Who Should Have Won the Best Actor Oscar for 1962?

No matter who wins this year, there are going to be angry fans — even more so than usual, because at least three of the performances are so iconic and damn fine career peaks, no matter which way the voting goes, an eminently worthy choice is set aside. That is the game, however (and one of those years when I wanted to simply hand out awards to everybody).

Historically, the Academy chose Gregory Peck for To Kill a Mockingbird, in a role he was born to play, in one of the finest adaptations of a literary classic ever filmed:

Burt Lancaster was nominated for his prisoner turned ornithologist in Birdman of Alcatraz (which, by the way, was a massive whitewash of a man who was brutal, vicious, and a writer of child pornography throughout his internment; his fellow inmates said he was kept in solitary because he would kill and/or rape any prisoner he came in contact with):

Jack Lemmon believed his finest moment as an actor came as the alcoholic in Days of Wine and Roses:

Marcello Mastroianni was nominated for his comic turn as a man trying to find his wife a lover so he can get away with killing her in Divorce, Italian Style:


And the final official nomination: Peter O’Toole, Lawrence of Arabia

Are you ready to have your choices made even harder? Here are the actors they had to omit this year!

First, Anthony Quinn as a worn-out boxer in Rod Serling’s Requiem for a Heavyweight:

Second, Robert Mitchum as a terrifying presence in Gregory Peck’s life in Cape Fear:

Third, Kirk Douglas as a cowboy outsider in his own favorite movie performance in Lonely Are the Brave:

And finally, Robert Preston, in the role God made him for, in the top-notch musical, The Music Man:

Now you too can feel my pain in this, one of the greatest years of film actors ever.

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. So many great unnominated performances that year, chiefly Robert Preston, Kirk Douglas, and don’t forget Tom Courtenay for “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” and the stars of “Ride the High Country” & “The Man Who Killed Liberty Valance.” But sentiment for Gregory Peck aside, the award clearly belonged to Peter O’Toole.

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