And the Academy selected:
- Betsy Blair in Marty
- Peggy Lee in Pete Kelly's Blues
- Marisa Pavan in The Rose Tattoo
- Jo Van Fleet in East Of Eden
- Natalie Wood in Rebel Without A Cause
5. Peggy Lee as Rose Hopkins in Pete Kelly's Blues
In a dry, boring, unrealistic film singer Peggy Lee plays Rose Hopkins, the abused girlfriend of a gangster. It's obvious right from the start that Peggy Lee got this role on name-value and her inexperience as an actress shows. It's high melodrama she has to play, and she appropriately overacts in context of the character. However there is an ugly haze hanging over her performance and there is nothing to be taken away from the performance.
4. Jo Van Fleet as Kate in East Of Eden
East of Eden is a magnificent film, it has it's flaws, but overall I have no problem calling it a masterpiece. Jo Van Fleet plays the mysterious madame Kate who just happens to be the mother of the two main characters. She is a ghostly presence, only appearing on-screen for a short time and Van Fleet obviously tries to make the biggest impression of her, but alas, I am not one to be affected by it. Her big long scene is diminished by Van Fleet herself who overacts too much and there's really not enough performance here to call it a great one.
3. Betsy Blair as Clara in Marty
Marty is one of the simplest Best Picture winners, but it's also one of the most wonderful. Betsy Blair plays the charming and surprisingly wonderful part of Clara, an unattractive school teacher who meets Marty when her date tries to sell her for 5 dollars. Blair shows a strong lucidity, holding the screen with her so called "unattractive" appearance and her distinct voice. Betsy Blair is simply terrific as Clara, she can do many wonders with the role and it's impressive how Blair manages to overcome the so called limitations of the role.
2. Marisa Pavan as Rosa Della Rose in The Rose Tattoo
Sharing the screen with Anna Magnani, in one of the best performances ever, in a individually powerful performance that is the film, Marisa Pavan could very easily be overshadowed and forgettable, but instead, she holds her own, having her own little subplot and doing it wonderfully. Her story dominates the second part of the movie and she can handle it all very well and doesn't depend on anyone else to carry her. It's a terrific performance and standouts no matter what.
1. Natalie Wood as Judy in Rebel Without A Cause
It's an odd performance because it feels too authentic. Natalie Wood gives a surprisingly tough, brutal, and fascinating performance as Judy, a girl filled with alot of teenage angst. She finds an incredible balance for the character and kills every scene she's in - there is alot of scenes that could become over the top, but she handles it all in the best possible ways. All rebellion and confusion, Natalie Wood gives an impossibly terrific performance here.
Honorable Omissions: None.