Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1950

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Louis Calhern (The Magnificent Yankee)
José Ferrer (Cyrano de Bergerac)
William Holden (Sunset Blvd.)
James Stewart (Harvey)
Spencer Tracy (Father of the Bride)

Biggest Snub:

Richard Widmark – Panic in the Streets

My Overall Thoughts:

This is another year with 5 really good performances. Tracy and Stewart are both quite good here, but the trio of Holden, Calhern and Ferrer are even better.  Still find it ironic that Steve Martin played two of these roles in modern adaptations of Cyrano and Father of the Bride.

My Rankings:

Acting Performances

5. James Stewart 
4. Spencer Tracy 
3. José Ferrer
2. Louis Calhern 
1. William Holden


5. HarveyWarm-hearted story of how its possible to live life in a carefree way and how to learn to tolerate people who are different within society.
4. Father of the BrideSeems to lack enough bits of humor to make it more appealing. The premise and acting is very good. Surprised that this movie was one of the 5 Best Picture Nominees that year. Feels slightly dated solely because so much has changed in 60+ years.
3. Cyrano de BergeracVery interesting premise that has lulls at certain points.  Ferrer is great, but I still believe Steve Martin gave the character much more life in his modern version of the story – Roxanne (1987)
2. The Magnificent YankeeGreat movie that tells so much about a man most of us have heard of, but know nothing about. Calhern is amazing here and I completely understand how he could have won a Distinguished Drama Award for this role and get nominated for the Oscar. Very educational film about the role of jurists in US History.
1. Sunset Blvd.Such a cleverly written film that keeps us hooked from beginning to end. Holden and Swanson are both superb here and we are constantly surprised by everything they say and do. Love the way that this film deals with how members of Hollywood perceive their contemporaries depending on whether they are on the way up or down. Yet it also shows us how those people perceive themselves in a different position than they might really be. The plot moves along at a great pace and gives us so much to mull over as things move along. Still seems to (sadly) ring true even after 67 years.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Yes and No!  Ferrer does a wonderful job in the role and its understandable how he could win, but both Holden and Calhern were more powerful and more deserving of the Oscar for their performances.

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

2 thoughts on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1950

  1. Interesting point about Steve Martin. As to the rest – agree for the most part. I’ve never seen The Magnificent Yankee, so can’t comment/compare Calhern’s performance (I always remember him as Marilyn Monroe’s sugar daddy in The Asphalt Jungle). Holden was terrific – given the benefit of a sizzling screenplay and direction by the estimable Billy Wilder (agree on your assessment of Swanson as well – I thought SHE should have won for this one – in a role turned down by scores of Hollywood actresses at the time – understandable – as none wanted to portray a washed up actress, even when the part was fantastic. Today – in a remake – Streep would play the role in a heartbeat…) Ferrer was excellent as Cyrano – displaying all the pathos and heartache of a man with a rapier like wit – held back from love by his looks – but able to act as a go between for another to find his true love. It’s quite a heartbreaking story with snatches of humor – and he hits every mark. I think Stewart and Tracy in their respective roles – were both excellent – but again – comedy is hard. Harder to win awards for. Even with HARVEY being based on a Pulitzer Prize winning play, and Stewart having just the right mix of whimsy and realism – with his imaginary pal – it was a tough go. Tracy is wonderful as Elizabeth Taylor’s loving Dad, ready to give her away. I actually thought he was even better – and more flummoxed -in Father’s Little Dividend – the sequel where Taylor gives birth to his granddaughter. But yes – it was a strong year. I think the Academy made the right choice.

    Liked by 1 person

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