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The Oscar Quest: A Viewer’s Guide (Best Actor)

The two macro articles I put up each time I do the Quest are the Viewer’s Guide and the Rankings. The Rankings are self-explanatory. The Viewer’s Guide is more universal. One is specific to the categories and picking winners. The Viewer’s Guide is more about how I feel about the films. If you wanted to find Oscar films to watch, you come here, and I tell you how I feel.

Last time I put out the Viewer’s Guide, it was done with a big color code, with each color used to signify how I felt about a film. Not the best system, especially since I put out hundreds of reviews each year on a star system. So we’re moving to the star system now.

Pretty simple — for each Oscar nominee’s film, I’ll assign a rating the way I’d assign a rating to any film I see each year. I don’t think anything’s gone under 2.5 stars, since I don’t think there are truly bad films nominated. The worst you’ll see is 2.5 stars, which for me means I was indifferent toward it. 3 stars is “pretty good.” 3.5 stars is “solid.” 4 stars is “liked it quite a bit.” 4.5 stars is “loved it.” And 5 stars is 5 stars.

The idea is for the ratings to help you find stuff you might like. Also, for each category I’ll tell you what I voted for, what I think would have held up as a winner from that category and how good a choice I think it was.

Here’s Best Actor:

2016 – Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge — * * * * (4 stars)

Ryan Gosling, La La Land — * * * * * (5 stars)

Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Denzel Washington, Fences — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

My Vote: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

What Would Have Held Up: N/A

The Choice: A-

2015 – Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Matt Damon, The Martian — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

My Vote: Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

What Would Have Held Up: N/A

The Choice: B+/A-

2014 – Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything — * * * * (4 stars)

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher — * * * * (4 stars)

Bradley Cooper, American Sniper — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game — * * * * (4 stars)

Michael Keaton, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

My Vote: Michael Keaton, Birdman

What Would Have Held Up: N/A

The Choice: B

2013 – Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club — * * * * (4 stars)

Christian Bale, American Hustle — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Bruce Dern, Nebraska — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

My Vote: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

What Would Have Held Up: N/A

The Choice: B+

2012 – Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Joaquin Phoenix, The Master — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Denzel Washington, Flight — * * * * (4 stars)

My Vote: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

What Would Have Held Up: N/A

The Choice: A

2011 – Jean Dujardin, The Artist — * * * * * (5 stars)

Demián Bichir, A Better Life — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

George Clooney, The Descendants — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy — * * * * * (5 stars)

Brad Pitt, Moneyball — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

My Vote: Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

What Would Have Held Up: Jury’s out on Dujardin. Clooney might have. Oldman could have.

The Choice: B-

2010 – Colin Firth, The King’s Speech — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Javier Bardem, Biutiful — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Jeff Bridges, True Grit — * * * * * (5 stars)

Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network — * * * * * (5 stars)

James Franco, 127 Hours — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

My Vote: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

What Would Have Held Up: Firth

The Choice: B+

2009 – Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart — * * * * (4 stars)

George Clooney, Up in the Air — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Colin Firth, A Single Man — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Morgan Freeman, Invictus — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

My Vote: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

What Would Have Held Up: Bridges

The Choice: B/B+

2008 – Sean Penn, Milk — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Richard Jenkins, The Visitor — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon — * * * * (4 stars)

Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler — * * * * * (5 stars)

My Vote: Sean Penn, Milk

What Would Have Held Up: Penn, and probably Rourke

The Choice: A

2007 – Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood — * * * * * (5 stars)

George Clooney, Michael Clayton — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises — * * * * (4 stars)

My Vote: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood

What Would Have Held Up: Daniel Day-Lewis, and then Clooney

The Choice: A+

2006 – Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Peter O’Toole, Venus — * * * (3 stars)

Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

My Vote: Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland

What Would Have Held Up: Whitaker

The Choice: B/B-

2005 – Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote — * * * * (4 stars)

Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow — * * * * (4 stars)

Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

David Strathairn, Good Night, and Good Luck — * * * * * (5 stars)

My Vote: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote

What Would Have Held Up: Hoffman. Possibly Strathairn, or Ledger

The Choice: A-

2004 – Jamie Foxx, Ray — * * * * (4 stars)

Don Cheadle, Hotel Rwanda — * * * * (4 stars)

Johnny Depp, Finding Neverland — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Aviator — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby — * * * * (4 stars)

My Vote: Jamie Foxx, Ray

What Would Have Held Up: Foxx. Possibly DiCaprio. Maybe Cheadle

The Choice: B+

2003 – Sean Penn, Mystic River — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl — * * * * * (5 stars)

