Sunday, October 04, 2009

Final conclusions - Best Actress 1957
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The rating thing is always difficult to do, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve last seen that certain performance. Everything IS relative. But what remains at the end of a Best Actress year is the ranking [slash] in order of preference.
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But before that, one or two ideas: 1957 was a good year, a good match for me because it’s mostly what I looked for: Best Actress years I know little, almost nothing about. I mean, I always know the nominees and trivia stuff, but I don’t always get to see the movies. So, when I started 1957 I had seen just 1. I watched again Peyton Place and seen the other 4 and fortunately enough nothing was predictable. I was filled with admiration for the talent of some (cough Magnani cough) and was happy to criticize others (I’m looking at you, Liz). So another fun year!
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Here’s how I appreciated them, from best to not as good. Number 1 is a clear winner for me. And there’s a very very thin ranking difference between #2 and #3. The ladies:
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Anna is a true force of nature and she gives us the most deliciously natural European acting style. The role seems written specifically for her and she’s all fire and music! The emotion she manages to display is terrific and always wins the heart of the audience. It’s a loud role done right and talk about her chemistry with Quinn!
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Her biggest challenge was to not make it all look like a joke. The spotlight was exclusively on her: and for the basic package, she delivered. I DID SEE 3 different women and considering the over-simplicity of the screenplay, this really is a good performance much above the material. Despite limited experience, her acting decisions were chosen wisely and proved right for the role. Her transformation uncut scenes are a delight.
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Her face and persona do half the job. Then it’s time for her acting skills to inject intelligence & emotion in this otherwise dull-written character. The result is a believable Sister Angela and although the performance doesn’t steal the show, it’s great subtle work. I also suspect it’s that type of actress-magic that grows on you with time. I truly believe Deborah had fun with it; a relaxed performance I have most respect for.
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A big plus for the effort. I can see Lana struggling, waiting for her big splashy scenes. But before she gets to cry, she has to play matronly, frigid and by doing so: stay faithful to the character. That’s what I admired the most. Even after she overacted, she kept the essence of the character and finished the performance in a faithful, dedicated way. The injustices caused to her by her daughter are played beautifully and we get an understanding of what is going on emotionally.
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It’s definitely the worst of Liz’s Oscar nominated performances. The southern thing works for her just when it comes to the looks and playing racist bitch. The role itself is a bit too much… of everything and Taylor can’t rise above the weakness of the screenplay. Bad writing kills her and she doesn’t know all the maneuvers to escape! Her best scene is when she underplays insanity, a decision that would’ve also been useful in other scenes.
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Even though I don’t really agree with the Academy’s decision to give it to Joanne, I can understand the vote. And as I like to guess who the runner-up was: Deborah Kerr 2nd for sure. Anna was too good to be ignored, so she was 3rd. Elizabeth 4th, because of the whole insanity thing and Lana… I think she was last in her chance of winning. It’s almost not even her movie.
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Other Best Actress years discussed so far:



What’s next?

In a couple of days I will announce the Best Actress year I’m reviewing for October and (probably) November. I’ve already made up my mind and it’s gonna be from the 3 decades I haven’t attacked until now (30s, 40s and 80s). As I’ve said it before, I appreciate strange, less talked about years. But being a categorizing freak, I’d appreciate any year.

14 comments:

Tom said...

I'm sad that Lana Turner never got an Oscar; not even an Honorary Oscar. This was her only nomination. Have yet to see Wild is the Wind, but I'm sure you're right. Looking forward to the next postings. I have a request for 1943. My question is, "Was Jennifer Jones's performance worthy of the Oscar, compared to the other performances?"

Alex in Movieland said...

I remember about Lana Turner in her last years: she said she wanted Sharon Stone to play her in a biopic :P that would've been interesting. in the 90s!


sorry, it's not 1943. but except Jennifer, I have only seen Greer Garson and a part of Jean Arthur. And she was better than both, in my opinion.

it's a subtle, quiet performance, but definitely not a classic

Cal said...

I think you've definitely profiled one of those underseen years. Kerr is actually the only one of the five I've seen, since these films are not readily available in the UK(I believe Peyton Place is on youtube but have not gotten around to it).

I've only heard good things about Joanne Woodward so I'm surprised that she didn't rate higher. I love her in Rachel, Rachel.

Some recommendations:-

1937 is amazing, and they didn't even nominate my favourite performance of the year from Deanna Durbin.

1940 is excellent, though I haven't seen Martha Scott yet.

