Best Actor – 1970

Official Nominations: George C Scott. Ryan O Neill. Mervyn Douglas. Jack Nicholson. James Earl Jones.

Well, here we are. One of the most controversial Oscar moments arrived in this category this year when George C Scott, having been awarded the win, declined to accept it and instead derided the whole ceremony as ‘a meat parade’ more interested in making money. It’s difficult to argue with him. Fear not, that’s one of the reasons I started this damn thing, so that i could pick my winners based (almost) purely on individual performance and quality. No nonsense about people who should have won in previous years, no career wins, no wins or nominations for those who campaigned hardest. The hardest part of that for me is knowing which actors etc have won or not won in later years and falling into the trap of giving awards to those who I feel deserved one.

But enough of that for now. Scott picked up the win for an iconic performance of an icon in Patton. It is Scott’s defining performance, a wide-eyed, crazed, and shouting portrayal of patriotism in war time, and it’s difficult to argue against the win. We do have two other potential winners in this category, with James Earl Jones astounding in The Great White Hope – he was already familiar with the role having won awards for his stage performances. Equally notable is Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces, perhaps uncharacteristic compared to the later roles and performances he would give, but he is undeniably charismatic and turns Bobby Dupea into a fully formed cult figure. The final two nominations are rather odd, and as much as I like both actors, there isn’t really any reason for them being nominated here. Ryan O’Neal plays a rich but kind jock hearthrob who falls in love with a smart ass working class girl. He’s fine, but you can imagine anyone else in the role. Finally, Mervyn Douglas (who had already won a supporting award and would pick up one more by the end of the decade) gets a lead nomination for what could arguably be another supporting role. In I Never Sang For My Father he plays a sort of crotchety old man who is seeing life and control slip away, and who doesn’t want his son to move away. It’s an okay performance, but it’s not one that stands any chance of winning here.

My Winner: George C Scott

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My Nominations: George C Scott. James Earl Jones. Jack Nicholson. Peter Boyle. George Segal.

This is quite tough as there honestly are not too many other notable performances this year  – I could have had Richard Harris for Cromwell, John Cassavetes for Husbands, Sutherland or Gould for MASH, but I don’t think they are as strong as what I have picked. Therefore my only additions are Peter Boyle as Joe and George Segal for Loving – two worthy additions, though only Boyle really stands a chance of winning.

My Winner: George C Scott

Who would you choice as the Best Actor of 1970? Let us know in the comments!

Best Actor – 1969

Official Nominations: John Wayne. Richard Burton. Dustin Hoffman. Peter O’Toole. John Voight.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the late 60s saw a troubling shift for Hollywood as the old guard of musicals and costume dramas became less popular and the demand for more realistic, gritty, and dramatic films was heightened. The Academy still sought to perpetuate the old ways by offering some strange choices of films as their nominees and winners. In this category this year, we see a list of five legends – some existing and some who would later cement their titles, but it’s quite amusing to see them getting confused about what is considered ‘Old Hollywood’ and awarding John Wayne with a win. Part justified for his performance, part political based on his popularity and past works, it seems like an unusual choice. Wayne is good, but Wayne is Wayne, eye-patch or nor.

Peter O’Toole seems like another example of this pandering to the old ways – a good performance wavering between stiff and charming, but in a film which few will remember. Richard Burton’s nomination is another unusual choice – a film few will think of when they think of him, and a film whose success at the Oscars appeared to be part of a vicious marketing campaign more than anything else. The final two nominations then are for the same movie, with Hoffman and Voight giving two of their finest performances as a pair of hustlers looking to make a fast buck and exploit a cold and uncaring world by undertaking seedy dealings – it’s the Anti-American dream and it’s difficult to pick a winner out of the two, Hoffman the more obvious of the two due to the more hyperactive character veering between street wisdom and desperation.

My Winner: Dustin Hoffman

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My Nominations: Jon Voight. Dustin Hoffman. Michael Caine. Robert Redford. Paul Newman. David Bradley. Oliver Reed. William Holden. Helmut Berger.

Only two of the official nominees make it over to my list, both from Midnight Cowboy. Michael Caine gets the nod for another early iconic performance in The Italian Job – a film which has still not made much of an impact in the States, bizarre considering the Brit Invasion of the 1960s. Fellow Brit Oliver Reed is great alongside a strong leading cast in Women In Love, while a young David Bradley looked set to be one of the next big things after a memorable performance in Kes which received glowing reviews. Outside of Britain, Helmut Berger makes a definite impression in the shocking and dark The Damned as one of the most reprehensible figures in cinema – unfortunately it’s a film few people have seen. Back in the US, Robert Redford gets my pick over Paul Newman in BCASK and William Holden is ostensibly the lead and figurehead in The Wild Bunch, leading his men with a weary guile from one near miss to inevitable demise.

My Winner: Helmut Berger

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Who is your pick for the best Actor of 1969 – any of the above, or someone else entirely? Let us know in the comments!