Ben Kingsley, House of Sand and Fog — * * * * (4 stars)

Jude Law, Cold Mountain — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Bill Murray, Lost in Translation — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

My Vote: Bill Murray, Lost in Translation

What Would Have Held Up: Murray, if any

The Choice: D

2002 – Adrien Brody, The Pianist — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Nicolas Cage, Adaptation — * * * * * (5 stars)

Michael Caine, The Quiet American — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Daniel Day-Lewis, Gangs of New York — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Jack Nicholson, About Schmidt — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

My Vote: Adrien Brody, The Pianist

What Would Have Held Up: Brody, Day-Lewis, possibly Nicholson, maybe Cage

The Choice: B+/A-

2001 – Denzel Washington, Training Day — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Russell Crowe, A Beautiful Mind — * * * * (4 stars)

Sean Penn, I Am Sam — * * * * (4 stars)

Will Smith, Ali — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Tom Wilkinson, In the Bedroom — * * * * (4 stars)

My Vote: Russell Crowe, A Beautiful Mind

What Would Have Held Up: Crowe, and to an extent Washington

The Choice: B-

2000 – Russell Crowe, Gladiator — * * * * * (5 stars)

Javier Bardem, Before Night Falls — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Tom Hanks, Cast Away — * * * * * (5 stars)

Ed Harris, Pollock — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Geoffrey Rush, Quills — * * * * (4 stars)

My Vote: Tom Hanks, Cast Away

What Would Have Held Up: Crowe kind of has, Hanks could have

The Choice: B/B-

1999 – Kevin Spacey, American Beauty — * * * * * (5 stars)

Russell Crowe, The Insider — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Richard Farnsworth, The Straight Story — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Sean Penn, Sweet and Lowdown — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

 Denzel Washington, The Hurricane — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

My Vote: Kevin Spacey, American Beauty

What Would Have Held Up: Spacey, Crowe, maybe Washington

The Choice: B+

1998 – Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful — * * * * (4 stars)

Tom Hanks, Saving Private Ryan — * * * * * (5 stars)

Ian McKellen, Gods and Monsters — * * * * (4 stars)

Nick Nolte, Affliction — * * * (3 stars)

Edward Norton, American History X — * * * * (4 stars)

My Vote: Ian McKellen, Gods and Monsters

What Would Have Held Up: Hanks, McKellen. Potentially Norton

The Choice: C+

1997 – Jack Nicholson, As Good as It Gets — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars) 

Matt Damon, Good Will Hunting — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Robert Duvall, The Apostle — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Peter Fonda, Ulee’s Gold — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Dustin Hoffman, Wag the Dog — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

My Vote: Jack Nicholson, As Good as It Gets

What Would Have Held Up: If any, Nicholson

The Choice: B-

1996 – Geoffrey Rush, Shine — * * * * (4 stars)

Tom Cruise, Jerry Maguire — * * * * * (5 stars)

Ralph Fiennes, The English Patient — * * * * (4 stars)

Woody Harrelson, The People vs. Larry Flynt — * * * * (4 stars)

Billy Bob Thornton, Sling Blade — * * * * (4 stars)

My Vote: Billy Bob Thornton, Sling Blade

What Would Have Held Up: Thornton, Harrelson, Rush a little bit

The Choice: B-

1995 – Nicolas Cage, Leaving Las Vegas — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Richard Dreyfuss, Mr. Holland’s Opus — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Anthony Hopkins, Nixon — * * * * (4 stars)

Sean Penn, Dead Man Walking — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Massimo Troisi, Il Postino — * * * (3 stars)

My Vote: Nicolas Cage, Leaving Las Vegas

What Would Have Held Up: Cage, and Penn

The Choice: B+

1994 – Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump — * * * * * (5 stars)

Morgan Freeman, The Shawshank Redemption — * * * * * (5 stars)

Nigel Hawthorne, The Madness of King George — * * * (3 stars)

Paul Newman, Nobody’s Fool — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

John Travolta, Pulp Fiction — * * * * * (5 stars)

My Vote: Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump

What Would Have Held Up: Hanks

The Choice: A-

1993 – Tom Hanks, Philadelphia — * * * * (4 stars)

Daniel Day-Lewis, In the Name of the Father — * * * * (4 stars)

Laurence Fishburne, What’s Love Got to Do with It — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Anthony Hopkins, The Remains of the Day — * * * * (4 stars)

Liam Neeson, Schindler’s List — * * * * * (5 stars)

