Official Nominations: Faye Dunaway. Marie Christine Barrault. Talia Shire. Sissy Spacek. Liv Ullmann.
I love and hate this category this year. There are at least three people I’d love to pick or can see winning officially. Faye Dunaway finally got her win this year, starring in Network as a clinical ratings whore, someone who will do and allow anything as long as it gets people watching. Dunaway heightens the satirical tone of the role, but it’s a powerful, convincing, and alarmingly accurate depiction of what we now see as commonplace in big business, and especially entertainment and media. Talia Shire stars as the mousy Adrian, the pet store worker who steals Rocky Balboa’s heart – her growth from extremely shy to coming out of her shell, while not extraordinary, is done with such honesty, heart, and conviction that you can’t help be swept up in it. The third front runner is Sissy Spacek as the shy, bullied Carrie White – mocked by her classmates, hounded and caged by her territorial zealot mother, she snaps and wipes out her entire school thanks to her telekinetic powers – you know the drill. Any of these three are deserving winners.
Marie Christine Barrault is more a staple of the French TV movie, occasionally appearing in wider big screen releases such as Cousin Cousine – I generally don’t enjoy films which resolve entirely around affairs but this one works because of its charm – Barrault being good as the wife of a cheating husband. However, it’s a 1975 movie and as per my rules, that means she’s out. Finally, Liv Ullmann gives a typically strong performance as yet another broken woman in yet another Bergman film – it’s definitely one of her best performances, my only issue being that it’s not all that different from what we’ve already seen her do for Bergman.
My Winner: Talia Shire
My Nominations: Faye Dunaway. Talia Shire. Sissy Spacek. Jodie Foster. Lauren Bacall.
The three main front runners make it over, and joining them in arguably her biggest and best year is the young Jodie Foster, who gets my nomination here for The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane. Lets not forget that this year she also made Taxi Driver, Freaky Friday, and Bugsy Malone – though the less said about those final two, the better. Nevertheless, these are each iconic films in their own way, but her lead performance in the creepy and little known The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane shows a mature command of the screen. Lauren Bacall adds some class to John Wayne’s final film The Shootist – a widow and mother who comes to form a mutual understanding and respect with the dying lead character.
My Winner: Talia Shire
Let us know your winner in the comments!
Official Nominations: Louise Fletcher. Isabelle Adjani. Ann-Margret. Glenda Jackson. Carol Kane.
Louise Fletcher won this year, and there isn’t really any other choice. Her Nurse Ratched is one of Cinema’s most notorious villains, all the more startling because of the fact that she is human – not murderous or outlandishly evil, just evil in the plainest sense – someone with power but a complete lack of compassion in a position which requires the highest levels of human understanding. She’s exquisite and holds her own against Nicholson like few others have.
In another year, Isabelle Adjani could have been winner, but here she had to be content with being the youngest nominee in this category. The Story Of Adele H is a Truffaut movies for people who don’t like Truffaut movies, and Adjani is great in her breakout role as Victor Hugo’s daughter. It’s always interesting when a foreigner in a foreign film gets nominated for an Acting Oscar, this one is all the more so given it was basically her breakout, big screen lead debut. Ann-Margret is another weird choice for this year, in what comes close to being a bewildering British romp that you imagine would alienate most US viewers. Again, it’s a great performance but it’s amusing that it saw a nomination. Glenda Jackson is a much more traditional vote and The Academy loved Jackson in the 70s, but it’s not something you’d pick for the win and the film is largely forgettable. Finally, Carol Kane stars as Gitl, a Jewish woman who moves to America, specifically New York and struggles to fit in while also trying to hold her family together. Another good performance, but not a hope against Fletcher.
My Winner: Louise Fletcher
My Nominations: Louise Fletcher. Isabelle Adjani. Karen Black. Veronica Cartwright. Susan Sarandon. Katharine Ross.
Only Fletcher and Adjani make it over to my list. Karen Black joins her for another standout performance in the maligned Day Of The Locust and Veronica Cartwright as the heroin addicted ex star deciding to resort to porn in the under-appreciated Inserts. Susan Sarandon gets her first major hit and major cult success as Janet in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, holding her own in a memorable cast, while Katharine Ross both charms and chills as the original Stepford Wife(ves).
My Winner: Louise Fletcher
Let us know your winner in the comments!
Official Nominations: Ellen Burstyn. Diahann Carroll. Faye Dunaway. Valerie Perrine. Gena Rowlands.
