Spencer Tracy, Gary Cooper and Tom Hanks all have two Oscars. Neither Richard Burton or Orson Welles won an acting Oscar. They seemed to like the underplaying.

Best Actor is often linked with Best Picture and with good reason. 25 films have won both and 51 times the Best Picture has been nominated for Best Actor. While Best Picture once went 9 years without a Best Actress nomination (66-74), 2005-2008 was the first time ever that it went 4 years without a Best Actor nomination. From 1957 to 1979, the only three Best Pictures to fail to get a Best Actor nomination were musicals (Gigi, West Side Story, Sound of Music).

11 films have managed to score 2 Best Actor nominations, with 4 of them winning Best Actor (Going My Way, Judgment at Nuremberg, Network, Amadeus), and Mutiny on the Bounty managed to get 3 nominations (but lost them all).

note: In the early years, the Academy often nominated a certain number of people, yet multiple performances. They later changed the rules so that an actor can only be nominated once in a category, and past a certain point in the nominating process, all votes for that actor go for that one performance only. So, certain great performances get passed over (Anthony Hopkins in Shadowlands, Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed), because all votes are going to the other performance (Remains of the Day, Blood Diamond). To get around that, yet still only nominate 5, I nominate 5 actors, but if someone has a second performance that made my top 5 for the year, I note that.

I do have to say, this category is where I feel the Academy compounds its mistakes.  In 1939, Robert Donat wins over Jimmy Stewart.  So the next year, Jimmy Stewart essentially wins a makeup Oscar, more for his performance in Mr. Smith than for The Philadelphia Story.  As a result, Henry Fonda doesn’t win and he waits until 1981 to win what is essentially a career Oscar.  Because of that, Warren Beatty doesn’t ever win an acting Oscar (or Burt Lancaster doesn’t win his second).  Watching the video of the winners just made me feel frustrated.  I still can’t believe Peter O’Toole lost to Cliff Robertson and it happened six years before I was born.

Grades (28-69 only): Winners: B / Nominations: B / Seen: 90.73% 95.12%

Honor Roll: Richard III / The Pawnbroker

Shame Roll: Charly

(blue won Best Picture, red was nominated for Best Picture and purple got just the one nomination)

1928 AA: Emil Jannings (The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh)

  • Richard Barthelmess (The Noose and The Patent Leather Kid)
  • Charlie Chaplin (The Circus)

me: Emil Jannings (The Last Command) also for Tartuffe

  • Charlie Chaplin (The Circus)
  • Conrad Veidt (The Man Who Laughs)

note:  The Way of All Flesh is the only film with an Oscar winning performance that is lost.

1929 AA: Warner Baxter (In Old Arizona)

  • Paul Muni (The Valiant)
  • Lewis Stone (The Patriot)
  • George Bancroft (Thunderbolt)
  • Chester Morris (Alibi)

me: Max Schreck (Nosferatu)

  • Albert Dieudonne (Napoleon)
  • Erich Von Stroheim (The Wedding March)
  • Buster Keaton (Steamboat Bill Jr.)
  • Warner Baxter (In Old Arizona)

1930 AA: George Arliss (Disraeli)

  • George Arliss (The Green Goddess) – listed separately because this didn’t win
  • Ronald Colman (Bulldog Drummond and Condemned)
  • Maurice Chevalier (The Love Parade and The Big Pond)
  • Wallace Beery (The Big House)
  • Lawrence Tibbett (The Rogue Song)

me: George Arliss (Disraeli)

  • Lew Ayres (All Quiet on the Western Front)
  • Erich Von Stroheim (The Great Gabbo)
  • Walter Huston (Abraham Lincoln)

1931 AA: Lionel Barrymore (A Free Soul)

  • Richard Dix (Cimarron)
  • Fredric March (The Royal Family of Broadway)
  • Adolphe Menjou (The Front Page)
  • Jackie Cooper (Skippy)

me: Charlie Chaplin (City Lights)

  • Bela Lugosi (Dracula)
  • James Cagney (The Public Enemy)
  • Adolphe Menjou (The Front Page)
  • Lionel Barrymore (A Free Soul)

1932 AA: Frederic March (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)

  • Wallace Beery (The Champ) – second winner, one vote behind March
  • Alfred Lunt (The Guardsman)

me: Paul Muni (Scarface)

  • Frederic March (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)
  • John Barrymore (Grand Hotel)

1933 AA: Charles Laughton (The Private Life of Henry VIII)

  • Paul Muni (I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang)
  • Leslie Howard (Berkeley Square)

me: Peter Lorre (M)

  • Paul Muni (I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang)
  • Charles Laughton (The Private Life of Henry VIII)

note:  Paul Muni came in second and Leslie Howard came in third.

