Oscars 2011 Breakdown: Best Actor & Best Actress

There’s really not much history with these categories — it’s Best Actor and Best Actress. It’s supposed to be the best lead performances of the year, but there’s also politics and all that to take into account. They vote for the person over the performance, sometimes someone is overdue, sometimes it’s just “their time” — there’s a whole bunch of stuff.

All things considered, I only really disagree with a handful of the winners. Most of the time, the person who won did deserve a statue. I can quibble about the year and the performance, and this and that, but for the most part, most of them are okay, in the objective sense. So that’s nice. Still — the acting categories, above almost everything else, are prone to “right now” thinking. That is, they’ll give someone a statue because they feel as though it’s their time, and it’s almost inevitable that person ends up giving a better performance not long after that, creating a whole monkey wrench scenario. Almost never fails.

But, it’s Best Actor and Best Actress. We know the drill. This is by far the most situational of the categories. You can’t just look at the nominee and go, “This one.” You have to take into account all these logistics. Especially Best Actress. That one is just — it’s funny when you look at it on paper.

Anyway, let’s just get into them. We’ll start with Best Actor.

Year

Best Actor Winner

Other Nominees

1927-1928

Emil Jannings, The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh

Richard Barthelmess, The Noose and The Patent Leather Kid

1928-1929

Warner Baxter, In Old Arizona

George Bancroft, Thunderbolt

Chester Morris, Alibi

Paul Muni, The Valiant

Lewis Stone, The Patriot

1929-1930

George Arliss, Disraeli

George Arliss, The Green Goddess

Wallace Beery, The Big House

Maurice Chevalier, The Big Pond and The Love Parade

Ronald Colman, Bulldog Drummond & Condemned

Lawrence Tibbett, The Rogue Song

1930-1931

Lionel Barrymore, A Free Soul

Adolphe Menjou, The Front Page

Jackie Cooper, Skippy

Richard Dix, Cimarron

Fredric March, The Royal Family of Broadway

1931-1932

TIE

Frederic March, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 

Wallace Beery, The Champ

Alfred Lunt, The Guardsman

1932-1933

Charles Laughton, The Private Life of Henry VIII

Leslie Howard, Berkeley Square

Paul Muni, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

1934

Clark Gable, It Happened One Night

Frank Morgan, The Affairs of Cellini

William Powell, The Thin Man

1935

Victor McLaglen, The Informer

Clark Gable, Mutiny on the Bounty

Charles Laughton, Mutiny on the Bounty

Paul Muni, Black Fury

Franchot Tone, Mutiny on the Bounty

1936

Paul Muni, The Story of Louis Pasteur

Gary Cooper, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

Walter Huston, Dodsworth

William Powell, My Man Godfrey 

Spencer Tracy, San Francisco

1937

Spencer Tracy, Captains Courageous

Charles Boyer, Conquest

Fredric March, A Star is Born

Robert Montgomery, Night Must Fall

Paul Muni, The Life of Emile Zola

1938

Spencer Tracy, Boys Town

Charles Boyer, Algiers

James Cagney, Angels with Dirty Faces

Robert Donat, The Citadel

Leslie Howard, Pygmalion

1939

Robert Donat, Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Clark Gable, Gone with the Wind

