This year, more so than 1959, is a year that’s a checkpoint year (one where you look at what won and go, “Oh, that makes sense,” and move on without much thought), but is also questionable. Even when there’s a definitive winner, you could almost always make a case for another film (L.A. Confidential over Titanic, To Kill a Mockingbird over Lawrence of Arabia, Anatomy of a Murder over Ben-Hur). And some years it’s warranted, and some years you’re stretching. This year, you can make a legitimate case.
Bridge on the River Kwai is a pretty definitive winner, winning Best Picture, Best Director for David Lean (talked about here) and Best Actor for Alex Guinness (talked about here). All terrific decisions. Best Actress was Joanne Woodward for The Three Faces of Eve (talked about here), which was a perfect decision. She was incredible there. And Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress were Red Buttons (talked about here) and Miyoshi Umeki (talked about here) for Sayonara, the former I don’t like at all (Arthur Kennedy and Sessue Hayakawa were much better) and the latter I consider the single worst Best Supporting Actress-winning performance of all time. She doesn’t do much at all, and I’m certain they were voting for the role and not the performance.
Overall, though, 1957 is really strong. I don’t agree with the Supporting categories, but the rest of the decisions are really strong. Though, back to my original point — you can make a case here for another film winning — 12 Angry Men. I love years like this, though the pitfall with it is that people get so tied up in favor of one film that they completely discount the other. But outside of that, it’s nice to see a definite winner and a choice that’s just as strong. Rarely are we awarded such a luxury of a win-win situation.
BEST PICTURE – 1957
And the nominees were…
Bridge on the River Kwai (Columbia)
Peyton Place (20th Century Fox)
Sayonara (Warner Bros.)
12 Angry Men (United Artists)
Witness for Prosecution (United Artists) (more…)