My Vote: Liam Neeson, Schindler’s List

What Would Have Held Up: Hanks seems like he has. Neeson

The Choice: C+/B-

1992 – Al Pacino, Scent of a Woman — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Robert Downey Jr., Chaplin — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven — * * * * * (5 stars)

Stephen Rea, The Crying Game — * * * * (4 stars)

Denzel Washington, Malcolm X — * * * * (4 stars)

My Vote: Denzel Washington, Malcolm X

What Would Have Held Up: Washington, to an extent Pacino. Eastwood maybe

The Choice: B

1991 – Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs — * * * * * (5 stars)

Warren Beatty, Bugsy — * * * * (4 stars)

Robert De Niro, Cape Fear — * * * * (4 stars)

Nick Nolte, The Prince of Tides — * * * (3 stars)

Robin Williams, The Fisher King — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

My Vote: Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs

What Would Have Held Up: Hopkins, maybe Beatty

The Choice: A

1990 – Jeremy Irons, Reversal of Fortune — * * * * (4 stars)

Kevin Costner, Dances with Wolves — * * * * (4 stars)

Robert De Niro, Awakenings — * * * * (4 stars)

Gérard Depardieu, Cyrano de Bergerac — * * * (3 stars)

Richard Harris, The Field — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

My Vote: Jeremy Irons, Reversal of Fortune

What Would Have Held Up: If any, Irons mostly has.

The Choice: B-

1989 – Daniel Day-Lewis, My Left Foot — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Kenneth Branagh, Henry V — * * * * (4 stars)

Tom Cruise, Born on the Fourth of July — * * * * (4 stars)

Morgan Freeman, Driving Miss Daisy — * * * * (4 stars)

Robin Williams, Dead Poet’s Society — * * * * (4 stars)

My Vote: Daniel Day-Lewis, My Left Foot

What Would Have Held Up: Day-Lewis, then Cruise

The Choice: A

1988 – Dustin Hoffman, Rain Man — * * * * * (5 stars)

Gene Hackman, Mississippi Burning — * * * * (4 stars)

Tom Hanks, Big — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Edward James Olmos, Stand and Deliver — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Max von Sydow, Pelle the Conqueror — * * * (3 stars)

My Vote: Dustin Hoffman, Rain Man

What Would Have Held Up: Hoffman

The Choice: A

1987 – Michael Douglas, Wall Street — * * * * (4 stars)

William Hurt, Broadcast News — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Marcello Mastroianni, Dark Eyes — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

Jack Nicholson, Ironweed — * * * (3 stars)

Robin Williams, Good Morning, Vietnam — * * * * (4 stars)

My Vote: Michael Douglas, Wall Street

What Would Have Held Up: Douglas

The Choice: A-/B+

1986 – Paul Newman, The Color of Money — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Dexter Gordon, Round Midnight — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Bob Hoskins, Mona Lisa — * * * * (4 stars)

William Hurt, Children of a Lesser God — * * * * (4 stars)

James Woods, Salvador — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

My Vote: Paul Newman, The Color of Money

What Would Have Held Up: Newman

The Choice: B

1985 – William Hurt, Kiss of the Spider Woman — * * * * (4 stars)

Harrison Ford, Witness — * * * * (4 stars)

James Garner, Murphy’s Romance — * * * (3 stars)

Jack Nicholson, Prizzi’s Honor — * * * * (4 stars

Jon Voight, Runaway Train — * * * * (4 stars)

My Vote: William Hurt, Kiss of the Spider Woman

What Would Have Held Up: Hurt

The Choice: B

1984 – F. Murray Abraham, Amadeus — * * * * * (5 stars)

Jeff Bridges, Starman — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Albert Finney, Under the Volcano — * * * (3 stars)

Tom Hulce, Amadeus — * * * * * (5 stars)

Sam Waterston, The Killing Fields — * * * * (4 stars)

My Vote: F. Murray Abraham, Amadeus

What Would Have Held Up: Abraham, Hulce

The Choice: A-

1983 – Robert Duvall, Tender Mercies — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Michael Caine, Educating Rita — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Tom Conti, Reuben, Reuben — * * * (3 stars)

Tom Courtenay, The Dresser — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Albert Finney, The Dresser — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

My Vote: Robert Duvall, Tender Mercies

What Would Have Held Up: Duvall

The Choice: B

1982 – Ben Kingsley, Gandhi — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Dustin Hoffman, Tootsie — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Jack Lemmon, Missing — * * * * (4 stars)

Paul Newman, The Verdict — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Peter O’Toole, My Favorite Year — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

My Vote: Paul Newman, The Verdict

What Would Have Held Up: Kingsley, Newman, maybe even Hoffman or O’Toole

The Choice: A-

1981 – Henry Fonda, On Golden Pond — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Warren Beatty, Reds — * * * * (4 stars)

Burt Lancaster, Atlantic City — * * * * (4 stars)

Dudley Moore, Arthur — * * * * * (5 stars)

Paul Newman, Absence of Malice — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

My Vote: Dudley Moore, Arthur

What Would Have Held Up: Fonda mostly has. Beatty could have.