Laurence Olivier, Wuthering Heights

Mickey Rooney, Babes in Arms 

James Stewart, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

1940

Jimmy Stewart, The Philadelphia Story

Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator

Henry Fonda, The Grapes of Wrath

Raymond Massey, Abe Lincoln in Illinois

Laurence Olivier, Rebecca

1941

Gary Cooper, Sergeant York

Cary Grant, Penny Serenade

Walter Huston, The Devil and Daniel Webster

Robert Montgomery, Here Comes Mr. Jordan

Orson Welles, Citizen Kane

1942

James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy

Ronald Colman, Random Harvest

Gary Cooper, The Pride of the Yankees

Walter Pidgeon, Mrs. Miniver

Monty Woolley, The Pied Piper

1943

Paul Lukas, Watch on the Rhine

Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca

Gary Cooper, For Whom the Bell Tolls

Walter Pidgeon, Madame Curie

Mickey Rooney, The Human Comedy

1944

Bing Crosby, Going My Way

Charles Boyer, Gaslight

Barry Fitzgerald, Going My Way

Cary Grant, None But the Lonely Heart

Alexander Knox, Wilson

1945

Ray Milland, The Lost Weekend

Bing Crosby, The Bells of St. Mary’s

Gene Kelley, Anchors Aweigh

Gregory Peck, The Keys of the Kingdom

Cornel Wilde, A Song to Remember

1946

Frederic March, The Best Years of Our Lives

Laurence Olivier, Henry V

Larry Parks, The Jolson Story

Gregory Peck, The Yearling

James Stewart, It’s a Wonderful Life

1947

Ronald Colman, A Double Life

John Garfield, Body and Soul

Gregory Peck, Gentleman’s Agreement

William Powell, Life with Father 

Michael Redgrave, Mourning Becomes Electra

1948

Laurence Olivier, Hamlet

Lew Ayres, Johnny Belinda

Montgomery Clift, The Search

Dan Dailey, When My Baby Smiles at Me

Clifton Webb, Sitting Pretty

1949

Broderick Crawford, All the King’s Men

Kirk Douglas, Champion

Gregory Peck, Twelve O’Clock High

Richard Todd, The Hasty Heart

John Wayne, Sands of Iwo Jima

1950

José Ferrer, Cyrano de Bergerac

Louis Calhern, The Magnificent Yankee

William Holden, Sunset Boulevard

James Stewart, Harvey

Spencer Tracy, Father of the Bride

1951

Humphrey Bogart, The African Queen

Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire

Montgomery Clift, A Place in the Sun

Arthur Kennedy, Bright Victory

Fredric March, Death of a Salesman

1952

Gary Cooper, High Noon

Marlon Brando, Viva Zapata!

Kirk Douglas, The Bad and the Beautiful

José Ferrer, Moulin Rouge

Alec Guinness, The Lavender Hill Mob

1953

William Holden, Stalag 17

Marlon Brando, Julius Caesar

Richard Burton, The Robe

Montgomery Clift, From Here to Eternity

Burt Lancaster, From Here to Eternity

1954

Marlon Brando, On the Waterfront

Humphrey Bogart, The Caine Mutiny

Bing Crosby, The Country Girl

James Mason, A Star is Born

Dan O’Herlihy, Robison Crusoe

1955

Ernest Borgnine, Marty

James Cagney, Love Me or Leave Me

James Dean, East of Eden

Frank Sinatra, The Man with the Golden Arm

Spencer Tracy, Bad Day at Black Rock

1956

Yul Brynner, The King and I

James Dean, Giant

Kirk Douglas, Lust for Life

Rock Hudson, Giant

Laurence Olivier, Richard III

1957

Alec Guinness, The Bridge on the River Kwai

Marlon Brando, Sayonara

Anthony Franciosa, A Hatful of Rain

Charles Laughton, Witness for Prosecution

Anthony Quinn, Wild is the Wind

1958

David Niven, Separate Tables

Tony Curtis, The Defiant Ones

Paul Newman, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Sidney Poitier, The Defiant Ones

Spencer Tracy, The Old Man and the Sea

1959

Charlton Heston, Ben-Hur

Laurence Harvey, Room at the Top

Jack Lemmon, Some Like it Hot

Paul Muni, The Last Angry Man

James Stewart, Anatomy of a Murder

1960

Burt Lancaster, Elmer Gantry

Trevor Howard, Sons and Lovers

Jack Lemmon, The Apartment

Laurence Olivier, The Entertainer

Spencer Tracy, Inherit the Wind

1961

Maximilian Schell, Judgment at Nuremberg

Charles Boyer, Fanny

Paul Newman, The Hustler

Spencer Tracy, Judgment at Nuremberg

Stuart Whitman, The Mark

1962

Gregory Peck, To Kill a Mockingbird

Burt Lancaster, Birdman of Alcatraz

Jack Lemmon, Days of Wine and Roses

Marcello Mastroianni, Divorce, Italian Style

Peter O’Toole, Lawrence of Arabia

1963

Sidney Poitier, Lilies of the Field

Albert Finney, Tom Jones

Richard Harris, This Sporting Life

Rex Harrison, Cleopatra

Paul Newman, Hud

1964

Rex Harrison, My Fair Lady

Richard Burton, Becket

Peter O’Toole, Becket

Anthony Quinn, Zorba the Greek

Peter Sellers, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

1965

Lee Marvin, Cat Ballou

Richard Burton, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

Laurence Olivier, Othello

Rod Steiger, The Pawnbroker

Oskar Werner, Ship of Fools

1966

Paul Scofield, A Man for All Seasons

Alan Arkin, The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming

Richard Burton, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Michael Caine, Alfie

Steve McQueen, The Sand Pebbles

1967

Rod Steiger, In the Heat of the Night

Warren Beatty, Bonnie and Clyde

Dustin Hoffman, The Graduate

Paul Newman, Cool Hand Luke

Spencer Tracy, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

1968

Cliff Robertson, Charly

Alan Arkin, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Alan Bates, The Fixer

Ron Moody, Oliver!