Best Actor – 1968

Official Nominations: Cliff Robertson. Alan Arkin. Alan Bates. Ron Moody. Peter O’Toole

Cliff Robertson picked up the official win this year for the title role in Charley, based off Flowers For Algernon. It’s a decent enough performance although contemporary audiences will likely feel uncomfortable watching the outdated but honest portrayal of a mentally handicapped person trying to ‘better himself’. The win was controversial as many outlets and detractors saw it as another example of the soliciting of votes rather than a deserving victory. Alan Arkin does well in an early role, ironically similar to that of Robertson but in an altogether darker movie while Alan Bates does his best Russian impression in The Fixer. Ron Moody stands out in posibly the most recognizable performance of Fagan while Peter O’Toole is rather plain in the rather plain Lion In Winter.  All of the films nominated for Best Actor this year were based on a book or a play in another sign of Hollywood clinging to the old ways.

My Winner: Ron Moody

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My Nominations: Steve McQueen. Christopher Lee. Lee Marvin. Toshiro Mifune. Duane Jones. Charles Bronson. Zero Mostel.

An entirely different line-up for me this year, with 7 nominees making up my list. Although McQueen also starred in The Thomas Crown Affair this year, it is his commanding and cool performance in Bullitt which garners his nod. McQueen did a lot of preparation for the role, rattles off the dialogue in a matter of fact, whip-smart way, and of course did many of the stunts himself. Christopher Lee takes on a rare good guy role in The Devil Rides Out, one of countless similar horror films he starred in, but one whose quality stands over most of the others. Lee commands as expected, and gives as regal and refined a performance in a horror movie as you’re ever likely to see. Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune both get nods for the same movie as they star as two shipwrecked soldiers on opposing sides in WWII who must work together to survive. Marvin gets more screen time as a lead than many other more well known performances, while Mifune gives probably his best performance outside of his Japanese movies. Duane Jones gives a timeless, earnest, and yes, regal performance in Night Of The Living Dead inadvertently becoming a counter culture and civil rights icon while Charles Bronson has possibly his best role in Once Upon A Time In The West. Finally, Zero Mostel is hilarious as the greedy, scheming Bialystock in The Producers. This is a tough choice for me as I feel all are worthy winners.

My Winner: Charles Bronson

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Who is your pick for Best Actor of 1968? Let us know in the comments!

Best Actor – 1967

Official Nominations: Rod Steiger. Warren Beatty. Dustin Hoffman. Paul Newman. Spencer Tracy

An excellent list of nominees, each deserving of the win, with Rod Steiger picking up the official trophy for his gritty portrayal of a Southern White Cop whose life and beliefs and put in turmoil by the appearance of a Black Detective. Warren Beatty gives one of his most charismatic and iconic performances as Clyde Barrow while Paul Newman runs a gamut of emotions as the similarly iconic Luke. Spencer Tracey shines in his last role, with filming completing a couple of weeks before his death, while newcomer Dustin Hoffman was cast perfectly, and shockingly as the awkward, drifting graduate Ben.

My Winner: Dustin Hoffman

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My Nominations: Warren Beatty. Dustin Hoffman. Paul Newman. Rod Steiger. Sydney Poitier. Alain Delon.

I’ve added two obvious choices to my list – Sydney Poitier for either Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner or In The Heat Of The Night (my preference being the latter) and Alain Delon for Le Samourai where he perfects the art of the cold, solitary assassin.

My Winner: Dustin Hoffman

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Who is your pick for the Best Actor of 1967? Let us know in the comments!

Best Actor – 1966

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

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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.

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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!

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.

Best Actor: 1964

Actual Nominations: Rex Harrison. Richard Burton. Peter O’Toole. Anthony Quinn. Peter Sellers.

5 big hitters in the actual nominations this year in a variety of roles. Eventual winner Harrison was known for playing elder authority figures so playing Professor Higgins was hardly new territory for him. However, he does perfect the character. Unfortunately the character is so bizarre – an upper class man who has all the traits of arrogance and superiority who for reasons unknown hates the pretensions of the upper class which he so clearly demonstrates himself. Plus Harrison was a bit of a cock. Burton and O’Toole are overly serious as Becket and King Henry, while Quinn goes up against his Arabia co-star by nailing the title role of Zorba The Greek. My winner though goes to the multi-role by Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove where he shows a variety of styles touching on straight, satire, sarcasm, and downright silly.

My Winner: Peter Sellers

My Nominations: Peter Sellers. Clint Eastwood. Lee Marvin. Sean Connery.

Only four choices for me this year and with only Sellers making the crossover. Joining him are three of the best hardasses we’ve known, the eternally grim Clint Eastwood, scary uncle Lee Marvin, and assassin with a smile Sean Connery. Connery may only be reprising a role but in Goldfinger he is never better- charming and deadly. Eastwood creates an iconic character with his actions rather than words, and Marvin finally branches out on his own in The Killers in one of his best and own personal favourite performances. With all that said, my win goes again to Sellers for the audacity to play multiple differing characters, and the talent to pull it off.

My Winner: Peter Sellers.

Have I missed your favourite actor of 1964? Let us know in the comments?