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The Oscar Quest: My Oscar Nominations — Best Actor (1950-1969)

This is part of a series of articles where I’m putting forth my opinions about what I’d nominate in all of the Oscar Quest categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress). Normally I take the categories as they are, but I thought it would be fun to figure out what I’d vote for if I had a ballot each year. Keep in mind, this is only for NOMINATIONS and nothing else.

My only problem with this is that I knew if I did it, too many people, were they doing the same thing, would put on movies that just didn’t belong on an Oscar ballot. (I would too, in some cases. We just like what we like.) My problem was that people would take this exercise as an opportunity to really just go off the rails with stuff (which, if you read through all these articles, you’ll see me call people out for it, since I know exactly which films and which performances people would put on). So my way around this was by creating what I call a “Compromise List” — after I tell you what was actually nominated and what I’d put on my ballot, I’m making a list whereby I try to make everyone happy and keep it mostly close to what would be there, Academy-wise. You’ll see. My lists usually end up being better and not crazy.

The things to take into account with the performance categories — I can only nominate what I’ve seen. So me not seeing something will be a big reason why some stuff doesn’t appear. And, as always, I tell people not to bother me with one random person in one random category, since I have everything to think about. If you want to say something, wait until you’ve seen all the films/tried this yourself before you do it. And I don’t care about foreign performances, for the most part. There’s a long and complicated answer there, but — I don’t. And the big rule for anyone doing this — if someone won a category, YOU CAN’T LEAVE THEM OFF THE COMPROMISE LIST. Can’t do it.

Otherwise — here’s the next set of categories.

1969

Actual Nominees:

  • Richard Burton, Anne of the Thousand Days
  • Dustin Hoffman, Midnight Cowboy
  • Jon Voight, Midnight Cowboy
  • Peter O’Toole, Goodbye Mr. Chips
  • John Wayne, True Grit

My Vote: Richard Burton, Anne of the Thousand Days

I got nothing to add. I mean, I’d nominate Newman and Redford for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but neither of those are particularly Oscar-worthy. So I’m leaving it. Because I don’t know what the fuck to do.

Compromise List:

  • Richard Burton, Anne of the Thousand Days
  • Dustin Hoffman, Midnight Cowboy
  • Jon Voight, Midnight Cowboy
  • Peter O’Toole, Goodbye Mr. Chips
  • John Wayne, True Grit

My Vote: Richard Burton, Anne of the Thousand Days

1968

Actual Nominees:

  • Alan Arkin, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
  • Alan Bates, The Fixer
  • Ron Moody, Oliver!
  • Peter O’Toole, The Lion in Winter
  • Cliff Robertson, Charly

My Vote: Peter O’Toole, The Lion in Winter

I got nothing for this one. I consider Tony Curtis Supporting for Boston Strangler, so I’m nominating him there. If they consider him lead, then I’ll put him here. But I’m leaving him Supporting. I could vote for Zero Mostel in The Producers, but that’ll never happen. I like Burt Lancaster in The Swimmer, but I don’t think that happens either. So I’m leaving this too.

Compromise List:

  • Alan Arkin, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
  • Alan Bates, The Fixer
  • Ron Moody, Oliver!
  • Peter O’Toole, The Lion in Winter
  • Cliff Robertson, Charly

My Vote: Peter O’Toole, The Lion in Winter

1967

Actual Nominees:

  • Warren Beatty, Bonnie and Clyde
  • Dustin Hoffman, The Graduate
  • Paul Newman, Cool Hand Luke
  • Rod Steiger, In the Heat of the Night
  • Spencer Tracy, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

My Vote: Paul Newman, Cool Hand Luke

This is easy. Since I nominate Sidney Poitier over Rod Steiger. That’s my change.

My Nominees:

  • Warren Beatty, Bonnie and Clyde
  • Dustin Hoffman, The Graduate
  • Paul Newman, Cool Hand Luke
  • Sidney Poitier, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
  • Spencer Tracy, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

My Vote: Sidney Poitier, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Compromise — I don’t know who to take off. Honestly, I take off Warren Beatty. I can’t take off Steiger. And to me, all the nominees were amazing. I refuse to fuck over Sidney Poitier, but I also — fuck it, I’m leaving it. The Academy fucked over Sidney Poitier. He belongs on this list.

