Best Actor – 1974

Official Nominations: Art Carney. Albert Finney. Dustin Hoffman. Jack Nicholson. Al Pacino.

Another of the great WTFs in the history of The Academy sees Art Carney – dead last in the category by anyone’s reckoning, winning. Having said that, it’s still a good performance, worthy of a nomination, but it’s totally a nomination and win purely for the fact he had been around so long. He plays an elderly man who with his cat whose home is taken from him. He decides to travel across America with his cat to get to LA and one of his sons, but it’s more about the journey, the people he meets, the quirky situations. I feel like this should be more of a cult movie and it feels like the sort of thing hipsters would love – good film, good performance.

Almost everything else here is legendary. Albert Finney’s performance in Murder On The Orient Express is fine again, surrounded by a stellar cast, but I think we all know the real Poirot is David Suchet. It’s one of the most famous novels and mysteries of all time, and a very successful, authentic version. Dustin Hoffman is incredible as Lenny Bruce, a performance which hurries back and forth between an energetic force of nature coming up in the world, and an addict in the throes of depression and excess. Jack Nicholson gives yet another defining performance in Chinatown as a dogged PI sucked into intrigue, romance, and danger. Finally, Pacino gets another nomination, this time in The Godfather II. You already know it, it’s fantastic. Last year for me it was between Nicholson and Pacino. That time I picked Pacino, but we’ll flip it now and give it to Jack.

My Winner: Jack Nicholson

My Nominations: Jack Nicholson. Al Pacino. Dustin Hoffman. Gene Wilder. Gene Hackman.

Three of the official nominees cross over, leaving two new choices who arguably deserve to have officially replaced Carney and Finney. Interestingly, both Wilder and Hackman appear in Young Frankenstein, but it’s Wilder’s wide-eyes, manic comedic masterclass which gets the nod, while Hackman’s geeky voyeur introvert who grows increasingly paranoid is, for me, the best thing about The Conversation. 

My Winner: Jack Nicholson

Let us know in the comments who you pick as the Best Actor of 1974!

5 thoughts on “Best Actor – 1974

  1. John Charet September 20, 2018 / 10:06 pm

    Great post 🙂 I would probably choose Al Pacino, but Jack Nicholson seems like a perfect choice 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

  2. Deadly March 12, 2019 / 11:23 am

    Ridiculously hard here. I could give any of Pacino, Hoffman or Nicholson the win here. Maybe slightly leaning towards Al. Finney gets the fourth spot and Hackman the fifth. What a year.

    • carlosnightman March 12, 2019 / 11:32 am

      Yeah, for me the mid 70s is the pinnacle of male performances, or at the very least it showcases the best of my favourite actors in some of my favourite films.

      • Deadly March 12, 2019 / 10:55 pm

        I think it might be the latter. The fact that all these great actors, most still around today, were operating in their prime at the same time made it very special.

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