1963 Academy Awards®
Winners and History
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Academy Awards Summaries
Winners Charts:
"Best Picture" Oscar®, "Best Director" Oscar®, "Best Actor" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar®,
"Best Actress" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar®, "Best Screenplay/Writer" Oscar®

The winner is listed first, in CAPITAL letters.

Filmsite's Greatest Films of 1963

Best Picture

TOM JONES (1963, UK)

America, America (1963)

Cleopatra (1963)

How the West Was Won (1962)

Lilies of the Field (1963)

SIDNEY POITIER in "Lilies of the Field", Albert Finney in "Tom Jones", Richard Harris in "This Sporting Life", Rex Harrison in "Cleopatra", Paul Newman in "Hud"
PATRICIA NEAL in "Hud", Leslie Caron in "The L-Shaped Room", Shirley MacLaine in "Irma La Douce", Rachel Roberts in "This Sporting Life", Natalie Wood in "Love with the Proper Stranger"
Supporting Actor:
MELVYN DOUGLAS in "Hud", Nick Adams in "Twilight of Honor", Bobby Darin in "Captain Newman, M.D.", Hugh Griffith in "Tom Jones", John Huston in "The Cardinal"
Supporting Actress:
MARGARET RUTHERFORD in "The V.I.P.s", Diane Cilento in "Tom Jones", Edith Evans in "Tom Jones", Joyce Redman in "Tom Jones", Lilia Skala in "Lilies of the Field"
TONY RICHARDSON for "Tom Jones", Federico Fellini for "8 1/2", Elia Kazan for "America, America", Otto Preminger for "The Cardinal", Martin Ritt for "Hud"

For the second time in Academy Awards history, fifteen years after the first British film won the Best Picture award (Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (1948)), another British-made film won the top award. The honored film was Tom Jones - Tony Richardson's bawdy, raucous adaptation of the Henry Fielding classic satire of 18th century England about an amorous playboy. The romantic comedy film garnered ten Oscar nominations, more than any other film in the competition. And it became the highest-grossing foreign-made film distributed in the US (up to that time). In fact, the year was a good one for British films and actors - 27 nominations (with 20 nominations in acting categories).

But the uninhibited, historical adventure-sex comedy romp Tom Jones won only four Oscars - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay (John Osborne), and Best Musical Score (John Addison). It was rare for a comedy to win the top honor. Remarkably, its film editor (Tony Gibbs), inventive cinematographer (Walter Lassally) and costume designer weren't even nominated, even though the film deserved honors for its trick photography, wink-at-the-camera attitude, dynamic editing, and costuming.

Tom Jones is the only picture in Academy history with three Best Supporting Actress nominees. Although five of the cast were nominated for acting awards (Finney, Griffith, Cilento, Evans, and Redman), none won. Throughout Academy history, it set a record as the only film to receive five Oscar nominations for its acting performances - and then lose in all instances. Other films with five acting nominations that won one Oscar include: All About Eve (1950), Bonnie and Clyde (1967), and The Godfather, Part II (1974). Network (1976) was also nominated for five acting slots - and won three.

The Best Picture winner's weak competitors included:

  • 20th Century Fox's expensive, bank-rupting debacle - director Joseph L. Mankiewicz's multi-million dollar, four-hour historical epic Cleopatra (with nine nominations and four Oscars - Best Color Cinematography, Best Color Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Color Costume Design, and Best Special Visual Effects) starring Elizabeth Taylor as the Queen of Egypt, Richard Burton as Marc Antony, and Rex Harrison as Caesar. At $44 million, it was the most expensive film ever made (to date), and it turned out to be one of the greatest commercial disasters in film history; it was also the longest Best Picture nominee in Academy history (a running time of 242 minutes)
  • producer/director Elia Kazan's semi-autobiographical film about a young Greek immigrant, America, America (with four nominations and only one win - Best B/W Art Direction/Set Decoration)
  • the expansive, star-filled, three-camera Cinerama epic western chronicling the westward progress of three generations of one family, How the West Was Won (with three directors - Henry Hathaway, John Ford, and George Marshall - eight nominations and three awards - Best Story and Screenplay, Best Sound, and Best Film Editing)
  • director Ralph Nelson's second film based on William E. Barrett's novel, Lilies of the Field (with five nominations and one win) about a light-hearted, itinerant black laborer who assisted five E. German refugee nuns in building a chapel and learning English

Only two of the nominated Best Picture directors were also nominated for Best Director - Kazan and Richardson. Joseph Mankiewicz, director of Best Picture nominee Cleopatra, was curiously absent from the list of Best Director nominees. Conversely, Martin Ritt was Best Director-nominated for Hud, but his film about the death of the Texas frontier was not considered as one of the year's Best Picture nominees.

