The single best year of the 50s. My personal favorite is 1953, for sentimental reasons, but in terms of having the absolute strongest films, 1957 is your year. You’ll see what I mean below.
This top ten list goes 8 deep. The first 8 films on this list are generally considered among the greatest films ever made. And then the other two are just some great hidden gems that I love that generally aren’t very widely known among film buffs.
Really what makes me happy about this year is my #1 film, which is one of my twenty favorite films of all time. The rest is just icing on the cake.
Pay attention to this year in particular. It’s so deep that there are a larger number of true hidden gems out there for people to see and enjoy. (more…)
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…)
I love 1957. It begins and ends with The Bridge on the River Kwai. It’s a Lean year.
The film wins Best Picture, Best Director for David Lean (talked about here), and this category. Terrific all around. And you have 12 Angry Men also up for Picture and Director to keep it interesting (and honest). I like that.
Best Actress was Joanne Woodward for The Three Faces of Eve (talked about here). Probably a top ten decision of all time in that category. Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress were Red Buttons (talked about here) and Miyoshi Umeki (talked about here) for Sayonara. I am on the record about despising both decisions.
And then we’re left with this category, which to me is an open and shut case. Go Alec!
BEST ACTOR – 1957
And the nominees were…
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 (more…)
Love 1957. 4 out of 6 really strong decisions. The Bridge on the River Kwai wins half the major awards (rightfully so), winning Best Picture, Best Director for David Lean (talked about here) and Best Actor for Alec Guinness. All perfect decisions. And Best Actress was Joanne Woodward for The Three Faces of Eve (talked about here), which was also a perfect decision.
Okay, that takes care of almost everything. Now we’re at the two Supporting categories. First was Red Buttons, winning Best Supporting Actor for Sayonara, which, as I said here, I hate very much as a decision. And the second was here, which I also hate very strongly and consider one of the worst decisions ever made in the history of the Best Supporting Actress category.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – 1957
And the nominees were..
Carolyn Jones, The Bachelor Party
Elsa Lanchester, Witness for the Prosecution
Hope Lange, Peyton Place
Miyoshi Umeki, Sayonara
Diane Varsi, Peyton Place (more…)
The great thing about 1957 is that, despite a perfect Best Picture choice in The Bridge on the River Kwai, people still have the opportunity to complain about it, since 12 Angry Men was also up for Best Picture that year. I think the Academy made the right choice, but it’s great that the debate exists. It’s the mark of a good year.
Alec Guinness also won Best Actor for the film and David Lean won Best Director for it (talked about here). Both were perfect decisions. Then Joanne Woodward won Best Actress for The Three Faces of Eve, which, as I said here, was also a perfect decision. She was incredible.
Now, that brings me to the Supporting categories…Best Supporting Actress was Miyoshi Umeki for Sayonara, and you can see Best Supporting Actor right down there. I honestly don’t know what the hell happened with these two categories. First off, for Umeki — she doesn’t do anything! She sits there demurely and speaks her native language the entire time! And for those saying, “Well, she’s Japanese, and it was a major thing for a Japanese person to win an Oscar.” And I’m like, “Yeah! Sessue Hayakawa, motherfucker! He’s right here!” I don’t get it. I don’t get it at all.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – 1957
And the nominees were…
Red Buttons, Sayonara
Vittorio De Sica, A Farewell to Arms
Sessue Hayakawa, The Bridge on the River Kwai
Arthur Kennedy, Peyton Place
Russ Tamblyn, Peyton Place (more…)
1957 is one of those great years for the Academy. A great film wins Best Picture and is so unquestionably obvious a choice that no one can really speak ill of it (even though another nominated film, in this case, 12 Angry Men, is just as good and is also a classic). The Bridge on the River Kwai wins Best Picture, along with this category and Best Actor for Alec Guinness. Great decisions, the lot.
Best Actress this year was Joanne Woodward for The Three Faces of Eve (talked about here), which is a fantastic decision that I not only love, but see as one people can’t disagree with, given the category. I love that. There’s nothing more annoying than a great decision that people don’t like because of whatever stupid reason they have. Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress this year were Red Buttons and Miyoshi Umeki for Sayonara, which I count as two of the worst decisions of all time in their respective categories (Best Supporting Actor because of the competition (and weakness of the performance), Best Supporting Actress because of the weakness of the performance).
So that’s 1957. Love the year outside of the Supporting categories. Which basically means I love the year. Because who gives a shit about the Supporting categories? Am I right? Right? High five!
(Awkward pause as we realize there is no joke going into the break…)
BEST DIRECTOR – 1957
And the nominees are…
David Lean, Bridge on the River Kwai
Joshua Logan, Sayonara
Sidney Lumet, 12 Angry Men
Mark Robson, Peyton Place
Billy Wilder, Witness for the Prosecution (more…)
1957 is one of those years that’s such an easy decision you just nod and move on. The Bridge on the River Kwai is one of those movie’s that so unquestionably good that you’re like — of course it won Best Picture. I mean, sure 12 Angry Men was up this year, but, when you think about which one is a “Best Picture” film — there’s really no comparison.
Alec Guinness wins Best Actor for it, which is a great (and also easy, especially when you see the category) choice. David Lean wins Best Director for it — also an easy decision (especially since he hadn’t won before this and should have, twice). Best Supporting Actor went to Red Buttons for Sayonara and Best Supporting Actress went to Miyoshi Umeki, also for Sayonara, neither of which I particularly understand. I’m going to watch the film again by the time I write up those categories, so I can try to find what the Academy saw in it to vote those two in.
But, as for this category — this one is as big a slam dunk as I’ve ever seen. It’s really just an easy decision to make. Which is great. I love those.
BEST ACTRESS – 1957
And the nominees were…
Deborah Kerr, Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison
Anna Magnani, Wild is the Wind
Elizabeth Taylor, Raintree County
Lana Turner, Peyton Place
Joanne Woodward, The Three Faces of Eve (more…)