Best Actress – 1966

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.

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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.

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Who is your pick for the Best Actress of 1966? Let us know in the comments!

Best Actress: 1963

Official Nominations: Natalie Wood. Leslie Caron. Shirley Maclaine. Patricia Neal. Rachel Roberts.

Again this wasn’t a very strong year in the Best Actress category and I’ve found it difficult choosing a winner because none of the performances wowed me. Neal won the award this year even though her scenes were minimal. My win goes to Roberts whose tragic character and tear-jerking role in Thi Sporting Life was eerily close to her own life.

My Winner: Rachel Roberts.

My Nominations: Elizabeth Taylor. Tippi Hedren. Julie Harris. Brigitte Bardot.

It’s fairly obvious that Liz Taylor gets my win this year, not that I’m a huge fan, but that if a 5 minute reel of film footage ever gets sent into space featuring our greatest stars and moments, you can be certain that Taylor as Cleopatra would be featured. It was the role she was born to play and it is impossible, pointless to imagine anyone else in the role. My close runner up is Tippi Hedren, who I am a huge fan of, both as an actress and a woman. She is as perfect as a ‘Hitchcock female’ as you could imagine, and is silky, sly, sexual, yet mysterious, endearing, and engaging in The Birds. Bardot gives one of her most famous efforts in Contempt where she is luscious and strong, while Harris plays an unusual horror heroine wonderfully in The Haunting.

My Winner: Elizabeth Taylor

As always, give your vote in the poll below, and let your voice be heard in the comments section!