Trevor Howard did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Father Hugh Collins in Ryan's Daughter.
Howard keeps his usual gruff personality in his portrayal of Father Hugh who does his best to be the moral compass of the village, and basically goes about checking to make sure everything is going as it should be. Howard's performance is a rather effective one because he balances between his natural roughness and the good nature of his character. Howard does not tone down anything about rough side to portray Father Hugh. Howard brings a power to his character through the roughness actually by making him a man who will speak his mind, and speak his mind without reservation either. The way everyone seems slightly weary of Father Hugh is made believable because Howard makes him a force to be reckoned with.
Even though Howard makes Father Hugh gruff he does not forget to convey the morality of the character. Howard actually in part uses the gruffness to add to the righteousness of the man. There is no sense of falseness of his morality because Howard shows that Father Hugh is a character who could never even think of even having the slightest pretension. Howard makes Father Hugh a man who knows what is right and will not hesitate just to speak his mind quickly when he sees someone is at fault. When Father Hugh sees the bad or sometimes rather evil actions of the towns people, Howard is terrific in getting right to the point with his fierce moral indignation that he conveys from the priest.
Howard importantly brings the proper nuance to Father Hugh when he talking to someone he thinks deserves more than a slap in the face. Howard is very warm in his scenes with Sarah Miles as Rosy the titular character. In these scenes Howard is able to convey the importance of his beliefs strongly, and as something more than just a reason to cut sinners down to size. Howard gives the role the appropriate heart needed whenever the Father tries to talk to Rosy gently about her ideas of romance, or later when he tries his best to mend thing after Rosy has an affair of her marriage with a British soldier. Howard carefully shows that although Father Hugh will condemn when necessary, that there is a large heart behind his somewhat coarse exterior.
It is rather odd that the academy decided to ignore Howard's performance here, but I guess they felt they rewarded the film enough by recognizing John Mills's Oscar winning performance as the village idiot Michael (a performance that I will continue to defend, as I do believe he was the best of the truly supporting performances nominated). The academy though should have also recognized Trevor Howard as well as he very much excels with his performance as Father Hugh Collins. Howard succeeds in giving the local priest that large personality that makes him in a way one of the commanding forces of the island, but Trevor as well well still brings the right tenderness there should be in a man who wants his congregation to be moral and thrive as they should.