1934 AA: Clark Gable (It Happened One Night)

  • William Powell (The Thin Man)
  • Frank Morgan (Affairs of Cellini)

me: William Powell (The Thin Man)

  • Leslie Howard (Of Human Bondage)
  • Clark Gable (It Happened One Night)

note:  Amazingly enough, Frank Morgan, who isn’t even the lead in Affairs of Cellini, came in second while William Powell came in third.

1935 AA: Victor McLaglen (The Informer)

  • Charles Laughton (Mutiny on the Bounty)
  • Clark Gable (Mutiny on the Bounty)
  • Franchot Tone (Mutiny on the Bounty)

me: Charles Laughton (Mutiny on the Bounty) also for Les Miserables

  • Frederic March (Les Miserables)
  • Leslie Howard (The Scarlet Pimpernel)
  • Clark Gable (Mutiny on the Bounty)

note:  Even though Mutiny on the Bounty won Best Picture, none of the actors came in second in Best Actor.  Paul Muni, with write-in votes for his performance in Black Fury, came in second.

1936 AA: Paul Muni (The Story of Louis Pasteur)

  • Gary Cooper (Mr. Deeds Goes to Town)
  • William Powell (My Man Godfrey)
  • Walter Huston (Dodsworth)
  • Spencer Tracy (San Francisco)

me: Charlie Chaplin (Modern Times)

  • Leslie Howard (The Petrified Forest)
  • Gary Cooper (Mr. Deeds Goes to Town)
  • Ronald Colman (A Tale of Two Cities)
  • Walter Huston (Dodsworth)

1937 AA: Spencer Tracy (Captains Courageous)

  • Fredric March (A Star is Born)
  • Paul Muni (The Life of Emile Zola)
  • Charles Boyer (Conquest)
  • Robert Montgomery (Night Must Fall)

me: Frederic March (A Star is Born)

  • Henry Fonda  (You Only Live Once)
  • Paul Muni (The Life of Emile Zola)
  • Cary Grant (The Awful Truth)
  • Ronald Colman (Lost Horizon)
  • Robert Montgomery (Night Must Fall)

1938 AA: Spencer Tracy (Boys Town)

  • Leslie Howard (Pygmalion)
  • James Cagney (Angels with Dirty Faces)
  • Robert Donat (The Citadel)
  • Charles Boyer (Algiers)

me: Leslie Howard (Pygmalion)

  • James Cagney (Angels with Dirty Faces)
  • Jean Gabin (The Grand Illusion)
  • Cary Grant (Bringing Up Baby)
  • Robert Donat (The Citadel)

1939 AA: Robert Donat (Goodbye Mr. Chips)

  • James Stewart (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington)
  • Clark Gable (Gone with the Wind)
  • Laurence Olivier (Wuthering Heights)
  • Mickey Rooney (Babes in Arms)

me: James Stewart (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington)

  • Laurence Olivier (Wuthering Heights)
  • Clark Gable (Gone with the Wind)
  • Robert Donat (Goodbye Mr. Chips)
  • Jean Gabin (Port of Shadows)

note:  How they could have picked Donat over those other three towering performances is beyond me.