Peter O’Toole, The Lion in Winter

1969

John Wayne, True Grit

Richard Burton, Anne of the Thousand Days

Dustin Hoffman, Midnight Cowboy

Peter O’Toole, Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Jon Voight, Midnight Cowboy

1970

George C. Scott, Patton

Melvyn Douglas, I Never Sang for My Father

James Earl Jones, The Great White Hope

Jack Nicholson, Five Easy Pieces

Ryan O’Neal, Love Story

1971

Gene Hackman, The French Connection

Peter Finch, Sunday Bloody Sunday

Walther Matthau, Kotch

George C. Scott, The Hospital

Chaim Topol, Fiddler on the Roof

1972

Marlon Brando, The Godfather

Michael Caine, Sleuth

Laurence Olivier, Sleuth

Peter O’Toole, The Ruling Class

Paul Winfield, Sounder

1973

Jack Lemmon, Save the Tiger

Marlon Brando, Last Tango in Paris

Jack Nicholson, The Last Detail

Al Pacino, Serpico

Robert Redford, The Sting

1974

Art Carney, Harry and Tonto

Albert Finney, Murder on the Orient Express

Dustin Hoffman, Lenny

Jack Nicholson, Chinatown

Al Pacino, The Godfather, Part II

1975

Jack Nicholson, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Walther Matthau, The Sunshine Boys 

Al Pacino, Dog Day Afternoon

Maximilian Schell, The Man in the Glass Booth

James Whitmore, Give ‘em Hell, Harry!

