Official Nominations: Maggie Smith. Dyan Cannon. Penelope Milford. Maureen Stapleton. Meryl Streep.
One thing that has been reinforced as I go through these Oscar posts is the fact that some of these performers and directors – even though they were nominated for, and in some cases won – the most prestigious award in all of entertainment, have all but disappeared from public consciousness. This happens almost every year, and you can tell in the Awards in recent years that there will be that nominated performer who most people will never hear from again. Then again, providing that person still works, all it takes is one more appearance in a hit movie or show, or one more appearance in something ‘important’ to put them back into the hearts and minds of the masses. I always used to assume that once you made it, you had made it for life. And while that is true to some extent – they can’t ever take away what you achieved – it doesn’t mean you’re going to be remembered. This is even more prevalent in music – look at some of the artists of the 1930s-1960s – people who sold millions of copies, toured the world, and had numerous number 1 albums and songs – almost no-one today knows they exist.
Which brings me back to this category – Meryl Streep everyone knows, and the same goes for Maggie Smith. Maybe without Downton Abbey she’d have fallen by the wayside. Aww balls, there’s a Downton Abbey movie coming out this year (time of writing, 4.07pm GMT 26th March 2019) so she’s bound to get a stupid Oscar Nomination for it, assuming she’s in it. Maureen Stapleton… most more dedicated film fans will know her but if you only watch recent stuff then obviously you will be less familiar. The other two nominees; you’d struggle to find anyone on the street who would know who they are. Case in point – Dyan Cannon was married to Carey Grant and was nominated for three Oscars, yet she’s not exactly a household name. She did have a prominent return in the late 90s with a recurring role in Ally McBeal – that show that made idiots want to be lawyers. She has a definite comic flair, hence her nomination this year in Heaven Can Wait. Penelope Milford is even less well known, due to appearances in lesser films, and on stage. Nevertheless, she netted Coming Home yet another acting nomination this year as the sister to one of the returning vets who has to deal with the fallout of their trauma.
Maggie Smith won her second Oscar this year for California Suite in which she ironically plays a down on her luck actress who has just received her first Oscar nomination. For me, not a huge fan of Neil Simon’s work, it’s an okay film and an okay performance in a weak year for actresses. Meryl Streep then, in one of her true breakout roles, even though she’d already been good before this. As much as I love The Deer Hunter, Streep doesn’t have all that much to do in the film and it’s a fairly bland role. She isn’t weak by any means, but this is a film about the male performances and if it was any smaller name here instead of Streep, you’d forget her. That leaves Maureen Stapleton for Interiors. Woody Allen movies aren’t usually my thing, and while Stapleton gets plenty of mileage out of the loud and uncouth woman trope, it’s again not something I would pick. A weak year then, so most people will go with their preference. Smith seems like the most obvious choice.
My Winner: Maggie Smith
My Nominations: Maggie Smith. Linda Manz. Brooke Shields. Dyan Cannon.
I go for a couple of child performances this year. Brooke Shields, as the young girl being brought up in a whorehouse, is particularly strong but it probably deserves to be in the Best Actress category. The year is weak though, so I’m adding it here. Linda Manz is the young sister of our anti-hero in Days Of Heaven and acts as the narrator so we see the film technically through her eyes – potentially making her a contender for lead too. I don’t know anymore – it’s a good performance in a bad year.
My Winner: Brooke Shields