I consider 1963 one of the worst years in Academy history. Or rather, one of the worst years in terms of its Best Picture nominees and its Best Picture choice. This is definitely one of the top five weakest sets of nominees I’ve ever seen. Tom Jones wins Best Picture in a field that includes Cleopatra, How the West Was Won, Lilies of the Field and America, America. What would you have voted for there? (Personally, I have it down between Cleopatra or America, America. But it’s still a terrible set of five.) There was no good choice here.
Best Actor this year was Sidney Poitier for Lilies of the Field, which I consider a good decision historically, but also kinda racist, which I talked about here. Best Director this year was Tony Richardson for Tom Jones, which makes sense since they went that way for Best Picture. Best Supporting Actor was Melvyn Douglas for Hud, which I actually like as a decision, even though it would have been so much more interesting if they gave it to John Huston. (Right?) And Best Supporting Actress was Margaret Rutherford for The V.I.P.s, which was really the only decision in that category (it had three Tom Jones nominees and a Lilies of the Field nominee).
Now we come down to this one. What the fuck happened here? This is the capper on a terribly bad and uninteresting year. Worst of the 60s, actually. They had the opportunity to give an Oscar to Leslie Caron, Shirley MacLaine (already overdue and once blatantly snubbed), or Natalie Wood (ditto what I said about Shirley MacLaine). And they give it to Patricia Neal? Seriously? What a bad end to a terrible year this was.
BEST ACTRESS – 1963
And the nominees were…
Leslie Caron, The L-Shaped Room
Shirley MacLaine, Irma La Douce
Patricia Neal, Hud
Rachel Roberts, This Sporting Life
Natalie Wood, Love with the Proper Stranger (more…)