentioned family of artists. The eccentric cast of characters is a joy to watch and it has some of that charm that all Capra films have but it finds itself being a touch too sentimental, even for me and I usually eat that stuff up, and it falls fall short of Capra’s other offerings. It’s a screwball comedy that is excellent at what it does, but it lacks ambition of any sort and is content to have a simple message that love conquers all divides when other films from the same crew did the same but went so much further, leaving a lot to be desired.