When Should Peter O’Toole Have Won His Oscar? An Investigation

“My Favorite Year,” once again, saw Peter O’Toole as the only representative for the film at the Oscars that year, and like “The Stunt Man,” he isn’t really the protagonist of the story but the colorful wild card who can throw everything into chaos. The film is loosely inspired by Mel Brooks’ time as a writer on Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows,” with Mark Linn-Baker playing the Brooks analogue Benjy Stone. O’Toole plays a past-his-prime actor, in the vein of Errol Flynn, making a guest appearance on the sketch show and causing an absolute ruckus. It is a big, funny performance from O’Toole, which is not exactly the way into the hearts of Oscar voters.

I have written extensively about the 1983 Academy Awards before and the dominance of “Gandhi.” Well, the trickled over into the Best Actor category too with Ben Kingsley winning for the titular role. Yet another time he loses to someone giving the performance you most associate with that actor. The Best Actor category that year was incredibly formidable, and “My Favorite Year” is the only film represented there that didn’t also receive a Best Picture nomination, which leads me to believe that O’Toole was firmly running in fifth place that year.

By this point, O’Toole had seven nominations under his belt in 20 years and was clearly overdue to win. I think if he had delivered some kind of thumping, loud performance within the next few years that he could have won. But that didn’t happen. He swerved entirely into the silly with films like “Supergirl,” “Creator,” and “Club Paradise.” It had been quite awhile since he had made a serious minded prestige film, and the urgency to award him faded away.

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