Official Nominations: Elizabeth Taylor. Anouk Aimee. Ida Kaminska. Lynn Redgrave. Vanessa Redgrave.
Like much of the latter half of the 60s, 1966 was an important year for Women, the major moment being the founding of the National Organization for women. In the Media and in the Arts, Women were blurring and breaking boundaries and crossing divides – Janis Joplin was the voice of a new generation while the likes of Nancy Sinatra and Cher were going toe to toe with The Beatles and The Stones. Many of the year’s highest grossing, well-received and most important movies featured actresses in defining performances and symbolizing the wind of change sweeping across the Western World and beyond.
Liz Taylor gives a Daniel Day Lewis turn by performing as Martha in Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? – the antithesis of every other role she had played until this point, piling on the pounds, and ultimately makes the film more energetic and enticing. Taylor earned her second Oscar with her performance, no doubt helped by the on and off-screen antics between her and Burton. Anouk Aimee was already well known to critics thanks to 8 1/2 and La Dolce Vita, but with A Man And A Woman she was able to take centre stage as the sympathetic widow and mother Anne. In a film where the beauty of the visuals threatens to overcome the story and the cast, Aimee holds her own. On an entirely different note, The Shop On Main Street sees Ida Kaminska as an old shop owner under threat from Aryanization during WW2. Her performance, coupled with the grim nature and resolution of the film were enough to get the film considerable notice in the US. The final two nominations go to the Redgrave sisters, Lynn and Vanessa for Georgy Girl and Morgan! respectively. The two British films share quite a few similarities, but the characters each play are near opposites with Lynn playing a naive, ‘pure’, imaginative young woman and Vanessa as a bored housewife seeking divorce. Both characters however are objects of extreme desire for the male characters, and hilarity ensues.
My Winner: Elizabeth Taylor.
My Nominations: Elizabeth Taylor. Francoise Dorleac. Virginia McKenna. Anne Bancroft.
Only Taylor makes it over from the official list this year. Dorleac gives another forgotten, energetic performance in Cul-de-sac which was another stepping stone towards what should have been a greater level of stardom before her untimely death. Most people only remember Born Free for its song and visuals, but that is doing a disservice to McKenna’s performance as Joy Adamson. Finally, Anne Bancroft stirs up trouble at a Chinese Christian missionary as the newly arrived, anti-religion Doctor Cartwright, a role which she joyfully sinks her teeth into.
My Winner: Elizabeth Taylor.
Who is your pick for the Best Actress of 1966? Let us know in the comments!