Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1964


Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Richard Burton (Becket)
Rex Harrison (My Fair Lady)
Peter O’Toole (Becket)
Anthony Quinn (Zorba the Greek)
Peter Sellers (Dr. Strangelove)

Biggest Snub:

Fredrick March – Seven Days in May

My Overall Thoughts:

This year has some great performances and after O’Toole and Harrison won the Gloes that year, they were both the frontrunners

My Rankings:

Acting Performances

5. Rex Harrison
4. Anthony Quinn 
3. Peter Sellers 
2. Richard Burton 
1. Peter O’Toole

Movies

4. Zorba the GreekThis is in the end a story of friendship between two mismatched men who are complete opposites. Quinn and Bates have great chemistry together and it’s easy to see how they can find things in common throughout the course of the film. The different ways that the two men look at situations make for interesting discussions between them throughout the film. The music and Zorba’s dance have become iconic staples ever since this film was made and it was nice to finally see (and hear) what it was all about.
3. My Fair LadyNot the best Best Picture, but entertaining never the less.  Great dialogue and amazing chemistry between Harrison and Hepburn works really well.
2. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the BombWas probably not as funny to watch during the height of the cold war, but now it’s hilarious. Sellers is spectacular in the 3 roles and Scott and Sterling do excellent jobs playing Army Generals with a bit of problems. Pickens steals the show tho as a bomber commander. Kubrick really knew how to get things going in the Cold War era and most of this seems very plausible for that time frame. The satire works extremely well and despite many scenes supposedly dealing with serious matters, it’s so hard no to laugh at the absurdity of it all.
1. BecketAmazing story that shows how friendship and integrity can be put to the test when one wishes to fulfill one’s duty. Burton and O’Toole are perfect as the two main leads. Amazing dialogue helps keep this interesting the whole way through. I’m surprised that this film didn’t win more awards because it is done so well.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Not at all!  This should have been the year for O’Toole or even Burton. They were both superb in their roles that it’s a real shame that the Academy went with a somewhat sentimental choice in a musical that won 8 of its 12 nominations.

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

One thought on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1964

  1. With you here. This vote was a travesty. I would’ve had Harrison in the 5th slot as well. A ridiculous choice unless you assume he won a war of attrition (the actual part of Professor Higgins – which he reprised from Broadway – was like falling out of bed for him. An erudite, stuffed shirt Brit – which Harrison could play in his sleep – and he couldn’t even sing – but spoke the lyrics of most of his songs…) Burton and O’Toole who were both magnificent in BECKET (“Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”) had the great good fortune of starring opposite one another – best of friends in real life – and the great MISfortune of starring opposite one another – and probably canceling out one another – both essaying roles that in any other year – as a single – might have won gold. A shame. I might have leaned slightly toward O’Toole – who had the more tortured role to play (Burton’s was more saintly – for real). Sellers was tremendous in multiple roles – so good in each – that I think the Academy couldn’t add it all together and give him the Oscar in the aggregate. And Quinn – I don’t know what to say. His Zorba is iconic – just a magnificent portrayal of a man who eats life by the bowl full. A force of nature. It is one of my favorite films and one of my favorite single performances of all time (up there with Scott as Patton and Lancaster as Elmer Gantry). He absolutely should have won. But factor in that he was already a 2 time Oscar winner (and 3 timers are a small club), both in the supporting category – and maybe the Academy wasn’t quite ready to let him jump the line into Best, even though he garnered his richly deserved nomination. I absolutely love watching him in this film – opposite Bates, and Lila Kedrova and the “Widow”. He is letter perfect. When it all goes to hell – and the project crashes – and he dances on the beach – you can’t get better than that.

    But yes – Harrison’s win was the worst choice of the 5 by far.

    Last note on your “snub” pick – as good as March is as the President – it’s really a supporting role. He was very good in a terrific film – but so were Douglas and Lancaster and most of the supporting cast – even cameos like Ava Gardner. So not sure why he would be singled out. I’d have to go back and look – all I keep thinking of is the actor who played Paul’s grandfather in “A Hard Day’s Night”.

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