The Oscar Quest: Best Actress – 1956
I fucking love 1956. There’s something great and terrible and yet okay about this year, all at the same time.
First off, I feel this is a particularly strong year for movies. I’ll tell you why in a second but first let’s go over the Oscar films. Around the World in 80 Days wins Best Picture in what some consider to be a terrible decision. It’s routinely listed among the worst choices of all time. Personally I don’t feel that way. Because the film — yes its long, yes it’s overdone, yes its kinda boring. But, the film is epic. There are cameos galore, which is kind of amazing. So many fucking famous people are in this movie, some of them for like, a second. That’s part of the fun of this movie. Also, is is perhaps one of the greatest scales of pictures I’ve ever seen. They shot the film in like, thirteen different countries. I understand why it won, even though I’d have much preferred the film that won Best Director (for George Stevens, his second), Giant, instead. But you know, shit happens. It’s not a bad decision, no matter what everybody says.
Now, for the other categories. Best Actor went to Yul Brynner for The King and I, which I do consider one of the worst decisions of all time. It’s not that I don’t like Yul Brynner (I fucking love Yul Brynner), it’s just that, it’s not a lead role. Dude’s basically a supporting character in the film, and the way I can prove it is that, when he won the Tony Award for the broadway version, it was for Supporting Actor in a Musical. The reason I consider it a terrible decision is because he was up against both James Dean and Rock Hudson for Giant, which were two vastly better performances than his. Similarly, and I’ll get to that in a second, I consider this Best Actress category to be just as bad if not worse than Best Actor. Best Supporting Actor for this year went to Anthony Quinn for Lust for Life, which I consider a poor, but not bad, decision, mostly because of a weak category, and Best Supporting Actress went to Dorothy Malone for Written on the Wind, a decision I love to death.
Now, considering that I really only agree with two of the six categories, you’d think I hate this year. But, thinking macro here, I like the people who won the categories, and I feel the year is so strong around the decision-making, I just kind of accept all of it because I get to talk about all these awesome fucking movies from this year. Here’s a list of the films from 1956, some I love, some I just like, but all, I feel, really important films.
Around the World in 80 Days, Baby Doll, The Bad Seed, Giant, The Girl Can’t Help It, High Society, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Killing, The King and I, A Man Escaped, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Moby Dick, The Rainmaker, The Red Balloon, The Searchers, The Teahouse of the August Moon, The Ten Commandments, War and Peace, Written on the Wind, The Wrong Man.
I think The Searchers alone makes this a great year. But, on that list, how many are definitive films that most people have seen? Not many, right? I mean, yeah, there’s a select few, and many of them are films that people know of but they haven’t necessarily seen them. Like The Ten Commandments. Everyone knows about the film, but they haven’t necessarily watched it all the way through. Because we all know the story. It’s like Romeo and Juliet. You’ve seen it even if you haven’t seen it. But, the films that I really think are the important ones are the blanks here. The ones people would probably skip over because they don’t know them. The Rainmaker, The Bad Seed, A Man Escaped, The Wrong Man — these, to me, are what make this year so fucking strong.
That and The Girl Can’t Help It. Who doesn’t love “Rock Around the Rock Pile”?
Watching Edmond O’Brien perform this song is one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen in the history of cinema. Truly a transcendental moment for comedy. That is not a joke at all.
BEST ACTRESS – 1956
And the nominees were…
Carroll Baker, Baby Doll
Ingrid Bergman, Anastasia
Katharine Hepburn, The Rainmaker
Nancy Kelly, The Bad Seed
Deborah Kerr, The King and I
Before I begin I do want to point out my feelings on this category. This category I feel isn’t so much about who I’d vote for and who won as much as it is who’s in it and what they’re in it for. I really would rather talk about how great some of these films are than discuss how fucking horrendous this decision was. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Ingrid Bergman — but this was a terrible choice. I am convinced they gave it to her out of popularity and not out of anything else. Because I was bored to tears during that film. But, like I said, we’re gonna take that as a given, and then have all the fun talking about the good stuff instead.