This is a tight one, because there are at least three terrific lead performances you can pick from, and another two decent options. Ellen Burstyn got her win here for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore – it’s not as iconic as The Exorcist but she arguably does more here and gets more of the spotlight. After the death of her husband, Alice travels across the US with her son hoping to find light at the end of a dark tunnel. Burstyn is funny and sympathetic and you feel like the film and the performance should be better known than it is. Faye Dunaway joins Nicholson in an acting masterclass with Chinatown, Dunaway bringing the noir Femme Fatale into yet another decade and crafting a more sinuous, slippery archetype. Gena Rowlands stars in her husband’s A Woman Under The Influence as a woman deemed to be crazy, for lack of a better word. Through the inner workings of her family, and husband in particular, we view her actions in a more sympathetic vein although it’s clear she is batshit, desperately so. It’s an audacious, largely extraordinary performance, though it does become tiresome and slips into over the top theatrics at times.
The final two choices were never going to win against the previous three, but deserve mentions. Claudine is a decent film, and the cynic in me says the performance feels like The Academy bowing to pressure rather than them honouring a good actor. It is a good performance and it does deserve a nomination, it makes you think of the actors in previous years who missed out but deserved equally. Finally, Valerie Perrine, better known as Miss Teschmacher from Superman, gets a dubious nomination for Lenny as the woman Lenny Bruce stalks and marries. She’s good, no doubt, but is in the shadow of Hoffman’s performance.
My Winner: Faye Dunaway
My Nominations: Ellen Burstyn. Faye Dunaway. Gena Rowlands. Lauren Bacall.
Having said all that, I struggle to choose any additional performances who would be on par with the three above, at least in the lead category. Lets add one more anyway, with Lauren Bacall’s moaning motormouth in Murder On The Orient Express.
My Winner: Faye Dunaway
Official Nominations: Glenda Jackson. Ellen Burstyn. Marsha Mason. Barbra Streisand. Joanne Woodward.
Glenda Jackson won this year for A Touch Of Class – an entertaining farce basically about two horn-bags trying to have sex, then continuing an on-off affair. The main problem I have with the film is that the main characters are, well, dicks. The affair is slapstick stuff but eventually settles into a more typical relationship with all the guilt and jealousy you would expect. Still, Jackson is good, shows a talent for comedy, and deserves the nomination. Ellen Burstyn is the tortured mother in The Exorcist, helplessly clutching for some sort of salvation for her daughter. She comes across as cold in the early parts of the film but once the vomit hits the fan she is the concerned, terrified parent watching unimaginable trauma inflected on her child – Burstyn is the winner, no other choice.
Martha Mason earns her first of four nominations for Cinderella Liberty. The cynic in me looks at her marriage to Neil Simon who just happened to write most of the films she was nominated for, but that’s not the case here. She’s good here but there’s something too showy or theatrical about the performance? I don’t know. The film itself is a strange one too – good cast, decent drama, but forgettable. Barbra Streisand is Barbra Streisand, so you know exactly what you’re going to get – lots of scenery chewing and arm waving, while Joanne Woodward is a weird choice in a weird movie. It’s the requisite veteran vote, but she’d already won an award previously. Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams feels like a Bergman movie – even the title sounds like one, and isn’t a film anyone is ever going to seek out. It’s actually a genuine, accurate portrayal of depression and I think there is a great movie in here somewhere – it just doesn’t come off very well.
My Winner: Ellen Burstyn
My Nominations: Ellen Burstyn. Sissy Spacek. Julie Christie. Margot Kidder. Raquel Welch.
People think of Carrie when they think of Sissy Spacek’s breakout role, but the makings of her illustrious career can be found in Badlands – acting as both narrator and lead. As a slightly more passive character she is in danger of being overshadowed by Martin Sheen, but manages to more than hold her own. Julie Christie finds herself in a similar position in Don’t Look Now but her quiet turn to obsession is just as unnerving as what happens to Sutherland’s character. Margot Kidder gives perhaps the most impressive performance of my nominees in a dual role in De Palma’s Sisters while Raquel Welch appears this year in both The Last Of Sheila and The Three Musketeers – either of which is worthy of a nomination.
My Winner: Ellen Burstyn
Let us know in the comments which Actress you think deserves the Award this year!
Official Nominations: Liza Minnelli. Diana Ross. Maggie Smith. Cecily Tyson. Liv Ullmann.
This one was never in doubt – Minnelli’s first singing role for Bob Fosse’s comeback movie? Never in doubt. If you’ve read this blog or my Oscars posts for any length of time then you’ll know I’m not a Musical fan. I’d go out of my way to not watch a Musical. I’m not a fan of Minnelli either and as objectively great as Cabaret is, it’s just not my thing. Some people don’t like Musicals, some people don’t like action movies, some people don’t like Police Academy (seriously, there are people like that out there). Minnelli gives herself over to the performance completely and gets the deserved nomination and win, and yet it’s such an obvious performance… I think that’s one of the many places where me and Musicals part ways – I know I’m watching an actor, I know I’m watching a show, and I’m entirely disconnected from it to the point that it would make a difference if I was watching it on screen or seeing her swinging her hips in my face in my own kitchen.