1976

Peter Finch, Network

Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver

Giancarlo Giannini, Seven Beauties

William Holden, Network

Sylvester Stallone, Rocky

1977

Richard Dreyfuss, The Goodbye Girl

Woody Allen, Annie Hall

Richard Burton, Equus

Marcello Mastroianni, A Special Day

John Travolta, Saturday Night Fever

1978

Jon Voight, Coming Home

Warren Beatty, Heaven Can Wait

Gary Busey, The Buddy Holly Story

Robert De Niro, The Deer Hunter

Laurence Olivier, The Boys From Brazil

1979

Dustin Hoffman, Kramer vs. Kramer

Jack Lemmon, The China Syndrome

Al Pacino, …And Justice for All

Roy Scheider, All That Jazz

Peter Sellers, Being There 

1980

Robert De Niro, Raging Bull

Robert Duvall, The Great Santini

John Hurt, The Elephant Man

Jack Lemmon, Tribute

Peter O’Toole, The Stunt Man

1981

Henry Fonda, On Golden Pond

Warren Beatty, Reds

Burt Lancaster, Atlantic City

Dudley Moore, Arthur

Paul Newman, Absence of Malice

1982

Ben Kingsley, Gandhi

Dustin Hoffman, Tootsie

Jack Lemmon, Missing

Paul Newman, The Verdict

Peter O’Toole, My Favorite Year

1983

Robert Duvall, Tender Mercies

Michael Caine, Educating Rita

Tom Conti, Reuben, Reuben

Tom Courtenay, The Dresser

Albert Finney, The Dresser

1984

F. Murray Abraham, Amadeus

Jeff Bridges, Starman

Albert Finney, Under the Volcano

Tom Hulce, Amadeus

Sam Waterston, The Killing Fields

1985

William Hurt, The Kiss of the Spider Woman

Harrison Ford, Witness

James Garner, Murphy’s Romance

Jack Nicholson, Prizzi’s Honor

Jon Voight, Runaway Train

1986

Paul Newman, The Color of Money

Dexter Gordon, Round Midnight

Bob Hoskins, Mona Lisa

William Hurt, Children of a Lesser God

James Woods, Salvador

1987

Michael Douglas, Wall Street

William Hurt, Broadcast News

Marcello Mastroianni, Dark Eyes

Jack Nicholson, Ironweed

Robin Williams, Good Morning, Vietnam

1988

Dustin Hoffman, Rain Man

Gene Hackman, Mississippi Burning

Tom Hanks, Big

Edward James Olmos, Stand and Deliver

Max von Sydow, Pelle the Conqueror

1989

Daniel Day-Lewis, My Left Foot

Kenneth Branagh, Henry V

Tom Cruise, Born on the Fourth of July

Morgan Freeman, Driving Miss Daisy

Robin Williams, Dead Poet’s Society

1990

Jeremy Irons, Reversal of Fortune

Kevin Costner, Dances with Wolves

Robert De Niro, Awakenings

Gérard Depardieu, Cyrano de Bergerac

Richard Harris, The Field

1991

Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs

Warren Beatty, Bugsy

Robert De Niro, Cape Fear

Nick Nolte, The Prince of Tides

Robin Williams, The Fisher King

1992

Al Pacino, Scent of a Woman

Robert Downey Jr., Chaplin

Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven

Stephen Rea, The Crying Game

Denzel Washington, Malcolm X

1993

Tom Hanks, Philadelphia

Daniel Day-Lewis, In the Name of the Father

Laurence Fishburne, What’s Love Got to Do with It

Anthony Hopkins, The Remains of the Day

Liam Neeson, Schindler’s List

1994

Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump

Morgan Freeman, The Shawshank Redemption

Nigel Hawthorne, The Madness of King George

Paul Newman, Nobody’s Fool

John Travolta, Pulp Fiction

1995

Nicolas Cage, Leaving Las Vegas

Richard Dreyfuss, Mr. Holland’s Opus

Anthony Hopkins, Nixon

Sean Penn, Dead Man Walking

Massimo Troisi, Il Postino

1996

Geoffrey Rush, Shine

Tom Cruise, Jerry Maguire

Ralph Fiennes, The English Patient

Woody Harrelson, The People vs. Larry Flynt

Billy Bob Thornton, Sling Blade

1997

Jack Nicholson, As Good As It Gets

Matt Damon, Good Will Hunting

Robert Duvall, The Apostle

Peter Fonda, Ulee’s Gold

Dustin Hoffman, Wag the Dog

1998

Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful

Tom Hanks, Saving Private Ryan

Ian McKellen, Gods and Monsters

Nick Nolte, Affliction

Edward Norton, American History X

1999

Kevin Spacey, American Beauty

Russell Crowe, The Insider

Richard Farnsworth, The Straight Story

Sean Penn, Sweet and Lowdown

Denzel Washington, The Hurricane

2000

Russell Crowe, Gladiator

Javier Bardem, Before Night Falls

Tom Hanks, Cast Away

Ed Harris, Pollock

Geoffrey Rush, Quills

2001

Denzel Washington, Training Day

Russell Crowe, A Beautiful Mind

Sean Penn, I Am Sam

Will Smith, Ali

Tom Wilkinson, In the Bedroom

2002

Adrien Brody, The Pianist

Nicolas Cage, Adaptation.

Michael Caine, The Quiet American

Daniel Day-Lewis, Gangs of New York

Jack Nicholson, About Schmidt

2003

Sean Penn, Mystic River

Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Ben Kingsley, House of Sand and Fog

Jude Law, Cold Mountain

Bill Murray, Lost in Translation

2004

Jamie Foxx, Ray

Don Cheadle, Hotel Rwanda

Johnny Depp, Finding Neverland

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Aviator

Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby

2005

Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote

Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow

Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain

Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line

David Strathairn, Good Night, and Good Luck

2006

Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland

Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond

Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson

Peter O’Toole, Venus

Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness

2007

Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood

George Clooney, Michael Clayton

Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah

Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises

2008

Sean Penn, Milk

Richard Jenkins, The Visitor

Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon

Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

2009

Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

George Clooney, Up in the Air

Colin Firth, A Single Man

Morgan Freeman, Invictus

Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

2010

Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

Javier Bardem, Biutiful

Jeff Bridges, True Grit

Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network

James Franco, 127 Hours

It’s actually pretty straightforward, most of them. Or maybe it’s that I’ve seen this list so many times, it just looks normal to me. Not really much to say in terms of history. Like I said, it comes down to each specific category. So let’s look at this year’s category.

Demian Bichir, A Better Life

George Clooney, The Descendants

Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Of the nominees, here’s how I’d rank their chances at winning:

5. Demian Bichir, A Better Life. You have to put him at #5, just because he doesn’t have the track record of the other nominees. Or the precursors. He’s really a SAG nominee. The SAG support carried him over. Which is fine, but — he ain’t beating Pitt or Clooney. No way.

4. Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. No way I’d consider him any better than fourth. You can’t. As much as I’d love to see him win, I’m a realist. I know what the deal is. I’ve been resigned to him not winning from the start. The only thing I was worried about is that he wasn’t going to be nominated. As long as he’s here, that’s okay. I always had a bit of a problem with the idea that Clooney was such a runaway winner (not that he doesn’t deserve it, it’s just — I can deal with one month of a sure thing, but four is too much), but really I wouldn’t have minded as long as Gary got on this list. And then Dujardin won SAG and it really made things interesting. So, really, I’d be happy with just about anything that happened in this category. Still, I don’t think Oldman’s caught enough support to pull this one out.

3. Brad Pitt, Moneyball. Pitt is clearly he’s your #3 here. He gets support because of who he is, and I know people love his performance. In fact, I’d be sure that Clooney will vote for him, so that’s one. Still, him being who he is automatically puts him ahead of Oldman. Oldman may get some veteran love, but Pitt is still Pitt. I think he’s definitely #3.

2. Jean Duajrdin, The Artist. I know he won SAG, but I don’t know if that’s a definite harbinger of an Oscar win. I’ll believe it when I see it. For now, I’ll keep him here, and be wary of that SAG win. I mean, they gave Johnny Depp the SAG for Pirates. They could just like fun performances. Also, SAG is a much larger group than the Academy. The Academy skews older, which means veterans are more likely to win. I still have a hard time thinking Dujardin beats Clooney, no matter what the SAG win says. Obviously he’s got a shot, but my gut keeps telling me to keep Clooney the favorite for now. It’s just rankings, anyway. We all understand this is a fairly wide-open race. Fairly. (Note: I’ll probably be voting for Dujardin come Oscar night, but for now, I want to let it marinate a little more. I think he might have this thing won.)

1. George Clooney, The Descendants. One of two things is gonna happen come Oscar night. Either Clooney will win like everyone thought he would back in December and Dujardin’s SAG win is nothing more than SAG enjoying a fun performance, a la Johnny Depp’s, or Clooney won’t win, and that’ll make him really dangerous the next time he’s nominated (like Kate Winslet in 2008). We won’t know until next weekend, but for now, I personally have to maintain Clooney as a #1. It’s a personal thing. I think Dujardin might have it.

BEST ACTRESS

Year

Best Actress Winners

Other Nominees

1927-1928

Janet Gaynor, Seventh Heaven & Street Angel & Sunrise Louise Dresser, A Ship Comes In

