Oh, this is tough. This may be my favorite Best Actor category of all time. They’re all really good in this category. They all either gave awards-worthy performances or were terribly overdue. And also gave awards-worthy performances. Just — wow. Before we get into it, let’s recap.
I’m not a fan of the the overall 1979 at all. Kramer vs. Kramer wins Best Picture over Apocalypse Now, All That Jazz, Norma Rae and Breaking Away. Those last two, I can abide. The first two, I cannot. Same goes for Best Director. Robert Benton (for Kramer) beats Francis Ford Coppola and Bob Fosse (talked about here). That’s the worst offense of all. The direction didn’t carry that film, writing did. That’s what makes me unable to abide the Best Picture decision. The weak, “Here you go,” of giving it Best Director too. Meryl Streep also won Best Supporting Actress for the film, which, as I said here, is a perfect decision. When Meryl wins a category, she really wins a category.
Sally Field as Best Actress for Norma Rae, which, as I said here, is a great decision. And Best Supporting Actor was the biggest offense of them all. The worst decision in the history of the that category. Melvyn Douglas wins for Being There, beating Robert Duvall for Apocalypse Now. Even Dustin Hoffman, upon accepting his award for Best Actor, after saying he refused to believe he beat “Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Peter Sellers,” said, “I refuse to believe Robert Duvall lost.” That’s how bad it was.
Which brings us into this category — it’s a great one.
BEST ACTOR – 1979
And the nominees are…
Dustin Hoffman, Kramer vs. Kramer
Jack Lemmon, The China Syndrome
Al Pacino, …And Justice for All
Roy Scheider, All That Jazz
Peter Sellers, Being There (more…)