Diana Ross, another singer/actor delivers probably her best work in Lady Sings The Blues as Billie Holiday. It could have, well, it should have been grittier but it’s a performance I enjoy more than Minnelli’s. Maggie Smith is back again, another performer I’m not a fan of, being another bird-like eccentric creature with a minor collection of physical ticks. Cecily Tyson is in with a chance for her honest, non showy performance in Sounder while Liv Ullmann doesn’t need to be here at all due to her film coming out the previous year, ignoring those wacky Academy rules.
My Winner: Diana Ross.
My Nominations: Liza Minnelli. Diana Ross. Ruby Dee. Susannah York. Maria Schneider.
There isn’t really anything from the official list I’d want to have on my list. I mean yeah, Minnelli should be here and there’s no use in me being a dick about it, but still… not my thing. Is there going to be anything else this year that was ever going to legitimately beat her win – nope – but I’m basically picking my own favorites here as long as they’re not awful. There’s a case for Diane Keaton here, but I don’t think she does enough in The Godfather to warrant a nomination in lead or supporting categories. Ruby Dee is here for Buck And The Preacher – not a huge role or a huge film, but I’m not spoiled for choice. Susannah York is great as the tormented lead in Images while tormented is perhaps not a strong enough word for Maria Schneider in Last Tango In Paris.
My Winner: Maria Schneider
Let us know in the comments who you would pick as your winner for the best Actress of 1972!
Official Nominations: Jane Fonda. Julie Christie. Glenda Jackson. Vanessa Redgrave. Janet Suzman.
Jane Fonda was the runaway winner this year for her performance in Klute. It was the performance which launched her career and was a modern revision of those noir heroines of old invoking tradition, mystery, sympathy, and sensuality. Julie Christie received her second Oscar nomination this year, playing Miller versus McCabe, an opium addicted raconteur and opportunist while Glenda Jackson gets a nod for the unhappy, disappointed Alex Greville in Sunday Bloody Sunday. The final two choices are fine, but feel a little like ‘we have to pick these performances because of the film’ – Redgrave for Mary, Queen Of Scots and Janet Suzman for Nicholas And Alexandra.
My Winner: Jane Fonda
My Nominations: Jane Fonda. Julie Christie. Glenda Jackson. Jennifer O’Neill. Mia Farrow. Jenny Agutter.
I can’t really improve upon the three main choices from the Official Nominations, so I add a random trio – Jenny Agutter for the challenging Walkabout, Mia Farrow in the Wait Until Dark rip-off See No Evil, and Jennifer O’Neill for Summer Of ’42.
My Winner: Jane Fonda
Let us know in the comments who you pick as the Best Actress of 1971!
Official Nominations: Glenda Jackson. Jane Alexander. Ali Macgraw. Carrie Snodgrass. Sarah Miles.
The official winner this year was Glenda Jackson for Women In Love – a contentious decision in many eyes. I’ve never had a problem with the performance and Jackson was a perfect fit, bringing a sexual prowess and theatrical force to create a whirlwind whole. Jane Alexander is fine in The Great White Hope, bringing her Tony Award winning performance to the screen alongside her stage colleague James Earl Jones – Jones is the one you pay attention to here though. Ali Macgraw’s nomination is a strange one – Love Story was a huge success so I guess all the buzz around her and the movie was enough to entice everyone – it’s an okay performance, but nothing you would ever pick. Carrie Snodgrass burst onto the screen with her sort-of-debut Diary Of A Mad Housewife – a frustrated and ironically funny performance in a strangely depressing comedy (notable for an early appearance by Alice Cooper and friends). Finally, David Lean returned with another epic in Ryan’s Daughter – a film much maligned at the time but which still garnered a nomination for Sarah Miles – it’s fine, but feels like a pity nomination.
My Winner: Glenda Jackson.
My Nominations: Glenda Jackson. Carrie Snodgrass. Eva Marie Saint. Jenny Agutter. Candice Bergen.
This was a pretty poor year for leading actress performances in all honesty. I’m adding Eva Marie Saint for Loving because I like the idea of her being nominated instead of some of the official ones – it’s as good a performance as those anyway. In that vein, I’m also nominating Jenny Agutter for The Railway Children – not a film I love, but a good performance by someone I do. That means I just need one more to round up to five aaaand, why not – Candice Bergen in the graphic Soldier Blue.
My Winner: Glenda Jackson
Let me know in the comments who your pick for the Best Actress of 1970 is!
Official Nominations: Maggie Smith. Genevieve Bujold. Jane Fonda. Liza Minnelli. Jean Simmons.
