The Oscar Quest: Best Actress – 1965
Oh, 1965. This year is a rock to me. It’s just — there. You don’t question a rock, it just, is. The Sound of Music wins Best Picture, and instinctively we all just understand that. It also won Best Director for Robert Wise, which, comes with the territory.
Then, Best Actor was Lee Marvin for Cat Ballou. Rather than explain, you can read my opinions on that here. Best Supporting Actor was Martin Balsam for A Thousand Clowns, which I guess works. I don’t really like the category, so whatever. And Best Supporting Actress was Shelley Winters for A Patch of Blue, which, as I said here, was a great decision.
So that’s 1965. And this category — whoa man, this is a top ten decision of all time. Julie Christie is incredible here. And also, despite that, this category is stacked. There are four legit winners here. Four!
BEST ACTRESS – 1965
And the nominees are…
Julie Andrews, The Sound of Music
Julie Christie, Darling
Samantha Eggar, The Collector
Elizabeth Hartman, A Patch of Blue
Simone Signoret, Ship of Fools
Andrews — It’s The Sound of Music. The hills are alive with it. Unlike the hill,s you need to have eyes, and those eyes need to have seen this film.
Julie Andrews plays Maria, and she’s terrific here. Only downside — she won the year before this. In a category like this, that’s a dealbreaker.
Christie — Darling is such a great film.
Julie Christie is a model who basically sleeps her way to the top of society without really having a goal in mind. She just — does it. She bounces around from person to person, very freely, and the film is basically about her tragic life. It’s really fucking good. Christie is so amazing here it’s beyond words.
To me, she’s easily a #1 and easily wins this category.
Eggar — The Collector is a film that maybe not too many people have seen, but it’s amazing.
Terence Stamp is a young man who collects butterflies. He is alone, and lonely, and, having seen Samantha Eggar, an art student, pass by him day after day after day, he decides he wants her. So what he does is, he kidnaps her, and locks her in his basement. And he tells her he’ll keep her hostage until she loves him. And it’s like — think The Silence of the Lambs, but only if Buffalo Bill weren’t killing women for their skin, but rather kidnapping them, looking for a wife. And this film is so engaging, and so great on so many levels.
Eggar is terrific here. I thought this would simply be a pretty good thriller-type performance. But this is a strong performance for any type of film. I was thinking, “Good, but not worth a vote,” but this is actually worth a vote. Which makes my life much more complicated, especially considering the next nominee.
Hartman — I was blown away by this film. What a powerful, yet tender, film.
Elizabeth Hartman is a blind girl who lives with her vile, racist mother, Shelley Winters, and her alcoholic grandfather. Her existence is awful, but she doesn’t know any better. And she sits in the park all day and puts together beads for a local salesman. And one day she meets Sidney Poitier. She doesn’t know he’s black, and just responds to his kindness. And they become friends, and he starts coming by to talk to her every day. And pretty soon, she starts clinging to these interactions to help get through the day. One time when he’s really late, she gets really worried. And he keeps talking to her because he likes her and because he feels bad for her. And he begins teaching her how to take care of herself. Things like navigating streets, using a public telephone, stuff she never really had to do before. And eventually, once her mother finds out about it, she runs away, expecting to go to him, because she’s fallen in love with him and doesn’t care that he’s black. But he, knowing the problems that would cause, tells her to go to a blind school for a year. And after the year is up, if she still feels as she does, then they’ll take it from there. It’s really strong.
Hartman is so good here. There’s something so pure and innocent about her performance. You really feel for this girl. It’s a really great job she does. In almost any other year, she’d be my vote. And even now, she’s still giving Julie Christie a tough run for her money.
Signoret — Ship of Fools is a big ensemble film about a bunch of people on a boat from Mexico to Germany, that’s basically an allegory for the rise of fascism in Germany.
There are a lot of stories. We’ll just deal with Simone Signoret’s. She’s a Spanish countess and drug addict who is being sent to prison. She meets the ship’s doctor (Oskar Werner), who secretly has a terminal heart condition, and they fall in love. She’s very pessimistic and he’s very optimistic. And they have this affair — until he dies, of course.
It’s a small part of the ensemble, and should have been in the Supporting category (if it needed to be nominated at all). I don’t like the performance much, and, coupled with the fact that she won this in 1959 for a performance I flat out don’t like, she was pretty much eliminated from the start here. She had no chance in hell against these other nominees.
My Thoughts: What a great category. And pretty easy to pick, too. That’s fortunate.
Signoret is off first. She didn’t do anything, and she won an Oscar already when she shouldn’t have. She doesn’t get any consideration.
Andrews is off because she won the year before this. The category’s too strong to think about giving her another one.
Then, Eggar is off. She was incredible, but the other performances, when weighted with the formula in my head, beat her out for a vote. But her film is incredible though.
Hartman gets second choice here, because her film actually has a great message. That, to me, supersedes Eggar’s performance. Plus, Hartman is so lovable here, and tragic. It’s a really delicate performance, and she definitely gets a #2 consideration.
Christie, though, is an easy winner here. She’s so fucking good. When you watch the film, you see it. There’s just no question about it. She’s so, so good. She’s my vote all the way.
Oh, and let us not forget — she was also Lara in Doctor Zhivago. That’s the icing on the cake, as far as I’m concerned.
My Vote: Christie
Should Have Won: Christie, Hartman, Eggar.
Is the result acceptable?: Top ten decision of all time. And if one of the other two had won, it would be a top twenty decision of all time. Gotta love those odds.
Performances I suggest you see: If you haven’t seen The Sound of Music, you’re dead to me.
And now, honestly, I’m just gonna flat out demand — you need to see Darling, A Patch of Blue and The Collector. You need to see them. So we can be friends. You’ll be amazed at how great they all are.
Ship of Fools — I don’t really like, but, it’s big, so that means something, and I love Vivien Leigh. So I saw it for her. Otherwise, it doesn’t hold much interest for more people.