The Oscar Quest: My Oscar Nominations — Best Actor (1927/1928-1949)

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.

1949

Actual Nominees:

  • Broderick Crawford, All the King’s Men
  • Kirk Douglas, Champion
  • Gregory Peck, Twelve O’Clock High
  • Richard Todd, The Hasty Heart
  • John Wayne, Sands of Iwo Jima

My Vote: Broderick Crawford, All the King’s Men

Before we get to my nominees — The Third Man is one of my five favorite films of all time. I’m still not voting for Joseph Cotten.

My Nominees:

  • James Cagney, White Heat
  • Broderick Crawford, All the King’s Men
  • Ralph Richardson, The Fallen Idol
  • Richard Todd, The Hasty Heart
  • John Wayne, Sands of Iwo Jima

My Vote: Broderick Crawford, All the King’s Men

I’m leaving it. The category is totally fine as it is, and my two nominees are wishful thinking at best.

Compromise List:

  • Broderick Crawford, All the King’s Men
  • Kirk Douglas, Champion
  • Gregory Peck, Twelve O’Clock High
  • Richard Todd, The Hasty Heart
  • John Wayne, Sands of Iwo Jima

My Vote: Broderick Crawford, All the King’s Men

1948

Actual Nominees:

  • Lew Ayres, Johnny Belinda
  • Montgomery Clift, The Search
  • Dan Dailey, When My Baby Smiles at Me
  • Laurence Olivier, Hamlet
  • Clifton Webb, Sitting Pretty

My Vote: Laurence Olivier, Hamlet

Two changes on my list. One that would never happen (though is an amazing performance nonetheless), and another that remains one of the biggest snubs of all time.

My Nominees:

  • Lew Ayres, Johnny Belinda
  • Humphrey Bogart, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  • Montgomery Clift, The Search
  • Laurence Olivier, Hamlet
  • Anton Walbrook, The Red Shoes

My Vote: Humphrey Bogart, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

The only change that can (and must) be made is Bogart going in. The Dailey nomination is a joke. Bogart was so horribly fucked over. (It must have played into him winning in 1951.)

Compromise List:

  • Lew Ayres, Johnny Belinda
  • Humphrey Bogart, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  • Montgomery Clift, The Search
  • Laurence Olivier, Hamlet
  • Clifton Webb, Sitting Pretty

My Vote: Humphrey Bogart, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

1947

Actual Nominees:

  • Ronald Colman, A Double Life
  • John Garfield, Body and Soul
  • Gregory Peck, Gentleman’s Agreement
  • William Powell, Life with Father
  • Michael Redgrave, Mourning Becomes Electra

My Vote: Gregory Peck, Gentleman’s Agreement

First — no to Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past. Love the film, but that’s not an Oscar-caliber performance. (It’s merely a very good one.) And even if you think it is — it would never happen, so let’s just leave it alone.

Also — this year was terrible, so I’ve got nothing in terms of what I’d change. So I’m just leaving it.

Compromise List:

  • Ronald Colman, A Double Life
  • John Garfield, Body and Soul
  • Gregory Peck, Gentleman’s Agreement
  • William Powell, Life with Father
  • Michael Redgrave, Mourning Becomes Electra

My Vote: Gregory Peck, Gentleman’s Agreement

1946

  • Frederic March, The Best Years of Our Lives
  • Laurence Olivier, Henry V
  • Larry Parks, The Jolson Story
  • Gregory Peck, The Yearling
  • Jimmy Stewart, It’s a Wonderful Life

My Vote: Frederic March, The Best Years of Our Lives

I love David Niven, but I can’t vote for him in A Matter of Life and Death. So I’m leaving the list the way it is. It works.

Compromise List:

  • Frederic March, The Best Years of Our Lives
  • Laurence Olivier, Henry V
  • Larry Parks, The Jolson Story
  • Gregory Peck, The Yearling
  • Jimmy Stewart, It’s a Wonderful Life

My Vote: Frederic March, The Best Years of Our Lives

1945

  • Bing Crosby, The Bells of St. Mary’s
  • Gene Kelly, Anchors Aweigh
  • Ray Milland, The Lost Weekend
  • Gregory Peck, The Keys of the Kingdom
  • Cornel Wilde, A Song to Remember

My Vote: Ray Milland, The Lost Weekend

really have nothing here, and I really want to, since the Kelly nomination is a joke, and I don’t like Wilde’s performance at all. But when performances like that get on, it usually is a sign of a very weak year for performances. And that’s exactly what it is.