Gloria Swanson, Sadie Thompson

1928-1929

Mary Pickford, Coquette Ruth Chatterton, Madame X

Betty Compson, The Barker

Jeanne Eagels, The Letter

Corrinne Griffith, The Divine Lady

Bessie Love, The Broadway Melody

1929-1930

Norma Shearer, The Divorcee

Nancy Carroll, The Devil’s Holiday

Ruth Chatterton, Sarah and Son

Greta Garbo, Anna ChristieRomance

Norma Shearer, Their Own Desire

Gloria Swanson, The Tresspasser

1930-1931

Marie Dressler, Min and Bill

Marlene Dietrich, Morocco

Irene Dunne, Cimarron

Ann Harding, Holiday

Norma Shearer, A Free Soul

1931-1932

Helen Hayes, The Sin of Madelon Claudet Marie Dressler, Emma

Lynn Fontaine, The Guardsman

1932-1933

Katharine Hepburn, Morning Glory May Robson, Lady for a Day

Diana Wynyard, Cavalcade

1934

Claudette Colbert, It Happened One Night Grace Moore, One Night of Love

Norma Shearer, The Barretts of Wimpole Street

Bette Davis, Of Human Bondage

1935

Bette Davis, Dangerous Elisabeth Bergner, Escape Me Never

Claudette Colbert, Private Worlds

Katharine Hepburn, Alice Adams

Miriam Hopkins, Becky Sharp

Merle Oberon, The Dark Angel

1936

Luise Rainer, The Great Ziegfeld Irene Dunne, Theodora Goes Wild

Gladys George, Valiant is the Word for Carrie

Carole Lombard, My Man Godfrey

Norma Shearer, Romeo and Juliet

1937

Luise Rainer, The Good Earth Irene Dunne, The Awful Truth

Greta Garbo, Camille

Janet Gaynor, A Star is Born

Barbara Stanwyck, Stella Dallas

1938

Bette Davis, Jezebel Fay Bainter, White Banners

Wendy Hiller, Pygmalion

Norma Shearer, Marie Antoinette

Margaret Sullivan, Three Comrades

1939

Vivien Leigh, Gone with the Wind Bette Davis, Dark Victory

Irene Dunne, Love Affair

Greta Garbo, Ninotchka

Greer Garson, Goodbye, Mr. Chips

1940

Ginger Rogers, Kitty Foyle Bette Davis, The Letter

Joan Fontaine, Rebecca

Katharine Hepburn, The Philadelphia Story

Martha Scott, Our Town

1941

Joan Fontaine, Suspicion Bette Davis, The Little Foxes

Olivia de Havilland, Hold Back the Dawn

Greer Garson, Blossoms in the Dust

Barbara Stanwyck, Ball of Fire

1942

Greer Garson, Mrs. Miniver Bette Davis, Now, Voyager

Katharine Hepburn, Woman of the Year

Rosalind Russell, My Sister Eileen

Teresa Wright, The Pride of the Yankees

1943

Jennifer Jones, The Song of Bernadette Jean Arthur, The More the Merrier

Ingrid Bergman, For Whom the Bell Tolls

Joan Fontaine, The Constant Nymph

Greer Garson, Madame Curie

1944

Ingrid Bergman, Gaslight Claudette Colbert, Since You Went Away

Bette Davis, Mr. Skeffington

Greer Garson, Mrs. Parkington

Barbara Stanwyck, Double Indemnity

1945

Joan Crawford, Mildred Pierce Ingrid Bergman, The Bells of St. Mary’s

Greer Garson, The Valley of Decision

Jennifer Jones, Love Letters

Gene Tierney, Leave Her to Heaven

1946

Olivia de Havilland, To Each His Own Celia Johnson, Brief Encounter

Jennifer Jones, Duel in the Sun

Rosalind Russell, Sister Kenny

Jane Wyman, The Yearling

1947

Loretta Young, The Farmer’s Daughter Joan Crawford, Possessed

Susan Hayward, Smash-up, the Story of a Woman

Dorothy McGuire, Gentleman’s Agreement

Rosalind Russell, Mourning Becomes Electra

1948

Jane Wyman, Johnny Belinda Ingrid Bergman, Joan of Arc

Olivia de Havilland, The Snake Pit

Irene Dunne, I Remember Mama

Barbara Stanwyck, Sorry, Wrong Number

1949

Olivia de Havilland, The Heiress Jeanne Crain, Pinky

Susan Hayward, My Foolish Heart

Deborah Kerr, Edward, My Son

Loretta Young, Come to the Stable

1950

Judy Holliday, Born Yesterday Anne Baxter, All About Eve

Betty Davis, All About Eve

Eleanor Parker, Caged

Gloria Swanson, Sunset Boulevard

1951

Vivien Leigh, A Streetcar Named Desire Katharine Hepburn, The African Queen

Eleanor Parker, Detective Story

Shelley Winters, A Place in the Sun

Jane Wyman, The Blue Veil

1952

Shirley Booth, Come Back, Little Sheba Joan Crawford, Sudden Fear

Bette Davis, The Star

Julie Harris, The Member of the Wedding

Susan Hayward, With a Song in My Heart

1953

Audrey Hepburn, Roman Holiday Leslie Caron, Lili

Ava Gardner, Mogambo

Deborah Kerr, From Here to Eternity

Maggie McNamara, The Moon is Blue

1954

Grace Kelly, The Country Girl Dorothy Dandridge, Carmen Jones

Judy Garland, A Star is Born

Audrey Hepburn, Sabrina

Jane Wyman, Magnificent Obsession

1955

Anna Magnani, The Rose Tattoo Susan Hayward, I’ll Cry Tomorrow

Katharine Hepburn, Summertime

Jennifer Jones, Love is a Many-Splendored Thing

Eleanor Parker, Interrupted Melody

1956

Ingrid Bergman, Anastasia Carroll Baker, Baby Doll

Katharine Hepburn, The Rainmaker

Nancy Kelly, The Bad Seed

Deborah Kerr, The King and I

1957

Joanne Woodward, The Three Faces of Eve Deborah Kerr, Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison

Anna Magnani, Wild is the Wind

Elizabeth Taylor, Raintree County

Lana Turner, Peyton Place

1958

Susan Hayward, I Want to Live! Deborah Kerr, Separate Tables

Shirley MacLaine, Some Came Running

Rosalind Russell, Auntie Mame

Elizabeth Taylor, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

1959

Simone Signoret, Room at the Top Doris Day, Pillow Talk

Audrey Hepburn, The Nun’s Story

Katharine Hepburn, Suddenly, Last Summer

Elizabeth Taylor, Suddenly, Last Summer

1960

Elizabeth Taylor, BUtterfield 8 Greer Garson, Sunrise at Campobello

Deborah Kerr, The Sundowners

Shirley MacLaine, The Apartment

Melina Mercouri, Never on Sunday

1961

Sophia Loren, Two Women Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Piper Laurie, The Hustler

Geraldine Page, Summer and Smoke

Natalie Wood, Splendor in the Grass

1962

Anne Bancroft, The Miracle Worker Bette Davis, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

Katharine Hepburn, Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Geraldine Page, Sweet Bird of Youth

Lee Remick, Days of Wine and Roses

1963

Patricia Neal, Hud Leslie Caron, The L-Shaped Room

Shirley MacLaine, Irma La Douce

Rachel Roberts, This Sporting Life

Natalie Wood, Love with the Proper Stranger

1964

Julie Andrews, Mary Poppins Anne Bancroft, The Pumpkin Eater

Sophia Loren, Marriage, Italian Style

Debbie Reynolds, The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Kim Stanley, Séance on a Wet Afternoon

1965

Julie Christie, Darling Julie Andrews, The Sound of Music

Samantha Eggar, The Collector

Elizabeth Hartman, A Patch of Blue

Simone Signoret, Ship of Fools

1966

Elizabeth Taylor, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Anouk Aimée, A Man and a Woman

Ida Kaminska, The Shop on Main Street

Lynn Redgrave, Georgy Girl

Vanessa Redgrave, Morgan!

1967

Katharine Hepburn, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Anne Bancroft, The Graduate

Faye Dunaway, Bonnie and Clyde

Edith Evans, The Whisperers

Audrey Hepburn, Wait Until Dark

1968

TIE

Katharine Hepburn, The Lion in Winter

Barbra Streisand, Funny Girl

Patricia Neal, The Subject Was Roses

Vanessa Redgrave, Isadora

Joanne Woodward, Rachel, Rachel

1969

Maggie Smith, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Geneviève Bujold, Anne of the Thousand Days

Jane Fonda, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

Liza Minnelli, The Sterile Cuckoo

Jean Simmons, The Happy Ending

1970

Glenda Jackson, Women in Love Jane Alexander, The Great White Hope

Ali MacGraw, Love Story

Sarah Miles, Ryan’s Daughter

Carrie Snodgress, Diary of a Mad Housewife

1971

Jane Fonda, Klute Julie Christie, McCabe & Mrs. Miller

Glenda Jackson, Sunday Bloody Sunday

Vanessa Redgrave, Mary, Queen of Scots

Janet Suzman – Nicholas and Alexandra

1972

Liza Minnelli, Cabaret Diana Ross, Lady Sings the Blues

Maggie Smith, Travels with My Aunt

Cicely Tyson, Sounder

Liv Ullmann, The Emigrants

1973

Glenda Jackson, A Touch of Class Ellen Burstyn, The Exorcist

Marsha Mason, Cinderella Liberty

Barbra Streisand, The Way We Were

Joanne Woodward, Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams

1974

Ellen Burstyn, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore Diahann Carroll, Claudine

Faye Dunaway, Chinatown

Valerie Perrine, Lenny

Gena Rowlands, A Woman Under the Influence

1975

Louise Fletcher, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest Ann-Margret, Tommy

Isabelle Adjani, The Story of Adele H.

