Best Actor Oscars Bracket Game: Clark Gable vs James Stewart
There have been some truly legendary and some sadly under appreciated performers to be named Best Actor at the yearly Oscars party. Which is which? With the 87th annual Academy Awards ceremony approaching later this month, we here at LeBlog thought we’d start up another of our popular bracket contests to throw a little attention at some of these great performances. There are only 16 available slots in these things, while there have been 86 Best Actor designees so far, leaving 70 acting greats on the outside looking in from the beginning. That’s some pretty brutal math. I tried to represent the entire history of the award by including at least two actors from each of the last eight decades and pairing those up in the first round. That will almost certainly result in some stunning early exits, but that’s how the cookie crumbles.
Today’s inaugural match up pits the only two first round combatants whose wins came in different decades. After taking a good look at what the 30s and 40s had to offer, I had a hard time thinking your interest would be held if I expanded the representation from those decades. Such a move would have made it necessary to compress the last 15 years into one category, with just 2 winners in our game. So…our 30s/40s donnybrook pits Clark Gable’s turn in 1934’s It Happened One Night against Jimmy Stewart’s performance in 1940’s The Philadelphia Story.
When was the last time you saw a Best Actor winner from a crowd-pleasing rom com? Well that’s what we’ve got in both contestants here. Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night is often cited as the blueprint for many romantic comedies to come, and it managed to not just take home the Oscar for Gable, but also for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and for his co-star Claudette Colbert. To this day it holds down a 98% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences at the time were thrilled and scandalized when the pair of unmarried characters were forced to spend the night in the same motel room.
Legend says that after Gable’s bare-chested display, the sales of undershirts declined steeply!
George Cukor’s The Philadelphia Story made use of the popular story device of having divorced characters flirt with other possible partners as well as one another. This approach allowed writers to side-step the production code which put the kibosh on extramarital affairs in films. It was purchased by Katherine Hepburn from its successful stage run for her big comeback after several flops had led to her being labeled as “box office poison.” When it came time for the Oscars, however, it was one of her A-list leading men, Jimmy Stewart, who brought home the gold. Stewart was reportedly uncomfortable with his own performance and had planned to skip the awards ceremony, but was influenced by others to appear anyway.
It’s interesting what a long run on the stage can do for dialogue. We don’t get much to rival this.
So you decide! Which of your grandparents’ favorite rom com leading men gets to move forward on our bracket?
Come back tomorrow to find out who won and vote on who else should proceed! In the meantime, feel free to comment on the topic below!
Posted on February 11, 2015, in Awards, Bracket Game, comedy, Movies, Oscars, poll and tagged Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Frank Capra, George Cukor, It Happened one Night, James Stewart, Katherine Hepburn, The Philadelphia Story. Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.