Once again, an asterisk indicates that the actor was nominated for, but did not win, an Oscar.
Peter O’Toole, My Favorite Year*
- Really, I could have picked so many things, but I decided to go with My Favorite Year because Peter O’Toole creates such a brilliantly funny and memorable character. O’Toole plays Alan Swann, a swashbuckling film legend fallen on hard times. When he’s invited to guest star on a Your Show of Shows-esque TV program, his alcoholism and inner cowardice make him impossible to deal with, yet strikingly human.
SEE ALSO: Peter O’Toole, Lawrence of Arabia*; Peter O’Toole, Becket*; Peter O’Toole, The Last Emperor
Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth*Gwyneth Paltrow was cute in Shakespeare in Love. And it was a really fun movie. But what she did was merely good. And it’s what she typically does in movies. She’s no Cate Blanchett.
Cate Blanchett is one of the best working actresses today. She is not only beautiful, but she has terrific range and an incredible presence. Many actresses have tackled Elizabeth, but I don’t know that anyone has achieved what Blanchett did in this film.
As is often the case with the Academy, Blanchett took home an Oscar for a much less deserving role, as Kate Hepburn in The Aviator. She was good, but she was barely in the film.
SEE ALSO: Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal*
Sydney Greenstreet, The Maltese Falcon*Greenstreet’s role as The Fat Man in The Maltese Falcon is one of the landmark roles in the pantheon of character actors. Peter Lorre is quite good as Joel Cairo, and Bogart is Bogart, but Greenstreet’s disarming charm and candor add a truly menacing tone to the film. His presence comes not from his girth, but from confidence and humor.
Greenstreet lost the Oscar to Donald Crisp of How Green Was My Valley, a film whose acclaim truly puzzles me. It beat out not just Falcon for Best Picture, but Citizen Kane. Oops.
Jim Broadbent, Moulin Rouge!I am dumbstruck that Broadbent wasn’t nominated for this film, a tremendously charming picture whose engine was Broadbent’s personality and life. Anyone who casts an appreciative eye toward supporting actors has to consider Broadbent one of the best today.
The odd thing about this case is that Broadbent did win the Oscar for Supporting Actor that year – but for his role in Iris, a film I sadly have yet to see. If he truly is better in Iris than he was in Moulin Rouge! I must rush to see it.
SEE ALSO: Jim Broadbent, Topsy Turvy; Jim Broadbent, Richard III; Jim Broadbent, Bullets over Broadway
James Stewart, Harvey*Harvey is an object lesson in the wonders of charm. The script doesn’t have a lot of guffaws, some of the costars are trying too hard, and if you don’t look closely, you’ll miss the pooka.
But Jimmy Stewart is so perfect for the character of Elwood P. Dowd. He achieves the tremendously difficult task of presenting a happy, unpretentious and uncomplicated man while still making him seem real. He makes us want to be more like Elwood.
Jose Ferrer won the Oscar that year for Cyrano de Bergerac. While I can’t deny Ferrer’s skill in portraying the bombastic Bergerac, I admire even more the tremendous subtlety and charm employed by Jimmy Stewart.
SEE ALSO: James Stewart, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington*; James Stewart, Rope
- Emily Watson, Breaking the Waves