Oscar 1959: Intense 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.