1940 AA: James Stewart (The Philadelphia Story)

  • Henry Fonda (The Grapes of Wrath)
  • Charlie Chaplin (The Great Dictator)
  • Laurence Olivier (Rebecca)
  • Raymond Massey (Abe Lincoln in Illinois)

me: Henry Fonda (The Grapes of Wrath)

  • Charlie Chaplin (The Great Dictator)
  • Cary Grant (His Girl Friday)
  • Laurence Olivier (Rebecca)
  • James Stewart (The Philadelphia Story)

1941 AA: Gary Cooper (Sergeant York)

  • Orson Welles (Citizen Kane)
  • Walter Huston (The Devil and Daniel Webster)
  • Cary Grant (Penny Serenade)
  • Robert Montgomery (Here Comes Mr. Jordan)

me: Orson Welles (Citizen Kane)

  • Humphrey Bogart (The Maltese Falcon)
  • Walter Huston (The Devil and Daniel Webster)
  • Robert Montgomery (Here Comes Mr. Jordan)
  • Gary Cooper (Sergeant York)

note:  It’s appalling that this is Welles’ one and only acting nomination.

1942 AA: James Cagney (Yankee Doodle Dandy)

  • Gary Cooper (The Pride of the Yankees)
  • Ronald Colman (Random Harvest)
  • Walter Pidgeon (Mrs. Miniver)
  • Monty Woolley (The Pied Piper)

me: James Cagney (Yankee Doodle Dandy)

  • Joel McCrea (Sullivan’s Travels)
  • Gary Cooper (The Pride of the Yankees)
  • Jack Benny (To Be or Not to Be)
  • Ronald Colman (Random Harvest)

1943 AA: Paul Lukas (Watch on the Rhine)

  • Humphrey Bogart (Casablanca)
  • Gary Cooper (For Whom the Bell Tolls)
  • Walter Pidgeon (Madame Curie)
  • Mickey Rooney (The Human Comedy)

me: Humphrey Bogart (Casablanca)

  • Joseph Cotton (Shadow of a Doubt)
  • Gary Cooper (For Whom the Bell Tolls)
  • Henry Fonda (The Ox-Bow Incident)
  • Paul Lukas (Watch on the Rhine)

1944 AA: Bing Crosby (Going My Way)

  • Alexander Knox (Wilson)
  • Charles Boyer (Gaslight)
  • Cary Grant (None but the Lonely Heart)
  • Barry Fitzgerald (Going My Way) – won for Supporting Actor

me: Charles Boyer (Gaslight)

  • Bing Crosby (Going My Way)
  • Cary Grant (Arsenic and Old Lace)
  • Fred MacMurray (Double Indemnity)
  • Eddie Bracken (Hail the Conquering Hero)

1945 AA: Ray Milland (The Lost Weekend)

  • Bing Crosby (The Bells of St. Mary’s)
  • Gregory Peck (The Keys of the Kingdom)
  • Gene Kelly (Anchors Aweigh)
  • Cornel Wilde (A Song to Remember)

me: Ray Milland (The Lost Weekend)

  • Roger Livesy (The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp)
  • Humphrey Bogart (To Have and Have Not)
  • Boris Karloff (The Body Snatcher)
  • Bing Crosby (The Bells of St. Mary’s)

1946 AA: Frederic March (The Best Years of Our Lives)

  • Laurence Olivier (Henry V)
  • James Stewart (It’s a Wonderful Life)
  • Gregory Peck (The Yearling)
  • Larry Parks (The Jolson Story)

me: James Stewart (It’s a Wonderful Life)

  • Frederic March (The Best Years of Our Lives)
  • Laurence Olivier (Henry V)
  • Humphrey Bogart (The Big Sleep)
  • Jean-Louis Barrault (Children of Paradise)

note:  Just a truly phenomenal group of performances.  I can’t believe they nominated Larry Parks.

1947 AA: Ronald Colman (A Double Life)

  • Gregory Peck (Gentleman’s Agreement)
  • William Powell (Life with Father)
  • John Garfield (Body and Soul)
  • Michael Redgrave (Mourning Becomes Electra)

me: Nicolai Cherkasov (Ivan the Terrible Part I)

  • Gregory Peck (Gentleman’s Agreement)
  • Trevor Howard (I See a Dark Stranger)
  • Ronald Colman (A Double Life)
  • Charlie Chaplin (Monsieur Verdoux)

note:  Even before he won, this was seen as a career Oscar for Ronald Colman.  According to Inside Oscar, one trade paper ad read: “Why it is so expert an actor as Ronald Colman has never won an Academy Award?”

