1939 was the greatest year in the history of film. Period.
No other year has produced as many high quality films. AFI’s Top 100 Movies of the Last 100 Years included 5 movies from 1939 in it’s top 100 list that was tabulated in 1997: Gone With The Wind (#6), The Wizard of Oz (#10), Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (#26), Stagecoach (#63), and Wuthering Heights (#73). AMC has a similar list of movies which included all of the previous five and added Ninotchka, a charming movie starring Greta Garbo, to their list.
A few things to consider about film in 1939:
-Victor Fleming directed two of the top 10 movies of all time, Gone With The Wind and The Wizard of Oz, and did it in the same year.
-Thomas Mitchell who took home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, performed in three of the movies that were nominated for Best Film: Gone With The Wind, Stagecoach, and Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.
-Hattie McDaniel won Best Supporting Actress for her unforgettable role in Gone With The Wind, making her the first African-American nominee and winner of an Academy Award. Due to the racial prejudice that existed at the time, she had to sit in the back during the ceremony, away from her co-stars.
Each of the movies listed above should be on your Watch Now list if you haven’t seen them, but if I could recommend one other movie to watch from 1939 that is often overlooked it would be the French film, The Rules of the Game. It opened to harsh criticism in 1939 and the original negative was destroyed during WWII. Director Jean Renoir was able to restore the film later, and in many circles it is considered one of the top 10 films of all time. It's a story about love, duty, and social class, and is well worth your time.