Academy Award Rankings

Ranking All The Movies Nominated At The 11th Academy Awards In 1939

The Best Movies From The 11th Academy Awards In 1939

“What are the best movies nominated for the 11th Academy Awards held in 1939?” We looked at all 57 movies nominated for an Oscar in 1939 and ranked them again one another to answer that very question!

We took all 57 movies that were nominated for an Academy Award in 1939 and looked at their Rotten Tomato Critic, Rotten Tomato User, IMDB, and Letterboxd scores, ranking them against one another to see which movies came out on top. The movies are ranked on our list below, with the full chart of rankings included at the bottom of the page. We did not use Metacritic scores because of the lack of data for older movies on that site. Metacritic scores will be included when we do rankings for other years in the future.

If you want to see the rankings for additional years you can visit our Academy Award Rankings page.

Happy Viewing!



The Top 1939 Academy Award Movie Rankings



57 ) Timber Toppers

Nominated For:

  • Best Short Subject, One-reel

Oscar nominated short film.

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56 ) Storm Over Bengal

Nominated For:

  • Best Music, Scoring

This being a Republic picture, it should come as no surprise that Storm Over Bengal was filmed in its entirety in the San Fernando Valley. Within its concise 65 minutes, the film manages to accommodate a Bengal Lancers main plot, a romantic subplot, the obligatory coward who makes good, intrigue aplenty from a villainous Indian potentate, and an outsized climactic battle between the rebels and the British forces. Patric Knowles, previously one of the leads in the British-India epic Charge of the Light Brigade, heads the cast. Worth noting is the presence in the cast of Richard Cromwell as secondary romantic lead Neil Allison and Douglass Dumbrille as the despicable Khan.

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55 ) Breaking the Ice

Nominated For:

  • Best Music, Original Score

Breaking The Ice begins while Tommy Martin (Bobby Breen) and his mother, Martha Martin (Dolores Costello) say goodbye to Henry and Reuben Johnson ( John ‘Dusty’ King and Delmar Watson ). After having stopped by the Mennonite farm, where Tommy and Martha stay with the William and Annie Decker ( Robert Barrat and Dorothy Peterson ), the Johnsons are headed back to their hometown of Goshen.

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53 Tie ) Army Girl

Nominated For:

  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Music, Original Score
  • Best Sound, Recording

A young captain hoping to replace the U.S. Army’s horses with mechanized vehicles faces court-martial after his commanding officer, who’s opposed to modern changes, is killed.

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53 Tie ) The Goldwyn Follies

Nominated For:

  • Best Art Direction
  • Best Music, Scoring

Movie producer chooses a simple girl to be “Miss Humanity” and to critically evalute his movies from the point of view of the ordinary person.

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52 ) Going Places

Nominated For:

  • Best Music, Original Song

A sports store clerk poses as a famous jockey as an advertising stunt, but gets more than he bargained for.

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49 Tie ) Pacific Liner

Nominated For:

  • Best Music, Original Score

An outbreak of cholera threatens a luxury liner in this surprisingly low-budget melodrama from RKO. En route from Shanghai to San Francisco, chief engineer Crusher McKay (Victor McLaglen) and shipboard doctor Tony Craig (Chester Morris) become rivals for the attention of nurse Ann Grayson (Wendy Barrie). A Chinese stowaway, meanwhile, infects the stokehold with cholera and it is left to Crusher to keep the engines at full throttle until reaching harbor. But morale sinks to an all-time low when Crusher himself is stricken and the overworked men threaten with mutiny. Tony attempts to keep the stokers in check but the situation is growing more dangerous by the minute when a heroic Crusher rises from his sickbed. Leaving their previous petty squabbles behind, Tony and Crusher manage to guide the ship safely to harbor, where the doc and Ann rekindle their romance.

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49 Tie ) Swingtime in the Movies

Nominated For:

  • Best Short Subject, Two-reel

A waitress at the Warner Brothers commissary gets her big break.

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49 Tie ) Tropic Holiday

Nominated For:

  • Best Music, Scoring

Dorothy Lamour and Ray Milland, a popular Paramount screen team specializing in south-sea extravaganzas, don “civilized” garb (at least briefly) for Tropic Holiday. Lamour plays a Mexican senorita, while Milland is a visiting American screenwriter. Since we know where this is going, our attention is deflected every so often by comedy relief Bob “Bazooka” Burns and Martha Raye, who are frankly more watchable than the leads. Also on hand is Mexican musical star Tito Guizar, who was still packing ’em in for his concert tours of the 1980s. Tropic Holiday contrives to remove most of Dorothy Lamour’s clothing before the fade-out, just so we remember who’s top billed around here.

