Best Actor – 1983

Official Nominations: Robert Duvall. Michael Caine. Tom Conti. Tom Courtenay. Albert Finney.

In an unimpressive year, the Academy falls back on one of its favourite ‘bits’ – chucking the Best Actor award over to someone who should have won one already. Robert Duvall wins at the fourth attempt, for Tender Mercies. It’s a good performance – it’s Robert Duvall for fudge’s sake – and it feels a little cynical to say that it’s a heritage award. That’s what it is, but I’m not sure anyone else deserves the win over him, in this particular category in this particular year. He’s certainly not losing to Michael Caine in Educating Rita, a film I’ve never had much affection for.

In fact, the whole category is a little bit ironic; it’s like the non-movie version of the Hollywood villain trope – all British people are evil. You see, Robert Duvall, the sole American is the winner against Caine and three other Brits. Tom Conti, like Duvall in Tender Mercies, plays something of a soulful drunk and scumbag. Guess what – he’s good, but not winning against Duvall. Finally, Tom Courtenay and Albert Finney team up in The Dresser as <insert title here> and the actor he… dresses. Guess what – both good.

It’s a very ‘these actors are good and give good performances, but the movies are a little dull’ category.

My Winner: Robert Duvall

Tender Mercies (1983) starring Robert Duvall, Tess Harper, Betty Buckley, Wilford Brimley, Ellen Barkin directed by Bruce Beresford Movie Review

My Nominations: Robert Duvall. Jeroen Krabbe. Robert De Niro. Tom Conti. Al Pacino. James Woods.

Look, I’m all for nominated people who deserved to have won or should have been nominated in a previous year, but not to the detriment of others in the current year. Especially when those people are Robert De Niro for The King Of Comedy and Al Pacino for fucking Scarface. 

So Duvall gets a nomination from me, and Conti does too, but for Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, a film which doesn’t and didn’t get the credit it deserves. James Woods is manic, but not sheer insanity, in Videodrome while Jeroen Krabbe gives one of those full blooded, all-in performances in The Fourth Man. 

Which leaves an equal choice between De Niro and Pacino. Both actors are hamming it up to the extreme, in places, but between those extremes is some of the finest characterisation of their careers. Who do you go with? Who did I go with?

My Winner: Al Pacino

Let us know your winner in the comments!

2 thoughts on “Best Actor – 1983

  1. John Charet March 26, 2023 / 9:53 pm

    Once again, all of these choices are great 🙂 As for me, I would choose Robert De Niro for The King of Comedy 🙂

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