Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1989

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Kenneth Branagh (Henry V)
Tom Cruise (Born on the Fourth of July)
Daniel Day-Lewis (My Left Foot)
Morgan Freeman (Driving Miss Daisy)
Robin Williams (Dead Poets Society)

Biggest Snub:

Philippe Noiret – Cinema Paradiso

My Overall Thoughts:

This was a very strong year and all 5 of the nominees are amazing actors.  Any of them would have been a deserving winner.

My Rankings:

Acting Performances

5. Morgan Freeman 
4. Kenneth Branagh 
3. Daniel Day-Lewis
2. Tom Cruise
1. Robin Williams


5. My Left FootDay Lewis’ performance holds up an ok story. There is a reason that he is the sole owner of three best actor Oscars. The rest of the cast is also good, but Fricker and McAnally stand out as his supportive parents.
4. Driving Miss DaisySlow, but captivating movie. Great social message.
3. Henry VOne of the best adaptations of a Shakespeare play. Gives so much depth to the story and the characters that isn’t possible to easily achieve on a stage. Branagh proved to the world how accomplished an actor and director he was at such a young age. Amazing cast of so many famous faces. Makes me wish he adapted even more of The Bard’s plays for the screen.
2. Born on the Fourth of JulyOnce again Stone gives us an amazing look at what it was like growing up in the 60’s and how patriotism and duty change one’s life forever. Cruise is amazing in this film as the title character and truly makes us believe everything he is going for. The fake wigs that many of characters wear in order to make them seem more like part of the 60’s counter culture takes away a bit from the seriousness of it all, but there is really no doubt as to how genuine this all feels.  The anti-war message is once again clear here and it proved that it’s possible to tell similar stories in completely different ways yet remain effective in both of them. 1989 was a great year at the Oscars, and there is no doubt that this film probably should have won Best Picture over the eventual winner Driving Miss Daisy (1989).  At least Stone still got the award for Best Director.
1. Dead Poets Society One of the best movies about teacher student relationships. Williams is amazing here as are the young actors portraying his students.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Yes and No!  Day-Lewis gives a great performance here, but I still think Williams and Cruise were even greater.

Let me know what you think about these films and my rankings!

One thought on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1989

  1. We’re pretty close here. Good year. tough competition. Day-Lewis, as always, disappeared into his role (based on a real person, as was Cruises’ in Born on the 4th of July). Branagh would’ve been the 1st (and only) actor since Olivier to DIRECT himself to a Best Actor win playing a character from Shakespeare. Cruise was as good as he’s ever been as an actor. Williams was an eye opener in a serious role as the wonderful teacher. Might’ve been a coin toss. this is one of those years, for me, that would have justified a tie.

    Bit of personal trivia. The year before – I watched the Oscar at a small gathering of people at the home of Ray Gideon (who with Bruce Evans was an Academy member, and previous Oscar nominee for writing Stand By Me. The 3 of us were collaborating at the time on a screenplay I had written). We all watched the Oscars on TV and threw off a series of bon mots etc. at those in attendance and on screen. One of the other guests, who I met for the first time, was Tom Schulman. A very nice guy. One year later – Tom would win the Academy Award for his screenplay of “Dead Poets Society”.


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