Who Should Have Won the Best Actor Oscar for 1955?

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!


  1. Well, first of all, “Marty” was a great “feel good” movie, unlike the others. Second, every one of the other nominees who was still alive had already won an Oscar or two and Dean was deceased. I fully agree on Mitchum. Not only did he deserve a nod for this, but also for “Cape Fear” in a supporting role, but Hollywood had it out for him for most of his career. Of those actually nominated, Borgnine was no better or worse than any of them and, again, with the exception of the late James Dean, the only Oscar virgin among them, so, by the Academy’s typical Byzantine reasoning, I guess that might “explain” it. My pick would have been the non-nominated Mitchum.

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