The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1960

I love 1960. Mostly because The Apartment, one of my favorite films of all time (top five, even), wins Best Picture and Best Director for Billy Wilder (talked about here). I love both decisions, even though Hitchcock probably should have won Best Director for Psycho.

Best Actor this year was Burt Lancaster for Elmer Gantry (talked about here), which was a gerat decision (and was so well-deserved). Shirley Jones also won Best Supporting Actress for the film (talked about here), which was a good decision, even though I’d have gone another way. Best Actress was Elizabeth Taylor for BUtterfield 8 (talked about here), which we all recognize as a bad decision, but it’s not a terrible one, just because they did think Taylor might die and because Shirley MacLaine eventually did win an Oscar. In all, we have a strong year, with all decisions making sense, even if they weren’t necessarily the best decisions.

And then we have this category, which — there was no way any other decision was gonna happen.


And the nominees were…

Peter Falk, Murder, Inc.

Jack Kruschen, The Apartment

Sal Mineo, Exodus

Peter Ustinov, Spartacus

Chill Wills, The Alamo

Falk — Murder, Inc. is about the crime syndicate. We watch them as they pull off hits and stuff (and of course are taken down, because that’s how movies are supposed to work). Peter Falk plays one of the hit men. It’s actually kind of a turn for Falk, since he’s totally cold blooded here and isn’t the Peter Falk we usually see and know and love. He’s very much a vicious killer. Who, eventually rats out his friends for reduced charges and is killed for it. But it’s actually quite a good performance. Not gonna vote for him, but he is good here. Very different Peter Falk, it is.

Kruschen — The Apartment is a perfect film, and you need to have seen it, otherwise we’re not friends.

Jack Kruschen plays the doctor who lives next door to Jack Lemmon. He thinks he’s a womanizer and party animal, and the whole running joke is that no matter what Lemmon does, he still thinks that. And he helps him when Shirley MacLaine has her incident, and is actually a great form of comic relief for the film.

I think the performance is great. Not gonna vote for it, simply because it’s exactly that — comic relief. But I like that it was nominated. That was nice to see.

Mineo — Exodus is a three and a half hour film about Israel. Oh, fucking, boy. Just what I want to see.

I’m not going to give you a summary of this film. It’s about Israel, and it stars Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint and Sal Mineo. And it’s long. Sal Mineo is a young man who joins the cause, and helps bomb an Arab hotel. And his big thing is that he’s in love with a girl who gets killed. It’s a good performance by him, but not really one that would ever win. And I don’t really like the film enough to vote for the performance (since I didn’t love the performance to begin with. So I’d need something else to want to vote for him). So it’s one of those “nice to see you” nominations, but he had no shot.

Ustinov — Spartacus is a really classic movie. Like, to the point where — why haven’t you seen it yet, if you haven’t?

For those of you who haven’t seen the film — well, look up what it’s about, because it’s embarrassing for you not to know. But, in terms of Gladiator (because I know if you haven’t seen this film, you’ve definitely seen that film. And it embarrasses the rest of us that you need to use that film as a reference to this film, since that film so clearly wants to be this film), Ustinov plays the Oliver Reed role. The Proximo part. The slave trader who trains them to take place in the gladiatorial games.

Ustinov is very charismatic in the part, and is awesome. He’s wonderfully colorful, and is a scheming little prick, too. It’s awesome. He totally deserved this Oscar. Plus he was also great in The Sundowners this year. This is him all the way.

Wills — The Alamo is John Wayne’s epic film about… well, guess what.

It’s big, it’s ensemble, and most people consider it a big failure. I think it’s actually a strong movie. Sure, it’s overly long and indulgent, but it’s good.

This nomination is one of those — it got a Best Picture nomination and needed the requisite acting nomination. And Chill Wills won the raffle. He basically plays a colorful character. It’s nothing outstanding at all. Just an ensemble nomination. John Wayne even said that he didn’t think Wills should have gotten it and that he felt Laurence Harvey (who played Col. Travis) should have gotten it. It’s a filler nomination. That’s all. No vote.

My Thoughts: It’s Ustinov all the way. Falk was too minor a character to win, Mineo just wasn’t the right choice, Wills was the wrong nominee from the film, and Kruschen, while thoroughly enjoyable (my favorite performance in the category, actually), wasn’t gonna beat Ustinov. Ustinov was great in Spartacus, and he was also great in The Sundowners. This was his category all the way.

My Vote: Ustinov

Should Have Won: Ustinov

Is the result acceptable?: Oh hell yeah. Both of his wins were acceptable. This one more so. Great decision.

Performances I suggest you see: If you haven’t seen The Apartment, you’re dead to me. (Like, really dead to me.)

If you haven’t seen Spartacus, you’re dead to me. (Just regular dead.)

You should really see The Alamo. It’s a really enjoyable movie. Some people don’t like it, but I was very entertained. You really can’t go wrong with a John Wayne movie.

Exodus I thought was long and boring. Well-made and all, just, not my thing. Some might like it, but just know it’s almost 4 hours long and about the founding of Israel. If that’s your thing, go right ahead. Me, I’ll stick with Giant. That’s my 4-hour film.


5) Mineo

4) Falk

3) Wills

2) Ustinov

1) Kruschen

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