All About Eve (1950)
What is it? Bette Davis stars as Margo Channing, an aging actress of monstrous ego and fading beauty who finds herself under threat from the initially-flattering attentions of starlet Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter).
Why did it win? Eve's Margo Channing was easy to identify with for Hollywood voters - strong-willed, successful, struggling with her fear of aging and inevitable decline - which helped, and Davis' own comeback-to-the-big-time story also struck a chord with voters. Some of the competition seemed lightweight in comparison - King Solomon's Mines, Father of the Bride - while Born Yesterday and Sunset Boulevard were probably out-star-powered.
Did it deserve to win? This is a great film, featuring arguably Davis' best performance and a pin-sharp script - but nominee Sunset Boulevard, Billy Wilder's take on another story of an aging star, is probably better. Possibly surpassing either - or at least equalling them - is The Third Man, Carol Reed's classic mystery, which wasn't nominated. The Asphalt Jungle, Adam's Rib and Harvey were also released and worthy of at least a nod.
Worth a look? Yes - it's Davis on her best, bitchiest form.