After having watched and reviewed all five nominated performances, it's time to pick the winner!
It’s easy to imagine that this whole performance could have been much more satisfying and actually overcome the limitations of the writing if Eleanor Parker had actually dared to leave her own comfort zone and invest all the possibilities the character offered despite these obvious limitations – but she unfortunately played it too easy overall and reduced her character to a variety of different teary-eyed reaction shots.
Shelley Winters does suffer from the sheer fact that she simply could not turn Alice Tripp into more than what George Stevens would allow her (and this is rather little) and often Alice also does feel too one-dimensional in her attempts to get George to marry her, but if Alice is a plot device, then Shelley Winters made sure that she would at least be a beautifully realized one.
Jane Wyman suffered from her weak material and very often limits her performance to two different facial expressions but within these limitations she crafted a touching piece of work that is saved by her decision to remain realistic while highlighting the sentimentality of the story and her strong final moments.
2. Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen
Katharine Hepburn has seldom been so deliciously entertaining, so wonderfully amusing and so dramatically heartbreaking in one movie. Rose Sayer is certainly not a very deep or complex character but there is still something almost magical about watching Katharine Hepburn bring her to such splendid life.
Vivien Leigh gave a performance that dug so deeply in this character’s mind and portrayed such unforgettable moments that it is one of a few movie performances that can truly be called a work of art, that serves the movie it is set in while also existing in its own universe, proofing once and for all the greatness of her talent and standing as a symbol for movie acting at its finest.