Best Actress – 1974

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

Best Actress – 1967

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

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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

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Who is your pick for the Best Actress of 1967? Let us know in the comments!