The Oscar Quest: Best Actor – 1974
I know myself so well. I seem to schedule these things on purpose so things come up at just the right time. I generally set out an entire month’s worth of categories in advance, just so I don’t have to sit and pick from the lot. Everything gets nice and balanced that way, and when the day comes up, it’s, “Oh, hey, I’m talking about this category today.” And, somehow, I manage to always have things scheduled for the right mood. For instance, if I’m on a really productive streak, it seems like all the categories I really want to talk about come up, so that way I end up writing a lot and really recommending the films I want to recommend. Or if I’ve been out binge drinking the night before, it seems like the category for that day is always a quick one. Things always seem to work out that way. Today I get to vent my frustrations on what I consider to be one of the worst single choices (in the acting categories) in the Academy’s history. Worst. Of all time.
My criteria for judging how bad a category is consists of several factors. First, who won, and how does that performance rate on its own? Second, who, specifically did they beat? As in, what was the main competition for it. Example: How Green Was My Valley beat Citizen Kane. That is, for all intensive purposes, the main competition. Next, how strong was the rest of the category? Is it a simple case of voting one over another, or did they pass on multiple good and/or better choices in favor of the bad one? And the last two — these are to a much lesser extent, but still factor in — how badly did this mess up history (ie, did this require that a makeup Oscar be given to someone at some point in the future, which would then possibly deprive someone else of an Oscar in that case and perpetuate the makeup Oscar cycle) and did someone not get an Oscar because of this? That means, was this someone’s only/best chance to win an Oscar, and did they not ever end up getting one, possibly due to this bad decision. Think people like Richard Burton or Peter O’Toole, who never won Oscars. A bad decision is made worse if because of it, someone like Peter O’Toole was deprived of an Oscar. These last two categories definitely get intertwined at a certain point, but, largely, can remain separate. Now, if a decision fits firmly in the sweet spott of the Venn Diagram, then it deserves to be counted among the worst decisions of all time. This, my friends, is in that sweet spot. (more…)