For my 2017/18 writing project, I am watching, ranking, and reviewing every film to win The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Oscar for Best Picture. Below, is my review for the 1932 winner, "Cimarron."
Everyone from the state of Oklahoma is familiar with the words Boomers and Sooners. In 1989, Oklahoma territory was opened up for settlement beyond the Native American tribes who already called the land home. The day of the land run, thousands of people lined up on the borders of neighboring states. At high noon, they would be prompted by a booming gun. This signaled the beginning of the mad dash for a new opportunity. As guns everywhere exploded, people ran, rode, and fought their way toward prime real estate. Those who waited for high noon would come to be known as Boomers. Those who cheated and left before the guns sounded were known as Sooners.
Overnight, new towns exploded on the plains. "Cimarron" is a story about one those towns and the people who called it home. It is also the worst movie I have seen this far in my writing challenge. Unlike the other films, the audio mixing on this film hasn't withstood the hands of time. I often found myself missing dialogue and turning the volume way up or way down. With the other films, including the silent film, this hasn't been a problem. Now, don't get me wrong the audio quality on all of these films hasn't been stellar. Each stands as a testament to the lengths we've traveled in filmmaking.
Another thing that bothered me about this film was the blatant racism toward Native Americans. As a student of American and Oklahoma history, I know many of the Indians who would come to call Oklahoma home were forcibly removed from their homes back east. They took the long and deadly journey across the Trail of Tears to what the government promised would be their new home. Not long after that promise was made, once again the White man broke his promise and the land run would begin. These things don't happen without the ruling class thinking of Native Americans as second class citizens but to be confronted with phrases like savages and dirty Indians was almost more than I could handle. It may have been historically accurate but I don't think it added anything to the film.
I will say that I felt a sense of pride to see my home state on film and a story about its birth win an Oscar. I think people from outside Oklahoma have long associated the state with two films, "Oklahoma" the musical and "Twister." This film is a reminder that there is much to the history of the Sooner State.
Best Picture Ranking (So Far)
- All Quiet on the Western Front
- The Broadway Melody
Be good to each other,