1942 is a year that — kind of like a lesser 1946, no one could really do anything about. World War II was in full swing, and the Academy was obviously gonna go with a film that pushed forward the war effort. That, mixed with the fact that it was a relatively weak set of Best Picture nominees — it makes sense.
Mrs. Miniver wins Best Picture, Best Actress for Greer Garson, Best Supporting Actress for Teresa Wright (talked about here), and Best Director for William Wyler (talked about here). All were actually great decisions.
The non-Miniver decisions for the year were Van Heflin as Best Supporting Actor for Johnny Eager, which might have been the weakest Best Supporting Actor category of all time, and this category.
This category is actually a great one, because it was a perfect opportunity to award James Cagney. If Gary Cooper didn’t win this category the year before this, chances are Cagney wouldn’t have won here. But Cooper did win, so Cagney was able to get his well-deserved Oscar. And that’s good.
BEST ACTOR – 1942
And the nominees were…
James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy
Gary Cooper, The Pride of the Yankees
Ronald Colman, Random Harvest
Walter Pidgeon, Mrs. Miniver
Monty Woolley, The Pied Piper (more…)