Compromise List:

  • Warren Beatty, Bonnie and Clyde
  • Dustin Hoffman, The Graduate
  • Paul Newman, Cool Hand Luke
  • Rod Steiger, In the Heat of the Night
  • Spencer Tracy, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

My Vote: Out of context…performance only… Spencer Tracy, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

1966

Actual Nominees:

  • Alan Arkin, Russians are Coming, Russians are Coming
  • Richard Burton, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  • Michael Caine, Alfie
  • Steve McQueen, The Sand Pebbles
  • Paul Scofield, A Man for All Seasons

My Vote: Richard Burton, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

I got nothing here. You can tell there weren’t too many options if Alan Arkin made this list for that performance. He was good… but let’s be fucking serious now. So I got nothing. I’m leaving it.

Compromise List:

  • Alan Arkin, Russians are Coming, Russians are Coming
  • Richard Burton, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  • Michael Caine, Alfie
  • Steve McQueen, The Sand Pebbles
  • Paul Scofield, A Man for All Seasons

My Vote: Richard Burton, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

1965

Actual Nominees:

  • Richard Burton, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
  • Lee Marvin, Cat Ballou
  • Laurence Olivier, Othello
  • Rod Steiger, The Pawnbroker
  • Oskar Werner, Ship of Fools

My Vote: Richard Burton, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

Oh, Imma change this motherfucker.

My Nominees:

  • Richard Burton, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
  • Sidney Poitier, A Patch of Blue
  • Omar Sharif, Doctor Zhivago
  • Terence Stamp, The Collector
  • Rod Steiger, The Pawnbroker

Apologies to Jason Robards in A Thousand Clowns. Couldn’t do it.

My Vote: Richard Burton, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

Okay, two changes for this Compromise List. First — the Oskar Werner nomination is a joke. He should have been nominated in Supporting for Spy Who Came in from the Cold. He’s off. And Omar Sharif is on. It’s a travesty that they didn’t even nominate him for Zhivago.

Second — I’m replacing blackface with an actual black man. Olivier for Poitier. I dare you to call me out on that one. I know it’s Olivier, but he didn’t need it. Let’s try to reverse some of that racism (not to mention the fucking travesty that was 1967).

Compromise List:

  • Richard Burton, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
  • Lee Marvin, Cat Ballou
  • Sidney Poitier, A Patch of Blue
  • Omar Sharif, Doctor Zhivago
  • Rod Steiger, The Pawnbroker

My Vote: Richard Burton, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

1964

Actual Nominees:

  • Richard Burton, Becket
  • Rex Harrison, My Fair Lady
  • Peter O’Toole, Becket
  • Peter Sellers, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
  • Anthony Quinn, Zorba the Greek

My Vote: Peter Sellers, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

This category is so good, I can’t even think about changing anything.

Compromise List:

  • Richard Burton, Becket
  • Rex Harrison, My Fair Lady
  • Peter O’Toole, Becket
  • Peter Sellers, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
  • Anthony Quinn, Zorba the Greek

My Vote: Peter Sellers, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

1963

Actual Nominees:

  • Albert Finney, Tom Jones
  • Richard Harris, This Sporting Life
  • Rex Harrison, Cleopatra
  • Paul Newman, Hud
  • Sidney Poitier, Lilies of the Field

My Vote: Richard Harris, This Sporting Life

I don’t know what the fuck to do here. I don’t even think I’d nominate Marcello Mastroianni, since he got nominated three times and I didn’t like any of those nominations. Tom Tryon in The Cardinal is really the only one I can think of that I’d put on. And I can’t take off the one performance I’d take off, so we’re leaving it.

Compromise List:

  • Albert Finney, Tom Jones
  • Richard Harris, This Sporting Life
  • Rex Harrison, Cleopatra
  • Paul Newman, Hud
  • Sidney Poitier, Lilies of the Field

My Vote: Richard Harris, This Sporting Life

1962

Actual Nominees:

  • Burt Lancaster, Birdman of Alcatraz
  • Jack Lemmon, Days of Wine and Roses
  • Marcello Mastroianni, Divorce, Italian Style
  • Peter O’Toole, Lawrence of Arabia
  • Gregory Peck, To Kill a Mockingbird

My Vote: Gregory Peck, To Kill a Mockingbird

Tough call. I can’t tell if I’d want to put on Robert Mitchum for Cape Fear. Because I know everyone puts him on, and I don’t know if he deserved it, so I don’t want to perpetuate it without actually being convinced he should have for any reason other than, “It’s Robert Mitchum. Cape Fear.” So I’m leaving him off.

