Thursday Movie Picks – Oscar Winners Edition: Best Actor and Best Actress

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy almost Friday! It’s TMP time! The Thursday Movie Picks blogathon was spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… Oscar Winners Edition: Best Actor and Best Actress

Ok since there’s no rules as to which time period to pick from, I selected one classic and one contemporary actor and actress who I think are worthy winners. For the fun of it, I also picked one actor + actress who I don’t think deserve to win on the year they’re nominated.

In any case, here are my picks:


Vivien Leigh – Gone With the Wind (1939)

Scarlett O’Hara is not exactly an easy woman to love, she’s practically an anti-heroine which in and of itself is quite revolutionary. Vivien Leigh was primarily a stage actress and was in a few plays with her second husband Laurence Olivier. She’s perhaps one of the first classic actress I’ve seen growing up… I must have been in my pre-teen when I first saw Gone With the Wind, and I’m still in awe of her performance to this day. To think that she almost didn’t get the role as producer David O. Selznick considered her to be ‘too British’ at one time. I can’t imagine another actress in the role.

Helen Mirren – The Queen (2006)

Ok so I pick another British actress, I didn’t exactly plan for that. I wanted to include someone from the 2000s and the one I thought of right away is the Dame’s performance as Queen Elizabeth I. Of course by now there have been another great memorable performance of the Queen in her later years (Olivia Colman in The Crown), but I think Helen Mirren’s portrayal is still an iconic one. Her physical transformation with the wig and glasses, complete with her facial expression and slightly downturned mouth, voice delivery, everything is just spot on. Even the Queen’s OCD behavior was accounted for based on Mirren’s research. Per IMDb trivia, Mirren was so convincing that by the end of production, crew members who had been accustomed to slouching or relaxing when they addressed her were standing straight up and respectfully folding their hands behind their backs.


Least Fave Best Actress Winner

Gwyneth Paltrow – Shakespeare In Love (1998)

I still think it’s practically scandalous that Paltrow won over Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth. I mean, generally speaking Blanchett can run circles around Paltrow all day long, but I’ve seen both films and in no universe did Paltrow gave a better performance in their respective films.


Gregory Peck – To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

Is it a surprise I picked this gentleman? If you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you’d know I was obsessed with Mr. Peck a few years ago and have blogged about him repeatedly. This was actually his fourth Oscar nominations following The Keys of the Kingdom (1945), The Yearling (1946), Gentleman’s Agreement (1947), and Twelve O’Clock High (1949). I’ve seen them all and they’re all terrific Oscar-worthy performances, but I think Atticus Finch so tailor-made for him that he practically become the character and be forever be known for that role. It’s no surprise The American Film Institute named Atticus Finch the greatest movie hero of the 20th century and Peck’s performance certainly helped cement that in history.

Jamie Foxx – Ray (2004)

When I first saw this film years ago, I was so blown away by Foxx’s performance. I think this was the first time I saw him in a lead role and man, did he kill it. He was so dedicated to the role that he attended classes at the Braille Institute, and he also had to wear eye prosthetics to make him look authentically blind for the entire shoot. I can’t imagine having to endure something like that, AND have to act at the same time.  Plus the musically-gifted actor also played the piano himself, though it was Ray Charles’ voice that was heard in the film. His win marked the first actor to win Best Actor in a music/musical movie since Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady (1964)

Least Fave Best Actor Winner

Roberto Benigni – Life Is Beautiful (1997)

I loved the film but honestly I didn’t think Benigni’s performance was Oscar-worthy. Especially given he was nominated alongside Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan and Edward Norton in American History X. His Oscar speech was a hoot though irritating at the same time. In any case, his win marked only the second time that an actor had directed himself in an Oscar-winning performance, the first was Laurence Olivier for Hamlet (1948).

So which Best Actor and/or Actress winners are your favorite?

