Posts tagged “1959

Mike’s Top Ten of 1959

This is a cool year. There’s a lot of amazing stuff on this top ten. Just about every film in the top ten can be describes as being a “classic” in its respective genre. And the other one… well, we’ll get to the other one. It’s amazing.

The French New Wave began this year, and it marks a major upturn (which had been coming over the past couple years) of European cinema. International film industries had been growing since the war, but the 60s were the time when the films greatly started making their way over to America in a big way.

Otherwise, you look at this year — Billy Wilder, William Wyler, George Stevens, Otto Preminger, Douglas Sirk, Howard Hawks — it’s one of those years with all the auteurs making some of the absolute most classic films.

Pound for pound, this is legitimately one of the best years of the decade. (more…)

The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1959

1959 is one of the easiest years to recap, Oscar-wise. It’s a “checkpoint year.” The year where you look at it, go, “Oh, okay,” and can rest for a moment because you know what won was always gonna win and doesn’t require much thought.

Ben-Hur wins just about every award it’s up for including (outside of Best Picture Best Director for William Wyler (talked about here), Best Actor for Charlton Heston (talked about here) and Best Supporting Actor for Hugh Griffith (talked about here). The two awards it didn’t win (because there are barely women in the film) were Best Actress, which went to Simone Signoret for Room at the Top (talked about here), which I consider one of the worst decisions of all time in the category, but is somehow made okay (in a way) by the fact that everyone else in the category who probably should have won (mostly Audrey, but I’ll accept Liz or Kate) had Oscars already or would win two (or in Kate’s case three) after this. Still, not a particularly strong winner. And then it also didn’t win Best Supporting Actress, which Shelley Winters won for The Diary of Anne Frank (talked about here). I don’t really like the performance as a winner (particularly against Juanita Moore and Susan Kohner from Imitation of Life), but Shelley Winters is amazing, so it’s okay.

Really, when you look at 1959, you see Ben-Hur and go, “Oh, yeah.” That’s 1959.


And the nominees were…

Anatomy of a Murder (Columbia)

Ben-Hur (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

The Diary of Anne Frank (20th Century Fox)

The Nun’s Story (Warner Bros.)

Room at the Top (Continental) (more…)

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1959

1959 is a checkpoint year for the Academy. That’s what I call it as of right now. Checkpoint seems the optimal word. Think of it this way. You’re playing a video game, going through all these parts of the level, some easy, some difficult, and then you get to the checkpoint, and you get that rest. You don’t need to think, and you know you’re safe for the moment. That’s what this is. No matter how you feel about most years, what wins Best Picture, no one can argue with Ben-Hur. No one. It’s a checkpoint. The unquestionable winner, and then we move on and continue complaining.

Aside from Best Picture, Ben-Hur also wins Best Actor for Charlton Heston (talked about here) and Best Director for William Wyler (talked about here). You can’t really argue with either, though I’d have gone another way on Best Actor. Then Best Actress was Simone Signoret for Room at the Top (talked about here), which is one of the worst decisions of all time in that category. I really hate it. And Best Supporting Actress was Shelley Winters for The Diary of Anne Frank (talked about here), which I don’t like as a decision, because I feel there were two better performances that split votes, leading to the current result.

But, in all, you can’t argue with most of 1959. Three of the six decisions are unquestionably okay. Two are, even though they don’t really matter, and only Best Actress is the terrible decision. That’s a checkpoint. You hit the checkpoint, and you’re mostly safe for the moment and get a breather. And there’s like a 15% chance you might randomly die.


And the nominees were…

Hugh Griffith, Ben-Hur

Arthur O’Connell, Anatomy of a Murder

George C. Scott, Anatomy of a Murder

Robert Vaughn, The Young Philadelphians

Ed Wynn, The Diary of Anne Frank (more…)

The Oscar Quest: Best Actress – 1959

This is the one category for 1959 where I can really say — what a fucking terrible decision.

