The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1956
A lot of people have strong opinions about this year. I don’t know why. It’s not that surprising a decision at all. Especially compared to 1952. I remember hearing Robert Osborne (of TCM) talk about this, and he mentioned that some famous critic called this the worst Best Picture winner of all time, and he (normally a respectful dude) was just like, “That’s stupid.” Because it is. Sure, it’s not a really strong film, but you can’t be surprised that it won.
The only surprise here was that Around the World in 80 Days only won Best Picture. Which is telling, I feel. Best Director went, instead, to George Stevens for Giant (talked about here). Which is a well-deserved Oscar, for one of the greatest directorial efforts of all time, I feel. It’s also a decision that lessens the impact of the Best Picture win. Then Best Actor was Yul Brynner for The King and I (talked about here), which I like because I like Yul Brynner, but I think it was a weak decision, because Rock Hudson and James Dean (mostly Hudson) gave better performances. Still, it’s okay. Then Best Actress was Ingrid Bergman for Anastasia (talked about here), which I think was a terrible decision. It’s mostly a fairy tale of a film, and there were such better choices in the category, specifically Carroll Baker for Baby Doll (holy shit, was she so much better). Then Best Supporting Actor was Anthony Quinn for Lust for Life (talked about here). The performance isn’t worth it (he’s only on screen for like, eight minutes), but the actor is. Plus the category was pretty weak, so it’s fine. And Best Supporting Actress was Dorothy Malone for Written on the Wind (talked about here). I love that decision. She’s so gloriously over the top. It’s a fun choice (even though Patty McCormack in The Bad Seed was fucking incredible).
So, overall, 1956 is a decent year. Strong categories. And yeah, Around the World in 80 Days is not really a good film. But it’s spectacle. It’s big and it’s spectacle. I understand why it won. Sure, it probably shouldn’t have won, but it’s not that bad. I don’t know. It’s weak, but I can understand it.
BEST PICTURE – 1956
And the nominees were…
Around the World in 80 Days (United Artists)
Friendly Persuasion (Allied Artists)
Giant (Warner Bros.)
The King and I (20th Century Fox)
The Ten Commandments (Paramount) (more…)