1948 AA: Laurence Olivier (Hamlet)

  • Montgomery Clift (The Search)
  • Lew Ayres (Johnny Belinda)
  • Clifton Webb (Sitting Pretty)
  • Dan Dailey (When My Baby Smiles at Me)

me: Humphrey Bogart (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre)

  • Laurence Olivier (Hamlet)
  • John Wayne (Red River)
  • James Stewart (Rope)
  • Lew Ayres (Johnny Belinda)

note:  When My Baby Smiles at Me is the only nominated performance I haven’t seen after 1930.

1949 AA: Broderick Crawford (All the King’s Men)

  • Kirk Douglas (Champion)
  • Gregory Peck (12 O’Clock High)
  • John Wayne (The Sands of Iwo Jima)
  • Richard Todd (The Hasty Heart)

me: Kirk Douglas (Champion)

  • Broderick Crawford (All the King’s Men)
  • James Cagney (White Heat)
  • Ralph Richardson (The Fallen Idol)
  • Richard Todd (The Hasty Heart)

1950 AA: Jose Ferrer (Cyrano de Bergerac)

  • William Holden (Sunset Boulevard)
  • James Stewart (Harvey)
  • Spencer Tracy (Father of the Bride)
  • Louis Calhern (The Magnificent Yankee)

me: William Holden (Sunset Boulevard)

  • James Stewart (Harvey)
  • Alec Guinness (Kind Hearts and Coronets)
  • Richard Widmark (Night and the City)
  • Sterling Hayden (The Asphalt Jungle)

note:  This would, of course, lead to the makeup Oscar for Holden for Stalag 17 (though I agree with that Oscar) and leave Montgomery Clift without an Oscar.

1951 AA: Humphrey Bogart (The African Queen)

  • Marlon Brando (A Streetcar Named Desire)
  • Montgomery Clift (A Place in the Sun)
  • Frederic March (Death of a Salesman)
  • Arthur Kennedy (Bright Victory)

me: Marlon Brando (A Streetcar Named Desire)

  • Humphrey Bogart (The African Queen)
  • Robert Walker (Strangers on a Train)
  • Kirk Douglas (Ace in the Hole) also for Detective Story
  • Alec Guinness (Oliver Twist)

note:  Even when they make a good choice, they don’t make the right choice.  Because they had passed up Bogart for Lukas in 1943 and not even nominated him in 1948, they gave him the Oscar here, passing over what might be the finest acting in all of film history.

1952 AA: Gary Cooper (High Noon)

  • Kirk Douglas (The Bad and the Beautiful)
  • Alec Guinness (The Lavender Hill Mob)
  • Marlon Brando (Viva Zapata)
  • Jose Ferrer (Moulin Rouge)

me: Gary Cooper (High Noon)

  • Kirk Douglas (The Bad and the Beautiful)
  • Gene Kelly (Singin in the Rain)
  • Alistair Sim (A Christmas Carol)
  • Ralph Richardson (The Sound Barrier)

1953 AA: William Holden (Stalag 17)

  • Burt Lancaster (From Here to Eternity)
  • Montgomery Clift (From Here to Eternity)
  • Richard Burton (The Robe)
  • Marlon Brando (Julius Caesar)

me: William Holden (Stalag 17) also for The Moon is Blue

  • Burt Lancaster (From Here to Eternity)
  • Montgomery Clift (From Here to Eternity)
  • David Niven (The Moon is Blue)
  • Richard Burton (The Robe)

1954 AA: Marlon Brando (On the Waterfront)

  • Humphrey Bogart (The Caine Mutiny)
  • James Mason (A Star is Born)
  • Bing Crosby (The Country Girl)
  • Dan O’Herlihy (Adventures of Robinson Crusoe)

me: Marlon Brando (On the Waterfront)

  • Humphrey Bogart (The Caine Mutiny)
  • Bing Crosby (The Country Girl)
  • James Mason (A Star is Born)
  • Charles Laughton (Hobson’s Choice)