The Choice: B

1980 – Robert De Niro, Raging Bull — * * * * * (5 stars)

Robert Duvall, The Great Santini — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

John Hurt, The Elephant Man — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Jack Lemmon, Tribute — * * * (3 stars)

Peter O’Toole, The Stunt Man — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

My Vote: Robert De Niro, Raging Bull

What Would Have Held Up: De Niro, then Hurt

The Choice: A+

1979 – Dustin Hoffman, Kramer vs. Kramer — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Jack Lemmon, The China Syndrome — * * * * (4 stars)

Al Pacino, …And Justice for All — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Roy Scheider, All That Jazz — * * * * * (5 stars)

Peter Sellers, Being There — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

My Vote: Dustin Hoffman, Kramer vs. Kramer

What Would Have Held Up: Hoffman, Sellers, Scheider maybe

The Choice: A-

1978 – Jon Voight, Coming Home — * * * * (4 stars)

Warren Beatty, Heaven Can Wait — * * * * (4 stars)

Gary Busey, The Buddy Holly Story — * * * (3 stars)

Robert De Niro, The Deer Hunter — * * * * * (5 stars)

Laurence Olivier, The Boys From Brazil — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

My Vote: Jon Voight, Coming Home

What Would Have Held Up: Voight. Maybe De Niro

The Choice: B+

1977 – Richard Dreyfuss, The Goodbye Girl — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Woody Allen, Annie Hall — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Richard Burton, Equus — * * * (3 stars)

Marcello Mastroianni, A Special Day — * * * (3 stars)

John Travolta, Saturday Night Fever — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

My Vote: Richard Dreyfuss, The Goodbye Girl

What Would Have Held Up: If any, Dreyfuss. Doubtful Allen, possibly Travolta

The Choice: B-

1976 – Peter Finch, Network — * * * * * (5 stars)

Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver — * * * * * (5 stars)

Giancarlo Giannini, Seven Beauties — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

William Holden, Network — * * * * * (5 stars)

Sylvester Stallone, Rocky — * * * * * (5 stars)

My Vote: Peter Finch, Network

What Would Have Held Up: Finch, De Niro, maybe even Stallone. Maybe Holden.

The Choice: A-

1975 – Jack Nicholson, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest — * * * * * (5 stars)

Walther Matthau, The Sunshine Boys — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Al Pacino, Dog Day Afternoon — * * * * * (5 stars)

Maximilian Schell, The Man in the Glass Booth — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

James Whitmore, Give ‘em Hell, Harry! — * * * (3 stars)

My Vote: Al Pacino, Dog Day Afternoon

What Would Have Held Up: Nicholson, probably Pacino

The Choice: A

1974 – Art Carney, Harry and Tonto — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Albert Finney, Murder on the Orient Express — * * * * (4 stars)

Dustin Hoffman, Lenny — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Jack Nicholson, Chinatown — * * * * * (5 stars)

Al Pacino, The Godfather, Part II — * * * * * (5 stars)

My Vote: Al Pacino, The Godfather Part II

What Would Have Held Up: Pacino, Nicholson, potentially Hoffman (but after those two)

The Choice: C-

1973 – Jack Lemmon, Save the Tiger — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Marlon Brando, Last Tango in Paris — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Jack Nicholson, The Last Detail — * * * * (4 stars)

Al Pacino, Serpico — * * * * (4 stars)

Robert Redford, The Sting — * * * * * (5 stars)

My Vote: Jack Lemmon, Save the Tiger

What Would Have Held Up: Lemmon mostly has. Nicholson. Maybe Pacino

The Choice: B/B+

1972 – Marlon Brando, The Godfather — * * * * * (5 stars)

Michael Caine, Sleuth — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Laurence Olivier, Sleuth — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Peter O’Toole, The Ruling Class — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Paul Winfield, Sounder — * * * (3 stars)

My Vote: Marlon Brando, The Godfather

What Would Have Held Up: Brando

The Choice: A+

1971 – Gene Hackman, The French Connection — * * * * * (5 stars)

