1958’s just a cool year. There’s nothing hugely specific that will define the year, but there are important things to talk about in terms of films. The noir genre basically ended this year, for example. Also, a film is now generally considered one of the actual two or three greatest films ever made was released. And there’s just a lot of cool shit about vikings, too.
What I like about this list is that it’s all over the map. Classic foreign film, suspense, campy horror, epic western, musical, classy drama, classic race film, ensemble, classic noir, and vikings.
Can you guys tell I’m really excited about the vikings? (more…)
1958 is a strong year that is also a weak year. It’s strong in that — the nominees are very strong, on the whole. The films are all very good. However, there’s no real winner in the pack. There’s no real absolute #1, the way there is in most years. Which puts everything about even and then when something does win, it coming out looking weak. Kind of like 1968.
Gigi seems to have won based purely on being fun and big budget. Though the positive side effect of it was that Vincente Minnelli finally won a long-overdue Best Director (talked about here). (In that way, this feels kind of like 2006, where Scorsese was overdue and his film came along to win Best Picture as well.) Then Best Actor was David Niven for Separate Tables (talked about here), which was okay, but not great. He’s a great actor, and having an Oscar is a good thing, though he’s barely in the film (it’s essentially a supporting role), and Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis all gave more vote-worthy performances than he did. So, it’s not great, but it’s kind of okay. Wendy Hiller also won Best Supporting Actress for the film (talked about here), which was a good decision. Best Actress was Susan Hayward for I Want to Live! (talked about here), which was a good decision, and an overdue won. My only grip about it is that she should have won three years earlier (which might have led to Liz Taylor, Rosalind Russell or Deborah Kerr winning, none of whom had Oscars at this point and two of whom never won one). And Best Supporting Actor was Burl Ives for The Big Country (talked about here). This was a terrific decision, because not only is Burl Ives awesome, but he was also great in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof this year as well.
So, 1958 is a strong year in terms of decisions. But the Best Picture decision is kind of “meh.” Which is fitting for the year. Since pretty much any film that would have won (though maybe not The Defiant Ones) really wouldn’t have held up that well as a Best Picture winner.
BEST PICTURE – 1958
And the nominees were…
Auntie Mame (Warner Bros.)
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
The Defiant Ones (Kramer, United Artists)
Separate Tables (United Artists) (more…)
I hate talking about 1958. It’s so — middling. All the nominees for Best Picture feel weak. And the winner is just — fluff. Gigi is a fine film and all, but it shouldn’t have won Best Picture. None of the nominees really should have. The Defiant Ones was probably the best choice among the bunch.
Vincente Minnelli won Best Director for Gigi (talked about here), which actually was a good decision. The dude was owed two by this point. David Niven wins Best Actor for Separate Tables (talked about here) and Wendy Hiller wins Best Supporting Actor for the film as well (talked about here). Both were veteran Oscars and are acceptable to varying degrees. And Best Actress was Susan Hayward for I Want to Live! (talked about here), which she’d earned by this point. I just wish she’d won earlier and someone else could have won here (especially since Deborah Kerr and Rosalind Russell never won Oscars, and if Elizabeth Taylor won here she wouldn’t have had to win in 1960).
And then this category. I fucking love this category. So much. I’d have wanted to vote for Burl Ives without having seen the performance. But having seen it, and the other performance he gave this year that he wasn’t nominated for — oh man, does he win this in a landslide. What a great decision for all time.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – 1958
And the nominees were…
Theodore Bikel, The Defiant Ones
Lee J. Cobb, The Brothers Karamazov
Burl Ives, The Big Country
Arthur Kennedy, Some Came Running
Gig Young, Teacher’s Pet (more…)
1958 is a pretty weak year. A weak Best Picture winner from a relatively weak set of nominees. I love Gigi, but it probably shouldn’t have won Best Picture, and wouldn’t have in a stronger year. And of the remaining nominees, only The Defiant Ones was really worth voting for. The rest were really stagy and were basically plays on film.
Vincente Minnelli finally won Best Director for the film (talked about here). Thank god. The man was practically owed two by this point. Best Actor this year was David Niven for Separate Tables (talked about here), which I guess is an okay decision. Curtis and Poitier cancelled each other out and Newman would eventually win one. And David Niven’s awesome. Best Actress was Susan Hayward for I Want to Live! (talked about here), which had been coming to her for some time. And Best Supporting Actor was Burl Ives for The Big Country, which was a great decision, since he was great in both that and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof this year.
And then there’s this category. Hiller had been solid for over 20 years, and was good enough to win Best Actress twenty years earlier. This was an easy one.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – 1958
And the nominees were…
Peggy Cass, Auntie Mame
Wendy Hiller, Separate Tables
Martha Hyer, Some Came Running
Maureen Stapleton, Lonelyhearts
Cara Williams, The Defiant Ones (more…)
I don’t love 1958 as a year, but some of its categories (like this one) are really strong. The reason the year isn’t that strong is because the set of Best Picture nominees is pretty weak.
