List o’ the Week: Unsung Oscars

I’ve always loved awards season, and I’ve always been a huge fan of the Academy Awards – I never miss them; before my daughters went away to college (and then moved out of my house), we used to have Oscar parties every year where we’d dress up, eat pizza, and watch the show. As soon as the nominations were announced each year, I’d embark on a quest to see as many nominated films as possible – with streaming, this will be the first year that I have seen every film nominated in all the major categories for the Academy Awards. What a thrill!

If you look at the Oscar categories from the 1940s and 1950s, you’ll notice very few film noir features among the nominees and winners, which is a real shame because there were so many that were worthy of acknowledgment. In celebration of this year’s Academy Awards event, I’m listing films and performances during the film noir era that I believe were Oscar noteworthy and deserving of being nominated for that golden statuette. Here goes:

Edward G. Robinson was made for this role.

Judith Anderson: Best Supporting Actress – Laura (1944)

Edward G. Robinson: Best Actor – Scarlet Street (1945)

Nina Foch: Best Actress – My Name is Julia Ross (1945)

John Garfield: Best Actor – The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

Claire Trevor: Best Actress – Born to Kill (1947)

Kent Smith: Best Actor – Nora Prentiss (1947)

Tryone Power: Best Actor – Nightmare Alley (1947)

Richard Widmark: Best Actor – Road House (1948)

O’Donnell’s Keechie was a heartbreaker.

Cathy O’Donnell: Best Actress – They Live By Night (1948)

Van Helflin: Best Actor – Act of Violence (1949)

Robert Ryan: Best Actor – The Set-Up (1949)

Wallace Ford: Best Supporting Actor – The Breaking Point (1950)

Jean Hagen: Best Supporting Actress – The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

Lloyd Bridges: Best Supporting Actor – Try and Get Me (1950)

Night and the City (1950): Best Picture

Kirk Douglas: Best Actor – Detective Story (1951)


Nobody could have played this role like Robert Walker. Nobody.

Robert Walker: Best Actor – Strangers on a Train (1951)

Ace in the Hole (1951): Best Picture

Marie Windsor: Best Supporting Actress – The Narrow Margin (1952)

Gloria Grahame: Best Supporting Actress – Sudden Fear (1952)

Jean Peters: Best Actress – Pickup on South Street (1953)

Ida Lupino: Best Director – The Hitchhiker (1953)

Mickey Rooney: Best Actor – Drive a Crooked Road (1954)

Carolyn Jones: Best Supporting Actress – Shield for Murder (1954)

Richard Conte: Best Actor – The Big Combo (1955)

Everett Sloane: Best Supporting Actor – The Big Knife (1955)

The Killing (1956): Best Picture

Tony Curtis: Best Actor – The Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

What are some performances or films that you think should have been nominated for an Oscar? Leave a comment and let me know!

~ by shadowsandsatin on March 23, 2022.

10 Responses to “List o’ the Week: Unsung Oscars”

  1. I think that, without any doubt, there are several actors who should have won the Academy Awards. My thinking is as follows:
    John Wayne as best actor, The Searchers, 1956,
    Clark Gable as best actor, Gone With The Wind, 1939,
    Bing Crosby as best actor, The Country Girl, 1954,
    Robert Taylor as best actor, Bataan, 1943,
    Alan Ladd as best actor, Shane, 1952,
    Burt Lancaster as best actor, Atlantic City, 1981,
    Robert Mitchum as best actor, The Night of the Hunter, 1955, tie with
    Frank Sinatra as best actor, The Man With The Golden Arm, 1955,
    Jeff Chandler as best supporting actor, The Broken Arrow, 1951,
    Tony Curtis as best actor, The Defiant Ones, 1958,
    Cary Grant as best actor, Charade, 1963,
    Marlon Brando as best actor, A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951,
    Ward Bond as best supporting actor, The Quiet Man, 1952,
    Walter Brennan as best supporting actor, Rio Bravo, 1958,
    Hank Worden as best supporting actor, The Searchers, 1956, tie with
    John Qualen as best supporting actor, The Searchers, 1956,
    Olive Carey, as best supporting actress, The Searchers, 1956…

    • I love this list! And it totally makes me want to see The Searchers! By the way, I saw John Qualen just yesterday on an episode of Father Knows Best (my latest obsession) and he was just so good.

  2. And also
    John Wayne as best actor, The Shootist, 1976.

  3. Great list especially Widmark/Road House, Ryan/Set Up, Walker/Strangers On a Train, . I’d put Marie Windsor in the main category for Narrow Margin.
    Others I’d add : Robert Ryan for Crossfire; Agnes Moorehead for Dark Passage; Ann Savage for Detour; Susan Hayward for Deadline at Dawn; Ida Lupino for On Dangerous Ground; Lizabeth Scott for Too Late for Tears; Jack Palance for Panic in The Streets; John Payne for 99 River Street.

    • These are perfect additions, Vienna! I especially like the nominations for John Payne, Ida Lupino, and Agnes Moorehead. And you’re spot-on about Robert Ryan — he received a nomination for Crossfire! (At least they got that one right!)

  4. Terrific list of overlooked performances by the Academy.

    I still cannot believe Robert Walker wasn’t even nominated for Strangers on a Train. Like you said, NObody could have given that role what he did.

  5. Unnominated noir performances that should have been nominated:

    Laird Cregar, I Wake Up Screaming (Best Supporting Actor)*
    Mary Astor, The Maltese Falcon (Best Supporting Actress–she won that year for the wrong movie)
    Alan Ladd, The Glass Key (Best Actor)
    Alan Ladd, This Gun for Hire (Best Supporting Actor)
    Edward G. Robinson, Double Indemnity (Best Supporting Actor)**
    Dan Duryea, Black Angel (Best Supporting Actor)
    Tyrone Power, Nightmare Alley (Best Actor)
    Cathy O’Donnell, They Live By Night (Best Actress)
    James Cagney, White Heat (Best Actor)
    Edmond O’Brien, D.O.A. (Best Actor)
    Robert Walker, Strangers on a Train (Best Actor)*
    Gloria Grahame, The Big Heat (Best Supporting Actress)**
    Orson Welles, Touch of Evil (Best Supporting Actor)
    Constance Towers, The Naked Kiss (Best Actress)

    *They should have won.
    **Maybe they should have won. Clifton Webb (Laura) and Thelma Ritter (Pickup on South Street) were also phenomenal.

  6. A few favorites that should have been nominated:

    Angie Dickinson, Best Supporting Actress for Dressed to Kill (1980)

    Jean Simmons, Best Actress for Elmer Gantry (1960)

    Robert Mitchum, Best Actor for The Night of the Hunter (1955)

    Paul Dooley, Best Supporting Actor for Breaking Away (1979)

    Tippi Hedren, Best Actress for Marnie (1964)

    Edward G. Robinson, Best Supporting Actor for Double Indemnity (1944)

    Kathleen Turner, Best Actress for Body Heat (1981)

    John Wayne, Best Actor for The Searchers (1956)

    John Cazale, Best Supporting Actor for Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

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