Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1962

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Burt Lancaster (Birdman of Alcatraz)
Jack Lemmon (Days of Wine and Roses)
Marcello Mastroianni (Divorce — Italian Style)
Peter O’Toole (Lawrence of Arabia)
Gregory Peck (To Kill a Mockingbird)

Biggest Snub:

Frank Sinatra – The Manchurian Candidate

My Overall Thoughts:

This was a very competitive year. All 5 performances are amazing and would have been deserving of taking home gold.

My Rankings:

Acting Performances

5. Burt Lancaster
4. Marcello Mastroianni
3. Jack Lemmon
2. Peter O’Toole
1. Gregory Peck


5. Birdman of AlcatrazLancaster is great in the lead role and deservingly was nominated for an Oscar for this role. Unfortunately, the narrative doesn’t work so well and something feels missing from the way this story is told. The bitter rivalry between inmate and warden feels a bit too convenient and tries too hard to show the warden in a bad light which seems to have been done solely for dramatic effects.  Despite the fact that this film is apparently far from the way things really happened, it does a nice job of showing how an inmate can try and become more serene while going through the penal system.  Lancaster’s character’s arc works quite well within the confines of the story being told but not necessarily through the context of historical truth.
4. Days of Wine and RosesGreat depiction of alcoholism that resonates really well especially for when it was made.  Lemmon and Remick are both amazing in these roles and we get the sense of realism by the way that they portray their flawed characters especially when they don’t shy away from showing their vulnerability.  Not an easy film to watch yet it is quiet poignant over and over.  Klugman does a wonderful job as Lemmon’s friend and “sponsor”.
3. Divorce — Italian StyleHilarious dark comedy about a man no longer in love with his wife he tries to scheme his way out of his marriage since due to his faith, he cannot divorce her. Mastroianni is great in the lead role because he comes across as so straightforward yet we constantly see how his mind works throughout. The way that the film gives us scenario upon scenario about ways to end his marriage works really well because it always flows really well with the story and you are never sure at first what is real and what is fantasy. Love the constant “Grass isn’t always greener attitude of the story.
2. Lawrence of ArabiaGreat Lean epic that is done amazingly. The only drawback is that it’s very slow in certain scenes. O’Toole is amazing in the lead and showed how great an actor he was with this iconic performance.
1. To Kill a MockingbirdExcellent movie about prejudice in the South and the importance for standing up for what you believe. Peck is superb in the lead and deservingly won an Oscar for this role.  Still rings true even after more than 50 years.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Most Definitely!  Any of these performances would be worthy of winning in a normal year, but Peck’s portrayal of Addicus Finch is among the best ever.

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

One thought on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1962

  1. I always single out 1962 when talking about timing. Yes – Peck was superb in a superb movie (and one of my top 5 of all time). O’Toole – a rookie – was iconic as Lawrence, but had the misfortune of being nominated vs. Peck – who won his only Oscar., while young Mr. O’Toole would go on to be nominated 7 more times – and never win. Lemmon was also excellent for playing his harrowing drunk (in the kind of role the Academy loved – see Ray Milland in “Lost Weekend” and Gig Young in “Come Fill The Cup”). Lancaster was his usual terrific self as Robert Stroud (and Telly Savalas was terrific as well). Mastroianni was in a comedy – and subtitled – so that worked against him.


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