This is a continuation of the post on past Academy Awards, comparing the winners with my own choices, that I began last week. I'll be covering the years 1961-1965, presenting my thoughts on one year each day this week. Today: 1962.
The Winner: Lawrence of Arabia
My Pick: Lawrence of Arabia
The Winner: David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia
My Pick: David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia
The Winner: Gregory Peck, To Kill a Mockingbird
My Pick: Peter O'Toole, Lawrence of Arabia
The Winner: Anne Bancroft, The Miracle Worker
My Pick: Katharine Hepburn, Long Day's Journey Into Night
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
The Winner: Ed Begley, Sweet Bird of Youth
My Pick: Terence Stamp, Billy Budd
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
The Winner: Patty Duke, The Miracle Worker
My Pick: Angela Lansbury, The Manchurian Candidate
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Winner: Sundays and Cybèle
My Pick: Sundays and Cybèle
There wasn't much question that Lawrence of Arabia would take the prize for picture and director this year. Some find the move lacking in personality, but to me it's a great achievement that really deserves all the praise it has gotten. In the years since its release, it has come to be regarded as the epitome of the movie epic and in 2008 was named the #1 epic film of all time by the American Film Institute. I do regret, though, that Peter O'Toole's star-making performance in the movie wasn't recognized as the best by an actor this year. I understand all the reasons Gregory Peck won—he was a well-loved personality in Hollywood, a modest, really nice guy who had been nominated several times but never won, and he played the most noble character imaginable, a civil rights icon—but I still think O'Toole should have won. In 2006 his T. E. Lawrence was picked by Premiere magazine as the greatest movie performance of all time.
In the best actress category, this is one year that a tie really would have been justified. Both Anne Bancroft and Katharine Hepburn gave award-worthy performances, but being able to vote for only one, in the end I went with Hepburn for the best straight dramatic performance of her career. Omar Sharif, like Peter O'Toole a little-known actor made a major star by Lawrence of Arabia, was the favorite to win for best supporting actor but lost to veteran Ed Begley. I chose Terence Stamp as the innocent young title character in Billy Budd, only his second film and his first released in the U.S. Angela Lansbury was the favorite to win for best supporting actress for her chilling performance in The Manchurian Candidate, and I think she should have won. The French film Sundays and Cybèle probably isn't well-remembered today, but it's a moving film and a deserving winner for best foreign language film. Many great movies and performances were overlooked this year (I wrote about them in detail in the last part of my post on the year 1962 in American films), but I would say the biggest omission was Ride the High Country for picture, director, actor (the never-nominated Joel McCrea would have been my choice), and best supporting actor (Edgar Buchanan).
Tomorrow I'll continue with my thoughts on the Academy Awards for 1963.