1945 Academy Awards®
Winners and History
Introduction, 1927/8-39, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s
Academy Awards Summaries
"Best Picture" Oscar®, "Best Director" Oscar®, "Best Actor" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar®,
"Best Actress" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar®, "Best Screenplay/Writer" Oscar®
Now that World War II was over and a more optimistic mood swept across the country, glamour returned to the awards ceremony. But the Best Picture award was presented to producer/director/co-writer Billy Wilder's four-Oscar winning, socially-significant The Lost Weekend, a grim, realistic, downbeat drama based on Charles Jackson's best-selling novel and the first major Hollywood film to deal with the subject of alcoholism in a serious tone. Some consider Wilder's humiliation the previous year with his seven-time nominated film Double Indemnity (1944) (with no wins) was one of the main factors for his tremendous win this year. This time, Wilder's Best Picture film won four of its seven nominations. This was also the first time that the Best Picture Oscar winner also won the prestigious top prize (known as the Grand Prix) at the Cannes Film Festival.
[The Best Picture winner in 1945 set a pattern for more adult, socially-responsible Best Picture winners in the 40's. Serious "social issues" films would win the Best Picture award in four of the next five years: e.g., The Lost Weekend (1945), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Gentleman's Agreement (1947), and All the King's Men (1949).]
The meaningful film, from Charles Jackson's adapted novel, won four major awards - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay. Director Wilder won Oscars for Best Director and Best Screenplay (shared with Charles Brackett). Brackett and Wilder were producers-directors of the previous year's Double Indemnity (1944). They would collaborate together in the future with A Foreign Affair (1948) and Sunset Boulevard (1950).
The Best Picture winner defeated the following four Best Picture nominees:
Two directors of the five Best Picture-nominated films were not nominated as Best Director: George Sidney for Anchors Aweigh, and Michael Curtiz for Mildred Pierce. They were replaced with the following two directors:
Debonair Wales-born Ray Milland (with his sole career nomination and Oscar win) won the Best Actor award for his stark portrayal of whiskey-soaked, boozing Don Birnam with writer's block on a five-day binge in the year's Best Picture winner The Lost Weekend. It was an about-face role for the lightweight comedy and romantic actor for over a decade, with Milland using increasingly desperate measures to obtain a drink, and eventually ending up hallucinating (with delirium tremens) in a hospital. Milland continued acting for many years, including starring as Ryan O'Neal's father in Love Story (1970). [Other alcoholic roles that have earned Oscar nominations include: James Mason in A Star Is Born (1954), Bing Crosby in The Country Girl (1954), Susan Hayward in I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955), and Jack Lemmon in Days of Wine and Roses (1963).]
The other Best Actor nominees included:
The biggest winner of the awards ceremony in 1945 was longtime 20s-30s star Joan Crawford in a triumphant return to the spotlight for her Best Actress-winning performance in Michael Curtiz' melodramatic 'women's picture' Mildred Pierce. It was Crawford's sole career Oscar for her portrayal of a hardworking, sacrificial, middle-class mother figure (the title role) who found business success with a restaurant but personal tragedy with her spoiled daughter in the James M. Cain story of murder, larceny, blackmail and adultery. [She would be nominated (though not the winner) two more times, for Possessed (1947) and Sudden Fear (1952).]
The other Best Actress nominees included:
The Best Supporting Actor award was won by Irish actor James Dunn (with his sole nomination) as alcoholic father and waiter Johnny Nolan whose drinking habits frustrate his attempts to support his family in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn about turn-of-the-century Brooklyn tenement life, the debut feature film of future Oscar winning director Elia Kazan. [Kazan would be nominated for five career awards, winning twice for Gentleman's Agreement (1947) and On The Waterfront (1954).]
The other Best Supporting Actor nominees included:
The winner in the Best Supporting Actress category was Anne Revere (with her second of three career nominations - and sole Oscar win) for her role as Elizabeth Taylor's supportive, strong-faced mother Mrs. Brown, who helps her daughter train for the Grand National race in director Clarence Brown's National Velvet (with five nominations and two wins - Best Supporting Actress and Best Film Editing).
The other Best Supporting Actress nominees included two co-stars:
Oscar Snubs and Omissions:
There were many serious omissions and problems with this year's awards. Why was Anchors Aweigh given a Best Picture nomination and four other nominations, when Edgar Ulmer's noir classic Detour was unrecognized? Another noir film was also un-nominated: Robert Siodmak's The Suspect. Edward G. Robinson and co-star Joan Bennett were un-nominated in two Fritz Lang noir films: The Woman in the Window (1944) and Scarlet Street.
Boris Karloff (never nominated for an Oscar in his entire career) was ignored in Val Lewton's superb B movie horror classic The Body Snatcher. Elia Kazan's feature directing debut film A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was denied Best Director and Best Picture nominations, and a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Joan Blondell. John Ford's They Were Expendable also received only two minor nominations - the film's major star John Wayne was un-nominated.
Vincente Minnelli's and MGM's romantic drama The Clock received no nominations - it told about Alice Mayberry (Judy Garland in her first non-singing role), an all-American single working girl, and young soldier Corp. Joe Allen (Robert Walker) on two-day leave in New York. They happened to meet in Penn Station, fell in love, and hastily committed to marriage -- and because time ran out -- had the ceremony in a diner. Likewise, Michael Curtiz' multi-generational domestic epic Roughly Speaking was also devoid of nominations, particularly for Rosalind Russell's portrayal of real-life Louise Randall Pierson (the film's scriptwriter, based on her autobiographical novel), a strong persevering woman who endured numerous setbacks including two marriages, the Depression, polio and four children. It was a role that Bette Davis reportedly turned down.
And Robert Mitchum, who lost his sole Oscar nomination in 1945 for a minor role in The Story of G.I. Joe, wasn't even nominated for his better and greater roles for the rest of his film career, in Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), Out Of The Past (1947), Crossfire (1947), The Night of the Hunter (1955), Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957), The Sundowners (1960), and Cape Fear (1962).