Spencer Tracy did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Joe Wilson in Fury.
Spencer Tracy plays the role of Joe Wilson who in the first scenes of the film we just meet as a well average Joe. We meet him as Tracy is likable and charming enough in portraying Joe who just wants to live his life. He has a nice enough chemistry with Sylvia Sydney as his fiancee Katherine, and really his biggest issue is telling his brothers to stay a lawful course in passionate way. Eventually Joe is arrested on a misunderstanding and gossip spreads that he must behind a kidnapping. Tracy is effective enough in these scenes in simply portraying the simple confusion as Joe attempts to deal with accusations against him. Eventually things become even worse when the town gets riled up and the lynch mob decides to take justice into their own hands. Tracy is fairly moving in the simple scenes of him screaming for his life. There's an especially poignant moment from Tracy as he embraces his dog as though it is the last living thing he's going to interact with.
Well that's when everything takes a downturn as the police station burns down to the ground and apparently Joe along with it. Well that's not the case for Joe who manages to survive just barely although he only informs this fact to his brothers for them to prosecute the mob that tried to kill him. Well Tracy plays these scenes all wrong as though Joe is just really ticked off and wants the revenge as almost a maniacal villain. It would have been interesting for him to show Joe Wilson as having been scarred by the experience which propels him for revenge. The problem is Tracy way overplays the idea making Joe's, well, Fury seem more that of an evil man than a man seeking revenge out of something horrible that was done to him. Even when he hears that things are going his way Tracy plays it up with too much of a devious glee. It ends up just not making sense for the way he established the character in the first third. It's not a broken man that Tracy presents but a completely different man which really loses a great deal of the power behind his crusade.
As is oddly the case with many of Tracy's "lead" performances early on his career there's not a great deal of him. He's not simply supporting though like he was in his Oscar nomination for San Francisco but the film takes a great deal of time showing the court case against the mob where we only see the occasional cutaway to Joe. Eventually Joe is taken to task by Katherine about his plan of revenge which causes Joe to do some soul searching. This is pretty rushed although Tracy at least seems to bring back Joe anywhere near the character he established early on the film, and ends on a fine enough note as Joe makes his survival known to the court in order not to take revenge. This performance does have strong moments most notably just before Joe thinks he's going to die but the whole middle section of his work seems like a missed opportunity. Instead of portraying a decent man committing a vendetta over what has been done to him, he instead makes Joe into far too simplistic villain that really removes the heft of the needed dramatic weight for the film.