1955 AA: Ernest Borgnine (Marty)

  • James Dean (East of Eden)
  • Spencer Tracy (Bad Day at Black Rock)
  • Frank Sinatra (The Man with the Golden Arm)
  • James Cagney (Love Me or Leave Me)

me: James Dean (Rebel Without a Cause) also for East of Eden

  • Henry Fonda (Mr. Roberts)
  • Frank Sinatra (The Man With the Golden Arm)
  • Orson Welles (Othello)
  • Robert Mitchum (Night of the Hunter)

1956 AA: Yul Brynner (The King and I)

  • Kirk Douglas (Lust for Life)
  • Laurence Olivier (Richard III)
  • James Dean (Giant)
  • Rock Hudson (Giant)

me: Laurence Olivier (Richard III)

  • Kirk Douglas (Lust for Life)
  • Yul Brynner (The King and I)
  • Karl Malden (Baby Doll)
  • Alec Guinness (The Ladykillers)

1957 AA: Alec Guinness (The Bridge on the River Kwai)

  • Charles Laughton (Witness for the Prosecution)
  • Marlon Brando (Sayonara)
  • Anthony Quinn (Wild is the Wind)
  • Anthony Francoisa (A Hatful of Rain)

me: Alec Guinness (The Bridge on the River Kwai)

  • Kirk Douglas (Paths of Glory)
  • Henry Fonda (12 Angry Men)
  • Tony Curtis (Sweet Smell of Success)
  • Charles Laughton (Witness for the Prosecution)

1958 AA: David Niven (Separate Tables)

  • Paul Newman (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof)
  • Sidney Poitier (The Defiant Ones)
  • Tony Curtis (The Defiant Ones)
  • Spencer Tracy (The Old Man and the Sea)

me: Orson Welles (Touch of Evil)

  • Paul Newman (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof)
  • Alec Guinness (The Horse’s Mouth)
  • Gunnar Bjornstrand (The Seventh Seal)
  • Richard Burton (Look Back in Anger)

1959 AA: Charlton Heston (Ben-Hur)

  • Jack Lemmon (Some Like It Hot)
  • Laurence Harvey (Room at the Top)
  • James Stewart (Anatomy of a Murder)
  • Paul Muni (The Last Angry Man)

me: Jack Lemmon (Some Like It Hot)

  • Victor Sjostrom (Wild Strawberries)
  • James Stewart (Anatomy of a Murder)
  • Cary Grant (North by Northwest)
  • Laurence Harvey (Room at the Top)

1960 AA: Burt Lancaster (Elmer Gantry)

  • Jack Lemmon (The Apartment)
  • Spencer Tracy (Inherit the Wind)
  • Trevor Howard (Sons and Lovers)
  • Laurence Olivier (The Entertainer)

me: Jack Lemmon (The Apartment)

  • Alec Guinness (Tunes of Glory)
  • Takashi Shimura (Ikiru)
  • Burt Lancaster (Elmer Gantry)
  • John Mills (Tunes of Glory)

1961 AA: Maximillian Schell (Judgment at Nuremberg)

  • Paul Newman (The Hustler)
  • Spencer Tracy (Judgment at Nuremberg)
  • Charles Boyer (Fanny)
  • Stuart Whitman (The Mark)

me: Maximillian Schell (Judgment at Nuremberg)

  • Paul Newman (The Hustler)
  • Toshiro Mifune (Throne of Blood) also for Yojimbo
  • Marcello Mastroianni (La Dolce Vita)
  • Sidney Poitier (A Raisin in the Sun)

1962 AA: Gregory Peck (To Kill a Mockingbird)

  • Peter O’Toole (Lawrence of Arabia)
  • Burt Lancaster (Bird Man of Alcatraz)
  • Jack Lemmon (Days of Wine and Roses)
  • Marcello Mastroianni (Divorce – Italian Style)

me: Peter O’Toole (Lawrence of Arabia)

  • Gregory Peck (To Kill a Mockingbird)
  • Robert Preston (The Music Man)
  • Gunnar Bjornstrand (Through a Glass Darkly)
  • Ralph Richardson (Long Day’s Journey Into Night)

note:  Much like the Bogie Oscar, a very good choice, but, not, in my opinion, the right choice.