The Best Actor winner was 37 year-old Sidney Poitier (with his second nomination and first and only Oscar win in his career) as a Southern ex-GI and footloose vagabond/handyman named Homer Smith, who helped five bewildered German refugee nuns (from behind the Iron Curtain) build a chapel in the Arizona desert and learn English, in Lilies of the Field.
[Note: His Oscar was the first major leading role Oscar won by an African-American (or black) actor. He became the first African-American (or black) to win a competitive Oscar in a leading role, although some regard Denzel Washington's Best Actor win for Training Day (2001) as the first, because Poitier was of Jamaican heritage. He had been previously nominated as Best Actor for The Defiant Ones (1958). It has been speculated that Poitier may have won the award because there was protest at the time by conservative moralizers that the other front-running stars (Finney and Newman) were in bawdy roles.]

Other Best Actor nominees included the following:

  • Albert Finney (with his first of five unsuccessful career nominations) in the Best Picture winner Tom Jones as the lusty, earthy, adopted (illegitimate son of a servant), young country squire named Tom who is both mischievious and a female charmer in 18th-century England
  • Rex Harrison (with his first of two consecutive nominations) as Julius Caesar in Cleopatra
  • Richard Harris (with his first of two unsuccessful career nominations) as a coal miner who becomes a professional rugby player in British director Lindsay Anderson's first feature film, This Sporting Life (with two nominations and no wins)
  • Paul Newman (with his third nomination) as the title character Hud Bannon - an amoral but charming Texas anti-hero/scoundrel who advances on the housekeeper (Patricia Neal) in Martin Ritt's contemporary adult western, Hud (with seven nominations and three wins - Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best B/W Cinematography)

The Best Actress winner was Patricia Neal (with her first of two career nominations - and her sole Oscar win) as Alma Brown - an earthy, sexy, but bruised and world-weary hired housekeeper (who rejects the amorous advances of her employer's son Paul Newman) in Paramount's modern western Hud. Some suspected that Neal's win was a 'sympathy' vote for her long list of personal tragedies, including a nervous breakdown.

Other Best Actress nominees were:

  • Leslie Caron (with her second and last unsuccessful career nomination) as Jane Fosset - a young pregnant French girl in a rooming house in director Bryan Forbes' filmThe L-Shaped Room (the film's sole nomination)
  • Shirley MacLaine (with her third of five career nominations) in the title role as a French Parisian prostitute in Billy Wilder's Irma La Douce (with three nominations and one win - Best Music Score - Andre Previn)
  • British actress Rachel Roberts (with her sole nomination) as Richard Harris' widowed landlady Mrs. Hammond in This Sporting Life
  • Natalie Wood (with her third and last unsuccessful career nomination) as young Manhattan working girl Angie Rossini (and the pregnant girlfriend of co-star Steve McQueen after a one-night stand) in director Robert Mulligan's Love with the Proper Stranger (with five nominations and no wins)

[A sidenote: Rachel Roberts was married to Cleopatra-nominated Rex Harrison at the time of her nomination, making them the second acting couple to both receive nominations for roles in the same year. The first husband/wife to be nominated in the same year were Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, nominated for The Guardsman (1931/2), Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor nominated for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), Frank Sinatra, nominated for From Here to Eternity (1953) and Ava Gardner for Mogambo (1953), and Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester both nominated for Witness for the Prosecution (1957).]

The winner in the Best Supporting Actor category was Melvyn Douglas as Homer Bannon - the honest, tough, aging Texas patriarch of a cattle ranch (and father of Paul Newman) in Hud.

