Saturday, May 10, 2014

An introduction to BEST ACTRESS 1989

As usual, there’s a video at the end of the post to show I didn’t cheat with the draw. :) 1989 was actually one of my top choices, because I haven’t seen most of the films and I feel the year isn’t talked about enough [though I know some bloggers who have ;) ]. That being said, at the time of the draw (2 days ago) I had only seen Driving Miss Daisy. I am familiar with scenes from Fabulous Baker Boys and Music Box, but not with the films as a whole. I haven’t seen Camille Claudel and I only saw Shirley Valentine last night (it was GREAT). I don’t expect this to be the year with the most fabulous performances, but they’re all quite different.

There are no favourites for now and I’m prepared to be surprised.

The 5 ladies that Oscar had chosen as nominees for 1989, in alphabetical order:


Isabelle Adjani as Camille Claudel, in Camille Claudel

Pauline Collins as Shirley Valentine, in Shirley Valentine

Jessica Lange as Ann Talbot, in Music Box

Michelle Pfeiffer as Susie Diamond, in The Fabulous Baker Boys


Jessica Tandy as Daisy Werthan, in Driving Miss Daisy

From the 5 nominees, only Adjani plays a real life person. Driving Miss Daisy is the only film of the 5 to be nominated for Best Picture and, as it happens, it also won. This is the part where I try to guess how they got nominated:

There were two clear front-runners before the nominations were announced. First one, I’d say, was Jessica Tandy. This must have been an easy nomination to get, judging from the success of the film: Miss Daisy received 9 nominations and ended up winning 4 Oscars. This was the first Oscar nomination for 80-year-old Tandy, who had done some films in the past, but was better known for her stage work, having won a couple of Tonys. She entered the race having won the Golden Globe for Actress in a Comedy/Musical and minor awards from the Boston Society of Film Critics & the Kansas City Film Critics Circle. She was also the unofficial runner-up for the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics awards.

Another sure bet for a nomination was Michelle Pfeiffer. She entered the race having won the most awards from the critics: the Golden Globe for Actress in a Drama and the recognition from critics’ groups such as the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Society of Film Critics, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the Chicago Film Critics Association. Those are basically all the important wins she could’ve received. This was Michelle’s 2nd Oscar nomination, having been nominated the previous year for her supporting role in Dangerous Liaisons.

If these two were locks, the next 3 actresses weren’t such safe bets. Looking at the competition, it seems like there could’ve been all kinds of combinations for the nomination list. I think it’s safe to say next in line was Jessica Lange. Prior to the Oscar nominations, for this role she had received only a nomination for Actress in a Drama at the Golden Globes. However, given that this is a serious role in a serious drama AND Jessica was a darling of the 80s, I don’t think I’m wrong in suggesting she had the 3rd chance of getting the 1989 Oscar nomination. This was Jessica’s 5th nomination (and 4th in Leading), at that point having won just once, for her supporting performance in Tootsie (1982).

I’d say that Pauline Collins was next, because I imagine she had the British voters on her side. And she had just won the Tony award for playing Shirley on Broadway. So there was some buzz around this performance. Prior to the nomination, she had received just a nomination at the Golden Globes for Actress in a Comedy/Musical. This was Pauline’s first time at the Oscars.

And then we get to Isabelle Adjani, who I hear is quite amazing in Camille Claudel and she was a true movie star at that time, however there was nothing to suggest her film was a success in the US, AND it’s a foreign language film, AND she did not benefit from critics’ support (like it had previously happened for L’Histoire d’Adele H). But somehow she made it. Not that it influenced the Oscars, but prior to the nomination she had won back in Europe awards from the César and the Berlin Film Festival for this role. This was Isabelle’s 2nd Oscar nomination, having been nomination 14 years before for Adele H.

I think there was a strong runner-up for a nomination and two other interesting contenders:

6. Andie MacDowell, Sex, Lies, and Videotape – Golden Globe nomination for Actress in a Drama, wins from: the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (tied with Pfeiffer) and the Independent Spirit awards.

Meg Ryan, When Harry Met Sally...

Sally Field, Steel Magnolias

Dark horses:
Ellen Barkin, Sea of Love
Kathleen Turner, The War of the Roses
Winona Ryder, Heathers
Kelly Lynch, Drugstore Cowboy

Maybe got a couple of votes:
Liv Ullmann - The Rose Garden
Annette Bening - Valmont
Annabella Sciorra - True Love
Nicole Kidman - Dead Calm
Susan Sarandon - A Dry White Season
Cybill Shepherd - Chances Are



Allen said...

Yippee!! It's funny that you drew one of the years I was hoping for, and yet it's another year where I've only seen one. :\ I'm curious about Adjani though.

And I LOVE Pfeiffer. Probably more than I ought to, so I feel like perhaps you won't like her as much as I do. But it's a performance that I'm really really fond of, and one of my all-time favorites. Sucks she swept the NBR/LA/NY/NFSC/Globe and then lost the big one. I think she was the initial frontrunner since her film came out first, and then Tandy swooped in late a la Million Dollar Baby.

Michael Patison said...

An interesting year. I'd say your guess on their nomination order is probably spot on, as are your reasons. I'm interested to see how they finish, obviously. Tandy wins the year rather easily for me (granted I haven't seen Pfeiffer).

It's a shame MacDowell's performance didn't get nominated. It's an even bigger shame s,l,av failed to receive any recognition whatsoever from the Oscars. It's easily Andie's best performance and, the movie is, in my opinion, Soderbergh's only truly great movie. I'd even go so far as to call it the best "indie" movie ever made, though that does depend on the definition of "indie".

Alex in Movieland said...

Not sure about Pfeiffer, have only seen 25 minutes of it. :) It CAN be anyone's win at this point, sometimes I favour an underdog. I definitely don't dislike Tandy and I doubt I'll think less of her performance the 3rd time I see the film (a very relaxing film that I like). She's 3 or 4 stars.

I actually don't think Tandy's win was too shocking, given all the factors in her favour. I bet they thought Michelle will be the next Meryl and have 10 other chances to win... :-/

Alex in Movieland said...


I haven't seen SLAV, but an Original Screenplay nomination in a very crowded category sure doesn't count as "any recognition whatsoever" ;)
Yeah, I dunno if I ever found a Soderbergh film "great", though I like Erin & Traffic quite a lot.