Ben-Hur wins Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Charlton Heston and Best Supporting Actor for Hugh Griffith. All of those are pretty okay. I talked about the Best Director and Best Actor already. The other category this year was Best Supporting Actress (which I’ve also talked about), which went to Shelley Winters for The Diary of Anne Frank. I’m less okay with that one, but I do understand that one. Which leaves this category. Seriously, what the fuck were they thinking here?


And the nominees were…

Doris Day, Pillow Talk

Audrey Hepburn, The Nun’s Story

Katharine Hepburn, Suddenly, Last Summer

Simone Signoret, Room at the Top

Elizabeth Taylor, Suddenly, Last Summer (more…)

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actress – 1959

I’ve covered 1959 a few times in recent weeks. Ben-Hur, sweeps all the big awards, Best Picture, Best Director for William Wyler, Best Actor for Charlton Heston, and Best Supporting Actor for Hugh Griffith. So all the male awards went to one movie. (Because, in such a male-dominated industry, Best Picture and Best Director are, essentially, male awards.) Which only leaves two. Best Actress, and this one. Best Actress went to Simone Signoret for Room at the Top, which, as you can guess from reading the two categories from this year that I’ve already covered, I’m not okay with. It’s not subtle. So what we have is, outside of Best Picture and Best Director, a year I don’t really like. And yet there were such great films this year.

Wow. I covered it all in one paragraph. That might be a first. I really don’t have anything else to say about this one. Remember this, folks, this doesn’t happen often.


And the nominees were…

Hermione Baddeley, Room at the Top

Susan Kohner, Imitation of Life

Juanita Moore, Imitation of Life

Thelma Ritter, Pillow Talk

Shelley Winters, The Diary of Anne Frank


The Oscar Quest: Best Actor – 1959

1959 was Ben-Hur. Game over, man. But that’s just Best Picture and Best Director. The acting categories are fair game. Just because it won two acting awards does not necessarily mean it should have. That’s this category’s major issue. It’s like with Lawrence of Arabia. How much does just simply carrying a film of this scale count toward voting?

I like this. We have a theme. It only really counts for one performance, but fuck it, let’s run with it. As for the rest of the year, as I said, Ben-Hur swept Picture, Director and also Supporting Actor, which went to Hugh Griffith. Best Actress was Simone Signoret for Room at the Top, which I am so not happy about and will get to at some point. And Best Supporting Actress was Shelley Winters for The Diary of Anne Frank. This is a deceptively okay year. It seems like the decisions were fine because of the obvious choice in Ben-Hur, but, in actuality, I really don’t agree with any of the acting choices. I’m okay with one, maybe two of them, but, really, I think they could have picked better.


And the nominees were…

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 (more…)

The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1959

1959 is one of those years that I mentioned yesterday — what are you gonna do? I mean, Best Picture was Ben-Hur. Can you really not just give it Best Picture and Best Director? It’s an Epic with a capital E. Cast of thousands, grand spectacle of the theater — there was no way it wasn’t winning.

So, there really isn’t going to be much to talk about for this one, other than me suggesting which ones to see of the bunch. Before we get into that, let’s quickly run down the rest of the categories. Charlton Heston won Best Actor for Ben-Hur, Simone Signoret won Best Actress for Room at the Top, Hugh Griffith won Best Supporting Actor, also for Ben-Hur, and Shelley Winters won Best Supporting Actress for The Diary of Anne Frank. So, you can pretty much tell they just went for the sweep with Ben-Hur. It didn’t sweep, but, aside from All About Eve and Return of the King, and maybe Titanic, I think those are the top four Oscar nominated or winning films of all time. Fuck if I know which is which or if it’s both.


And the nominees are…

Jack Clayton, Room at the Top

George Stevens, The Diary of Anne Frank

Billy Wilder, Some Like It Hot

William Wyler, Ben-Hur

Fred Zinnemann, The Nun’s Story