Baker — Okay, Baby Doll. This is a film I went into not really expecting too much out of it. What I knew going in was that it was based on a Tennessee Williams play, and, usually, I’m not very into his stuff, and usually I only end up liking the films when they have great performances (Streetcar excluded). There’s just something about the phrase “based on a Tennessee Williams play” that makes me clench every time I hear it. However, I also knew, because I’m such a huge fan of Eli Wallach, that this film was the one that he came the closest to being nominated for an Academy Award. Every person, at some point or another, checks the IMDB page of their favorite actors and sees if they were ever nominated or won any Oscars. And Eli Wallach, aside from the honorary Oscar they gave him this past year, was never nominated. But, he was nominated for a Golden Globe for this film, and that made it an important film for me to see anyway.
So, a few months back, probably around late January, early February, this film showed up on TCM one evening — 8 pm, too. Prime time — and, being that I try to cut down the Oscar Quest list as often as I can, I watched it. I knew generally what the film was about, but not much past that.
I’m gonna let my nerdy side slip out here, but, fuck it, I don’t care. What I did to get my memory up on all these Oscar nominees is play Sporcle games with them. Sporcle is the new textbook learning. Not really, but, it is actually really good for memorizing stuff. You play a game, get like, 75% of it, then play it again the next day, and eventually you start picking up on the ones you missed, and then, voila, useless trivia (or useful, depending on how you find it) is in your head. So, what I did was, play these quizzes that were basically descriptions of all the nominated performances in all the categories, so that way, I could, even if I hadn’t seen them yet, know exactly who was nominated for what movie, and what the movie was about. Really though, how the fuck else did you think I got all these Oscar movies in my head? You really don’t know Terry Moore was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1952 for Come Back, Little Sheba without having committed it to memory in some way. My way just happens to be through quizzes. They’re the perfect ten minute break for whatever you’re doing. That’s the key. If you do them all the time, they actually become breaks, rather than breaks of concentration. My personal method of working is, I do like, twenty minutes of work and then take five minute breaks. (Those who know me know all about that method of working. Wandering around all the fucking time and annoying you.)
Anyway, I knew from a Sporcle quiz that the film was about “a childish 19 year-old virgin who is married to an older man is relentlessly pursued by her husband’s Italian rival.” I didn’t look that up, either. That was from memory. Fuck trigonometry, this shit is more important to me now. Take that cosecant! Anyway, that synopsis, while intriguing, mostly because of the use of the phrase “Italian rival,” really didn’t seem like anything I’d find remotely interesting.
Then I saw the film. The film is actually about a 19-year old virgin. Carroll Baker plays Baby Doll, a girl who was essentially sold into marriage by her father, to Karl Malden, an aging, racist cotton mill owner. And she’s not the brightest girl. It’s kind of a marriage of convenience. She probably wouldn’t get a respectable suitor otherwise, and he’s about as respectable as she’s gonna get. He’s kind of repulsive respectable. He’s got a business, but he’s not the nicest of guys and really has no friends otherwise. Anyway, Malden’s made a deal with her that he wouldn’t try to have sex with her until she’s twenty. And the film begins like three days before her twentieth birthday. And Malden is the creepy older man, dying to fuck her, but unable to because, as flimsy as it is, he’s still somewhat of a gentleman. So he creepily spies on her while she bathes and shit like that, trying to convince her, even though she wants no part of it and is using the deal as an excuse to put it off as long as possible.
The film is about Malden trying to fuck her, her putting it off, and it’s also about decay, as all the Tennessee Williams plays are. They live in a “mansion,” which is more like a remnant of the old plantation days, but the mansion is all busted up, and Malden is trying to put it together, but it clearly is never gonna get done. And his business is failing because — his Italian rival — Eli Wallach has a mechanized company and is outpacing his output by far and is taking all his business. It’s like McDowell’s versus McDonald’s. Malden is McDowell’s. And he’s pissed, and he goes undercover and sets one of Wallach’s mills on fire. And Wallach knows he did it, but he has to prove it. So Wallach goes to his house and tries to coerce Baby Doll into letting slip that Malden was the one that did it. And the middle of the film is this perverse seduction of sorts as Wallach chases Baby Doll around the house, playing childish games with her, trying to get her to admit it, and it eventually gets to the point where, not only does she admit to it, she sleeps with him too, and then it all comes to a head as Malden comes back ready to kill Wallach. It’s a fascinating, fascinating film.