Peter Finch, Sunday Bloody Sunday — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

Walther Matthau, Kotch — * * * (3 stars)

George C. Scott, The Hospital — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Chaim Topol, Fiddler on the Roof — * * * * (4 stars)

My Vote: Gene Hackman, The French Connection

What Would Have Held Up: Hackman

The Choice: B/B+

1970 – George C. Scott, Patton — * * * * (4 stars)

Melvyn Douglas, I Never Sang for My Father — * * * (3 stars)

James Earl Jones, The Great White Hope — * * * * (4 stars)

Jack Nicholson, Five Easy Pieces — * * * * (4 stars)

Ryan O’Neal, Love Story — * * * * * (5 stars)

My Vote: George C. Scott, Patton

What Would Have Held Up: Scott, maybe Jones, possibly Nicholson

The Choice: A

1969 – John Wayne, True Grit — * * * * (4 stars)

Richard Burton, Anne of the Thousand Days — * * * * (4 stars)

Dustin Hoffman, Midnight Cowboy — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Peter O’Toole, Goodbye, Mr. Chips — * * * (3 stars)

Jon Voight, Midnight Cowboy — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

My Vote: Dustin Hoffman, Midnight Cowboy

What Would Have Held Up: Wayne kind of has. Hoffman would have.

The Choice: C+

1968 – Cliff Robertson, Charly — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Alan Arkin, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter — * * * * (4 stars)

Alan Bates, The Fixer — * * * (3 stars)

Ron Moody, Oliver! — * * * * (4 stars)

Peter O’Toole, The Lion in Winter — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

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

What Would Have Held Up: O’Toole, if any

The Choice: C

1967 – Rod Steiger, In the Heat of the Night — * * * * (4 stars)

Warren Beatty, Bonnie and Clyde — * * * * * (5 stars)

Dustin Hoffman, The Graduate — * * * * * (5 stars)

Paul Newman, Cool Hand Luke — * * * * * (5 stars)

Spencer Tracy, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

My Vote: Dustin Hoffman, The Graduate

What Would Have Held Up: Honestly, all of them

The Choice: B+

1966 – Paul Scofield, A Man for All Seasons — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Alan Arkin, The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming — * * * * (4 stars)

Richard Burton, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? — * * * * * (5 stars)

Michael Caine, Alfie — * * * * (4 stars)

Steve McQueen, The Sand Pebbles — * * * * (4 stars)

My Vote: Paul Scofield, A Man for All Seasons

What Would Have Held Up: Scofield, then Burton

The Choice: A

1965 – Lee Marvin, Cat Ballou — * * * * (4 stars)

Richard Burton, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold — * * * * * (5 stars)

Laurence Olivier, Othello — * * * (3 stars)

Rod Steiger, The Pawnbroker — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Oskar Werner, Ship of Fools — * * * (3 stars)

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

What Would Have Held Up: Burton, maybe Steiger

The Choice: C-

1964 – Rex Harrison, My Fair Lady — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Richard Burton, Becket — * * * * (4 stars)

Peter O’Toole, Becket — * * * * (4 stars)

Anthony Quinn, Zorba the Greek — * * * * (4 stars)

Peter Sellers, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb — * * * * * (5 stars)

My Vote: Peter Sellers, Dr. Strangelove

What Would Have Held Up: Harrison sort of has. Sellers.

The Choice: B

1963 – Sidney Poitier, Lilies of the Field — * * * (3 stars)

Albert Finney, Tom Jones — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Richard Harris, This Sporting Life — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Rex Harrison, Cleopatra — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Paul Newman, Hud — * * * * (4 stars)

My Vote: Paul Newman, Hud

What Would Have Held Up: Newman, maybe Harris. Poitier has on achievement, but not specific performance

The Choice: B-/C+ (and also A)

1962 – Gregory Peck, To Kill a Mockingbird — * * * * * (5 stars)

Burt Lancaster, Birdman of Alcatraz — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Jack Lemmon, Days of Wine and Roses — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Marcello Mastroianni, Divorce, Italian Style — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Peter O’Toole, Lawrence of Arabia — * * * * * (5 stars)

My Vote: Gregory Peck, To Kill a Mockingbird

What Would Have Held Up: Peck, O’Toole

The Choice: A+

1961 – Maximilian Schell, Judgment at Nuremberg — * * * * * (5 stars)

Charles Boyer, Fanny — * * * * (4 stars)

Paul Newman, The Hustler — * * * * * (5 stars)

Spencer Tracy, Judgment at Nuremberg — * * * * * (5 stars)

Stuart Whitman, The Mark — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

My Vote: Maximilian Schell, Judgment at Nuremberg

What Would Have Held Up: Schell, Newman

The Choice: B+/A-

1960 – Burt Lancaster, Elmer Gantry — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Trevor Howard, Sons and Lovers — * * * * (4 stars)

Jack Lemmon, The Apartment — * * * * * (5 stars)

Laurence Olivier, The Entertainer — * * * (3 stars)

Spencer Tracy, Inherit the Wind — * * * * * (5 stars)

My Vote: Burt Lancaster, Elmer Gantry

What Would Have Held Up: Lancaster. Possibly Lemmon. Tracy too.

