Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1980

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Robert De Niro (Raging Bull)
Robert Duvall (The Great Santini)
John Hurt (The Elephant Man)
Jack Lemmon (Tribute)
Peter O’Toole (The Stunt Man)

Biggest Snub:

Jack Nicholson – The Shining

My Overall Thoughts:

This was a very powerful year with some great performances. The final decision would be between Hurt and De Niro and each would have been a very deserving winner.

My Rankings:

Acting Performances

5. Jack Lemmon 
4. Peter O’Toole
3. Robert De Niro
2. Robert Duvall 
1. John Hurt


5. The Great SantiniSimilar to all of the adaptations of his books, this is just a poor attempt to do justice to such a great novel. Duvall and O’Keeffe are both excellent but the story still feels extremely choppie as if something was missing now and again.
4. The Elephant ManNot a very entertaining or engaging film. The only bright spot is John Hurt’s amazing performance.
3. The Stunt ManGreat film that is able to show the audience the kind of things that go on behind the scenes while filming a movie. O’Toole is perfect in the role of Director of this film who constantly plays the part of God in order to get his vision made the way he wants while constantly manipulating his actors and all other key personnel involved behind the scenes. As a fan of the “finished product” of movies, I found it quite insightful as to how much work goes in to making a film at all costs. O’Toole and Rush were both deservingly nominated for Best Actor and Director at the Oscars for their respective roles.
2. TributePowerful story about the importance of family and friendship. Lemmon is superb in the lead role and allows us to really see what makes this character tick. He was deservingly nominated for an Oscar for Bets Actor for his work in this role. The supporting cast also helps out so much in making things feel even more realistic. The dialogue is exquisitely written and lets the characters all shed their skin in some of the more poignant and powerful scenes along the way.  The message of this film is great and is timeless which helps make things even more engaging to watch unfold.
1. Raging Bull This is a great movie largely due to the amazing transformative performance by De Niro. The story itself is quite brutal and dark and shows sometimes how life can imitate art depending on the personalities involved. The boxing scenes are well choreographed and you quite often feel as if you are in the ring right there with them. There are many scenes are feel like roadside accident but despite the blood, we all can’t stop trying to catch a glimpse of what happens.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Yes and No!  This year had a great list of nominees and Hurt clearly gave the best performance but De Niro was also amazing and deserved to win.

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

One thought on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1980

  1. DeNiro probably had this one going away. It was a very strong field, and interesting that DeNiro and Duvall (both Godfather alums) played nasty men. Hurt was exceptional as The Elephant Man (although I would vehemently disagree with you that the film itself was “not engaging” – I found it engaging from first to last. Very powerful story). Not sure how much the Academy felt that the makeup did part of the acting for him. For me – the fact that he could show so much raw emotion buried beneath the makeup made the feat even more impressive.


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