Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1943

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Humphrey Bogart (Casablanca)
Gary Cooper (For Whom the Bell Tolls)
Paul Lukas (Watch on the Rhine)
Walter Pidgeon (Madame Curie)
Mickey Rooney (The Human Comedy)

Biggest Snub:

Henry Fonda – The Ox-Bow Incident

My Overall Thoughts:

This is a year with great performances nominated, but two of them are superb and it ultimately came down to either Bogie or Paul Lukas.

My Rankings:

Acting Performances

5. Mickey Rooney 
4. Gary Cooper 
3. Walter Pidgeon 
2. Paul Lukas
1. Humphrey Bogart


5. For Whom the Bell TollsCooper and Bergman have nice chemistry together but some of the scenes are a bit too melodramatic. The ideas presented here about patriotism, loyalty and love all come across really well. I’ve never read the novel this is based on, so I’m not sure how good of an adaptation this is. The action scenes work well and I really liked the way that eventhough things seem a bit predictable, they keep the story moving at a nice pace allowing the characters to grow on us as we slowly learn more and more about their lives.
4. The Human ComedyInteresting look at how people dealt with life on the homefront while their loved ones were far away fighting for their freedom. The cast does a fine job here and the fact that this film was written at the time of the war helps reflect attitudes at the time. The dialogue is written really well and even simple scenes come across as being so well thought out. The scene with the librarian works really well to prove that to us.
3. Madame CurieGreat biography of a woman who was able to change the way the world looks at female scientists. Really enjoyed the way the story builds up and we see the collaborative work with her husband yet also see how she spearheaded the scientific discoveries. Great cast helps make this biopic feel so realistic and Garson and Pidgeon are nice choices for the two leads and both were nominated for Lead Oscars for these roles.
2. Watch on the RhineSuch a fascinating story that gets more intriguing as things move along, The cast is perfect with everyone giving a great performance, but the best is clearly Lukas who won an Oscar and Globe for this role. The dialogue is quite gripping and the fact that this film (and the play it was based on) were made during the war years says so much about how things were viewed at that time.
1. CasablancaBlane is an amazing anti-hero character who has a great dilemma and arc that works so well because most people can relate or at least understand his motivations. The story is truly timeless and the intrigue and mystery along the way helps keep things interesting. The cast is superb with Bogart, Bergman, Heinreid and rains all perfectly cast in these roles. The story moves along at a great pace and by the end, we can completely understand the true motivations of everyone. One of the best films ever written.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Yes and No!  Lukas was very deserving of this award, but Bogart’s performance as Rick Blaine is even better.  Obviously, Casablanca wasn’t as iconic when it came out as it is now, but the fact that the Academy awarded it Best Picture shows that they were able to see something in it that would make it a timeless classic and that largely ahs to do with the attitude of Blaine as played by Bogart.

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

One thought on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1943

  1. Haven’t seen Watch on the Rhine in a very long time (and then – only once), so I don’t have a clear memory of Lucas’ performance in it (although I always remember him in “Lord Jim”, but Bogie and Casablanca just seem so in a league of their own – that I find it hard to believe that given a do-over – he wouldn’t win this time around.

    Agree with you on Fonda – who was the stoic, resolute glue that held Ox Bow together. Just a superbly written and directed Western – beautifully cast right down to the smallest roles. It devastated me the first time I saw it. I can’t remember if Anthony Quinn was “snubbed” for a nomination as well. If so, another oversight by the Academy on this classic film.

    Liked by 1 person

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