Did They Get it Right? – Best Supporting Actor – Oscars 1966

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Mako (The Sand Pebbles)
James Mason (Georgy Girl)
Walter Matthau (The Fortune Cookie)
George Segal (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?)
Robert Shaw (A Man for All Seasons)

Biggest Snub:

Richard Attenborough – The Sand Pebbles

My Overall Thoughts:

This is a year which has 5 great nominees but one of them was so captivating that even as a pseudo-lead in his film still had an advantage over the rest.

My Rankings:

Supporting Actor

5. James Mason
4. Mako
3. George Segal
2. Robert Shaw
1. Walter Matthau


5. Georgy GirlInteresting idea that brings forth some very intriguing ideas. The characters might all be superficial in their outlooks on love and life but only Georgy seems interesting in something more than that even if she doesn’t quite know what that is. Redgrave and Mason were both nominated for Oscars for their roles here, but neither managed to win. This film is a look at life in the 60’s at the beginning of the idea of feminism, yet still keeps the characters confused as to what that truly means to them. The way that the various male characters view Georgy says it all because they are not yet willing to accept that the way of the world is changing even though it’s quite clear that it has.
4. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?Such a great film because it manages to develop all four of the leads so well in such a short period of time. The audience easily gets pulled into the story and we constantly want to know more and more about the characters who are so interesting and devastating to watch at the same time. Written extremely realistically and gripping from start to finish even though it is entirely carried by its dialogue. Won 5 of its 13 Oscar nominations that year.
3. A Man for All SeasonsGreat performance by Scofield that carries the whole movie. Very deserving of its numerous Oscars.
2. The Fortune CookieGreat Wilder/Diamond comedy that gets so much right. The script is superb and the fast talking Matthau is great in a supporting role that he won an Oscar for.  Lemmon is also great in the lead and his chemistry with Matthau is amazing.  This would be the first collaboration of 11 between the two of them.  The plot may seem quite simple yet they manage to keep things so enjoyable and entertaining the whole way through.  Definitely among Wilder’s great films because it works so well on numerous levels.
1. The Sand PebblesOne of McQueen’s best roles despite the fact that he really isn’t in a leadership role like usual. Loved the way that this film takes its time telling us the story in a complete and epic fashion. The side story with Bergen works because we are teased by it just like the way the main character is tempted to make decisions in life based on his chance meeting. The way they show how the class system on the gunship works helps us understand so much about the social ladder of that time and place. The tension is built up so well as the story moves along. Loved the way that they portray the action when things come to a head and we get to easily see that not much has changed in the almost century since this film takes place when it comes to rules of battle. By far, the best film IMHO of 1966.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Most Definitely!  Matthau is perfect in TFC and is clearly the best of the nominees and was quite deserving of this win.

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

One thought on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Supporting Actor – Oscars 1966

  1. Disagree that Matthau (who I met. I went to film school with his son David) is “clearly the best of the nominees”. All 5 are terrific – especially Mako in Sand Pebbles (and agree with you that Attenborough was excellent as well) and Segal in Virginia Wolff – one of only 2X in Academy history that an entire cast was nominated for their acting (only other time – SLEUTH – with a 2 person cast of Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier). Not that I disagree with Matthau’s win. Some interesting trivia: Two years before Fortune Cookie – Billy Wilder was directing a movie called “Kiss Me Stupid” He wanted Jack Lemmon for one of the leads but he was unavailable. He hired Peter Sellers. Sellers suffered a heart attack (his 1st of 13) and returned to England to recuperate. Not willing to wait for him – Wilder hired Ray Walston. Never happy with his performance he was mad at himself for not waiting for Sellers health to improve (this film was sort of jinxed – as his choice for leading lady had been Marilyn Monroe – who died and was replaced by Kim Novak). Two years later – filming Fortune Cookie – Walter Matthau had a heart attack. Wilder, this time, chose to wait for him to get better and resume his role (he previously wanted Matthau for the lead opposite Marilyn Monroe in “The Seven Year Itch”, but the studio would not approve an “unknown” and went with Tom Ewell).

    Matthau won the Oscar – and attended the ceremony with a cast on one arm – having broken it earlier that week in a fall from a bicycle.He chided the other 3 WINNERS in the acting categories – Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Scofield and Sandy Dennis – for not showing up. He was the only acting winner to be there.

    Liked by 1 person

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