Thursday Movie Picks: Oscar Winners Edition – Best Actor and Best Actress

A day late to the party but here are my two pennies for the latest theme in Thursday Movie Picks,  run by Wandering through the Shelves. This week we’ve been asked to list 3-5 Best Actor and Best Actress winners from the Academy Awards; I have based my selection on films that I have watched.

Best Actor

  • Marlon Brando for his performance as Vito Corleone in The Godfather (1972)

Brando (who was nominated seven times for the Best Actor Oscar and who took it home twice) made an ever-lasting impression as the menacing but tender head of the Corleone family. However, he declined this Oscar and boycotted the ceremony. Instead, Apache actress Sacheen Littlefeather acted as his spokesperson and explained it was due to Brando protesting Hollywood’s portrayal of Native Americans.

  • Dustin Hoffman for his performance as Raymond Babbitt in Rain Man (1988)

Starring opposite Tom Cruise as his on-screen brother, Hoffman’s Raymond Babbitt is autistic, has savant syndrome (he has an incredible memory), and lives in a mental institution. Rain Man follows the brothers as they learn of each others’ existence following the death of their father.

  • Russell Crowe for his performance as Maximus Decimus Meridius in Gladiator (2000)

There aren’t enough superlatives in the dictionary that I could use to describe my enjoyment of Gladiator and the powerhouse performance that Crowe delivered. I have watched Gladiator countless times and it stands up on repeated viewings. Crowe plays the part exceedingly well; he lives the role and it feels very authentic.

Best Actress

  • Julie Andrews for her performance as Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins (1964)

Andrews brought Mary Poppins to life so beautifully that it is hard to imagine anyone else in the role, although Emily Blunt did a sterling effort in Mary Poppins Returns (2018). In the original Andrews perfectly captures Mary’s quirks and foibles, presenting a wonderful, whimsical person that we would all love the chance to meet for ourselves.

  • Julia Roberts for her performance as Erin Brockovich in Erin Brockovich (2000)

This biographical legal drama brought the story of a single mother who challenged a major corporation to accept responsibility for groundwater contamination to the big screen. It’s an inspiring story and one that Roberts expertly brings to life, showcasing her great dramatic range.

  • Frances McDormand for her performance as Mildred Hayes in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

I watched Three Billboards… for the first time quite recently and was blown away by its premise and characters. McDormand’s Mildred fights for justice following the rape and murder of her daughter. She delivers a heart-breaking, powerful performance and bounces well against Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell, who also headline.

14 thoughts on “Thursday Movie Picks: Oscar Winners Edition – Best Actor and Best Actress

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  1. I didn’t think there would be one popular pick this week but Brando as Vito certainly was. I picked him too. Loved that performance.

  2. All good work though I have some caveats. Brando is indeed impressive in Godfather but I prefer his other winning performance in On the Waterfront. Likewise Dusty I think is miles better and less showy in Kramer vs. Kramer. I love Gladiator and Crowe in it but he should have also won on his previous nomination for The Insider. That’s an amazing performance.

    I’m a little less locked in to your female winners. I adore Julie Andrews and she’s enchanting in Mary Poppins but I think a large piece of her win was tied to her loss of My Fair Lady. My pick for the year she won is Anne Bancroft in The Pumpkin Eater which is an even stronger piece of work than her win in The Miracle Worker. Roberts is as good as she’s capable of being dramatically in Erin Brockovich but she’s a pygmy next to the titanic work that Ellen Burstyn offered up in Requiem for a Dream (though I hated that movie). I didn’t like Three Billboards either though not to the degree of Requiem but can’t fault Frances’s performance or win.

    I wanted to tie my three together somehow and at first planned to chose the three Oscar winners in Gone with the Wind-Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland-but that film is talked about all the time so I chose to go with the lesser discussed Greer Garson and two of her costars.

    Mrs. Miniver (Greer Garson-Best Actress) (1942)-Kay Miniver (Greer), her architect husband Clem (Walter Pidgeon-also Oscar nominated) and their three children are living a comfortable life in a small village outside of London until war is declared. Eldest son Vin (Richard Ney-who shortly after the film’s completion married Greer!) leaves college to join the Royal Air Force while also falling for and marrying local girl Carol Beldon (Teresa Wright-winner for Best Supporting Actress). As the war arrives on their doorstep they must endure bombing raids and many other hardships and tragedies meeting them with perseverance and fortitude.

    Goodbye, Mr. Chips (Robert Donat-Best Actor) (1939)-1n 1870 schoolteacher Charles Chipping “Mr. Chips” (Donat) fresh from university is a strict disciplinarian to his young students at his new public-school post making him unpopular. However, on holiday he meets and impulsively marries the feisty suffragette Katherine Ellis (Greer Garson-Oscar nominated) whose love softens and humanizes Chips until he becomes a beloved institution on campus and a source of inspiration through the tough years of World War I onward into the 20th Century.

    A Double Life (Ronald Colman-Best Actor) (1947)-Legendary stage star Anthony John’s (Colman) method is to totally immerse himself in the parts he plays. This is fine when he appears in comedic roles but with more serious roles, he becomes unpredictably volatile as his real-life self slowly ebbs away leading to the end of his marriage to Brita (Signe Hasso) his frequent costar. Now despite all warning signs he has undertaken Othello partnered again with Brita, though having a young mistress, Pat Kroll (an incredibly young, very thin Shelley Winters in her first important role), and as the part overtakes him, he descends into madness. Though Greer isn’t in this film she and Colman costarred (the year she won for Mrs. Miniver) in another big success for both “Random Harvest” where Colman was again nominated for Best Actor.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Joel. Another vote for The Insider! I really must watch that. It’s interesting you rate other performances by the actors I’ve chosen higher. Whether you’re an award winner or even nominated really depends on what else was released during the same time frame, doesn’t it?

      I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Burstyn on stage; she’s a terrific actress. Requiem for a Dream is a difficult film to watch dealing with a tough subject matter.

      Ah, you do enjoy a theme within a theme! 🙂
      I always look forward to receiving your comment, as you share films, actors and actresses that I’m not always familiar with. Thank you.

  3. Glad you join this week’s TMP, Claire! I went with both classic + contemporary actors for my picks.

    Love Russell Crowe as Gladiator, though I think his best performance is in The Insider. I remember interviewing the writer of Rain Man at a film festival, Dustin Hoffman was definitely great in the role, but I think Tom Cruise was also memorable in it.

    1. Thank you, Ruth!
      Ah, I have not seen The Insider yet. I will add it to my watch list.
      I completely agree about Rain Man: both Hoffman and Cruise deliver excellent performances.

  4. I’m Late but I am here and I, too, love Gladiator. He gives an outstanding performance in this film. I still have to see Rain Man..I know I’m in the minority but, when it came out, I hated all the hoopla surrounding the film so I refused to see it. Marlon Brando was excellent as Vito and I was a kid but I remember Sacheen Littlefeather going up to the podium and the gasps fro. The audience. He did take his award a few years later. Julie won for. Really nice performance as Mary Poppins but she won because she was robbed of her role as Eliza Doolittle that she created on stage. No disrespect to the wonderful Audrey Hepburn. I am so glad France’s McDormand won for 3 Billboards and I find this film excellent. Erin Brokovich is a goood movie and Julia Roberts owns the role but I need to see the other nominees to truly know if she deserved it.

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