Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1958

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Tony Curtis (The Defiant Ones)
Paul Newman (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof)
David Niven (Separate Tables)
Sidney Poitier (The Defiant Ones)
Spencer Tracy (The Old Man and the Sea)

Biggest Snub:

Clark Gable – Teacher’s Pet

My Overall Thoughts:

This was a pretty weak year for nominations and none of these five roles are superb. Of the choices Newman was the best but this was far from being his best performance ever.

My Rankings:

Acting Performances

5. Spencer Tracy
4. Tony Curtis
3. Sidney Poitier
2. David Niven
1. Paul Newman


4. The Old Man and the SeaPretty boring film that doesn’t work as well visually as it does in the book. It’s hard to try and sympathize with the main character because as descriptive as this script is, it just doesn’t come across as thrilling and gripping enough as it feels on paper. Tracy does a nice job carrying the story on his own and I believe that for that reason alone he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor for this role. Some of the visuals in the film seem quite exotic like they should, but most look pretty much as if it was filmed in a studio which hurts the realism of it all.
3. Separate TablesGreat dialogue, interesting characters. Niven and Miller both won Oscars for their roles. Connection between stories is a bit weak.
2. The Defiant OnesGroundbreaking movie for its time that just didn’t resonate enough for me now. Curtis and Poitier were great working off one another but too much seemed strained in their acting. I liked the Quantum Leap episode that used this idea much better and was more effective for me.
1. Cat on a Hot Tin RoofAmazing dialogue-driven film that keeps us entranced from beginning to end. Excellent performances by Newman, Ives and Taylor. Loved the way that they were still able to convey what they were not allowed to say because of the HPC. The conversation by the characters seem quite genuine and you actually can imagine them as being so real.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Not Really!  Newman was much better this year than Niven.  This was one of Paul’s snubs that could have earned him gold earlier in his career. Niven’s role is witty and clever yet not as powerful overall. Poitier and Curtis virtually cancelled each other out but neither is perfect because the chemistry feels a bit staged.

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

2 thoughts on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1958

  1. Gable in Teacher’s Pet — never thought of that one in Oscar terms, but I do like that movie (once pitched it as a remake with Michael J. Fox…) Gig Young WAS nominated for this movie in the Supporting Actor category. I disagree that it was a weak year (because Curtis and Poitier were both excellent in Defiant Ones, and Newman in Cat), it was rendered weak by all the performances NOT nominated – James Stewart in VERTIGO (as bad an omission as the Academy ever made – along with Kim Novak for Best Actress), Cary Grant as his usual smooth self in Houseboat, Charlton Heston in Touch of Evil (or Orson Welles for that matter), Sinatra for Some Came Running, Tracy for The Last Hurrah…


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