I was really surprised at how much I liked this film. And 90% of it had to do with the strength of the performances. Specifically, the performance of Carroll Baker. Carroll Baker was fucking sublime as Baby Doll. She played the character perfectly. You believe in that character 100%. Seriously, I can’t do it justice in describing it. Just watch this film. I guarantee you by an hour in, you’ll be hooked by the character and completely get invested in what’s going on. Baker and Wallach are fantastic. And Wallach should have definitely been nominated. But, Baker is fucking incredible, and, considering the strength of this category, is definitely shortlisted for a vote.
I’ve never actually decided who I wanted to to vote for here, and this is finally making me decide. So, history will be made, folks. Be prepared, Mufasa.
Bergman — Okay, I love Ingrid Bergman. I think she should have won an Oscar for Casablanca. But she didn’t. She won for Gaslight the following year. And that’s okay. But this — I don’t know why she won for this movie.
The film, first off, is made up. They took a famous story that was never anything more than a story, and expanded on it and changed all the details and turned it into a fairy tale, almost. That’s really what it is. So much so that fucking Disney (or rather, DreamWorks) remade the film 40 years later.
It’s about a woman that’s found in an asylum in Russia who claims to be Anastasia, the daughter of Czar Nicholas II, the last Russian czar who was killed in 1917 during the Russian Revolution with his family — remember? They’re the ones that were brought in for a family portrait, and then the whole family was gunned down? Everyone remembers that story from high school history. If you don’t, they made a fucking great movie version of it called Nicholas And Alexandra, which, is three hours plus and might be considered very slow, but I fucking loved it. I was with that movie all the way. And I hate 3 hours historical costume dramas.
So, they find this woman in an asylum, and she claims to be the daughter of the czar. Naturally everyone assumes she’s dead, so they figure this woman is crazy. I mean, she’s in an asylum. And the rest of the movie becomes about them testing her, seeing if its really her. They do a Pygmalion on her, since, she’s been living in poverty for the last twenty years, and they dress her up and bring her around to all the parties and stuff and to all the people that knew the family. And they basically have her meet people and they all ask her like, “What’s your favorite pastry?” and she’s got to convince everyone that she’s actually the same girl. That’s pretty much it.
Now, the actual story, never got past the informal stages. No one ever endorsed it, and everyone assumed that it was a fraud, as they should have. No one really fucks up an execution like that. But, the public liked the fairytale aspect of it and the story persisted. So, that part of it never really sat well with me. You can’t really fuck with history like that. I mean, you can, but, I don’t know, the way they did this never sat well with me. Probably because of the Oscar win.
Anyway, what happens in the movie is, they bring her to some royal duchess, played by Helen Hayes, and she sort of believes in the girl’s story. It’s questionable as to whether she does this because the girl convinces her through having similar personality traits and such, or because she’s an old woman and wants to believe this girl is her niece or whatever the relationship is. And really the film becomes a romance between her and Yul Brynner, who is the guy who is charged with bringing her around or something like that. He’s like her Henry Higgins. And the romance develops, and they run away together, and the film is really a fairytale romance. I wasn’t taken by it, though.
Bergman’s performance, honestly, isn’t that good. I mean, she’s got one scene with Helen Hayes that’s pretty good, but otherwise, she’s just there. And honestly, after seeing many Ingrid Bergman performances, I really don’t like her all that much as an actress. I love her, but I don’t think she should have won more than one Oscar. I think this is one of the worst Best Actress decisions the Academy’s ever made, and I think that any other person in this category would have been a worthy and better choice.
Hepburn — Okay, Katharine Hepburn. It’s her birthday today. That was purely unintentional. She would have been 104. She made it to 96, so she still won.
Normally I’m looking for reasons not to vote for her, because she won four times, and, somehow, she managed to win in years where, it was okay. She never really beat anyone where you could say, “How the fuck did (whoever) not win?” At best, in the years she won, the other people in the category who were worth winning either won an Oscar already (Anne Bancroft in 1967), or won along with her (Barbra Streisand tied her in 1968). Every other time, there really wasn’t another performance on the list where you’re like, “She should have won instead.”