Also — James Mason in Lolita — ehh. I don’t know about that one either.

Anthony Quinn in Requiem for a Heavyweight is an intriguing choice….

Fuck it, let’s just leave it. I’d rather not have to deal with it.

Compromise List:

  • Burt Lancaster, Birdman of Alcatraz
  • Jack Lemmon, Days of Wine and Roses
  • Marcello Mastroianni, Divorce, Italian Style
  • Peter O’Toole, Lawrence of Arabia
  • Gregory Peck, To Kill a Mockingbird

My Vote: Gregory Peck, To Kill a Mockingbird

1961

Actual Nominees:

  • Charles Boyer, Fanny
  • Paul Newman, The Hustler
  • Maximilian Schell, Judgment at Nuremberg
  • Spencer Tracy, Judgment at Nuremberg
  • Stuart Whitman, The Mark

My Vote: Paul Newman, The Hustler

I thought about Maurice Chevalier in Fanny instead of Boyer. He was more of a veteran, and it would have been nice to see him get on there. But I don’t care either way. I was also intrigued by Warren Beatty in Splendor in the Grass, but I don’t remember the performance, so I don’t think it was that good that I’d have to put it on. So I’m leaving it.

Compromise List:

  • Charles Boyer, Fanny
  • Paul Newman, The Hustler
  • Maximilian Schell, Judgment at Nuremberg
  • Spencer Tracy, Judgment at Nuremberg
  • Stuart Whitman, The Mark

My Vote: Paul Newman, The Hustler

1960

Actual Nominees:

  • Trevor Howard, Sons and Lovers
  • Burt Lancaster, Elmer Gantry
  • Jack Lemmon, The Apartment
  • Laurence Olivier, The Entertainer
  • Spencer Tracy, Inherit the Wind

My Vote: Burt Lancaster, Elmer Gantry

Two changes for mine. Both of which — well, you’ll see.

My Nominees:

  • Kirk Douglas, Spartacus
  • Burt Lancaster, Elmer Gantry
  • Jack Lemmon, The Apartment
  • Frederic March, Inherit the Wind
  • Spencer Tracy, Inherit the Wind

My Vote: Burt Lancaster, Elmer Gantry

I’d love to leave my list as the Compromise List. And you know what? Fuck it. I am. I felt bad about taking off Olivier, but honestly, he didn’t really have much traction, awards-wise that year, so I’m changing it. March was incredible, and I was shocked to see him not get nominated, and Kirk Douglas was fucking Spartacus.

Compromise List:

  • Kirk Douglas, Spartacus
  • Burt Lancaster, Elmer Gantry
  • Jack Lemmon, The Apartment
  • Frederic March, Inherit the Wind
  • Spencer Tracy, Inherit the Wind

My Vote: Burt Lancaster, Elmer Gantry

1959

Actual Nominees:

  • Laurence Harvey, Room at the Top
  • Charlton Heston, Ben-Hur
  • Jack Lemmon, Some Like It Hot
  • Paul Muni, The Last Angry Man
  • Jimmy Stewart, Anatomy of a Murder

My Vote: Jimmy Stewart, Anatomy of a Murder

I got nothing here. I wanna take off Laurence Harvey, but I really don’t have anyone to replace him with, so I’m leaving it.

Compromise List:

  • Laurence Harvey, Room at the Top
  • Charlton Heston, Ben-Hur
  • Jack Lemmon, Some Like It Hot
  • Paul Muni, The Last Angry Man
  • Jimmy Stewart, Anatomy of a Murder

My Vote: Jimmy Stewart, Anatomy of a Murder

1958

Actual Nominees:

  • Tony Curtis, The Defiant Ones
  • Paul Newman, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  • David Niven, Separate Tables
  • Sidney Poitier, The Defiant Ones
  • Spencer Tracy, The Old Man and the Sea

My Vote: Paul Newman, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

I’m leaving it, just so I don’t have to deal with that Vertigo bullshit. And since I can’t take off Niven (who is clearly Supporting).

Compromise List:

  • Tony Curtis, The Defiant Ones
  • Paul Newman, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  • David Niven, Separate Tables
  • Sidney Poitier, The Defiant Ones
  • Spencer Tracy, The Old Man and the Sea

My Vote: I guess Newman. This category doesn’t really have a winner.