The Choice: A-

1959 – Charlton Heston, Ben-Hur — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Laurence Harvey, Room at the Top — * * * * (4 stars)

Jack Lemmon, Some Like it Hot — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Paul Muni, The Last Angry Man — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

James Stewart, Anatomy of a Murder — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

My Vote: James Stewart, Anatomy of a Murder

What Would Have Held Up: Heston kind of has. Stewart

The Choice: B+/B

1958 – David Niven, Separate Tables — * * * * (4 stars)

Tony Curtis, The Defiant Ones — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Paul Newman, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Sidney Poitier, The Defiant Ones — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Spencer Tracy, The Old Man and the Sea — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

What Would Have Held Up: Newman, probably Poitier. Maybe Curtis

The Choice: C+

1957 – Alec Guinness, The Bridge on the River Kwai — * * * * * (5 stars)

Marlon Brando, Sayonara — * * * * (4 stars)

Anthony Franciosa, A Hatful of Rain — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Charles Laughton, Witness for Prosecution — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Anthony Quinn, Wild is the Wind — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

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

What Would Have Held Up: Guinness

The Choice: A

1956 – Yul Brynner, The King and I — * * * * (4 stars)

James Dean, Giant — * * * * * (5 stars)

Kirk Douglas, Lust for Life — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Rock Hudson, Giant — * * * * * (5 stars)

Laurence Olivier, Richard III — * * * (3 stars)

My Vote: Rock Hudson, Giant

What Would Have Held Up: Hudson, Dean, Brynner kind of has

The Choice: B/B+

1955 – Ernest Borgnine, Marty — * * * * * (5 stars)

James Cagney, Love Me or Leave Me — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

James Dean, East of Eden — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Frank Sinatra, The Man with the Golden Arm — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Spencer Tracy, Bad Day at Black Rock — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

My Vote: Frank Sinatra, The Man with the Golden Arm

What Would Have Held Up: Borgnine has. Sinatra would have. Dean would have.

The Choice: B+

1954 – Marlon Brando, On the Waterfront — * * * * * (5 stars)

Humphrey Bogart, The Caine Mutiny — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Bing Crosby, The Country Girl — * * * * (4 stars)

James Mason, A Star is Born — * * * * (4 stars)

Dan O’Herlihy, Robison Crusoe — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

My Vote: Marlon Brando, On the Waterfront

What Would Have Held Up: Brando first. Then Bogart and Crosby.

The Choice: A+

1953 – William Holden, Stalag 17 — * * * * * (5 stars)

Marlon Brando, Julius Caesar — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Richard Burton, The Robe — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Montgomery Clift, From Here to Eternity — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Burt Lancaster, From Here to Eternity — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

My Vote: William Holden, Stalag 17

What Would Have Held Up: Holden. Probably Clift or Lancaster

The Choice: B+

1952 – Gary Cooper, High Noon — * * * * * (5 stars)

Marlon Brando, Viva Zapata! — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Kirk Douglas, The Bad and the Beautiful — * * * * * (5 stars)

José Ferrer, Moulin Rouge — * * * * (4 stars)

Alec Guinness, The Lavender Hill Mob — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

My Vote: Gary Cooper, High Noon

What Would Have Held Up: Cooper, probably Douglas

The Choice: B+/A-

1951 – Humphrey Bogart, The African Queen — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire — * * * * * (5 stars)

Montgomery Clift, A Place in the Sun — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Arthur Kennedy, Bright Victory — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Fredric March, Death of a Salesman — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

My Vote: Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire

What Would Have Held Up: Brando, then Bogart

The Choice: B

1950 – José Ferrer, Cyrano de Bergerac — * * * (3 stars)

Louis Calhern, The Magnificent Yankee — * * * (3 stars)

William Holden, Sunset Boulevard — * * * * * (5 stars)

James Stewart, Harvey — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Spencer Tracy, Father of the Bride — * * * * (4 stars)

