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Take Two: Did Oscar Get It Right? We Rewrite History With Our Alternate Acting Choices Over The Academy’s 95 Years

By Pete Hammond, Todd McCarthy

Oscar History: Best Actor & Best Actress

Editor’s note: Deadline presents the 52nd episode of its video series Take Two, in which Pete Hammond and Todd McCarthy tackle the artistry of films just opening in theaters every weekend. Each has reviewed and written about the craft for decades and built a remarkable breadth of knowledge of films past and present. What we hoped for when we asked them to do this was a concise, mature and thoughtful conversation comparable to what we saw from Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel.

Oscar Statuette

Take Two continues taking on the Oscars for the next couple of weeks as we look back in Oscar history, suggest that maybe the Academy didn’t always get it right, give our predictions for this year and then offer a wrap-up of how the Big Show turned out.

This week we offer some alternate Oscar winners over the years, the nominees for Best Actor and Actress that the Academy didn’t choose but that we, with 20/20 hindsight, believe would have been the better choice or, as in the case of stars like Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor or James Stewart, who we think might have won for the wrong role, in many instances perhaps as a make-up award after losing for a more deserving performance.

We explore some of the reasons actors win in any given year, even if historically it seems like Oscar just didn’t get it right, something about standing “the test of time.” Of course, each Oscar year is just a snapshot in time, not meant to be a lifetime achievement award but rather one for that specific role, and it isn’t always fair as you can tell by reeling off names of those who never won a competitive Oscar — Cary Grant, Peter O’Toole, Barbara Stanwyck, Deborah Kerr — and those still trying like Glenn Close, with eight nominations and eight losses to date. Maybe you will agree, or have ideas of your own, but that is what makes it all fun. It is a lively conversation.

Click above to watch our discussion. And join us next week as we give our 100% correct predictions as to who is going to take home Oscar gold on March 12.

Hammond has been Deadline’s Awards Columnist for the past decade, covering what now seemingly is the year-round Oscar and Emmy seasons. He is also Deadline’s Chief Film Critic, having previously reviewed films for MovieLine, Boxoffice magazine, Backstage, and Maxim, as well as Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, for which he was a contributing editor. In addition to writing, Hammond also hosts KCET Cinema Series and the station’s weekly series Must See Movies.

McCarthy is a veteran trade publication film critic, columnist and reporter who has also written several acclaimed books and documentary films. He served two stints on the staffs of Variety and The Hollywood Reporter and extensively covered film festivals internationally for both publications. His film Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography won the best documentary prizes from the New York Film Critics and National Society of Film Critics associations, and he won an Emmy for writing the documentary Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer. He also directed the documentaries Man of Cinema: Pierre Rissient and Forever Hollywood.




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