Friday, January 14, 2011

Final Conclusions - Best Actress 1966

I’ve written too much already about how unusual this Best Actress line-up looks, even for the 1960s – when Oscar voters were actually quite charmed by anything foreign, including when it came to performances (the 1970s also). But because this year had such a clear winner when it came to Actress, the field of nominees can be considered as a weaker one. That could be argued: it’s definitely not one of the best, but 3 of the actresses manage somehow to (probably) give career-best performances.

My #1 was an easy call and I seriously suspected nobody would be able to top that performance. The next two performances charmed me, even though they are completely different; trying to choose which is #2 and which is #3 proved difficult, especially as I’m still under the spell of one of them. And finally the next two make for some serious debate: one it too low key in a film that I completely adore but which is a director’s film; the other one: at-that-time an inexperienced actress, counting too much on looks and style in a film that I found almost unwatchable.

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

1. Elizabeth Taylor, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

It’s definitely easier to deliver an incredible performance when you have an incredibly well written character. This is the case here, but even so: it would be impossible not to be impressed, captivated, intimidated by what’s happening on screen everytime she shows up. Elizabeth perfectly manages the drunk, the funny and most of all the tragic side of Martha, giving us thrills to last for decades, in the best performance of her career.

the highlight: The emotionally charged last scenes, including the confession.

2. Lynn Redgrave, Georgy Girl

It’s possible that her biggest asset for this film is her youthfulness: you cannot fake such joy for life and how refreshing it is to see someone so real and a 22 year old playing a 22 year old with fun and without any vanity. Her charming way of being and her likeability factor create a strong bond with the audience and she somehow manages to do just the right job in the dramatic scenes also. I imagine this film would hardly function with another actress in the role.

the highlight: Learning Italian.

I’m still under the effect of this performance, because it’s easy to see why it’s a slow burner and I’m sure I’ll feel even fonder of it as the years will go by. I’ve thought a lot about it and I guess what I appreciate the most is how dedicated the actress seems to be to the performance, something not that unusual for the European style. It’s an extremely believable, touching performance, with both lighter and highly dramatic and meaningful moments!

the highlight: The joy of a song from the past.

It wasn’t easy for me to try to keep an objective eye on this performance, as A Man and a Woman is an alltime favorite film of mine. But I had to admit: this is a director’s effort and the actors are not the real stars of the film. Anouk is ok at what she’s doing, her performance is very natural, but unfortunately for her (and fortunately for the film’s seductive simplicity) the role is never too demanding. It is though a performance that I fully respect.

the highlight: Relieving the past in the love scene at the end.

If I’d jump to conclusions, I’d probably blame it all on the screenplay, which indeed does nothing for Vanessa. However, even though she’s great to look at on screen and her gorgeous smile makes the film turn watchable, she brings too little to make this underwritten character seem even slightly distinctive or significant. To me, it’s a lazy performance in a messy written film.

the highlight: Terrified by her husband while on the phone with the lawyer.

Elizabeth was the obvious Oscar favorite (ignore the Globe slip) and I think she probably won with more than 75% of the votes. The runner-up with a very small chance of a major upset must’ve been Lynn Redgrave who probably came second. From there on, I don’t think the 3 remaining ladies gathered altogether more than 5-10% of the votes. Of course, it’s just guessing, but I don’t see any of them with a slight change. Anouk was maybe third, Vanessa Redgrave fourth and Ida Kaminska must’ve had the smallest chance of winning.

To see other BEST ACTRESS years discussed so far, go to the column on the right:

What’s next: We’re more or less 10 days away from the announcement of the nominees for 2010. So that will be the next Best Actress year, but before that: some Golden Globe predictions early Sunday.


joe burns said...

I thought so!

I really the 60's years were the strongest decade for the Best Actress category. In both winners and nominees.

What do you think?

Alex in Movieland said...

well, the winners sure look interesting and deserving (there are some 1960s performances that I've shockingly not seen, maybe because I don't want to enjoy all good performances at once).

but to distract people from this particular thing, I usually throw this outthere: I've never seen WEST SIDE STORY! :P

and I'm not in a hurry to.

but getting back to it: I definitely appreciate some of the strong races that the 00s offered, so I might be subjective in calling it one of the best decades. but when you get stuff like 2006 or 2002...

Brandon (Twister) said...

There is no one who could top Liz, and her confession and the road house sequences are two big standouts.

"I am NOT a monster! I'M NOT!!"

What can I say; a perfect performance in a perfect film -- no flaws whatsoever in either.

Fritz said...

Liz is surely perfect!

The funny thing about the 60s is that it has more "perfect" Best Actress winners than any other category but also more "weak" ones than any other category...

Runs Like A Gay said...

Good (and right) choice from both you and the Academy (the later makes a change).

But really how could it have been anyone other than Liz that year.