Gigi wins Best Picture. Not a bad film, but a bad Best Picture choice. Vincente Minnelli won Best Director for the film (talked about here), which actually needed to happen. That man was crazy overdue by this point. Best Actress was Susan Hayward for I Want to Live!, which, as I said here, was a long time coming, and was a good decision, even if I think she should have won three years earlier and someone else should have won here. Best Supporting Actor was Burl Ives for The Big Country, which was a great decision, since he was great in both that and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof this year. And Best Supporting Actress was Wendy Hiller for Separate Tables, which she had coming to her for a while before this.
And then we have this category. This is really tough for me. It’s the only time Tony Curtis was nominated, this was Sidney Poitier’s best nominated performance, Paul Newman was amazing, and David Niven is David Niven. What do you do here?
BEST ACTOR – 1958
And the nominees were…
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 (more…)
1958 is a troublesome year for me. I feel like all the Best Picture nominees are strong number twos with no real #1 to vote for. I mean, there is, but nothing here really feels like an adequate Best Picture winner. Gigi won Best Picture, but that feels a bit like a cop out. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, albeit very theatrical, was a better choice. And so was The Defiant Ones, which probably would have been the best choice for the year. (Auntie Mame and Separate Tables were way too theatrical to vote for.)
Best Actor was David Niven for Separate Tables, which, was one of those in-house decisions. He was a very respected actor and probably would have won one of these someday anyway. Though he was very much a supporting character in his film (15 minutes of screen time), and the performance wasn’t really that great. So I think someone else (namely Paul Newman, Tony Curtis or Sidney Poitier) should have won. Wendy Hiller also won Best Supporting Actress for the film, which is a good decision, since she was a veteran and deserved an Oscar (and the category sucked). Best Actress was Susan Hayward for I Want to Live! (talked about here). I understand this decision, because Hayward was gonna win an Oscar eventually, but I don’t like it. Hayward should have won in 1958 and someone more deserving should have won here, like Deborah Kerr or Elizabeth Taylor. Best Supporting Actor was Burl Ives for The Big Country, which is a great decision, since he was also in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and would have won for that performance too.
Which brings us to this category. As much as I don’t like Gigi as a Best Picture winner, I love this decision. Since Vincente Minnelli is one of the great directors of all time. He’d earned this three times over by this point.
BEST DIRECTOR – 1958
An the nominees were…
Richard Brooks, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Stanley Kramer, The Defiant Ones
Vincente Minnelli, Gigi
Mark Robson, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness
Robert Wise, I Want to Live! (more…)
1958 is a year — I think this is my first time talking about it since I’ve been writing these articles. I never really decided my feelings on the year as a whole. I agree with a lot of the decisions, but, for some reason this year just kind of feels like a blank to me.
Gigi won Best Picture, which is why it feels like a blank to most people. It wasn’t a terrible decision, mostly because the year itself didn’t really have a standout nominee. The Defiant Ones was also nominated, and that’s really the film that people can point to the best out of the other nominees and say it should have won, but both that and Gigi feel like films that, in most years, would be solid #2s. You know? I like them but, I just don’t see either of them as being winners. The other three nominees this year were Auntie Mame, which is a good film but kind of a bloated entry in the Best Picture nominees, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which is a great film but is very stagy and feels more like an “actors'” film more than a Best Picture winner, and Separate Tables, which is a solid film and a classy film, but not a Best Picture winner. So, this year is kind of a year of all fours without a solid five. That’s why I think it this year doesn’t really stand out among the really good ones.
As for the rest of the year, Best Actor went to David Niven for Separate Tables, which is more of a career achievement than anything. Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier probably split the vote for The Defiant Ones, Paul Newman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof — I don’t know, maybe he was too new to the industry to win over a veteran — and Spencer Tracy for The Old Man and the Sea, which is a Spencer Tracy nomination. So I guess that makes sense. Best Supporting Actor went to Burl Ives for The Big Country, which makes perfect sense, as he was great in that and great also in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof this year (kind of strange he didn’t win for that, but, hey, a win’s a win). Best Supporting Actress went to Wendy Hiller for Separate Tables, which was a great opportunity to give a veteran an Oscar in a relatively weak category. And Best Director was Vincente Minnelli for Gigi, which was a perfect decision, since Minnelli deserved an Oscar and didn’t get one the other time he was nominated in 1951. So, that’s 1958. A good year but not a great year. One that might be unfairly swept under the rug because of an unflashy Best Picture decision. (more…)