1946: I've only seen a couple but most of the films seem interesting and/or exotic.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Yay. Cannot wait...although the eighties I sort of blank out when I think about them. About Jones I want you to see For Whom the Bell Tolls. I am biased towards Ingrid and there's much backlash against her not being nominated for Casablanca but I remember liking the performance. I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Alex in Movieland said...

Cal, I agree that Joanne was very good in Rachel, Rachel, but from what I can remember Streisand, Hepburn & especially Regrave in Isadora were probably even greater. what a terrific year. Unfortunately, I can't get my hands on The Subject Was Roses :(

trust me, I'm very very curious about 1946, but I don't have Sister Kenny, Duel in the Sun AND To each his own. But let's not play the guessing game :D I've already decided on a year. it's a flat unspectacular one. probably the most spectacular year from those I have of these decades is 1939 which I'll consider some other time.


Andrew, I think her performance in Casablanca was a bit more on the subtle side. if I remember it well. I will consider For Whom the Bell Tolls at one point.
And I did hear good things about Joan Fontaine in the lesser seen The Constant Nymph.

A french lector said...

Fontaine is great in The Constant nymph. Very believable as a teenager, and really heartbreaking.

But Arthur is excellent too (as always) in a beautiful part, half moving, half funny.

About 1940 : great year for the actresses, but not exactly for the nomination. Rogers (for Kitty Foyle, that boring interpretation) and Scott BUT not the historicals Russell, Sullavan or Garson ? Beurk !

About 1946 : I have not seen Sister Kenny (wich is a "Graal" for me). Havilland is amazing, Wyman very likeble in a complex part, Jones hysterical but impressive and Johnson very good, of course.

About Turner MGM refused to campagne her for Ziegfield Follies (supporting) and The Bad and the beautiful (leading). She was bitter about that. She thought she deserved a nomination for this performances and not for her "ok" performance in Peyton Place (I find the Alex's analyse very subtle and clever).

I'm very anxious about the next year. But I'm not very interesting about the 70's, 80's etc.

For me the most beautiful years (in the period I prefer) are may be 1935 (but I haven't seen Bergner), 1937, 1938, 1944, 1947, 1952 ...

Alex in Movieland said...

I have only seen the beginning of The more the merrier (am I writing it right, the jean arthur one) and I found it to be totally annoying and predictable. too bad.

unfortunately 35, 38 and 52 are not accesible to me. 1952 has that damn Member of the Wedding I can't get my hands on

Cal said...

Tell me about it. I'm beginning to wonder if The Member of the Wedding actually exists. Harris is brilliant in East of Eden.

Guess we just have to hope some TCM or some other TV network has it somewhere and will resurrect it fairly soon.

Alex in Movieland said...

and by resurrection we mean someone doing a VCD and posting it on torrent sites.

my list is veeeeery long on this topic. The Blue Veil is another worthy example. Hedda with Glenda Jackson. Hester Street. The Happy Ending (1969). etc etc.

I imagine Julie's performance in Member of the Wedding to be a bit hilarious. she was 26-27, playing what? a 12-13 year old! COME ON! [there's a small clip on youtube. she did look old to me] it's just as absurd as Natalie Wood's (offensive) attempt in the horroble Inside Daisy Clover

A french lector said...

Member of the wedding exist in DVD in the "Stanley Kramer Collection"

http://www.amazon.com/Stanley-Kramer-Collection-Wedding-Fingers/dp/B000TXP56M

Too bad about The Morre and the merrier. I love Connie/Jean Arthur, her voice and her charm, her vulnerability and her humor. For me she is a much better comic actress than, for exemple, Carole Lombard because we can always feel the human being behind the "female clown".

About Julie Harris in Member it's "théatre filmé". Does she have to be believable as a teenager ? I'm not so sure.(I haven't seen the picture).

Never seen The Blue Veil, Sister Kenny, Love Letters, Sunrise at Campobello and others .... "sob" !

Cal said...

I've seen Sunrise at Campobello. Garson is alright, but it's nowhere near her best, and the film is way too long.

Tom said...

I can't recommend "The Subject Was Roses" enough - it played on TCM a couple of years ago. I love this movie. Patricia Neal's performance is flawless.

Alex in Movieland said...

because we we've mentioned To Each His Own... a very kind man has posted it on youtube last week. See it / download it while you can :P
Here is the playlist:

http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=63F3DE26BD3190D3

Tom said...

Looking forward to the next post!