Should Have Won an Oscar: City Lights (1930-31)

City Lights

Many consider City Lights, Charlie Chaplin’s last silent movie, to be his greatest artistic achievement. It’s easy to see why. The story, in which a little tramp comes to the aid of a blind flower girl and helps restore her sight, is drenched in pathos perfectly counterbalanced by Chaplin’s broad yet subtle physical humor.

The Tramp’s friendship with a loopy millionaire drunk (who doesn’t recognize the lad when he’s sober) provides some comic relief. But the biggest highlights are the famous bobbing-and-weaving boxing match and the crazy restaurant-scene dance number.

City Lights

So why the snub? For once, the Academy may have actually looked toward the future. Silents were no longer golden, and the talk of the town was, well, talk. But Chaplin had the last word by keeping mum.

Posterity kicked the Academy’s butt just like it was a little tramp. The Library of Congress put City Lights into the National Film Registry, where none of the year’s nominated films can be found. Finally, a victory for the little guy.

Nominees: Skippy, East Lynne, The Front Page, Trader Horn
Winner: Cimarron

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