5. John Lithgow in Terms of Endearment- Lithgow although hindered by the fact he has few scenes and the film doesn't really care about him gives a good performance showing the simple love expressed by his character well.
4. Jack Nicholson in Terms of Endearment- This is probably a bit of a surprise, but I did actually prefer the two above. Nicholson is inconsistent and some ineffective in his performance at first relying far too much on his trade marks that never meld with his character. He though becomes much better later on capturing the joyous energy of his boisterous character well, as well as creating an interesting relationship with Shirley MacLaine.
3. Charles Durning in To Be or Not Be- Durning only needs to do one thing here and that is for him to be funny. He is funny in all of his scenes and his scenes with co-star Christopher Lloyd are the highlights of the film for me.
2. Rip Torn in Cross Creek- Rip Torn's succeeds in every way Gregory Peck failed to in the role of the real person who inspired Peck's character in the Yearling. Torn creates a unique vivid portrait of his backwoods character and he especially brings great degree of emotional weight to his final scenes.
1. Sam Shepard in The Right Stuff- Shepard win this year giving a great performance in The Right Stuff. Shepard absolutely becomes test pilot Chuck Yeager flawlessly bringing to life the uninhibited confidence and strength of the man. He speaks few words but he holds every moment he appears on the screen.
Darren McGavin in A Christmas Story
Ed Harris in The Right Stuff