Did They Get it Right? – Best Supporting Actor – Oscars 1954

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Lee J. Cobb (On the Waterfront)
Karl Malden (On the Waterfront)
Edmond O’Brien (The Barefoot Contessa)
Rod Steiger (On the Waterfront)
Tom Tully (The Caine Mutiny)

Biggest Snub:

John Williams – Dial M for Murder

My Overall Thoughts:

This is a year with 5 great nominees and any of their performances truly were deserving of winning this award, but the fact that three of the nominees were from the same film essentially works against all of them since they probably split the votes.

My Rankings:

Supporting Actor

5. Tom Tully
4. Rod Steiger
3. Lee J. Cobb
2. Edmond O’Brien
1. Karl Malden


3. The Barefoot ContessaGreat film by Mankiewicz that is able to put together perspectives of 3 different men on the rise and fall of an actress who they discovered. The cast is superb and each of the main characters do a wonderful job fleshing out their profession as a moviemaker. Bogart is great in the lead, but he is outshown by both Gardner and O’Brien whenever they are on screen with him.  The perspective shown here on Hollywood elites isn’t always a flattering one, but that helps make the story feel even more realistic.  Love the way the story is told in flashback as it slowly lets us understand everything that transpired.
2. On the WaterfrontShould be seen on it’s own merit and not for underlying themes. Excellent acting. Very deserving of it’s Oscars including Best Picture and Director.
1. The Caine MutinyGreat story that asks the age old question of who is more fit for command; a man with experience on paper or in the field? The top notch cast helps make this so enjoyable to watch. It can easily been seen how numerous other movies about command decisions in battle borrowed from this movie’s message. The questions raised here by Wouk are very adaptable to other real life situations.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Yes and No!  EO is great in TBC but KM was superb in OTW. The fact that 3 actors from that movie were in this category essentially cancelled each other out.


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

2 thoughts on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Supporting Actor – Oscars 1954

  1. 1) With you all the way on Karl Malden. Question: How the eff did he not even get nominated for Patton?
    2) I never really had an issue with Edmond O’Brien winning here; I’ve always liked him, even in some of the schlockier stuff he did (I’m a sucker for 1948’s “Fighter Squadron”…don’t ask me why…)
    3) I never really understood Tom Tully’s nomination for “The Caine Mutiny,” only for the fact that it seems if you were going to pick somebody in a supporting role from that great cast, the choices were either Fred MacMurray or Jose Ferrer.


  2. Agree with all of J-Dubs comments. Especially #3. Don’t agree with your John Williams snub. He was a Hitchcock regular and could play these erudite Brit roles in his sleep – whether a cop here or Audrey Hepburn’s chauffeur father (a better role – also overlooked) – so he was one of those always solid character actors who flew under the Academy radar. “Snubs” for me could’ve been Jack Carson in “A Star is Born” or the 2 actors mentioned by J-Dub. As for the rest: I’ve only seen Barefoot Contessa once and don’t remember it well enough to gauge – but with Brando and Eva Marie Saint (in her first role) winning for Waterfront – chances that the 3 nominees canceled one another out is likely. They were ALL magnificent and I would’ve had a hard time picking one over the other.

    Bit of trivia on Waterfront – Best Story & Screenplay was won by Budd Schulberg – who in 1951 was named as a former member of the Communist Party during the witch hunt in Hollywood. He became a friendly witness before the committee and named other names of other writers. So it made sense that he was hired by Elia Kazan – himself a friendly witness who named names – to write the screenplay for Waterfront. But this was AFTER Kazan had asked Arthur Miller to do the screenplay and was turned down. Miller was part of the Hollywood elite staunchly AGAINST the Blacklist who traveled to DC to support the Hollywood Ten (the blacklisted writers who went to prison – amongst them Dalton Trumbo). Miller was adamantly opposed to Kazan’s testimony to the House Un-American Activities committee – and told him so.


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