Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1937


Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Charles Boyer (Conquest)
Fredric March (A Star Is Born)
Robert Montgomery (Night Must Fall)
Paul Muni (The Life of Emile Zola)
Spencer Tracy (Captains Courageous)

Biggest Snub:

Ronald Coleman – Lost Horizon

My Overall Thoughts:

This was a mixed year that had 5 great actors nominated, but the performances that were nominated weren’t all so stellar.

My Rankings:

Acting Performances

5. Charles Boyer 
4. Spencer Tracy
3. Fredric March
2. Robert Montgomery 
1. Paul Muni

Movies

5. Captains CourageousBased on a novel by Rudyard Kipling that just doesn’t feel like anything special. This was Tracy’s first win for Best Actor eventhough it is far from being his best work.  Story is a bit meandering and the characters feel too stereotypical of fishermen from long ago.
4. ConquestFilm that is carried by the performance of Boyer (who got an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for this performance) as Napoleon which must have been more groundbreaking when it came out than it seems now. The story itself moves along as a very slow speed which takes away from making this the kind of film one can care about. Besides Boyer, most of the other performances come across as lackluster and it’s hard to keep interest in a story presented the way they do so here.
3. Night Must FallVery interesting idea that feels a bit before its time. The story is quite predictable from the very start, but they still do a fine job moving the plot forward despite this fact. Montgomery does a wonderful job in the lead role which garnered him a Best Actor Nomination for the performance. The dialogue is expertly written and the story stays interesting the entire time despite the fact that it’s clear where things are leading the whole time.
2. A Star Is BornThis is such a great story because it is relate-able to just about anyone since its main theme is about fulfilling one’s dreams. The story works really well and knowing all that most of us know about how Hollywood works, the path of the story seems quite plausible. The cast is great and both Gaynor and March do wonderful jobs presenting this story.
1. The Life of Emile ZolaGreat early courtroom drama. Based on a true story. Muni is amazing in the title role and should have become the first actor to win back to back Oscars with this role after having won the previous year for portraying Louis Pasteur in The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936)

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Not Really!  Muni as Emile Zola is by far the best of the performances nominated especially because he was an actor who was able to take on a role and become it.  I believe that since he won the previous year, the Academy chose to spread the wealth and give Gold to Tracy, who is an amazing actor, but his performance in CC is a bit against type for him.  I think Montgomery was the most deserving of the 4 (after Muni).

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

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