Oscar 1959: Acting: Male and Female (Competition)

The historical epic Ben-Hur was the biggest winner in 1959, sweeping eleven of its twelve nominations, including Best Actor for Charlton Heston. An actor of limited range, Heston won his Oscar as a result of what’s known as the block voting, namely citing the same film in various categories–deservedly or undeservedly.

The Best Actor competition that year was extraordinary: Laurence Harvey in Room at the Top, Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot, Paul Muni in The Last Angry Man, and James Stewart in Anatomy of a Murder, who won the New York Film Critics Award.

Judged by the merits of his performance alone, Heston gave the least impressive of the five nominated.

Best Actress (Roles, Troubled Women)

Day, Doris, Pillow Talk, career woman, designer

Hepburn, Audrey, Nun’s Story; troubled nun

Hepburn, Katharine, Suddenly, Last Summer, pimp of a mother; looney aunt

Taylor, Elizabeth, Suddenly, Last Summer, abused niece (mentally ill)

Signoret, Simone, Room at the Top, middle aged mistress (dies)