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48 ) The Declaration of Independence

Nominated For:

  • Best Short Subject, Two-reel (Win)

This historical featurette focuses on Caesar Rodney of Delaware, who cast the deciding vote so that the Declaration of Independence was adopted in 1776.

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46 Tie ) Girls’ School

Nominated For:

  • Best Music, Scoring

Wealthy high school girls are sent to a boarding school to learn proper etiquette. Linda Simpson stays out all night. She tells her roommate, Betty Fleet, that it was because she’s planning to elope. Linda gets in trouble when the faculty finds out from a monitor’s report submitted by reluctant Natalie Freeman, a poor girl attending on scholarship.

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46 Tie ) The Lady Objects

Nominated For:

  • Best Music, Original Song

A former college football hero and his college sweetheart get married. Marital turmoil ensues as her criminal law practice soars while he cannot get his career as an architect off the ground. They separate, and the man begins making extra money by singing in a nightclub. When he is unjustly accused of murder, it is up to his estranged wife to defend him in court.

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45 ) Hunky and Spunky

Nominated For:

  • Best Short Subject, Cartoons

A donkey is roped and wrangled as a pack mule by a grizzled old prospector with the reddest nose this side of the Bowery. His mother must ride to junior’s rescue.

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43 ) The Great Heart

Nominated For:

  • Best Short Subject, One-reel

Carey Wilson tells the true story of the heroic sacrifice of Father Damien who suffered a living death in order to bring hope and God’s comfort to the lepers confined on Molokai Island.

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43 ) Under Western Stars

Nominated For:

  • Best Music, Original Song

Roy is talked into running for Congress against crooked interests in order to bring water to his district. He must convince a fellow congressman how important the water is to his constituents.

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42 ) That Mothers Might Live

Nominated For:

  • Best Short Subject, One-reel (Win)

This short tells the story of Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis (1818-1865), a Hungarian physician. He was the first to realize that the deaths of new mothers could be significantly reduced simply by requiring doctors to wash their hands before treating a patient.

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41 ) Kentucky

Nominated For:

  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Win)

Romeo and Juliet story set amidst horseracing in Kentucky. The family feud of lovers Jack and Sally goes back to the Civil War and is kept alive by her Uncle Peter.

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40 ) The Big Broadcast of 1938

Nominated For:

  • Best Music, Original Song (Win)

The Bellows family causes comic confusion on an ocean liner, with time out for radio-style musical acts.

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39 ) They’re Always Caught

Nominated For:

  • Best Short Subject, Two-reel

Shows the role the crime laboratory plays in the solving of cases, and how even the smallest detail can become a major clue.

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38 ) Block-Heads

Nominated For:

  • Best Music, Original Score

It’s 1938, but Stan doesn’t know the war is over; he’s still patrolling the trenches in France, and shoots down a French aviator. Oliver sees his old chum’s picture in the paper and goes to visit Stan who has now been returned to the States and invites him back to his home.

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37 ) There Goes My Heart

Nominated For:

  • Best Music, Scoring

An heiress takes a job as a department store clerk.

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36 ) That Certain Age

Nominated For:

  • Best Music, Original Song
  • Best Sound, Recording

Dashing reporter Vincent Bullit has just returned from covering the Spanish Civil War. His boss, newspaper magnate Fullerton, has more plans to send him off to China. However, first Fullerton invites Bullit to the peace and quiet of his own home to write a series of European affair articles. When Fullerton’s adolescent daughter Alice develops a crush on Bullit, her suitor, boyscout Ken Warren, doesn’t seem to stand a chance. Mr. and Mrs. Fullerton, Ken Warren, and even Vincent Bullit himself do their best to sway young Alice’s feelings away from the older man. It’s a difficult task though, as she is at ‘that certain age.’

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35 ) Mannequin

Nominated For:

  • Best Music, Original Song

A working girl gets ahead through the good graces of a wealthy tycoon impressed with her nobility.

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34 ) Sweethearts

Nominated For:

  • Best Music, Scoring
  • Best Sound, Recording

Bickering husband-and-wife stage stars are manipulated into a break-up for publicity purposes.

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33 ) Mother Goose Goes Hollywood

Nominated For:

  • Best Short Subject, Cartoons

Various Mother Goose rhymes are portrayed by Hollywood stars for example, Old King Cole’s fiddlers three are the Marx Brothers, and Humpty Dumpty is W.C. Fields, who falls while tormenting Charlie McCarthy; Simple Simon and the Pieman are Laurel and Hardy.

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32 ) The Buccaneer

Nominated For:

  • Best Cinematography

French pirate Jean Lafitte rescues a girl and joins the War of 1812.

