This is the Oscar category. The quintessential category. The one everyone argues over. Grace Kelly or Judy Garland? Before we get into that, let’s recap 1954.
On the Waterfront wins Best Picture, Best Actor for Marlon Brando, Best Supporting Actress for Eva Marie Saint (talked about here), and Best Director for Elia Kazan (talked about here). All of them were perfect decisions. Then Edmond O’Brien wins Best Supporting Actor for The Barefoot Contessa (talked about here), which is historically a good decision, even though he didn’t give the best performance in the category.
Okay, back to the good part. This category may be the single strongest Best Actress category of all time. Most people look at Garland and Kelly, but look at the other three nominees — Dandridge, Hepburn, Wyman — there’s really great stuff there, too. But we all know this category comes down to Judy and Grace. So I’ll kill the suspense now and tell you flat out — Grace deserved this. Nothing against Judy, but when you weigh the two performances against one another, and then factor in the year Grace had on top of it — she’s actually an easy winner here. I know Groucho Marx called this “the biggest robbery since Brinks,” but it really wasn’t. Not when you factor in everything.
BEST ACTRESS – 1954
And the nominees were…
Dorothy Dandridge, Carmen Jones
Judy Garland, A Star is Born
Audrey Hepburn, Sabrina
Grace Kelly, The Country Girl
Jane Wyman, Magnificent Obsession (more…)