Although nowadays Maggie Smith is known for building nests in your neighbour’s trees and swooping down to gobble up stray worms and centipedes, back in 1969 she was winning an Oscar for her performance in The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie. It is an excessively ugly film with many bizarre accents, topped off by the dead eyed stare of Maggie as she gives it her all. Genevieve Bujold is the best thing about Anne Of The Thousand Days, Jane Fonda gets a deserved nomination in the bleak, bizarre, and still shocking They Shoot Horses, Don’t They, and Liza Minnelli is just on the verge of irritating in The Sterile Cuckoo. Jean Simmons is the final pick, very strong in the unusually frank The Happy Ending.
My Winner: Genevieve Bujold.
My Nominations: Genevieve Bujold. Jane Fonda. Jean Simmons. Natalie Wood. Shirley Knight. Diana Rigg.
Not too many changes for my personal nominations this year – three existing and three new. Ted and Alice got nominations for Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, so why not Carol? Natalie Wood stars as the liberal Carol who is okay with her husbands extra-marital antics so decides to have some of her own, before eyeing up a more dedicated commitment to swinging. Shirley Knight goes on a personal odyssey encountering various characters and reflecting the frustration and stress of someone who has not yet worked out what they want out of their own life. Finally, long before she was trading barbs and quips with royalty in Westeros, Diana Rigg was hanging out in equally dangerous snake-pits. Her performance in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is good, but it is in the same year in The Adjustment Bureau that she earns my nomination, a strong woman driven to personal and public gain through moral and dubious ventures.
My Winner: Shirley Knight.
Let us know in the comments who gets your pick as the Best Actress of 1969 – any of the above, or someone I have missed?
Official Nominations: Katherine Hepburn. Barbra Streisand. Patricia Neal. Vanessa Redgrave. Joanne Woodward.
Katherine Hepburn picked up another win for The Lion In Winter, while Barbara Streisand picked up a nomination for her first movie Funny Girl. As proof that The Academy was just making it up as it went along, Streisand was actually joint winner this year. Patricia Neal does her best in The Subject Was Roses, Redgrave globe-trots rambunctiously in Isadora, while Woodward is a polar opposite in Rachel, Rachel.
My Winner: Vanessa Redgrave
My Nominations: Jacqueline Bisset. Barbra Streisand. Claudia Cardinale. Faye Dunaway. Vanessa Redgrave.
Only Redgrave and Streisand make it over to my nominations and won’t stand a chance of winning versus my other three picks. Jacqueline Bisset made a pretty big impact in 1968 being nominated for a Golden Globe in the interesting surfer movie The Sweet Ride and appearing in the very good The Detective (based on a novel whose sequel would be adapted into Die Hard). However, it is her performance in Bullitt which earns her my nomination – she holds her own along side the veteran McQueen and ensures that the movie isn’t only remembered for him and the car chase. Also holding their own along side McQueen is Fay Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair, creating a smoldering partnership as the cool and intelligent Vicki. Claudia Cardinale also appeared in a bunch of movies in 1968, but it is undoubtedly Once Upon A Time In The West that she is remembered for – her performance (baked up by her theme) providing the heart and soul of the movie and is never less than captivating – make no mistake, this is a film about Jill rather than Harmonica or the others.
My Winner: Claudia Cardinale.
Who do you pick from the Official list of nominees, and who would be your choices of Best Actress of 1968 from those who were not nominated – let us know in the comments!
Official Nominations: Katherine Hepburn. Anne Bancroft. Faye Dunaway. Edith Evans. Audrey Hepburn.
An interesting blend of old and new both in the actresses chosen and the films they represented – with Edith Evans receiving her third and final nomination as the eccentric and downtrodden Mrs Ross in the ever bleak The Whisperers, a fine performance but not a film that you’d want to go through more than once. Katherine Hepburn picked up her second win in Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner as the supposedly liberal parent forced to examine her inward and outward beliefs, while Audrey Hepburn is excellent in a rare horror related role as the tormented, blind Susy. Anne Bancroft symbolizes the age gap if not necessarily a generational one as Mrs Robinson in The Graduate, while Faye Dunaway blasted her way on to the scene with an unforgettable performance as Bonnie in Bonnie and Clyde. Worthy nominees and worthy winners for all.
My Winner: Faye Dunaway
My Nominations: Anne Bancroft. Faye Dunaway. Audrey Hepburn. Catherine Deneuve. Jane Fonda.
I’ve dropped Evans and Katherine Hepburn for my nominations and added Finda and Deneuve. Fonda excels in the enjoyable but not always successful Barefoot In The Park, while Deneuve gives a stunning performance as the titular Belle De Jour who fantasizes about darker, fringe sex games.
My Winner: Faye Dunaway
Who is your pick for the Best Actress of 1967? Let us know in the comments!