1955 is one of those years with outstanding acting in iconic roles which will set everybody to arguing furiously — fun, ain’t it?
The original choice was the sentimental one (extremely common with the Academy, and people in general): Ernest Borgnine won for Marty, in a stereotype-breaking, career-making, date-making performance:
So who did Borgnine beat?
Spencer Tracy, as a one-armed bad-ass crusader in Bad Day at Black Rock — where, ironically enough, Tracy destroyed Borgnine’s more usual role as a heavy in a famous fight.
James Dean was posthumously nominated for East of Eden, a movie which requires us to get really excited about refrigeration and beans.
Dean once again offers us the tortured adolescent doing his very best Marlon Brando impersonation, which he does far better in Rebel Without a Cause, a performance that has remained iconic even with all the drunken “You’re tearing me apart” hysterics. I suggest Dean should have been nominated for that role instead of East of Eden.
James Cagney rips up Doris Day in Love Me or Leave Me, albeit without a grapefruit in sight:
The final nominee was Frank Sinatra, outdoing himself as a drug addict in The Man with the Golden Arm, which helped to begin cracking the Production Code wide open:
So who did the Academy ignore?
Robert Mitchum, in his terrifying performance from Charles Laughton’s brilliantly original The Night of the Hunter:
If you would like to make other suggestions, please do so below in the comments!
As always, I have much more to say in my book: http://www.amazon.com/WHO-Irreverent-Look-Oscars-Volume/dp/069232318X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0
And now, please vote!