Compromise List:

  • Bing Crosby, The Bells of St. Mary’s
  • Gene Kelly, Anchors Aweigh
  • Ray Milland, The Lost Weekend
  • Gregory Peck, The Keys of the Kingdom
  • Cornel Wilde, A Song to Remember

My Vote: Ray Milland, The Lost Weekend

1944

Actual Nominees:

  • Charles Boyer, Gaslight
  • Bing Crosby, Going My Way
  • Barry Fitzgerald, Going My Way
  • Cary Grant, None But the Lonely Heart
  • Alexander Knox, Wilson

My Vote: Bing Crosby, Going My Way

This category is terrible, voting-wise. Though this year was terrible for male performances. It’s a very female-centric year. I don’t even want to vote on Fred MacMurray here. It’s pretty bad. So I’m just leaving it. Yeesh.

Compromise List:

  • Charles Boyer, Gaslight
  • Bing Crosby, Going My Way
  • Barry Fitzgerald, Going My Way
  • Cary Grant, None But the Lonely Heart
  • Alexander Knox, Wilson

My Vote: Bing Crosby, Going My Way

1943

Actual Nominees:

  • Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca
  • Gary Cooper, For Whom the Bell Tolls
  • Paul Lukas, Watch on the Rhine
  • Walter Pidgeon, Madame Curie
  • Mickey Rooney, The Human Comedy

My Vote: Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca

Two changes one mine. One of which probably doesn’t deserve to be there, but fuck it. I hate one film enough to do it.

My Nominees:

  • Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca
  • Gary Cooper, For Whom the Bell Tolls
  • Joseph Cotten, Shadow of a Doubt
  • Roger Livesey, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
  • Mickey Rooney, The Human Comedy

My Vote: Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca

Neither of my changes gets on ever, so we’re leaving it. It’s a shitty year. I mean, there’s good stuff, but they’d never nominate it. The only person we could really take off is Pidgeon. And how likely do you think that would be to happen?

Compromise List:

  • Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca
  • Gary Cooper, For Whom the Bell Tolls
  • Paul Lukas, Watch on the Rhine
  • Walter Pidgeon, Madame Curie
  • Mickey Rooney, The Human Comedy

My Vote: Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca

1942

Actual Nominees:

  • James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy
  • Ronald Colman, Random Harvest
  • Gary Cooper, The Pride of the Yankees
  • Walter Pidgeon, Mrs. Miniver
  • Monty Woolley, The Pied Piper

My Vote: James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy

I can’t improve upon this list. I’m not crazy about Pidgeon being here, but it wouldn’t get changed anyway, so I’m leaving it. It’s a great list.

Compromise List:

  • James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy
  • Ronald Colman, Random Harvest
  • Gary Cooper, The Pride of the Yankees
  • Walter Pidgeon, Mrs. Miniver
  • Monty Woolley, The Pied Piper

My Vote: James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy

1941

Actual Nominees:

  • Gary Cooper, Sergeant York
  • Cary Grant, Penny Serenade
  • Walter Huston, The Devil and Daniel Webster
  • Robert Montgomery, Here Comes Mr. Jordan
  • Orson Welles, Citizen Kane

My Vote: Orson Welles, Citizen Kane

We’d all like to say Bogart for The Maltese Falcon here, but I don’t know if it would happen. So I won’t waste my time, since I’m going to have to keep it. Of course I nominate him, but — I have to keep it the way it is.

Compromise List:

  • Gary Cooper, Sergeant York
  • Cary Grant, Penny Serenade
  • Walter Huston, The Devil and Daniel Webster
  • Robert Montgomery, Here Comes Mr. Jordan
  • Orson Welles, Citizen Kane

My Vote: Orson Welles, Citizen Kane

1940

Actual Nominees:

  • Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator
  • Henry Fonda, The Grapes of Wrath
  • Raymond Massey, Abe Lincoln in Illinois
  • Laurence Olivier, Rebecca
  • Jimmy Stewart, The Philadelphia Story

My Vote: Henry Fonda, The Grapes of Wrath

Yes, I vote for Cary Grant in His Girl Friday here. No, he would never get on in a million years (since the person that comes off for him is Massey. That shit ain’t happening). So we leave it. Shit happens.

