Best Picture #22: All the King’s Men (1949)

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 All the King’s Men (1949).

Though more than 70 years old, if All the King’s Men were made today, it would ring just as true. It’s the story of an idealistic man who wants to help his community by turning to politics. Of course, as soon as he gets a taste of the power his position affords him, he turns on all those he had promised to help, takes bribes from those he had said he would take down, does everything in his power to silence his dissenters, and exploits his power in sexual endeavours, all somehow still maintaining the support of the masses who think they are being helped and subsequently making him too big to take down. It’s a story not dissimilar from what we have seen happen to so many politicians in the past and one that can be seen repeated in seemingly every news cycle. If there’s any place where the film departs from reality, it’s that there is at least some sort of resolution to it. 

The Real Best Picture:

All the King’s Men is an excellent depiction of the American political system and was certainly better than any other 1949 nominee.

Best Picture Winners

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