Who Should Have Won the Best Actress Oscar for 1941?

In one of their trademark moves, the Academy voted Joan Fontaine the Oscar for Best Actress, belatedly realizing that they should have done so for her previous year’s performance in Rebecca (which is the same move from the year before, when they gave Jimmy Stewart the Best Actor Oscar for The Philadelphia Story, instead of his more deserved win for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington).

Suspicion film poster.jpg

Here are the other nominees:

First, Bette Davis in her gargoyle mood in The Little Foxes:

Then Olivia de Havilland in her sacrificial lamb mood in Hold Back the Dawn:

Hold Back The Dawn - 1941 - poster.png

Greer Garson in her usual noble mode in Blossoms in the Dust:

Blossoms in the Dust theatrical release poster

And finally, Barbara Stanwyck in an unexpected (and welcome) comic mode in Ball of Fire:

Ball of Fire movie poster.jpg

But the Academy ignored two other performances, both of them breaking new ground in their careers. First, Joan Crawford showed she had more depth as an actress, aided by ace director George Cukor, with A Woman’s Face:

And finally, Maureen O’Hara began her long association with director John Ford in How Green Was My Valley:

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/dp/B00OPEELH0

And now, please vote!


  1. Tough year. All interesting. There is no immediate standout but I’ll say Maureen O’Hara for her lovely interpretation.

  2. I haven’t seen all of the movies, but I own Ball of Fire on a video. I love Barbara Stanwyck. My other favorite movie that she was in was called Roustabout w Elvis Presley. 👍🏻👏🏻🎈🤗

    • Yes, I know that this is true that Ms Fontaine deserved the Oscar for. REBECCA, and I know 😊 her Oscar for SUSPICION was her compensation for not winning for REBECCA. !!!

  3. What about Greta Garbo for Two Faced Woman? She won national board of review that year and was nominated for New York film critics best actress.

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