Conversely, in the years where Kate didn’t win, which are quite a few, since she was nominated twelve times, there are really only two years where I’d have voted for her as the best performance. The first was in 1935, for Alice Adams, though I’m okay with her not winning because everyone says Bette Davis should have won as a makeup Oscar that year. So that’s fine. The 30s are pretty mix and match about who wins and for what. The other year though that I feel Katharine Hepburn could have and should have (at least, deserved to, anyway) win, was this one.
This is a film I watched very recently for the first time. I really didn’t know what it was, but I avoided it because it only had one nomination and it was a Kate Hepburn nomination. From a pure list perspective, I dread those, because she’s nominated so fucking much. And I’m like, “Goddamn, they nominate her for everything!” For some reason I just attributed it as a film I wouldn’t want to see. Not sure why. Boy was I wrong about that. But that’s what makes this Quest so exciting. I end up loving films I never thought I’d like or watch otherwise.
When I got down to the final grouping of Netflix Queue films, like, the last 50, I went through and ranked them by which ones seemed the most interesting. And this one — starring Kate Hepburn and Burt Lancaster — was clearly gonna get moved to the front of the line based on the stars alone.
The film is about — well, it’s about a lot of things. The film opens with Burt Lancaster playing a con man — it’s very reminiscent of Elmer Gantry, which is the film that (rightfully) won Lancaster his Oscar. He is an “inventor” who calls himself Starbuck, who goes to towns claiming to have invented things like “tornado sticks,” things that will tell you way in advance if a tornado is coming and will protect you as well. Shit like that. Stuff that is clearly bullshit, but since he’s a smooth talker, he can convince the local yokels that they “need” his inventions. And he sells them and skips town. Naturally, word gets around and he’s chased and wanted, but, you know, it’s part of the life. So, the first scene has him selling tornado sticks and being chased out of town when he’s discovered.
Now, the film is about a family, father, daughter and son — Hepburn is the daughter and Lloyd Bridges is the son. There may be another son too. But, they’re from this county and are worried because it hasn’t rained in a long ass time. And the crops and shit are dying. And the main issue with the family is, they’re trying to get Hepburn married, because she’s rapidly reaching old maid status. And they want her to get with this widower, but he seems completely disinterested in her. And coincidentally, Burt Lancaster then rides into town, looking to pull his act again, and tells the father — who is the sheriff of the town — and Lloyd Bridges, his deputy — that he can make it rain.
The deal is, they pay him like $100, which is a relatively inexpensive price compared to what rain means to the town. So they agree to do it, mostly because Lancaster says, if he doesn’t produce rain, he’ll give them their money back. And that’s where this movie’s genius lies. It makes you think it’s about one thing, but is actually about something completely different.
The movie is really about having confidence in yourself. We see Katharine Hepburn and see that, while she’s smart and good at being a homemaker and such, she doesn’t have the confidence to overcome her “plain” looks. And Lancaster sees this in her, and he keeps popping up to be like, “You need to believe in yourself.” What happens is, the family pressures her to get with the guy, but, the two really don’t have that much in common, and the dude prefers a less intelligent woman and she isn’t interested in what he’s interested in. Anyway, Lancaster shows up and helps her believe in herself. And in doing so, she falls in love with him and they sleep together. Meanwhile the sheriff is finding out that Lancaster is wanted by other counties for conning them out of money, and they’re arguing about whether they should arrest him and kick him out of town or not. And they’re saying — yeah, he’s probably conning us, but, he hasn’t done anything bad yet, and he hasn’t not lived up to his promise, plus, he’s really helping my daughter out, so let’s just wait and see what happens. And what’s really great about the movie is how Lancaster plays the part. He talks to Hepburn about having confidence in herself, and you know that he himself wrestles with the same issues and that his whole persona has to do with overcoming a lack of confidence. And you see that he’s created this whole thing so he doesn’t have to confront reality. And he has this fake name and all, and he truly believes that he can make it rain because he wants to. So his promise of making rain is actually for himself and not for the town.