Compromise List:

  • Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator
  • Henry Fonda, The Grapes of Wrath
  • Raymond Massey, Abe Lincoln in Illinois
  • Laurence Olivier, Rebecca
  • Jimmy Stewart, The Philadelphia Story

My Vote: Henry Fonda, The Grapes of Wrath

– – – – –

I’m currently in the process of watching 30s movies for my Top Tens list. As I watch stuff, I’ll update this, but for the next few months, I’m mostly gonna leave stuff alone.

1939

Actual Nominees:

  • Robert Donat, Goodbye, Mr. Chips
  • Clark Gable, Gone With the Wind
  • Laurence Olivier, Wuthering Heights
  • Mickey Rooney, Babes in Arms
  • Jimmy Stewart, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

My Vote: Jimmy Stewart, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

The only other switch I could make is Henry Fonda in Young Mr. Lincoln. Otherwise, let’s just leave it. The category is amazing. (The only person we’d really switch off is Mickey Rooney. And who doesn’t love Mickey Rooney?

Compromise List:

  • Robert Donat, Goodbye, Mr. Chips
  • Clark Gable, Gone With the Wind
  • Laurence Olivier, Wuthering Heights
  • Mickey Rooney, Babes in Arms
  • Jimmy Stewart, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

My Vote: Jimmy Stewart, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

1938

Actual Nominees:

  • Charles Boyer, Algiers
  • James Cagney, Angels with Dirty Faces
  • Robert Donat, The Citadel
  • Leslie Howard, Pygmalion
  • Spencer Tracy, Boys Town

My Vote: Leslie Howard, Pygmalion

There’s a flagrant disrespect for Cary Grant throughout the history of the Oscars, so as much as I’d nominate him for Bringing Up Baby — I don’t know if it happens. I mean, the category is terrible, so I’d like to put it on (and fuck it, I will. Because fuck their disrespect). And then the other person is Lionel Barrymore in You Can’t Take It With You. It’s kind of a weird mix of lead and supporting. So I don’t know. Let’s call him a lead. Can I put him on? I say no. I say one or the other. So we’ll put on Grant and take off Donat. (Though I’d love to take off Boyer.)

Compromise List:

  • Charles Boyer, Algiers
  • James Cagney, Angels with Dirty Faces
  • Cary Grant, Bringing Up Baby
  • Leslie Howard, Pygmalion
  • Spencer Tracy, Boys Town

My Vote: Cary Grant, Bringing Up Baby

1937

Actual Nominees:

  • Charles Boyer, Conquest
  • Robert Donat, Night Must Fall
  • Paul Muni, The Life of Emile Zola
  • Frederic March, A Star Is Born
  • Spencer Tracy, Captains Courageous

My Vote: Frederic March, A Star Is Born

Well this is easy. Take a look at how perfect my category is going to be.

My Nominees:

  • Cary Grant, The Awful Truth
  • Victor Moore, Make Way for Tomorrow
  • Paul Muni, The Life of Emile Zola
  • Frederic March, A Star Is Born
  • Spencer Tracy, Captains Courageous

My Vote: Frederic March, A Star Is Born

Okay, so let’s say they don’t put on Grant. I still think it’s a travesty that Make Way for Tomorrow got fucked over this year. So I’m putting Moore on. I don’t give a fuck.

Compromise List:

  • Charles Boyer, Conquest
  • Victor Moore, Make Way for Tomorrow
  • Paul Muni, The Life of Emile Zola
  • Frederic March, A Star Is Born
  • Spencer Tracy, Captains Courageous

My Vote: Frederic March, A Star Is Born

1936

Actual Nominees:

  • Gary Cooper, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
  • Walter Huston, Dodsworth
  • Paul Muni, The Story of Louis Pasteur
  • William Powell, My Man Godfrey
  • Spencer Tracy, San Francisco

My Vote: William Powell, My Man Godfrey

The only person most people would put on here is Chaplin in Modern Times, and the Academy is not voting for a silent performance in 1936. They’re just not. They’re trying to distance themselves from that. So no matter what anyone thinks, you CAN’T DO IT.

