Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1966

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Alan Arkin (The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming),
Richard Burton (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?)
Michael Caine (Alfie)
Steve McQueen (The Sand Pebbles)
Paul Scofield (A Man for All Seasons)

Biggest Snub:

Zero Mostel – A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

My Overall Thoughts:

This is yet another year with 5 powerful performances but Scofeld was the most poignant of the lot.

My Rankings:

Acting Performances

5. Alan Arkin 
4. Michael Caine 
3. Richard Burton 
2. Steve McQueen 
1. Paul Scofield


5. AlfieDidn’t like this one as much as I thought I would. Caine plays against type here and his character isn’t likeable at all. Wasn’t a fan of the way they kept breaking the 4thw all here. The character wasn’t as believable as we would like him to be and it’s hard to feel sorry for a character like that. Wasn’t as cathartic as I expected it to be.
4. The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are ComingVery funny ‘serious’ film that was made at a time when something like this was desperately needed; a positive look at Russian-American relations. Amazing cast led by Reiner, Arkin, Keith, Winters, Saint, Bikel, Law and Ford. The film is less poignant today than it was 50 years ago, but it still gets its point across quite well.
3. A Man for All SeasonsGreat performance by Scofield that carries the whole movie. Great story about standing up to your convictions. Timeless message throughout.
2. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?Such a great film because it manages to develop all four of the leads so well in such a short period of time. The audience easily gets pulled into the story and we constantly want to know more and more about the characters who are so interesting and devastating to watch at the same time. Written extremely realistically and gripping from start to finish even though it is entirely carried by its dialogue. Won 5 of its 13 Oscar nominations that year.
1. The Sand PebblesOne of McQueen’s best roles despite the fact that he really isn’t in a leadership role like usual. Loved the way that this film takes its time telling us the story in a complete and epic fashion. The side story with Bergen works because we are teased by it just like the way the main character is tempted to make decisions in life based on his chance meeting. The way they show how the class system on the gunship works helps us understand so much about the social ladder of that time and place. The tension is built up so well as the story moves along. Loved the way that they portray the action when things come to a head and we get to easily see that not much has changed in the almost century since this film takes place when it comes to rules of battle. By far, the best film IMHO of 1966.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Most Definitely!  Scofeld gives such an amazing performance that as great as some of these other performances are (Burton and McQueen especially), none come even close to eclipsing his performance as Thomas More

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

One thought on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1966

  1. Agree with you here that this was indeed a tough year. Great competition. And yes – Mostel was screwed. Nominations for a comedy are tough – but he WAS this movie. Incredible. Wish I’d gotten to see him do it on stage. As for those who WERE nominated… Burton was tremendous – especially opposite Ms. Taylor (his wife at the time) – the two of them burning up the screen – and she won (deservedly). Scofield was excellent (ironically – in the type of historical role that Burton usually got nominated for – and lost (see Anne of the Thousand Days). And McQueen was as good as he ever was – and when the announcement was made – I wonder if he whispered to himself the final line of “The Sand Pebbles” – “What the hell went wrong?”


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