Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Final Conclusions - Best Actress 1950

What a strong Best Actress year, probably one of the best Oscar’s ever had and definitely one of the most talked about and best known (1939 is another one). I was lucky to get 1950 in the draw and I was definitely happy to revisit some old & alltime favorites. At least 3 of them are historical performances that influenced generations of actors either through comedy, power-acting or crazy divaness. The other two are definitely worth to be in line. What I did notice and loved about all 5 is how they take the roles beyond what might’ve been expected. They all give strong performances and are driving-forces for their movies, beautifully or brilliantly acting such challenging roles.

My number one was rather clear to me. From there on, I wasn’t sure, even though I suspected Judy would surely be in top 3. I wasn’t disappointed by any of them and they were all a pleasure to watch. At one point, I wasn’t sure about #3, but then it came to me that it couldn’t be any other way.

Here is how I’ve appreciated them. If you want to go back and read more, just click on their names:

1. Bette Davis, All About Eve

To say that I love the performance and the character is an understatement. I have dedicated more space that I usually do to my divine Bette and her fantastic performance. I love the energy of it all, her undeniable screen presence, her capacity of doing far more with the character than another would’ve. Her performance IS fire and music, an iconic one & a fascinating display of talent and acting experience.

The highlight: the first part of fire and music.

So rarely does a leading female performance combine so efficiently screwball comedy acting and touching dramatic moments. I like the drama side of the performance and I adore the funny one. Judy’s comedic timing is flawless and I can never get enough of watching her onscreen. She is sweet, silly, adorable and creates such a powerful connection with the audience that I just kept wanting more.

The highlight: the gin rummy game.

Everybody’s heard of Norma Desmond and Gloria definitely has something to do with that. To really play the character, you need to go deep into Norma’s delusion; sometimes, she goes too far but it’s for the sake of the film. But when she shows us the vulnerable, human side of this truly sick and heartbroken woman, I’m fully buying it and ready to accept the crazy on the side. It’s a terribly difficult role and Gloria sure does justice to it.

The highlight: her first scene, the Fairbankses, the Gilberts, the Valentinos!

The character arc is a difficult one, and unlike her fellow nominees she doesn’t benefit from the same fantastic writing. But this doesn’t stop Eleanor from giving a fantastic performance: she’s believable as a vulnerable innocent teen, as a desperate woman losing her son, as a traumatized prisoner and as a toughened soon-to-be con artist. She has a firm hard on the character and rises above the material.

The highlight: her final talk with the head of the prison.

It’s hard to get noticed in such a strong ensemble. I wasn’t convinced at first, and that’s because she got some dialogue and camera focus but not the interesting storyline… however (!), those last 20 minutes really were all about Eve and the small hints of wickedness and drama blossomed into a couple of scenes in which Anne blew me away. It took a 3rd or 4th viewing to fully appreciate the hotel room scene, but from now I’ll never forget it.

The highlight: the moment of truth in the hotel room.

If I would’ve been there, I would’ve bet that Gloria would win the Oscar, as Sunset is such a Hollywood-strong film. But I guess those New York votes went for Judy, whose charming feel-good performance is hardly an undeserving Oscar winner (if we were to talk outside the competition). So I think Gloria was a sure runner-up, Bette an easy 3rd, Eleanor 4th and Anne last, because of her previous win and inside competition. Even so, I suspect the win came with less than 40% of the votes, considering the 3-way race.

Other Best Actress years discussed so far:


What’s next: there won’t be a draw, because I’m out of the country and I brought limited options with me. I’ll announce in a couple of days my very weird unexpected choice from the 80s and 90s. After all this 1950’s greatness, there’s a need for some criticizing.


joe burns said...

Great work! This is truly a great year... Can't wait to see Caged.

Can you give me a hint for the next year?

Twister said...

I need to see Judy, but Bette deserved the trophy.

Fritz said...

I am glad that you have Judy at number 2! She's so under-appreciated!

Alex in Movieland said...

Joe, the actress hints would spoil it and make it easy to guess :)

all i can say is that I find it to be one of the least interesting BA years of the 80s and 90s and it probably has the lowest quality-wise line-up of performances.

and no, it's not 1984. :)

Anonymous said...

Fantastic job! And oh my gosh, I really hope you do 1994...I'm crazy about Winona that year.

K Doherty said...

Actually Sunset Blvd is very much an Anti-Hollywood Film. It shows the life of those former greats no longer popular or making films being forgotten. If you strip away the brilliant Gothic touches and pungent dialogue... It's the story of a sad lonely woman