Other Best Supporting Actor nominees were:

  • Nick Adams (with his sole nomination) as Ben Brown on trial and accused of murder in director Boris Sagal's Twilight of Honor (with two nominations and no wins)
  • teen pop idol Bobby Darin (with his sole career nomination) as Corporal Jim Tompkins - a shell-shocked, guilt-ridden, cowardly GI (and patient of Gregory Peck's) in director David Miller's Captain Newman, M.D. (with three nominations and no wins)
  • John Huston (with his sole unsuccessful acting nomination) in the title role as Boston Cardinal Glennon in Otto Preminger's director-nominated The Cardinal (with six nominations and no wins) about the trials of a young priest to become a cardinal
  • Hugh Griffith (with his second career nomination) as lusty Squire Western - Sophie Western's (Susannah York) rich father in Tom Jones

All of the nominees in the Best Supporting Actress category were non-Americans. Four of the five supporting actresses were British.

The Best Supporting Actress winner was 72 year-old character actress Margaret Rutherford (with her sole nomination - and Oscar win) as the confused Duchess of Brighton - a delayed and dotty airplane passenger stranded at the fog-bound London airport (with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor) in director Anthony Asquith's The V.I.P.s. [Rutherford was more deserving of a nomination for her performance as Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit (1945). The V.I.P.s was the first film after Cleopatra to again pair Richard Burton and Liz Taylor.]

Then, the three co-stars in Tom Jones were given the other supporting actress nominations (a record):

  • Dame Edith Evans (with her first of three unsuccessful career nominations) as the intrepid Aunt Miss Western
  • Australian-born actress Diane Cilento (with her sole nomination) as the gatekeeper's wild daughter Molly Seagrim
  • Joyce Redman (with her first of two unsuccessful career nominations) as the sexy and seductive Mrs. Waters/Jenny Jones (she starred in the famous, best-remembered, erotic eating scene with Finney)

The last Best Supporting Actress nominee was German actress Lilia Skala (with her sole nomination in her film debut) for her role as Mother Maria - the Mother Superior of the nunnery in Lilies of the Field.

Oscar Snubs and Omissions:

The WWII POW film The Great Escape (with only one nomination, for Best Film Editing) was overlooked in many areas: Best Picture, Best Director (John Sturges), Best Actor (Steve McQueen), Best Film Score (Elmer Bernstein), Best Supporting Actor (Donald Pleasance), and Best Cinematography.

Director Terence Young should have been nominated as Best Director for the first James Bond spy film: Dr. No (1962) (premiering in London in late 1962 but opening in the US in 1963) -- and Sean Connery should have been nominated for his lead role as agent 007.

The Best Story and Screenplay Oscar went to How the West Was Won, when it should have gone to one of the other stronger nominees, such as Federico Fellini's 8 1/2, Elia Kazan's America, America, The Four Days of Naples (1962), or Love With the Proper Stranger.

Federico Fellini's Italian film 8 1/2 - with five nominations (a followup film to La Dolce Vita (1960, It.)), won awards for Best Black & White Costume Design and Best Foreign Language Film, and was only the third foreign language film to be nominated for Best Director. However, Marcelo Mastroianni's key role as Guido Anselmni was un-nominated.

A few other films might have given Tom Jones some competition, if they had been nominated for Best Picture and/or for some of the other awards categories:

  • Hud (with seven nominations and three wins - Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best B/W Cinematography)
  • Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (with only one unsuccessful nomination for Special Visual Effects)
  • The Haunting (with no nominations)
  • The L-Shaped Room (with a sole unsuccessful nomination for Leslie Caron)
  • Bye Bye Birdie (with only two unsuccessful nominations for Best Score and Best Sound)
  • The Leopard (with one unsuccessful nomination for Best Costume Design)
  • Jason and the Argonauts (with no nominations)
  • director Samuel Fuller's Shock Corridor (with no nominations)
  • Jerry Lewis' The Nutty Professor (with no nominations)

Jerry Lewis was un-nominated for his role as a buck-toothed professor named Julius Kelp - a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde character in The Nutty Professor. Although Stanley Kramer's over-done It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World had six Oscar nominations, two performers were unjustly disregarded: British comedian Terry Thomas, and Ethel Merman as a tough mother-in-law.

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