That’s what I loved so much about this movie. How the situation, which seemed really simple at first, becomes even more complicated and becomes this whole different thing by the end of the movie. And the end of the movie is Lancaster, having failed to make it rain, leaving town because another sheriff is on his way to arrest him and the family has taken a liking to him. So he gives them their money back, refusing to give up on his confidence, and prepares to drive on to the next town.
And before he does — this next part is SPOILER TERRITORY. I normally don’t do this, but I really recommend that you see this film and experience it without knowing the end, but, if you must, read on — he stops and asks Hepburn to go with him. And until this point, you see that she agrees with everything he’s saying to her aside from one thing. They have this scene where he talks about how he came up with the name Starbuck, and then he creates this whole separate persona for her, giving her a name and saying they can be this mythical couple together. And she doesn’t go for it because she wants to be her and doesn’t need another identity to make herself happy. She just needs the confidence of love. And at the end, he tells her to go with him, and for a second you think she’s gonna do it. You think it’ll end like a romance. She’ll jump on the wagon, and they’ll go away happily ever after. But then he brings up the name thing again, saying she’ll be (whatever the name he came up for her is). And at that point, she pauses. And you know — this isn’t gonna have a simple happy ending. And she finally says she can’t go with him, and stays to marry the widower dude they were trying to set her up with all along. Because she finally worked up the confidence to be with him. And it’s the kind of thing where, she’d rather be not fully happy and be herself than be happy and pretend to be someone else. And Lancaster is saddened for a moment, and then you see his upbeat optimism kick in and he’s like, “Well, folks, on the road again.” And he rides off. And you think, well that’s it. He rides off, and it’s not a happy ending, but it’s a satisfying one. He’s still him and she’s happy, and everyone’s a better person. But then it happens — rain. It starts raining. Let me tell you, this is one of the most transcendental moments I have ever seen on film. The moment the rain happens, you see everything Burt Lancaster believes in come to fruition. It’s one of the most heartwarming moments ever put to film. I know it’s not saying much, because I’ll cry at the drop of a hat during a film, but this moment brought me to tears, it was so beautiful. Seriously, this movie was fucking incredible.
END OF SPOILERS.
Now, as for Hepburn’s performance. She is phenomenal in this movie. Seriously. Coming from me, who likes to spread the wealth, and shies away from people who have won many awards unless they truly deserve it — she truly deserved this. She was great. Definitely shortlisted for a vote.
Kelly — Ah, The Bad Seed. Another film I only watched for the first time fairly recently. The reason for that being, it had three nominees, which, as I went down my Oscar list based on number of nominees, the threes came around back last year. I was down to two nominees or less back in October/November (I think). But, around that time, this movie went to Watch Instantly. So I put it there and focused on renting all the movies I needed to see. The Watch Instants stayed there until I got around to them or until they were about to expire. So since the film didn’t contain any winners, it hung around until I got to it, which wasn’t until mid-April.
The film is about a seemingly perfect little girl — the opening scenes show her charming the neighbors, being a good daughter and such. But then, very slowly, we start to see that all is not what it seems. We see that she has a bit of a temper, and we see that she’s got a bit of a sociopathic streak to her. And we see that the mother is aware of this. And very quickly, we find out that one of the girl’s classmates died one day during school. They say it’s a drowning, but, there may be some foul play involved. And the girl comes home and the mother is worried that she may be scarred from the experience, but we she that she’s like, “Well, he died, you know, that happens. Mommy, can you make me a sandwich?” And she totally is not affected by it at all. And it slowly comes out that the girl was actually the daughter of a known serial killer, who gave birth to her on death row, and the baby was given up for adoption while the mother was executed. So now, the mother is thinking the daughter inherited the sociopathic tendencies from the mother.
The rest of the film becomes a sort of, did she do it or didn’t she. But, you know, just innately, oh yeah, that white girl did that shit. You just know. And the joy is seeing this girl manipulate everyone around her, whether they know it or not. She’s really just completely heartless, and it’s just wonderful to behold. It’s a really great film. You know that movie Orphan that came out? The one about the little girl who kills people? Well, this is sort of like that, only better, because they don’t have unnecessary action scenes here and the little girl doesn’t turn out to be a 40-year old Ukrainian dwarf pretending to be a ten year-old.