25 thoughts on “Thursday Movie Picks – Oscar Winners Edition: Best Actor and Best Actress

  1. I’m with you on Paltrow as I didn’t think it was that special nor was the film. I found it to be boring. It was boring when I was 18 and saw it on TV and it’s still boring. Remember, it’s all Harvey Weinstein’s fault. Cate Blanchett should’ve won it. Tom Hanks should’ve won the Oscar for Saving Private Ryan as well.

    1. i think Harvey campaigned like crazy for that movie, which I think shouldn’t even be allowed. I honestly don’t care for the FYC campaigns, I always delete that whenever it comes across my email. Cate’s performance was far more memorable and she’s generally a much stronger actress anyway.

      1. Oscar-campaigning is terrible as it’s part of the reason why I don’t like Melissa Leo very much as I found her performance in The Fighter to be overrated as she campaigned like crazy to win and she did win yet it was for all of the wrong reasons. My dad saw that film and hated her performance.

        1. Boy I don’t even remember Melissa Leo in The Fighter! The only I remember is Amy Adams who should’ve won an Oscar by now. I think it’s even more tacky if actors do award campaigning, ugh!

  2. Nice picks! Vivien’s performance as Scarlett is so versatile. It’s a good example of how nobody else could really pull off that role. And Jamie Foxx as Ray is fantastic too. He had his mannerisms and voice down pat.

    1. I just love Vivien Leigh’s Scarlett, she was so fierce and hard to love, but what a performance! Jamie Foxx literally became Ray Charles, it was uncanny!

  3. The only film I saw from your list here is To Kill A Mockingbird, the book was a required reading back in like 8th or 9th at my school. We then watched the film version once we’re done with the book, I really like Peck as Atticus Finch, he really fit the description from the book.

    I think the only actor I thought didn’t deserve an Oscar was Jodie Foster for her small role in Taxi Driver. I’ve seen the film millions of times and still don’t get why she won an Oscar for her performance. Her character was hardly in the film and when she’s on the screen, she wasn’t anything special. Maybe it’s because of the time, people were just wowed by seeing a young actress playing a prostitute.

    1. Hey Ted, I never read the book but I have read articles saying how much Peck fits the way Atticus is described in it. I think it also became Peck’s favorite character and he’s still friends with a bunch of the actors in the film years later.

      I don’t mind talents winning awards even despite their short appearance on film, I mean Judi Dench won for Shakespeare in Love for only appearing for 8 minutes! But sounds like Jodie’s didn’t quite warrant that win. I actually have never seen Taxi Driver in its entirety, only bits and pieces of it.

  4. Vivien Leigh is untouchable in GWTW and though Selznick tested every woman under the sun he could have never found anyone better. Hers is my second favorite winning performance in the category’s history.

    I remember Helen Mirren’s march to Oscar that year, I don’t think there was an award she didn’t win, so when they announced her name it came as no shock but I loved the performance so I had no objection. A wonderful actress at least when the Academy decided it was “her time” it was for a deserving piece of work.

    I’m not a fan of the GOOP girl (love her mother though) and thought her work in SIL was okay but unmemorable. Yes Blanchett should have taken it in a walk.

    With Gregory Peck and Mockingbird it was a true perfect marriage of actor and part. He wasn’t able to play everything (he’s all wrong in Duel in the Sun attempting to be a villain) but if you’re looking for resolute decency Greg was your guy.

    I wasn’t blown away by Foxx, there’s no doubt he was good but I saw nothing particularly special.

    I liked Benigni’s work in Life is Beautiful, though his behavior on the award circuit was clownish. He wouldn’t have been my choice that year though, I was pulling for Ian McKellen followed by Tom Hanks.

    Since you asked my favorite Best Actress winner is Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress followed by Vivien in GWTW. My least favorite is the completely wretched work of Mary Pickford in Coquette.

    My favorite Best Actor is Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln. My least is a tie between Jose Ferrer in Cyrano de Bergerac and Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody.

    1. Hello Joel! I feel like TMP post isn’t complete until I read your take on it 🙂

      “With Gregory Peck and Mockingbird it was a true perfect marriage of actor and part.” Absolutely! Though I actually enjoyed Gregory Peck in Duel in The Sun, it was campy but also hilarious as it’s so unexpected to see him in that role.

