1958 seems to me to be a transitional year, as we see an older generation of actresses delivering iconic career highs as a younger generation does much the same. Three of these women had been stars by the end of WWII; two of them were just on the rise.
The original winner was Susan Hayward in a brilliant performance as a convicted criminal on death row in I Want to Live!
She won over Rosalind Russell for Auntie Mame, in her greatest comedic role since Cary Grant and His Girl Friday:
Elizabeth Taylor went all Tennessee Williams as Maggie the Cat in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:
Deborah Kerr scored another nomination, this time in Separate Tables as a mousy daughter of an oppressive mother (which always reminds me of Bette Davis in Now, Voyager):
The final official nominee was Shirley MacLaine in her breakout role in Some Came Running:
The Academy did omit someone in what is likely the very best film in which she ever appeared: Kim Novak in her dual role in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. To be honest, I wasn’t impressed with her the first time I saw the movie, but in rewatching Vertigo, I couldn’t help but notice the ever-escalating respect I had for her in crafting two very distinct performances that work on levels of subtlety only Hitchcock ever brought out of her:
Feel free to make other suggestions below in the comments!
As always, I have much more to say in my book: http://www.amazon.com/WHO-Won-Irreverent-Look-Oscars/dp/069232318X/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
And now, please vote!