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31 ) The Great Waltz

Nominated For:

  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role
  • Best Cinematography (Win)
  • Best Film Editing

To capture “the spirit” of Johann Strauss’ music, The Great Waltz combines exquisite craftsmanship with spirited inventiveness.

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30 ) Of Human Hearts

Nominated For:

  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role

This is a story about family relationships, set in the time before and during the American Civil War. Ethan Wilkins is a poor and honest man who ministers to the human soul, while his son Jason yearns to be a doctor, helping people in the earthly realm. It is a rich story about striving for excellence, the tension of father-son rebellion, and the love of a mother that can never die.

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28 Tie ) Alexander’s Ragtime Band

Nominated For:

  • Best Art Direction
  • Best Film Editing
  • Best Music, Original Song
  • Best Music, Scoring (Win)
  • Best Picture
  • Best Writing, Original Story

Set in the early 1900s, this engaging story with music by Irving Berlin follows an aristocrat (Tyrone Power) who leads a swing band and falls for his lead singer (Alice Faye)!

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28 Tie ) Algiers

Nominated For:

  • Best Actor in a Leading Role
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Best Art Direction
  • Best Cinematography

Pepe Le Moko is a notorious thief, who escaped from France. Since his escape, Moko became a resident and leader of the immense Casbah of Algiers. French officials arrive insisting on Pepe’s capture are met with unfazed local detectives, led by Inspector Slimane, who are biding their time. Meanwhile, Pepe meets the beautiful Gaby , which arouses the jealousy of Ines

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27 ) Good Scouts

Nominated For:

  • Best Short Subject, Cartoons

Donald is leading a scout troop consisting of his nephews on a hike in the woods. Donald isn’t nearly the expert on the woods that he thinks he is, much to the amusement of the boys. In a bid for sympathy, he douses himself in catsup and fakes injury; the boys bandage him so thoroughly he can’t see, and he stumbles into a pot of honey, and is soon getting all too much attention from a bear.

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26 ) The Cowboy and the Lady

Nominated For:

  • Best Music, Original Score
  • Best Music, Original Song
  • Best Sound, Recording (Win)

Mary Smith decides after a lifetime of being a shut-in to do something wild while her father is out campaigning for the presidency, so she takes off for the family’s home in West Palm Beach and inadvertently becomes romantically entangled with earnest cowboy Stretch Willoughby. Neither the dalliance nor the cowboy fit with the upper class image projected by her esteemed father, forcing her to choose.

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25 ) Mad About Music

Nominated For:

  • Best Art Direction
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Music, Scoring
  • Best Writing, Original Story

A young woman at a girl’s school in Switzerland makes up stories about and writes herself letters from an imaginary explorer-adventurer father; and is eventually put in a position where she has to produce him. Interesting things happen as she talks a visiting Englishman into helping her out.

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24 ) Ferdinand the Bull

Nominated For:

  • Best Short Subject, Cartoons (Win)

This Oscar-winning short tells of a bull who preferred to sit under trees and smell flowers to clashing horns with his fellow animals. As luck would have it, an untimely bee reveals Ferdinand’s ferocious side via pained howls and wild stomping. This lands him in the bull-fighting arena amidst characters based on Walt’s animators with a matador reportedly modeled after Walt himself.

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22 Tie ) Test Pilot

Nominated For:

  • Best Film Editing
  • Best Picture
  • Best Writing, Original Story

Jim is a test pilot. His wife Ann and best friend Gunner try their best to keep him sober. But the life of a test pilot is anything but safe.

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22 Tie ) White Banners

Nominated For:

  • Best Actress in a Leading Role

A homeless woman named Hannah drifts into the lives of the kindly Ward family, in a small Indiana town in 1919. Hannah makes herself useful as a cook and housekeeper and stays with the Wards… but her real interest is in meeting their neighbor, teenager Peter Trimble. It turns out that Peter is the son she bore out of wedlock and gave up for adoption, and now Hannah has returned to town to see what sort of young man her son has become.

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21 ) Suez

Nominated For:

  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Music, Original Score
  • Best Sound, Recording

This epic adventure of the building of the Suez Canal tells the story of the engineer who attempts to create the canal that will connect the Mediterranean and Red Seas.

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20 ) The Citadel

Nominated For:

  • Best Actor in a Leading Role
  • Best Director
  • Best Picture
  • Best Writing, Screenplay

Andrew Manson, a young, idealistic, newly qualified Scottish doctor arrives in Wales takes his first job in a mining town, and begins to wonder at the persistent cough many of the miners have. When his attempts to prove its cause are thwarted, he moves to London. His new practice does badly. But when a friend shows him how to make a lucrative practice from rich hypochondriacs, it will take a great shock to show him what the truth of being a doctor really is.