      Oh I also LOVE Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress, such a different role from Melanie whom I also love in GWTW.

  5. I forgot to list my choices. I had first intended to use GWTW as a through line with it’s Oscar winning stars-Gable, Leigh and de Havilland-as my picks particularly since both ladies had won twice but the film is so well-known I decided to go with three that aren’t as discussed. I did tie them together through my actress winner though.

    Mrs. Miniver (Greer Garson-Best Actress) (1942)-Kay Miniver (Greer), her architect husband Clem (Walter Pidgeon-also Oscar nominated) and their three children are living a comfortable life in a small village outside of London until war is declared. Eldest son Vin (Richard Ney-who shortly after the film’s completion married Greer!) leaves college to join the Royal Air Force while also falling for and marrying local girl Carol Beldon (Teresa Wright-winner for Best Supporting Actress). As the war arrives on their doorstep they must endure bombing raids and many other hardships and tragedies meeting them with perseverance and fortitude.

    Goodbye, Mr. Chips (Robert Donat-Best Actor) (1939)-1n 1870 schoolteacher Charles Chipping “Mr. Chips” (Donat) fresh from university is a strict disciplinarian to his young students at his new public-school post making him unpopular. However, on holiday he meets and impulsively marries the feisty suffragette Katherine Ellis (Greer Garson-Oscar nominated) whose love softens and humanizes Chips until he becomes a beloved institution on campus and a source of inspiration through the tough years of World War I onward into the 20th Century.

    A Double Life (Ronald Colman-Best Actor) (1947)-Legendary stage star Anthony John’s (Colman) method is to totally immerse himself in the parts he plays. This is fine when he appears in comedic roles but with more serious roles, he becomes unpredictably volatile as his real-life self slowly ebbs away leading to the end of his marriage to Brita (Signe Hasso) his frequent costar. Now despite all warning signs he has undertaken Othello partnered again with Brita, though having a young mistress, Pat Kroll (an incredibly young, very thin Shelley Winters in her first important role), and as the part overtakes him, he descends into madness. Though Greer isn’t in this film she and Colman costarred (the year she won for Mrs. Miniver) in another big success for both “Random Harvest” where Colman was again nominated for Best Actor.

    1. I love Greer Garson in Mrs. Miniver, and also in The Valley of Decision with my beloved Mr. Peck 🙂

      I haven’t seen the other two, but have heard of Goodbye, Mr. Chips. Another one by miss Garson. She must have been quite prolific back in her day. I had never even heard of A Double Life nor Ronald Colman, it’s always fun to learn about classic films from you, Joel!

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  7. Gwenyth never should have won. It was good but Cate was great and can out act her any day. I love Vivien Leigh in GWTW who really knew how to carry the character and deserved that award hands down. Helen Mirren was excellent as the Queen and I love the anecdote about how the crew ended up facing her. Gregory Peck was my first crush from his dark looks to his great voice. He is the best Atticus Finch. Jamie Foxx is excellent as Ray Charles who really knew how to make you believe you were watching Charles. I like Roberto who is so ADHD combined with Italian emotion which I love. That being said, I would have given it to Ian McLellen for his excellent acting as James Whale. Tom Hanks was good in Saving Ryan’s Privates but it is not my favourite.

  8. Great choices, Ruth! I am completely with you re. Paltrow vs Blanchett. Shakespeare in Love is, well, a lovely film but it isn’t particularly memorable. I’ve always thought it raised more praise than it deserved.
    I still need to watch the classics you’ve included.

    1. I think Shakespeare In Love got the backing of the Weinsteins at the time who campaigned heavily for it. I just don’t think Paltrow is a stellar actor generally, I mean she is good but definitely not as strong as Blanchett.

      P.S. Do watch more Gregory Peck films. He’s been in SO many good ones!

    1. Hello! Welcome to FC, sorry somehow I missed your comment from last week. I just checked out your post 🙂

      Yeah I think she’s more memorable in EMMA than SiL, but in the year she won, Blanchett absolutely should’ve won instead.

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