Nancy Kelly plays the mother of the little girl, and, she does a good job. It’s one of those performance that you’re happy it got nominated but, it isn’t something you can vote for. And the real reason I can’t vote for it isn’t because it’s not strong. The reason is because the little girl is the real star of the picture. You’re so busy watching the brilliant performance of the little girl (who was nominated for Supporting Actress but, sadly, didn’t win) that you’re not really paying attention to the mother’s performance. So that’s the reason I can’ put it up for a vote. It’s for the best, too, since I’ve already got two people shortlisted and there’s still one person left.
Kerr — Okay, finally, The King and I. I’m not gonna say so much about this film because — well, everyone knows about The King and I, don’t they? The real interest here is the actress and not the film.
In case you didn’t know, it’s about a British lady who travels to Siam — that’s Thailand! — to be a tutor to the King’s children. And he’s got like, thirty of them, because, well, he fucks a lot of women. And he hires her to teach the kids English. And the film is really about her and the kids. He pops up every once in a while too. And she teaches the kids and ends up falling in love with them. She’s really taken by them and does the job because she loves them. Him, well, that relationship takes some work. At first, it’s not the nicest of relationships, she’s very snappy toward him, and he’s not used to that, but, he likes it, so he keeps her on, mostly because his kids like her. And then they become friendly, and dance together, and then she teaches the kids and then he dies. And the last half of the film is mostly about him teaching his oldest son to be king once he’s dead. I assume the dude dies of an STD because, seriously, he’s got like thirty kids.
Anyway, the film is good. It’s big, the sets are huge and gorgeous — I don’t know what it is, I always like films that make the sets way bigger than they need to be. This and stuff like Cleopatra, where the sets are the size of warehouses, and the scene takes place in only a tenth of the space available. And all the sets are that size. I just really love that — but, the film didn’t really interest me all that much. I just never liked it that much as a musical. Give me Seven Brides for Seven Brothers any day over this.
But, Kerr’s performance is really what stood out for me. I really liked what she did here. She was really feisty. If anyone deserved to win from this film, it was her. (Brynner should have won Supporting. Then everything would have been great.) My real reason for ranking her this high, because, at best she’s like a third choice, is that she never won an Oscar. Which, is strange. It’s Deborah Kerr. How has she never won an Oscar?
Here’s a list of film’s she was in: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Black Narcissus, Edward, My Son, King Solomon’s Mines, Quo Vadis, Julius Caesar, From Here to Eternity, Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, An Affair to Remember, Separate Tables, The Sundowners, The Night of the Iguana, and, strangely, Casino Royale. She was mostly known for playing prim and proper British women — nuns and old maids. It seemed reflective of her personality. Put it this way — she definitely didn’t seem the type that went around and fucked half the town. She seemed very reserved. But, I’m really surprised she never won an Oscar. She’s the type of actress that seems like she’d have won one. So, this being a year where, while very strong, doesn’t really have a set — “It’s her!” — winner. So, that puts her right in the mix on the shortlist for a vote.
My Thoughts: Okay, now the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Not even just you. Me too. I want to see what the hell I’m going to do here as well. I’ve been putting this off for a while.
Okay, we’ll work this out performance by performance. First off — Bergman is clearly a #5 for me. I think she was the worst possible choice in this category. (Amazing how many times that happens during this Quest.) So we’ll throw her out right from the start.
Now, Nancy Kelly, while great in the movie, really isn’t the best performance in it. She’s really good, but, the movie really belongs to Patty McCormack. That little girl was fucking incredible. So, Kelly, to me, while great that she’s on here, is #4 in terms of a vote. Would you look at that, I’m coming up with my rankings on the spot too.
Okay, now the big three — I guess I can’t really put it off anymore, can I? It was always gonna be between these three.