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19 ) Brave Little Tailor

Nominated For:

  • Best Short Subject, Cartoons

When a giant threatens the land, the cityfolk mistake Mickey’s boast of killing seven flies with one blow to be giants. He is then forced to fight the giant for real.

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18 ) If I Were King

Nominated For:

  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Best Art Direction
  • Best Music, Original Score
  • Best Sound, Recording

In 1463, Paris is besieged by the Duke of Burgundy, arch-rival of the king, who is content to sit tight while the poor starve. But there are traitors in Paris, and King Louis goes undercover to find one, thereby meeting Francois Villon, poet, philosopher and rogue. By chance Villon kills the king’s traitor and is ordered to replace him…as Grand Constable of France! But there’s a catch.

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17 ) Carefree

Nominated For:

  • Best Art Direction
  • Best Music, Original Song
  • Best Music, Scoring

Dr. Tony Flagg’s friend, Steven, has problems in the relationship with his fiancee, Amanda, so he persuades her to visit Dr. Flagg. After some minor misunderstandings, she falls in love with Dr. Flagg. When he tries to use hypnosis to strengthen her feelings for Steven, things get complicated.

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16 ) Merrily We Live

Nominated For:

  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role
  • Best Art Direction
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Music, Original Song
  • Best Sound, Recording

Dizzy society matron Emily Kilbourne has a habit of hiring ex-cons and hobos as servants. Her latest find is a handsome “tramp” who shows up at her doorstep and soon ends up in a chauffeur’s uniform. He also catches the eye of her pretty Geraldine.

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15 ) The Young in Heart

Nominated For:

  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Music, Original Score
  • Best Music, Scoring

The Carleton family makes a living as card sharps, fortune hunters, and finding new suckers to mooch off of.

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14 ) Four Daughters

Nominated For:

  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Best Director
  • Best Picture
  • Best Sound, Recording
  • Best Writing, Screenplay

A musician is blessed with four musical prodigies, all girls, and cursed when a troubled young composer enters the lives of his Four Daughters.

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13 ) Marie Antoinette

Nominated For:

  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Best Actress in a Leading Role
  • Best Art Direction
  • Best Music, Original Score

Lavish biography of the French queen who “let them eat cake.”

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12 ) Boys Town

Nominated For:

  • Best Actor in a Leading Role (Win)
  • Best Director
  • Best Picture
  • Best Writing, Original Story (Win)
  • Best Writing, Screenplay

Spencer Tracy stars with child-star Mickey Rooney in this Oscar nominated moving story of a priest who develops a school for juvenile delinquents.

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11 ) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Nominated For:

  • Best Art Direction

An orphan in 1850 Missouri gets into a variety of scrapes, including a murder mystery. Entertaining David O. Selznick production of Mark Twain classic with more slapstick than Twain may have had in mind. Cave sequence with Injun Joe is unforgettable.

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10 ) Three Comrades

Nominated For:

  • Best Actress in a Leading Role

Three WWI soldiers, upon returning home from battle, open up an auto-repair shop.

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9 ) Jezebel

Nominated For:

  • Best Actress in a Leading Role (Win)
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Win)
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Music, Scoring
  • Best Picture

Bette Davis stars in an Academy Award-winning role as the beautiful,charming, ruthless Southern belle who scandalizes New Orleanssociety–destroying the men who love her…

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8 ) Blockade

Nominated For:

  • Best Music, Original Score
  • Best Writing, Original Story

A simple peasant is forced to take up arms to defend his farm during the Spanish Civil War. Along the way he falls in love with Russian whose father is involved in espionage.

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7 ) Vivacious Lady

Nominated For:

  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Sound, Recording

College town life gets turned upside down after a button-down botany professor secretly weds a sizzling night-club singer.

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6 ) Pygmalion

Nominated For:

  • Best Actor in a Leading Role
  • Best Actress in a Leading Role
  • Best Picture
  • Best Writing, Screenplay (Win)

When linguistics professor Henry Higgins boasts that he can pass off Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle as a princess with only six months’ training, Colonel George Pickering takes him up on the bet. Eliza moves into Higgins’s home and begins her rigorous training after the professor comes to a financial agreement with her dustman father, Alfred. But the plucky young woman is not the only one undergoing a transformation.

