I'm sure there are years when you thought somebody else should have won. I remember thinking Al Pacino finally winning for Scent of a Woman was like a lifetime achievement award in the same way John Wayne winning for True Grit was. They both should have won years earlier for different films. I just want to highlight a few years which I think could have gone differently. Some are fairly close and some were big oversights in my opinion.
First and foremost I have said many times that Jimmy Stewart's performance in It's A Wonderful Life is the best in film history. The year was 1946 and the post-war drama The Best Years of Our Lives won Best Picture and Fredric March (in one of many good performances in the film) won Best Actor. It is a good film and timely in it's message showing the realities of post-war life in America, BUT in hindsight it is silly to think it beat out It's A Wonderful Life and March was chosen over Stewart's performance. Silly.
Then we have the decade of the 50s where the Academy voters seemed to take a long nap.
1952- The only one I don't have a big problem with. It could have gone either way but it seems a shame that Gene Kelly didn't win an award for Singin' In The Rain but Gary Cooper did for High Noon. Couldn't they both win? Hepburn and Streisand did it once.
1955- Sorry, but there is no way Ernest Borgnine in Marty can match Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter. NO WAY!
1956- Speaking of earlier movies John Wayne should have won for....The Searchers, probably The Duke's greatest role and definitely his greatest film. Yul Brynner won for The King and I, a very good role he became synonymous with, but I still think that was Wayne's year.
1957- Close one, but Henry Fonda for 12 Angry Men instead of Alec Guinness in The Bridge On The River Kwai
1958- No brainer! It should have been Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo instead of David Niven in Separate Tables. Seriously is that even correct? What on earth?! Honestly! I can't believe I have to type that! (By the way I really like David Niven....but REALLY?)
See what I mean about the 50s? But all of that put together is really nothing. The big one, the one that makes me laugh even, The biggest mistake I think they ever made in choosing Best Actor is from 1960. Burt Lancaster won the award for Elmer Gantry but.....
Anthony Perkins DID NOT win for Psycho.
Perkins created one of the best characters on screen for all time and unfortunately for his career could never live it down. He was an amazing actor but after Hitchcock's masterpiece he was typecast or overlooked for major roles afterward. Now I want to go watch that one again. The way he makes Norman Bates both sympathetic and scary is brilliant.
More recently there are some supporting actor awards I thought should have gone differently.
1989- Morgan Freeman instead of Denzel Washington in Glory although Denzel is excellent.
2002- Daniel Day-Lewis for Gangs of New York instead of Chris Cooper in Adaptation although Cooper is excellent.
Next we will tackle the monumental mistake parade of Best Picture winners and amazingly inexcusable snubs. I will have to break it up into volumes, but boy will this be fun!