I guess we’ll start with Deborah Kerr. She’s my #3, rankings-wise. But, in terms of a vote, I think she’s top two. Because —
While I love Kate Hepburn, and she’s top two in terms of favorite performances (definitely #1 in terms of favorite film on this list), I think she becomes #3 for a vote, purely because I know that she eventually won four Oscars. Of course, her winning this might have not made her win one of the other three, but we’re taking this Oscar Quest on the grounds that, whatever happened, happened, and my voting is purely what I’d have done with the category. However, that said, I still need to take into account history. Because if I voted just stand alone on every category, the actors and actresses I liked best would be the ones that won all the time. Hell, I’d have given every award to Audrey Hepburn. So I have to also take into account history to some extent. Knowing Kate Hepburn won four, does make me want to spread the wealth a little bit if I can. Of course, had this performance came a year earlier (and Summertime were this year), she’s be #1 with a bullet and be my vote hands down (well, it would be close between her and someone else, but I’d vote for her because I love the film, and tie goes to the person/film I like better), regardless of the fact that she won four Oscars. So, it depends on the year. But, since the category is so strong, she’s #3 for a vote.
Now, the final nominee, and the key to all of this — Carroll Baker. Carroll Baker is not exactly a household name, and hasn’t exactly had the lofty career of some of the other actresses in this category. But for my money, her performance may have been the best here. So, really what I’m wrestling with is, do I give my vote to someone whose performance I find to be the best, even though it’s kind of an isolated incident kind of thing and she’s never again reach the heights of this performance, or do I give it to someone who was very good, but not quite good enough to earn a vote based on performance alone, but is also a very well-respected actress who has given many great performances and has never won an Oscar and is someone who’s been in some of my favorite films as well?
Tough decision, right? I don’t know what the hell I’m gonna do. I guess, I’ll stick with my guns and do it the way I’d normally do things like this, which is — I’m voting for Baker, because I did feel she gave the best performance, but I’d be very much okay if Deborah Kerr won. Kind of a cop out, I know, but I need to stand by what I feel is the best performance. Unless there isn’t one, in which case, popularity contest!
My Vote: Baker
Should Have Won: Baker, Hepburn. Even Kerr. But for performance, Baker and Hepburn.
Is the result acceptable?: Not at all. The worst possible choice in this category. Honestly any other person would have been more acceptable here, the two most acceptable being Baker and Kerr. I mean, it’s sort of okay that Bergman has two Best Actress Oscars, but in this specific category — no way. No way. Terrible choice and not really okay by me.
Performances I suggest you see: The Rainmaker is my favorite film on this list and I think it’s just incredible. Now, I understand that not everyone will share my enthusiasm for this film, because I think it’s one of those films that requires a certain type of sensibility. That is — a lack of cynicism. You need to be one of those people that is open to optimism and shit like that. I liken it in a way to another film I love dearly — Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. If you see films like that, films that are simply just about magic, and the magic that people have with them, be it real or not, and just don’t get it and don’t like them, then you’re not gonna enjoy this movie. But if you can understand it — wow, this movie is fucking incredible. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Once this Quest is all said and done and I make a list of the top films I’m glad I discovered, this is gonna make the top five, I can almost guarantee it. I’m so fucking glad I found this film.
Anyway, I also highly, highly recommend The Bad Seed. This film, like I said, is Orphan done 50 years earlier, and done right. It’s so fucking good. The performance is so ahead of its time in that its so creepy and modern. Everything about the movie is great. You might not like it because its a 50s film and contains a lot of the 50s style — that is, there’s no action. Don’t expect people to be killed left and right. If you can lengthen your attention span a couple of minutes, you’re really gonna enjoy this one.
I also recommend Baby Doll, but I can’t really guess the appeal that one’s gonna have. I guess it depends how much you’re into Tennessee Williams. I can’t really include Streetcar, since that’s an entity in itself. But, if you like The Glass Menagerie (I like the play but not any of the films), Suddenly, Last Summer (I didn’t like the film but liked the performances), The Rose Tattoo (liked the lead performance, didn’t care for the film so much), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (really liked that, especially the performances), et cetera et cetera et cetera (see what I did there?), then you’ll like this one. It’s a good film. I just don’t know how it’ll appeal to people. So, the best I can do is say, it’s a good movie and that I recommend it, and you take it from there. You know what you like better than anybody else, so, read up on it and do what you will. All I can do is give it a stamp of approval.
And The King and I. Good film, classic musical. If you like musicals you should see it. I like it but don’t love it. Deborah Kerr is good. That’s really about it. You don’t really need my suggestion to see a movie like this. Either you were gonna see it or you weren’t going to see it.
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