1963 AA: Sidney Poitier (Lilies of the Field)

  • Paul Newman (Hud)
  • Albert Finney (Tom Jones)
  • Richard Harris (This Sporting Life)
  • Rex Harrison (Cleopatra)

me: Paul Newman (Hud)

  • Gunnar Bjornstrand (Winter Light)
  • Toshiro Mifune (Stray Dog)
  • Albert Finney (Tom Jones)
  • Burt Lancaster (The Leopard)

1964 AA: Rex Harrison (My Fair Lady)

  • Peter Sellers (Dr. Strangelove)
  • Peter O’Toole (Becket)
  • Richard Burton (Becket)
  • Anthony Quinn (Zorba the Greek)

me: Peter Sellers (Dr. Strangelove)

  • George C. Scott (Dr. Strangelove)
  • Rex Harrison (My Fair Lady)
  • Tatsuya Nakadai (Harakiri)
  • Richard Burton (Night of the Iguana)

1965 AA: Lee Marvin (Cat Ballou)

  • Rod Steiger (The Pawnbroker)
  • Laurence Olivier (Othello)
  • Richard Burton (The Spy Who Came in From the Cold)
  • Oskar Werner (Ship of Fools)

me: Rod Steiger (The Pawnbroker)

  • Richard Burton (The Spy Who Came in From the Cold)
  • Laurence Olivier (Othello)
  • Omar Sharif (Doctor Zhivago)
  • Terrence Stamp (The Collector)

note:  A ridiculous choice.  Even Marvin thought Rod Steiger would win.  Marvin, sitting in front of Steiger, turned to him and said “You know why they put me ahead of you?  Because when they call your name I am going to stick my big foot out and you are going to fall on your ass!” (Inside Oscar, p 386).  This would lead to Steiger’s makeup Oscar.

1966 AA: Paul Scofield (A Man for All Seasons)

  • Richard Burton (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf)
  • Michael Caine (Alfie)
  • Steve McQueen (The Sand Pebbles)
  • Alan Arkin (The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming)

me: Richard Burton (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf)

  • Paul Scofield (A Man for All Seasons)
  • Alan Arkin (The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming)
  • Toshiro Mifune (Red Beard)
  • Steve McQueen (The Sand Pebbles)

note:  See note for 1962.

1967 AA: Rod Steiger (In the Heat of the Night)

  • Warren Beatty (Bonnie and Clyde)
  • Dustin Hoffman (The Graduate)
  • Paul Newman (Cool Hand Luke)
  • Spencer Tracy (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner)

me: Orson Welles (Chimes at Midnight)

  • Warren Beatty (Bonnie and Clyde)
  • Dustin Hoffman (The Graduate)
  • Paul Newman (Cool Hand Luke)
  • Sidney Poitier (In the Heat of the Night)

1968 AA: Cliff Robertson (Charly)

  • Peter O’Toole (The Lion in Winter)
  • Alan Bates (The Fixer)
  • Ron Moody (Oliver)
  • Alan Arkin (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter)

me: Peter O’Toole (The Lion in Winter)

  • Zero Mostel (The Producers)
  • Alan Bates (The Fixer)
  • Max Von Sydow (Hour of the Wolf)
  • Per Oscarsson (Hunger)

1969 AA: John Wayne (True Grit)

  • Dustin Hoffman (Midnight Cowboy)
  • Jon Voight (Midnight Cowboy)
  • Richard Burton (Anne of the Thousand Days)
  • Peter O’Toole (Goodbye Mr. Chips)

me: William Holden (The Wild Bunch)

  • Dustin Hoffman (Midnight Cowboy)
  • Jon Voight (Midnight Cowboy)
  • Richard Burton (Anne of the Thousand Days)
  • Paul Newman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid)

note:  Burton and O’Toole never won.  Yet, Wayne won for this ridiculous performance.  Not the worst Oscar ever, thanks to Cliff Robertson, Warner Baxter and Denzel Washington.  But close.

Honorary Mentions:

  • 1946: Trevor Howard (Brief Encounter)
  • 1951: Montgomery Clift (A Place in the Sun)
  • 1952: Laurence Olivier (Carrie)
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