Overall, I can see why Cimarron won the Best Picture in 1931. First of all, it is an impressive epic production, filmed in the desert with thousands of extras. We all know how much Hollywood loves to honor the great epics (Gone With The Wind, Titanic, and many other best picture winners).
This film is visually remarkable in several moments, especially when the film shows time passing. The movie progresses through thirty years and it fully shows how Oklahoma began with dust covered old west towns which then grew into the booming cities we know today. Also, the opening minutes of the film focuses on the extreme chaos of those hoping to claim some land in the ever expanding country.
Even though the story may drag at times, there is mostly an interesting plot. Although, as mentioned above, I don't think that this movies' merit holds up over time.
Even in a remastered DVD the audio is fuzzy and I found myself, when the story was keeping my attention, straining towards the TV. Some dialogue is lost and I found this annoying. Yes, I understand the movie is old so things like this happen. I shouldn't really hold it against the movie, but I will, and I have more to complain about.
The film stars Richard Dix and Irene Dunn as a husband and wife trying to gain a new life as America is growing in the late 1800's. Dix plays a man who spends all his time interested in the adventure found in the expanding west and being idolized as a hero. The film follows the families life together and his wife, played by Dunn, must continue to keep her and her childrens' life going even when her husband abandons them. Both were nominated for their performances, but nothing about the acting in this movie seems to standout. Unless you count that Dix completely overdoes it to the point where I wanted to fast forward through his part.
Visuals, story, and the overall film is what does resonate. Interestingly enough, these are actually the three Academy Awards that the film won. Maybe the Academy does know what they are doing.
Last Word: The consensus will always be that film aficionados will appreciate taking the time to soak up this film for movie history's sake. Although, this is the first time (really only after three movies) that I can say that I don't think the general population will want to spend two hours of their life watching Cimarron. Well, maybe if you like Westerns.