Official Nominations: Paul Schofield. Alan Arkin. Richard Burton. Michael Caine. Steve McQueen.
1966’s Best Actor category saw a number of big hitters jostling with newer stars. Schofield picked up the official win for a reprisal of the role he perfected on stage in A Man For All Seasons. I’m not a fan of this sort of crossover, and though obviously it is a classy performance, he won’t be getting my vote. Alan Arkin became one of the only actors in history to get a Best Actor nomination for his first full performance, and would go on to continued success over the next 6 decades, his performance in The Russians Are Coming ensuring many more hit roles. Richard Burton picked up his 5th acting nomination, but yet again lost out, while Michael Caine cemented his credibility and standing after Zulu and The Ipcress File, with Alfie. Steve Mcqueen rounded up the nominations with a rarely talked about war film The Sand Pebbles where he drifts between anti-hero and anti-villian, gaining his only Academy nomination.
My Winner: Steve McQueen
My Nominations: Steve McQueen. Alan Arkin. David Hemmings. Clint Eastwood. Donald Pleasance. Marlon Brando
Only McQueen and Arkin make it over onto my list this time around, and I’ve added a trio of legends, and one who just missed out on legendary status. David Hemmings has appeared in some huge films, but never really made that lasting impression, one film, one character who propelled him into eternal stardom. Blow-Up remains his finest moment, a combination of perfect actor discovered for perfect role, with the perfect director in place to achieve the perfect performance. Clint Eastwood meanwhile had been honing his skills in Italian Westerns in recent years to get work, and in ’66 his stardom exploded thank to the mega-hit The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. Eastwood commands the screen in every scene, and gives a stunning lesson on how to convey a hundred thoughts and emotions with the barest of movements and fewest of words. Brando pops up again in 66 with The Chase, an unusual, and long-forgotten film dealing with racism and corruption in the wake of a prison break. My final pick is for Mr Pleasance in Cul-De-Sac, another forgotten one, this time by Roman Polanski. Pleasance is excellent as an already paranoid man decaying further into madness.
My Winner: Clint Eastwood.
Who is your pick for Best Actor of 1966 from the Official Nominations, or from my nominations – or are there any performances from 1966 you feel are better? Let us know in the comments!