1957

Actual Nominees:

  • Marlon Brando, Sayonara
  • Anthony Franciosa, A Hatful of Rain
  • Alec Guinness, The Bridge on the River Kwai
  • Charles Laughton, Witness for the Prosecution
  • Anthony Quinn, Wild Is the Wind

My Vote: Alec Guinness, The Bridge on the River Kwai

Lots of changes on my list.

My Nominees:

  • Tony Curtis, Sweet Smell of Success
  • Henry Fonda, 12 Angry Men
  • Andy Griffith, A Face in the Crowd
  • Alec Guinness, The Bridge on the River Kwai
  • Burt Lancaster, Sweet Smell of Success

My Vote: Tony Curtis, Sweet Smell of Success … let’s show Tony some love.

I literally just replaced everyone but Alec Guinness. And just to get it out of the way: no to Kirk Douglas in Paths of Glory. Not a lead. It’s an ensemble. Him getting pushed lead is same as Niven – you’re only doing it because you think a film needs a lead. You could say the same about Fonda, but I watched that film recently — he’s totally a lead. And I also really liked Anthony Perkins in Fear Strikes Out, but it’s too strong a year.

I don’t know what to do for a Compromise here… I really think Curtis and Lancaster should be there, and Andy Griffith… I bet now people look back and go, “He should get on.” And Fonda — I can live without him being there. I really don’t know what to do with this. I think the Brando nomination is kind of a joke. Were they enamored with him or the film? I can’t tell. Quinn — not a huge fan, and nobody remembers the film. And then Franciosa — nice and all, but — I like my list better.

Compromise List:

I’m leaving the Compromise List open. Maybe the only time I do this. Because I think my list is perfect. And I honestly don’t know how to mediate the two. So I’m leaving it to everyone to create their own Compromise List for this year. That’s called a “Pontius Pilate.” It’s a new trend. #PontiusPilating

1956

Actual Nominees:

  • Yul Brynner, The King and I
  • James Dean, Giant
  • Kirk Douglas, Lust for Life
  • Rock Hudson, Giant
  • Laurence Olivier, Richard III

My Vote: Rock Hudson, Giant

I’d change this shit like a motherfucker. And I’m not even gonna put on John Wayne from The Searchers.  Okay, I lied. I am gonna put him on. But he’s not going anywhere near the Compromise List. As long as we can come to that understanding.

My Nominees:

  • James Dean, Giant
  • Rock Hudson, Giant
  • Burt Lancaster, The Rainmaker
  • Karl Malden, Baby Doll
  • John Wayne, The Searchers

 

My Vote: Rock Hudson, Giant

The Lancaster vote is a personal one. Malden I thought was legitimately worth nominating. I’ve also said many times that I feel Yul Brynner is kind of a strong supporting performance, so I don’t like him as a lead. Either way — not too many changes to be made to that final list. The only person we could get on is maybe Malden. Otherwise — let’s just leave it. Olivier is actually good enough to leave on, even if it is a vanilla nomination.

Compromise List:

  • Yul Brynner, The King and I
  • James Dean, Giant
  • Kirk Douglas, Lust for Life
  • Rock Hudson, Giant
  • Laurence Olivier, Richard III

My Vote: Rock Hudson, Giant

1955

Actual Nominees:

  • Ernest Borgnine, Marty
  • James Cagney, Love Me or Leave Me
  • James Dean, East of Eden
  • Frank Sinatra, The Man with the Golden Arm
  • Spencer Tracy, Bad Day at Black Rock

My Vote: Ernest Borgnine, Marty

I got nothing. I hate 1955. I’m not even gonna waste my time with Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter, since that would never happen. I feel like they covered things pretty well. I’m leaving it.

Compromise List:

  • Ernest Borgnine, Marty
  • James Cagney, Love Me or Leave Me
  • James Dean, East of Eden
  • Frank Sinatra, The Man with the Golden Arm
  • Spencer Tracy, Bad Day at Black Rock

My Vote: On a pure performance basis… Frank Sinatra, The Man with the Golden Arm

1954

Actual Nominees:

  • 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

My Vote: Marlon Brando, On the Waterfront

Not gonna waste my time on votes. Love Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window, but let’s not pretend that would ever happen. We’re leaving it. There’s really nothing else.

