Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1956

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Yul Brynner (The King and I)
James Dean (Giant)
Kirk Douglas (Lust for Life)
Rock Hudson (Giant)
Laurence Olivier (Richard III)

Biggest Snub:

Charleston Heston – The Ten Commandments

John Wayne – The Searchers

My Overall Thoughts:

This is another year where the nominees were filled with star power. The best of the lot were both performances in the epic Western Giant. This was Dean’s second consecutive posthumous Oscar nomination (The only time this ever happened in Oscar history for an actor) and he did such a great job here that I’m a bit surprised that the sentiment didn’t give him Gold.

My Rankings:

Acting Performances

5. Laurence Olivier
4. Kirk Douglas
3. Yul Brynner
2. James Dean
1. Rock Hudson


4. Lust for LifeFilm that starts off well but as the plot moves along and the character gets crazier and crazier, it’s hard to find a reason to care about him. Douglas does a fine job in the lead and it’s understandable that he would get an Oscar nomination for this role, but something is sorely missing since they give us no reason to want to watch what will happen to to the character. Very tragic story that perhaps is better understood by those who understand impressionist painting, but overall, I found this story pretty boring.
3. Richard IIIBeing that I’m generally not much of a fan of most Shakespearean adaptations, I found most of this a bit too tedious and long. I liked the fact that the main character is a villain which adds more to the fact that Olivier chose to make this movie and play the title role. Really enjoyed how parts felt like Game of Thrones which makes me wonder if Martin used themes from here as part of his original ideas.
2. The King and INice musical that has some great tunes. Kerr and Brynner are both great together both in the musical scenes and in the dramatic one because they seem like equals the whole time. The dialogue is great because it gives off the effect of being both dominating and humorous at the same time. Won 5 of it’s 9 Oscar nominations including Actor (Brynner), Sound, Costumes, Musical score and Art Direction. It lost Picture, Director, Actress (Kerr) and Cinematography.
1. GiantSuch an amazing film that uses its epic scale to really show us so much about life on a ranch for a family during the early part of the 20th Century. Amazing cast helps make this story quite impactful whether they are dealing with changing the way Texicans look at the ways a man or a woman runs a ranch to the racial issues of Mexicans living nearby. Hudson and Taylor are able to play their parts quite well and their characters age realistically during the course of the film. Dean is great at the beginning, but the makeup used for when he gets older just doesn’t work very well eventhough he plays the character quite well. Was nominated for 10 Oscars, but only managed to win Best Director for George Stevens. As great as this movie is, I’m sure the book delves even deeper into the storylines and is even better.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Not Really!  Brynner is fine in The King and I but was even better in The Ten Commandments this year. Bot Hudson and Dean were amazing in Giant and either of them should have taken home gold.

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

2 thoughts on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1956

  1. First of all – The Ten Commandments is a typical over the top, unsubtle, cast of 1000s DeMille epic. He was never known for his direction of actors – concerned mainly with the spectacle of his movies – so to say that Heston was “snubbed” and Brynner was better in this than The King and I is ridiculous. Hudson and Dean were very good in GIANT (both were better in other movies) and canceled one another out. Even with that – Brynner gave a great performance as the King – in what was much more than a musical. There was great drama to the story/role as well and he and Kerr were magnificent together – being in love without being “in love”. He won a Tony on Broadway and in an era when that was NO guarantee he’d get the role in the film – he did – and delivered. the “King” for Brynner was what Zorba was for Quinn. He absolutely deserved the Oscar for 1956. And if you want legit “snubs” – how about John Wayne in “The Searchers”? Or Gary Cooper in “Friendly Persuasion”? Karl Malden in “Baby Doll”? Newman in “Somebody Up There Likes Me?” Fonda in “The Wrong Man”?

    Liked by 1 person

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