Best Actress – 1983

Official Nominations: Shirley Maclaine. Meryl Streep. Jane Alexander. Julie Walters. Debra Winter.

A very, very Oscars category this year. We have four time losing nominee Shirley Maclaine getting her win at the fifth and final attempt, beating out former winner Meryl Streep and former nominees Julie Walters, Jane Alexander, and Debra Winger. With this calibre, you know each of the performances is good even if I’m not personally a huge fan of any of the related films. The only film I ever feel the need to re-watch is Testament, because I’m a glutton for pain. But Alexander is very good in this little known film as the mother trying to keep her family alive in the aftermath of a nuke.

My Winner: Jane Alexander

Testament (1983) | Smith's Verdict

My Nominations: Dee Wallace. Renee Soutendijk. Bonnie Bedelia. Debbie Harry. Jane Alexander.

Anybody reading this knows how I feel about Horror and that Horror is consistently overlooked by The Academy. Me nominating Horror movies is partly trying to address that imbalance, and partly because I feel the choices are fully merited. Dee Wallace is great in Cujo as the cheating Mom who is trapped with her car in the sun by a rabid dog. The performance just verges on being as over the top as the story itself, and in a stronger year I probably wouldn’t have her here.

The Academy has also been less than forthcoming with regards to foreign films outside of the Best Foreign Feature category, a shame given there have been so many worthy picks over the years in so many categories. My vision of The Oscars is one which is focused on the best in World Cinema, rather than 90% Hollywood. No matter. This year, The Fourth Man was one of the best films and Renee Soutendijk is sultry and ambiguous as the potential femme fatale.

Biographies meanwhile, are a stalwart of The Academy and you’re almost guaranteed to get a nomination if you play a significant, famous real life figure. Bonnie Bedelia unfortunately played someone whose impact was large, but was in a sport no-one cars about – drag racing. She’s good, even if the film isn’t the best in the world.

Debbie Harry makes a potent vixen, a near object in Videodrome who appears both as passive and controlling. It’s powerful stuff for someone known more for her music. Jane Alexander makes it over to my list too.

My Winner: Renee Soutendijk.

Let us know your winner in the comments!

3 thoughts on “Best Actress – 1983

  1. February 15, 2023 / 10:31 pm

    I’m sure others on your site may have already corrected you on this tidbit, but Julie Walters has never won an Oscar.

    But I’ve always felt that she should have won a supporting Oscar for “Billy Elliott”. She was wonderful as the dance teacher. She was nominated; alas, she lost that year.


    • carlosnightman February 15, 2023 / 10:54 pm

      Absolutely right, I meant to put her with the other former nominees!

  2. John Charet March 26, 2023 / 9:52 pm

    Renee Soutendijk would be my choice as well 🙂

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