Best Actor: 1965

Official Nominations: Lee Marvin. Laurence Olivier. Rod Steiger. Oskar Werner. Richard Burton.

Lee Marvin picked up a surprising win this year for his dual role as opposing gunslingers in Cat Ballou. An odd little comedy, it opened up a variety of new roles for Marvin. Previously known for his hard-ass characters, his performance here was strong enough that he was offered a wider array of roles.  Laurence Olivier this year did what he did best, bringing a literary character to life. This time it is Othello, but the film is cheap mess and Olivier loses all credibility for pulling an Al Jolson, complete with blackface, deep voice, and what appears to be a ‘funky’ walk. Rod Steiger notched up another Oscar nomination for his gripping performance in the brave The Pawnbroker. Steiger accurately depicts the life of a Holocaust survivor who is so withdrawn and scarred that he can only find solace in the darkest pits of NYC. Richard Burton and Oskar Werner both starred in The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, but while Burton was nominated for his performance, Werner picked up the nod for Ship Of Fools (which also featured Lee Marvin…). Fools is more of an ensemble piece, so the nomination for Werner doesn’t feel quite right, though his performances in both films are fine.

My Winner: Lee Marvin.

My Nominations: Michael Caine. James Stewart. Marlon Brando. Lee Marvin. Max Von Sydow.

Only Marvin makes the grade for me this year, with a quartet of Hollywood giants being added to the list. Caine’s performance as Harry Palmer is a wonderful contrast to the image of the spy presented by Sean Connery. Caine fully embraces his Cockney heritage and plays the spy as a grizzled Sergeant focussed on when his next paycheck is will arrive. Brando excels in Morituri, a little remembered film with many interesting ideas. Brando plays a German pacifist during WWII who is blackmailed into helping the Allied forces into destroying a Nazi ship, and shows a range of skills and restraint in the role. Jimmy Stewart starred in 3 films this year, though only The Flight Of The Phoenix and Shenandoah are worth mentioning.Stewart gets my vote for the former, as the pilot of the famous aircraft who reluctantly leads a ragtag group of survivors. It’s an unusual film for Stewart, but one worth watching due to many fine performances, Stewart’s leading the way. Finally, Max Von Sydow bursts onto the US scene with the little known character Jesus, in The Greatest Story Ever Told. A messy film in many ways, Von Sydow carries the ensemble cast and breezes his way into the all action world of Hollywood.

My Winner: Michael Caine

Let us know in the comments section who your pick for the Best Actor of 1965 is.

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