My Vote: William Holden, Sunset Boulevard

What Would Have Held Up: Holden, Stewart, if any

The Choice: C

1949 – Broderick Crawford, All the King’s Men — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Kirk Douglas, Champion — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Gregory Peck, Twelve O’Clock High — * * * * (4 stars)

Richard Todd, The Hasty Heart — * * * * (4 stars)

John Wayne, Sands of Iwo Jima — * * * * (4 stars

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

What Would Have Held Up: Crawford

The Choice: A

1948 – Laurence Olivier, Hamlet — * * * * (4 stars)

Lew Ayres, Johnny Belinda — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Montgomery Clift, The Search — * * * * (4 stars)

Dan Dailey, When My Baby Smiles at Me — * * * (3 stars)

Clifton Webb, Sitting Pretty — * * * * (4 stars)

My Vote: Laurence Olivier, Hamlet

What Would Have Held Up: Olivier

The Choice: B+/A-

1947 – Ronald Colman, A Double Life — * * * ½ (3.5 stars) 

John Garfield, Body and Soul — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Gregory Peck, Gentleman’s Agreement — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

William Powell, Life with Father — * * * (3 stars)

Michael Redgrave, Mourning Becomes Electra — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

My Vote: Gregory Peck, Gentleman’s Agreement

What Would Have Held Up: Peck. Colman somewhat has.

The Choice: C+

1946 – Fredric March, The Best Years of Our Lives — * * * * * (5 stars)

Laurence Olivier, Henry V — * * * * (4 stars)

Larry Parks, The Jolson Story — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Gregory Peck, The Yearling — * * * * (4 stars)

James Stewart, It’s a Wonderful Life — * * * * * (5 stars)

My Vote: James Stewart, It’s a Wonderful Life

What Would Have Held Up: March, Stewart

The Choice: A

1945 – Ray Milland, The Lost Weekend — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Bing Crosby, The Bells of St. Mary’s — * * * * (4 stars)

Gene Kelley, Anchors Aweigh — * * * * (4 stars)

Gregory Peck, The Keys of the Kingdom — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Cornel Wilde, A Song to Remember — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

My Vote: Ray Milland, The Lost Weekend

What Would Have Held Up: Milland

The Choice: A-

1944 – Bing Crosby, Going My Way — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Charles Boyer, Gaslight — * * * * (4 stars)

Barry Fitzgerald, Going My Way — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Cary Grant, None But the Lonely Heart — * * * * (4 stars)

Alexander Knox, Wilson — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

My Vote: Cary Grant, None But the Lonely Heart

What Would Have Held Up: Grant, Crosby mostly has

The Choice: B

1943 – Paul Lukas, Watch on the Rhine — * * * (3 stars)

Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca — * * * * * (5 stars)

Gary Cooper, For Whom the Bell Tolls — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Walter Pidgeon, Madame Curie — * * * (3 stars)

Mickey Rooney, The Human Comedy — * * * * (4 stars)

My Vote: Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca

What Would Have Held Up: Bogart

The Choice: C+

1942 – James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy — * * * * * (5 stars)

Ronald Colman, Random Harvest — * * * * * (5 stars)

Gary Cooper, The Pride of the Yankees — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Walter Pidgeon, Mrs. Miniver — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Monty Woolley, The Pied Piper — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

My Vote: James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy

What Would Have Held Up: Cagney, then Cooper

The Choice: B+

1941 – Gary Cooper, Sergeant York — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Cary Grant, Penny Serenade — * * * * (4 stars)

Walter Huston, The Devil and Daniel Webster — * * * * (4 stars)

Robert Montgomery, Here Comes Mr. Jordan — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Orson Welles, Citizen Kane — * * * * * (5 stars)

My Vote: Orson Welles, Citizen Kane

What Would Have Held Up: Welles first. Then Cooper

The Choice: B

1940 – James Stewart, The Philadelphia Story — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Henry Fonda, The Grapes of Wrath — * * * * * (5 stars)

Raymond Massey, Abe Lincoln in Illinois — * * * (3 stars)

Laurence Olivier, Rebecca — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

My Vote: Henry Fonda, The Grapes of Wrath

What Would Have Held Up: Fonda, Chaplin

The Choice: C-

1939 – Robert Donat, Goodbye, Mr. Chips — * * * * (4 stars)

Clark Gable, Gone with the Wind — * * * * * (5 stars)

Laurence Olivier, Wuthering Heights — * * * * (4 stars)

Mickey Rooney, Babes in Arms — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

James Stewart, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington — * * * * * (5 stars)

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

What Would Have Held Up: Stewart. Donat does on performance, just not over Stewart.

