Did They Get it Right? – Best Actress – Oscars 1951

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Katharine Hepburn (The African Queen)
Vivien Leigh (A Streetcar Named Desire)
Eleanor Parker (Detective Story)
Shelley Winters (A Place in the Sun)
Jane Wyman (The Blue Veil)

Biggest Snub:

Peggy Dow  – Bright Victory

My Overall Thoughts:

This is a year with 5 very strong performances and each of the five can make a strong case for winning, but ultimately, one of them is slightly more powerful and emotional role to take on.

My Rankings:


5. Shelley Winters
4. Jane Wyman
3. Eleanor Parker
2. Katharine Hepburn
1. Vivien Leigh


5. A Place in the SunReally liked the way that this films story plays out. Great performances by Clift, Taylor and Winters. Really does a great job discussing the moralities of thoughts vs. actions. Enjoyed the way that a film made during the era of censorship of movies was able to still give us a genuine feeling love story that defies many of the issues that weren’t discussed so openly at the time.
4. The Blue VeilGreat depiction of how things happen in our lives which we don’t understand that allow us to move onto a new and very satisfying path in life. The way that this character evolves over the course of the film is great because it shows things in a very simple manner, yet is extremely effective throughout. Wyman is great in this film and she truly shines throughout. She was very deservingly nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress for her work here. Blondell is also great in her small yet significant role and was also nominated for her performance in that role as Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars. The film does a great job showing how we don’t always know what direction our lives will take based on our choices and only when looking back can we see the mosaic that is built on all of our previous seemingly insignificant choices.
3. Detective StoryReally interesting film that obviously has been copied so many times over and expanded on in the 67 years since this came out. The characters are all quite interesting and keep things intriguing as we learn more and more about what is going on. The dialogue is superbly written and also helps make this story even more enjoyable as things move along. They explore some very interesting ideas here and manage to juggle all of the storylines quite well along the way.
2. A Streetcar Named DesireGreat performances, excellent script by Tennessee Williams’ award winning play.
1. The African QueenGreat film where both Hepburn and Bogart excel in their roles. Loved the subtlety of it all.  Great cinematography of the wilds of Africa that shows Huston’s expertise in creating a full scope story for us to enjoy both technically and visually. Bogart deservingly won a Best Actor Oscar for this film and this is one of his best roles IMHO.  The behind the scenes issues of this movie are tales that are wondrous to hear and an account of it is featured in Eastwood’s White Heart Black Hunter.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Most DEfinitely!  Despite this year being a very strong year of candidates, JL was slightly better than the rest and was quite deserving of winning for her work here.

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

3 thoughts on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Actress – Oscars 1951

  1. This was a helluva year for actresses in lead roles. To that point, as good as Winters is in A Place in the Sun – I never saw it as a lead performance – any more than Taylor was a lead. Winters absolutely shines as the cuckolded wife, but it’s Clift’s movie all the way. IMO, his is the only LEAD performance here. I’ve never seen the Blue Veil. Parker is tremendously affecting in Detective Story (also based on a stage play – which you didn’t mention, since you did mention that about Streetcar) as the wife of a detective with a hair trigger, set off by a secret he never knew – played seethingly well by Kirk Douglas. Hepburn was a marvel as the prim sidekick in adventure to Bogart in African Queen. Some of the best work by both of them (which is really saying something) and had they BOTH won – it would’ve been fitting (as Hepburn would do later in her career, sharing honors with Henry Fonda in On Golden Pond). Leigh, having the estimable Marlon Brando to clash with in Streetcar was deserving – in what may have been a very tight race. She had her own personal demons in real life that led to a mental breakdown. And I was always amazed that Streetcar won in 3 of the acting categories – all but Brando. I suppose going up against Charlie Allnut was Marlon’s equivalent of Peter O’Toole’s Lawrence losing to Gregory Peck’s Atticus Finch.

    Finally Rob – on a personal note – a pet peeve of mine regarding your (otherwise) fine capsule reviews. Perhaps you can find a word to replace “great” – which you overuse to a fare thee well (10X in the 5 short reviews above.) Might I suggest skillful, expert, masterful, good, gifted, adroit, polished, sure-handed, slick, effective, wonderful, terrific, show-stopping, multi-faceted, noteworthy, momentous, excellent, tremendous, superb, first rate or awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

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