Compromise List:

  • 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

My Vote: Marlon Brando, On the Waterfront

1953

Actual Nominees:

  • Marlon Brando, Julius Caesar
  • Richard Burton, The Robe
  • Montgomery Clift, From Here to Eternity
  • William Holden, Stalag 17
  • Burt Lancaster, From Here to Eternity

My Vote: Montgomery Clift, From Here to Eternity

For my list, I put on Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday instead of Richard Burton. Otherwise, we’re leaving it. And Burton has to stay since there’s no way they don’t nominate him and no way they nominate Peck

Compromise List:

  • Marlon Brando, Julius Caesar
  • Richard Burton, The Robe
  • Montgomery Clift, From Here to Eternity
  • William Holden, Stalag 17
  • Burt Lancaster, From Here to Eternity

My Vote: Montgomery Clift, From Here to Eternity

1952

Actual Nominees:

  • Marlon Brando, Viva Zapata!
  • Gary Cooper, High Noon
  • Kirk Douglas, The Bad and the Beautiful
  • José Ferrer, Moulin Rouge
  • Alec Guinness, Lavender Hill Mob

My Vote: Kirk Douglas, The Bad and the Beautiful

There’s nothing to switch on. 1952 sucks. No to The Quiet Man, no to Singin’ in the Rain. Burt Lancaster was good in Come Back, Little Sheba, but do we really want to go through all the paperwork for that? We’re leaving it.

Compromise List:

  • Marlon Brando, Viva Zapata!
  • Gary Cooper, High Noon
  • Kirk Douglas, The Bad and the Beautiful
  • José Ferrer, Moulin Rouge
  • Alec Guinness, Lavender Hill Mob

My Vote: Kirk Douglas, The Bad and the Beautiful

1951

Actual Nominees:

  • Humphrey Bogart, The African Queen
  • Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Montgomery Clift, A Place in the Sun
  • Arthur Kennedy, Bright Victory
  • Frederic March, Death of a Salesman

My Vote: Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire

Honestly, I take off Frederic March and put on Kirk Douglas, for his double duty in Detective Story and Ace in the Hole this year. And he got a Globe nomination (for Detective Story). So — on historical grounds only (since in 1951, it makes perfect sense that March gets on, it being such a classic play and all, and probably a big deal at that time) — I’m switching on Kirk. Since it works pretty much every other year except 1951.

Compromise List:

  • Humphrey Bogart, The African Queen
  • Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Montgomery Clift, A Place in the Sun
  • Kirk Douglas, Detective Story
  • Arthur Kennedy, Bright Victory

My Vote: Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire

1950

Actual Nominees:

  • Louis Calhern, The Magnificent Yankee
  • José Ferrer, Cyrano de Bergerac
  • William Holden, Sunset Boulevard
  • Jimmy Stewart, Harvey
  • Spencer Tracy, Father of the Bride

My Vote: Jimmy Stewart, Harvey

I hate this category. Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll tell you how I’d fix it.

My Nominees:

  • Humphrey Bogart, In a Lonely Place
  • William Holden, Sunset Boulevard
  • Jimmy Stewart, Harvey
  • Vincent Price, The Baron of Arizona
  • Richard Widmark, Night and the City

 

 

My Vote: Oh, Jesus… fuck it. I’m taking Vincent Price just to get more people to see the film. Because this doesn’t fucking matter at all.

Trust me on Vincent Price. You’ll believe me when you see the film. Put that against Calhern and Tracy and let me know what you get.

I can’t keep pretty much any of these on a Compromise List. It’s even harder now since there are no other precursors to use as a guide for what they liked. It’s literally just guesswork. Bogart got good noticed when In a Lonely Place came out, but I don’t think that was ever treated seriously enough to be nominated. And nobody really remembers The Baron of Arizona at all. (But seriously — see it. It’s fucking incredible.) And Night and the City was not liked when it came out. Which means we have to leave the category.

(P.S. Major kudos to Gregory Peck for The Gunfighter. Very underrated performance, that.)

Compromise List:

  • Louis Calhern, The Magnificent Yankee
  • José Ferrer, Cyrano de Bergerac
  • William Holden, Sunset Boulevard
  • Jimmy Stewart, Harvey
  • Spencer Tracy, Father of the Bride

My Vote: Jimmy Stewart, Harvey

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One response

  1. samuelwilliscroft

    What about Anthony Perkins in Psycho?

    May 30, 2015 at 4:35 am

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