1954 is a real easy year to recap.
On the Waterfront wins Best Picture, Best Director for Elia Kazan (talked about here), Best Supporting Actress for Eva Marie Saint (talked about here), and this category. All perfect decisions, obviously.
The two non-Waterfront winners were, first, Grace Kelly as Best Actress for The Country Girl. This is perhaps the most hotly contested Oscar category of all time, so you can read my thoughts on the matter here. And the other was Best Supporting Actor, which went to Edmond O’Brien for The Barefoot Contessa (talked about here). I’d have preferred a Waterfront nominee, but O’Brien was definitely worth an Oscar, so the decision works.
And then here — it’s Brando, it’s Waterfront. That “contender” speech alone gives him this Oscar.
BEST ACTOR – 1954
And the nominees were…
Humphrey Bogart, The Caine Mutiny
Marlon Brando, On the Waterfront
Bing Crosby, The Country Girl
James Mason, A Star is Born
Dan O’Herlihy, Robinson Crusoe (more…)