Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1973

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Marlon Brando (Last Tango in Paris)
Jack Lemmon (Save the Tiger)
Jack Nicholson (The Last Detail)
Al Pacino (Serpico)
Robert Redford (The Sting)

Biggest Snub:

Steve McQueen – Papillon

My Overall Thoughts:

This was an interesting year with 5 great actors nominated here. Lemmon and Pacino gave the best performances and it was ultimately between the two of them.

My Rankings:

Acting Performances

5. Jack Nicholson 
4. Robert Redford
3. Marlon Brando 
2. Jack Lemmon
1. Al Pacino


5. Last Tango in Paris – Controversial film for its time due to its raw depiction of a relationship based solely on physical aspects without getting emotional ones involved. Brando is fine here but the story is quite boring to watch because nothing really happens throughout the film that would make it interesting to watch from a narrative perspective.  I understand the controversy of the film, but by today’s standards there isn’t anything that feels too graphic or overly explicit. Brando was nominated for Best Actor for this role and that probably has to do with the fact that he plays the role very distantly and subtlety which is not the kind of roles he was known for.  Ultimately, this is just not an enjoyable film to watch IMHO.
4. The Last DetailInteresting story that is fun to watch yet the story feels as if it drags along too much. The way that they try to make a political statement about the military especially during the Vietnam War comes across really well. The characters are all fine with Nicholson doing the best job. Both Nicholson and Quaid got Oscar nominations for this film. Still not sure how Last Flag Flying (2017) is a sequel to this film tho since it doesn’t seem as if the characters are the same ones in both films.
3. Save the TigerLemmon is excellent here and with this Oscar win became the first actor to ever win both a supporting and lead Oscar. The storyline is grim and eventhough he is known for usually excelling in more upbeat roles, he really hit it out of the park here.
2. Serpico – Pacino is excellent in this true story about police corruption and it still is a very chilling and haunting story that still feels relevant even after more than 40 years.
1. The StingVery fun movie, worthy best picture 40 years later. The plot works really well and is helped by an amazing cast led by Redford and Newman.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Yes and No!  Pacino is amazing in Serpico but Lemmon was able to do something spectacular here with a character so different from what he usually was given which shows the kind of range he had as an actor.

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

5 thoughts on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1973

  1. I think it should’ve been Pacino for “Serpico” which leads to another of my Hollywood stories. I saw SERPICO at a regular movie theater in Westwood(LA) and ended up sitting one row behind and slightly to the right of Jack Lemmon and his wife (Felicia Farr) – who were reular paying customers like I was. I couldn’t help stealing looks at Lemmon during the movie – and when it ended and he got up – I swear – he had a look on his face like, “Oh shit, I’m gonna lose to Pacino”. He didn’t, but if you’d asked him at the end of Serpico – it sure looked like he felt that way.


      • I wanted to, but he looked so bummed out that I decided to pass. Plus, I thought Pacino was going to win too, so would’ve seemed like I was rubbing it in. And I had spoken to him while I was at film school (and he brought a movie he’d directed to class – “KOTCH” w/ Walter Matthau – and he wasn’t all that nice).


          • Matthau was terrific. When it was made, with the unwed mother and all – it was a bit more cutting edge. But I agree – his performance was most of the movie. I went to film school with his son David. And came home one day to find Matthau and Bob Newhart on my block shooting the remake of “Little Miss Marker”


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