The Choice: B

1938 – Spencer Tracy, Boys Town — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Charles Boyer, Algiers — * * * * (4 stars)

James Cagney, Angels with Dirty Faces — * * * * (4 stars)

Robert Donat, The Citadel — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Leslie Howard, Pygmalion — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

My Vote: Leslie Howard, Pygmalion

What Would Have Held Up: Tracy does on paper. Cagney would have. Howard could have.

The Choice: D

1937 – Spencer Tracy, Captains Courageous — * * * * (4 stars)

Charles Boyer, Conquest — * * * (3 stars)

Fredric March, A Star is Born — * * * * * (5 stars)

Robert Montgomery, Night Must Fall — * * * (3 stars)

Paul Muni, The Life of Emile Zola — * * * * (4 stars)

My Vote: Spencer Tracy, Captains Courageous

What Would Have Held Up: Tracy, maybe March, Muni on performance alone

The Choice: B

1936 – Paul Muni, The Story of Louis Pasteur — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Gary Cooper, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Walter Huston, Dodsworth — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

William Powell, My Man Godfrey — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Spencer Tracy, San Francisco — * * * * (4 stars)

My Vote: Walter Huston, Dodsworth

What Would Have Held Up: Huston, Muni sort of has, maybe Cooper

The Choice: C/C+

1935 – Victor McLaglen, The Informer — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Clark Gable, Mutiny on the Bounty — * * * * * (5 stars)

Charles Laughton, Mutiny on the Bounty — * * * * * (5 stars)

Paul Muni, Black Fury — * * * (3 stars)

Franchot Tone, Mutiny on the Bounty — * * * * * (5 stars)

My Vote: Charles Laughton, Mutiny on the Bounty

What Would Have Held Up: Laughton, McLaglen

The Choice: B+

1934 – Clark Gable, It Happened One Night — * * * * * (5 stars)

Frank Morgan, The Affairs of Cellini — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

William Powell, The Thin Man — * * * * * (5 stars)

My Vote: Clark Gable, It Happened One Night

What Would Have Held Up: Gable, and maybe Powell

The Choice: B+

1932-1933 – Charles Laughton, The Private Life of Henry VIII — * * * (3 stars)

Leslie Howard, Berkeley Square — * * * (3 stars)

Paul Muni, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

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

What Would Have Held Up: Muni, Laughton

The Choice: C

1931-1932 – Wallace Beery, The Champ — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Fredric March, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Alfred Lunt, The Guardsman — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

My Vote: Wallace Beery, The Champ

What Would Have Held Up: Beery was best

The Choice: B+

1930-1931 – Lionel Barrymore, A Free Soul — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Adolphe Menjou, The Front Page — * * * * (4 stars)

Jackie Cooper, Skippy — * * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Richard Dix, Cimarron — * * * * (4 stars)

Fredric March, The Royal Family of Broadway — * * * (3 stars)

My Vote: Jackie Cooper, Skippy

What Would Have Held Up: Barrymore’s fine

The Choice: C/C+

1929-1930 – George Arliss, Disraeli — * * * (3 stars)

George Arliss, The Green Goddess — * * * (3 stars)

Wallace Beery, The Big House — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Maurice Chevalier, The Big Pond — * * * (3 stars)

Maurice Chevalier, The Love Parade — * * * * (4 stars)

Ronald Colman, Bulldog Drummond — * * * (3 stars)

Ronald Colman, Condemned — * * * (3 stars)

Lawrence Tibbett, The Rogue Song — * * * (3 stars)

My Vote: Wallace Beery, The Big House

What Would Have Held Up: If any… honestly any, actor-wise. Performances — ehh.

The Choice: C

1928-1929 – Warner Baxter, In Old Arizona — * * * (3 stars)

George Bancroft, Thunderbolt — * * * (3 stars)

Chester Morris, Alibi — * * * (3 stars)

Paul Muni, The Valiant — * * * (3 stars)

Lewis Stone, The Patriot — LOST

My Vote: Warner Baxter, In Old Arizona

What Would Have Held Up: Baxter, if any

The Choice: B

1927-1928 – Emil Jannings, The Last Command — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Emil Jannings, The Way of All Flesh — LOST

Richard Barthelmess, The Noose — N/A (Haven’t seen yet)

Richard Barthelmess, The Patent Leather Kid — * * * (3 stars)

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

What Would Have Held Up: Jannings

The Choice: B/B+

– – – – – – – – – –

http://bplusmovieblog.com

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