And the only change I’m making on this Compromise List is probably what kept William Powell from winning this year. Oh, and I’m nominating the right performance from San Francisco.

Compromise List:

  • Gary Cooper, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
  • Clark Gable, San Francisco
  • Walter Huston, Dodsworth
  • Paul Muni, The Story of Louis Pasteur
  • William Powell, The Great Ziegfeld

My Vote: Performance only… Walter Huston

1935

Actual Nominees:

  • Charles Laughton, Mutiny on the Bounty
  • Clark Gable, Mutiny on the Bounty
  • Victor McLaglen, The Informer
  • Franchot Tone, Mutiny on the Bounty

My Vote: Victor McLaglen, The Informer

To me, Tone is Supporting. Otherwise, all I have at the moment are Fred Astaire in Top Hat and Frederic March in Les Misérables. And Tone is the only person we can take off, since we have to leave it at four.

Fuck it. I’m putting on Fred. I know I should leave it, but who cares, it’s 1935.

Compromise List:

  • Fred Astaire, Top Hat
  • Charles Laughton, Mutiny on the Bounty
  • Clark Gable, Mutiny on the Bounty
  • Victor McLaglen, The Informer

My Vote: Victor McLaglen, The Informer

1934

Actual Nominees:

  • Clark Gable, It Happened One Night
  • Frank Morgan, The Affairs of Cellini
  • William Powell, The Thin Man

My Vote: William Powell, The Thin Man

Only three here. I have to leave it, even though I know Frank Morgan is really supporting. The reason is because I’m not forcing Fred Astaire on there twice, and I really don’t want to stick another stiff Charles Laughton performance (The Barretts of Wimpole Street) on there. So I’m leaving it.

Compromise List:

  • Clark Gable, It Happened One Night
  • Frank Morgan, The Affairs of Cellini
  • William Powell, The Thin Man

My Vote: William Powell, The Thin Man

1932-1933

Actual Nominees:

  • Leslie Howard, Berkeley Square
  • Charles Laughton, The Private Life of Henry VIII
  • Paul Muni, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

My Vote: Paul Muni, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

I’m gonna update this as I see more performances. I can’t even begin to tackle categories this early. Especially acting categories.

1931-1932

Actual Nominees:

  • Wallace Beery, The Champ
  • Alfred Lunt, The Guardsman
  • Frederic March, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

My Vote: Wallace Beery, The Champ

I’m gonna update this as I see more performances. I can’t even begin to tackle categories this early. Especially acting categories.

1930-1931

  • Lionel Barrymore, A Free Soul
  • Jackie Cooper, Skippy
  • Richard Dix, Cimarron
  • Frederic March, The Royal Family of Broadway
  • Adolphe Menjou, The Front Page

My Vote: Jackie Cooper, Skippy

I’m gonna update this as I see more performances. I can’t even begin to tackle categories this early. Especially acting categories.

1929-1930

Actual Nominees:

  • George Arliss, Disraeli The Green Goddess
  • Wallace Beery, The Big House
  • Maurice Chevalier, The Big Pond The Love Parade
  • Ronald Colman, Bulldog Drummond & Condemned
  • Lawrence Tibbett, The Rogue Song

My Vote: George Arliss, Disraeli

I’m gonna update this as I see more performances. I can’t even begin to tackle categories this early. Especially acting categories.

1928-1929

Actual Nominees:

  • George Bancroft, Thunderbolt
  • Warner Baxter, The Arizona Kid
  • Chester Morris, Alibi
  • Paul Muni, The Valiant
  • Lewis Stone, The Patriot

My Vote: Warner Baxter, The Arizona Kid

I’m gonna update this as I see more performances. I can’t even begin to tackle categories this early. Especially acting categories.

1927-1928

Actual Nominees:

  • Richard Barthelmess, The Noose The Patent Leather Kid
  • Emil Jannings, The Last Command The Way of All Flesh

My Vote: Emil Jannings, The Last Command The Way of All Flesh

It’s the first Oscars. Just fucking leave it alone.

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One response

  1. Michael

    I hate that you kept on Wilde for A Song to Remember in 1945. It’s simply the worst performance ever nominated for the award in my opinion. How about Wilde in Leave Her to Heaven. He was so much much much much better in that.

    September 30, 2012 at 5:05 pm

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