11th Annual Academy Awards Results and Commentary (1939)

  • Date of Ceremony: Thursday, February 23, 1939
  • For films released in: 1938
Other years:

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The 11th Academy Awards ceremony at the Biltmore Hotel, had no official host, but many of the night’s Oscars were presented to the winners by Cedric Hardwicke and Tyrone Power.

Frank Capra’s You Can’t Take it With You won Best Picture, while Capra took home his third Oscar as director.

The acting categories had their share of familiar faces as Best Actor Spencer Tracy, Best Actress Better Davis and best Supporting Actor Walter Brennan had all won statuettes in the past decade.

One special presentation saw Shirley Temple present Walt Disney with a Special Award for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The award had one large Oscar and seven small ones.


Outstanding Production

  • You Can't Take It with You

Best Directing

  • You Can't Take It with You
    Frank Capra

Best Actor

  • Boys Town
    Spencer Tracy

Best Actress

  • Jezebel
    Bette Davis

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Kentucky
    Walter Brennan

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Jezebel
    Fay Bainter

Best Art Direction

  • The Adventures of Robin Hood
    Carl J. Weyl

Best Cinematography

  • The Great Waltz
    Joseph Ruttenberg

Best Film Editing

  • The Adventures of Robin Hood
    Ralph Dawson

Best Music (Scoring)

  • Alexander's Ragtime Band
    Alfred Newman

Best Music (Original Score)

  • The Adventures of Robin Hood
    Erich Wolfgang Korngold

Best Music (Song)

  • The Big Broadcast of 1938 "Thanks for the Memory"
    Ralph Rainger [Music by] and Leo Robin [Lyrics by]

Best Short Subject (Cartoon)

  • Ferdinand the Bull
    Walt Disney

Best Short Subject (One-reel)

  • That Mothers Might Live

Best Short Subject (Two-reel)

  • Declaration of Independence
    Warner Bros.

Best Sound Recording

  • The Cowboy and the Lady
    United Artists Studio Sound Department and Thomas T. Moulton [Sound Director]

Best Writing (Screenplay)

  • Pygmalion
    George Bernard Shaw [Screenplay and Dialogue by], W.P. Lipscomb [Adaptation by], Cecil Lewis [Adaptation by] and Ian Dalrymple [Adaptation by]

Best Writing (Original Story)

  • Boys Town
    Dore Schary and Eleanore Griffin

Special Award

  • Mickey Rooney and Deanna Durbin
    Note: …for their significant contribution in bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth, and as juvenile players setting a high standard of ability and achievement.
  • Harry M. Warner
    Note: …in recognition of patriotic service in the production of historical short subjects presenting significant episodes in the early struggle of the American people for liberty.
  • Walt Disney
    Note: …for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, recognized as a significant screen innovation which has charmed millions and pioneered a great new entertainment field for the motion picture cartoon.
  • Oliver T. Marsh and Allen M. Davey
    Note: …for the color cinematography of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer production, Sweethearts.
  • Gordon Jennings [Special Effects], Jan Domela [Special Effects Assistant], Dev Jennings [Special Effects Assistant], Irmin Roberts [Special Effects Assistant], Art Smith [Special Effects Assistant], Farciot Edouart [Transparencies], Loyal Griggs [Transparencies Assistant], Loren Ryder [Sound Effects], Harry Mills [Sound Effects Assistant], Louis Mesenkop [Sound Effects Assistant] and Walter Oberst [Sound Effects Assistant]
    Note: …For outstanding achievement in creating Special Photographic and Sound Effects in the Paramount production, Spawn of the North.
  • J. Arthur Ball
    Note: …for his outstanding contributions to the advancement of color in Motion Picture Photography.

Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award

  • Hal B. Wallis

Scientific or Technical Award (Class III)

  • John O. Aalberg and RKO Radio Studio Sound Department
    Note: …for the application of compression to variable area recording in motion picture production.
  • Byron Haskin and Special Effects Department of Warner Bros. Studio
    Note: …for pioneering the development and for the first practical application to motion picture production of the triple head background projector.
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