Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1955

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Ernest Borgnine (Marty)
James Cagney (Love Me or Leave Me)
James Dean (East of Eden)
Frank Sinatra (The Man with the Golden Arm)
Spencer Tracy (Bad Day at Black Rock)

Biggest Snub:

Henry Fonda – Mister Roberts

My Overall Thoughts:

This was another year filled with very popular stars as the nominees, but it ultimately came down to Borgnine and Sinatra who were both the most impactful performances of the year.

My Rankings:

Acting Performances

5. James Cagney
4. Spencer Tracy
3. James Dean
2. Frank Sinatra
1. Ernest Borgnine


5. Love Me or Leave MeInteresting idea that just doesn’t age very well. Cagney and Day are both fine here, but neither stands out as amazing. The idea of how much a performer can become dependent on those who help their career is a great one but this film doesn’t manage to explore it deep enough.  This film was very popular when it came out, but just doesn’t stand up so well after 63 years.  Still not sure why Cagney was nominated for Best Actor for this role.
4. The Man with the Golden ArmGreat depiction of how a drug addict would act even when he is trying to get back to a normal life. The issues with his wife and his former friends weigh heavily on him which complicates things so much for him.  Sinatra is great in the lead role and definitely deserved an Oscar nomination for this performance even if the Production Code make things more difficult (and in some cases too tame) to show onscreen.   Really liked the sincerity that Sinatra gives off as a character who really wants to change even if circumstances keep hindering him along the way.
3. East of EdenVery interesting look at the relationships between family members as they are affected by all that happens around them. Cast is great with Dean, Massey, Van Fleet and Davalos all giving stellar performances.  The story is quite deep and I believe that the novel by Steinbeck does an even better job at showing the intricacies of these relationships.
2. Bad Day at Black RockVery good thriller/mystery that really gives off the post war isolationist feeling. Excellent cast led by Tracy and Ryan. Does a great job slowly revealing the mystery but still feels a bit hollow at points.
1. Marty Feel good movie. Worthwhile.  Borgnine is superb in the lead and feels so genuine in all that he does.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Most Definitely!  Borgnine gives the performance of his career and it’s such an endearing role. The story is simple yet one that can be related to by just about anyone who has ever sought love.  Sinatra was a close second with his great performance of a drug addict trying to get clean.

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

2 thoughts on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1955

  1. Good call on Fonda.Glenn Ford was solid in Blackboard Jungle, but probably not Oscar solid. And Bob “In My House, Oscar Night is Known as Passover” Hope was very good in The Seven Little Foys. Everybody in the category was very good (loved Tracy’s fight with the one-armed man in the bar). But Yes – Borgnine all the way. Especially since he was known for playing heavies (“From Here To Eternity”. Fact is – on live TV – Marty was played by Rod Steiger – who lost the role (and the Oscar?) to Borgnine.

    Liked by 1 person

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