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5 ) You Can’t Take It with You

Nominated For:

  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Director (Win)
  • Best Film Editing
  • Best Picture (Win)
  • Best Sound, Recording
  • Best Writing, Screenplay

Lionel Barrymore is the eccentric patriarch of a clan of frustrated artists who decided 30 years earlier to retire from the rat race and use his fortune to encourage friends and family to pursue vocations that really interest them. At the center of his family is his granddaughter, Jean Arthur, who is carrying on a romance with her boss’ son, James Stewart.

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4 ) Holiday

Nominated For:

  • Best Art Direction

A delightful comedy with all the sophistication that Cukor could muster, the famous Barry play is enhanced by the fine talents of Hepburn and Grant. She’s a rich socialite who wants to experience the newness of life high and low, he is the poor boy from the wrong side of the tracks.

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3 ) La grande illusion

Nominated For:

  • Best Picture

A group of French soldiers, including the patrician Captain de Boeldieu and the working-class Lieutenant Maréchal, grapple with their own class differences after being captured and held in a World War I German prison camp. When the men are transferred to a high-security fortress, they must concoct a plan to escape beneath the watchful eye of aristocratic German officer von Rauffenstein, who has formed an unexpected bond with de Boeldieu.

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2 ) The Adventures of Robin Hood

Nominated For:

  • Best Art Direction (Win)
  • Best Film Editing (Win)
  • Best Music, Original Score (Win)
  • Best Picture

Errol Flynn stars as the famed bandit king of Sherwood Forest who romances Maid Marian and leads his Merry Men in a battle against the corrupt Prince John.

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1 ) Angels with Dirty Faces

Nominated For:

  • Best Actor in a Leading Role
  • Best Director
  • Best Writing, Original Story

In New York, the boys Rocky Sullivan and Jerry Connelly are best friends and small time thieves. After a robbery, Rocky is arrested and sent to a reformatory school, where he begins his criminal career. Jerry escapes and later becomes a priest. After three years in prison, Rocky is released and demands the return of $100,000 deposited with his Solicitor – prior to his jail term.

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The Best 11th Academy Award Rankings



1939 Academy Award Rankings

Film RT Critic RT User IMDB Letterboxd Overal Rank
Angels with Dirty Faces 1 1 2 2 1
The Adventures of Robin Hood 1 4 2 2 2
La grande illusion 7 1 1 1 3
Holiday 1 3 5 2 4
You Can’t Take It with You 10 5 2 5 5
Pygmalion 8 8 5 5 6
Vivacious Lady 1 12 14 7 7
Block-Heads 16 6 7 7 8
Jezebel 8 10 9 10 9
Three Comrades 1 22 12 10 10
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer 16 7 14 13 11
Boys Town 11 12 14 17 12
Marie Antoinette 16 17 9 13 13
Four Daughters 1 10 24 21 14
The Young in Heart 16 17 14 10 15
Merrily We Live 16 15 12 17 16
Carefree 15 16 21 13 17
If I Were King 16 19 14 17 18
Brave Little Tailor 16 37 7 7 19
The Citadel 12 22 19 17 20
Suez 16 14 31 21 21
Test Pilot 14 21 27 21 22
White Banners 16 9 21 37 22
Ferdinand the Bull 16 37 19 13 24
Mad About Music 16 22 11 37 25
The Cowboy and the Lady 16 20 31 21 26
Good Scouts 16 37 21 21 27
Alexander’s Ragtime Band 13 33 24 29 28
Algiers 16 27 27 29 28
Of Human Hearts 16 29 27 29 30
The Great Waltz 16 26 31 29 31
The Buccaneer 16 35 31 21 32
Mother Goose Goes Hollywood 16 37 31 21 33
Sweethearts 16 27 37 29 34
Mannequin 16 30 43 21 35
That Certain Age 16 34 24 37 36
There Goes My Heart 16 30 31 37 37
Blockade 16 25 46 29 38
They’re Always Caught 16 37 30 37 39
The Big Broadcast of 1938 16 37 39 29 40
Kentucky 16 32 37 37 41
That Mothers Might Live 16 37 39 37 42
The Great Heart 16 37 41 37 43
Under Western Stars 16 37 41 37 43
Hunky and Spunky 16 37 51 29 45
Girls’ School 16 37 44 37 46
The Lady Objects 16 37 44 37 46
The Declaration of Independence 16 37 46 37 48
Pacific Liner 16 37 48 37 49
Swingtime in the Movies 16 37 48 37 49
Tropic Holiday 16 37 48 37 49
Going Places 16 37 51 37 52
Army Girl 16 37 53 37 53
The Goldwyn Follies 16 36 54 37 53
Breaking the Ice 16 37 54 37 55
Storm Over Bengal 16 37 56 37 56
Timber Toppers 16 37 57 37 57

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