Glenda Jackson, Hedda

Carol Kane, Hester Street

1976

Faye Dunaway, Network Marie-Christine Barrault, Cousin, cousine

Talia Shire, Rocky

Sissy Spacek, Carrie

Liv Ullmann, Face to Face

1977

Diane Keaton, Annie Hall Anne Bancroft, The Turning Point

Jane Fonda, Julia

Shirley MacLaine, The Turning Point

Marsha Mason, The Goodbye Girl

1978

Jane Fonda, Coming Home Ingrid Bergman, Autumn Sonata

Ellen Burstyn, Same Time, Next Year

Jill Clayburgh, An Unmarried Woman

Geraldine Page, Interiors

1979

Sally Field, Norma Rae Jill Clayburgh, Starting Over

Jane Fonda, The China Syndrome

Marsha Mason, Chapter Two

Bette Midler, The Rose

1980

Sissy Spacek, Coal Miner’s Daughter Ellen Burstyn, Resurrection

Goldie Hawn, Private Benjamin

Mary Tyler Moore, Ordinary People

Gena Rowlands, Gloria

1981

Katharine Hepburn, On Golden Pond Diane Keaton, Reds

Marsha Mason, Only When I Laugh

Susan Sarandon, Atlantic City

Meryl Streep, The French Lieutenant’s Woman

1982

Meryl Streep, Sophie’s Choice Julie Andrews, Victor Victoria

Jessica Lange, Frances

Sissy Spacek, Missing

Debra Winger, An Officer and a Gentleman

1983

Shirley MacLaine, Terms of Endearment Jane Alexander, Testament

Meryl Streep, Silkwood

Julie Walters, Educating Rita

Debra Winger, Terms of Endearment

1984

Sally Field, Places in the Heart Judy Davis, A Passage to India

Jessica Lange, Country

Vanessa Redgrave, The Bostonians

Sissy Spacek, The River

1985

Geraldine Page, The Trip to Bountiful Anne Bancroft, Agnes of God

Whoopi Goldberg, The Color Purple

Jessica Lange, Sweet Dreams

Meryl Streep, Out of Africa

1986

Marlee Matlin, Children of a Lesser God Jane Fonda, The Morning After

Sissy Spacek, Crimes of the Heart

Kathleen Turner, Peggy Sue Got Married

Sigourney Weaver, Aliens

1987

Cher, Moonstruck Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction

Holly Hunter, Broadcast News

Sally Kirkland, Anna

Meryl Streep, Ironweed

1988

Jodie Foster, The Accused Glenn Close, Dangerous Liaisons

Melanie Griffith, Working Girl

Meryl Streep, A Cry in the Dark

Sigourney Weaver, Gorillas in the Mist

1989

Jessica Tandy, Driving Miss Daisy Isabelle Adjani, Camille Claudel

Pauline Collins, Shirley Valentine

Jessica Lange, Music Box

Michelle Pfeiffer, The Fabulous Baker Boys

1990

Kathy Bates, Misery Anjelica Huston, The Grifters

Julia Roberts, Pretty Woman

Meryl Streep, Postcards from the Edge

Joanne Woodward, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge

1991

Jodie Foster, The Silence of the Lambs Geena Davis, Thelma & Louise

Laura Dern, Rambling Rose

Bette Midler, For the Boys

Susan Sarandon, Thelma & Louise

1992

Emma Thompson, Howards End Catherine Deneuve, Indochine

Mary McDonnell, Passion Fish

Michelle Pfeiffer, Love Field

Susan Sarandon, Lorenzo’s Oil 

1993

Holly Hunter, The Piano Angela Bassett, What’s Love Got to Do with It

Stockhard Channing, Six Degrees of Separation

Emma Thompson, The Remains of the Day

Debra Winger, Shadowlands

1994

Jessica Lange, Blue Sky Jodie Foster, Nell

Miranda Richardson, Tom & Viv

Winona Ryder, Little Women

Susan Sarandon, The Client

1995

Susan Sarandon, Dead Man Walking Elisabeth Shue, Leaving Las Vegas

Sharon Stone, Casino

Meryl Streep, The Bridges of Madison County

Emma Thompson, Sense and Sensibility

1996

Frances McDormand, Fargo Brenda Blethyn, Secrets & Lies

Diane Keaton, Marvin’s Room

Kristin Scott Thomas, The English Patient

Emily Watson, Breaking the Waves

1997

Helen Hunt, As Good as It Gets Helena Bonham Carter, The Wings of the Dove

Julie Christie, Afterglow

Judi Dench, Mrs. Brown

Kate Winslet, Titanic

1998

Gwyneth Paltrow, Shakespeare in Love Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth

Fernanda Montenegro, Central Station

Meryl Streep, One True Thing

Emily Watson, Hilary and Jackie

1999

Hilary Swank, Boys Don’t Cry Annette Bening, American Beauty

Janet McTeer, Tumbleweeds

Julianne Moore, The End of the Affair

Meryl Streep, Music of the Heart

2000

Julia Roberts, Erin Brockovich Joan Allen, The Contender

Juliette Binoche, Chocolat

Ellen Burstyn, Requiem for a Dream

Laura Linney, You Can Count on Me

2001

Halle Berry, Monster’s Ball Judi Dench, Iris

Nicole Kidman, Moulin Rouge!

Sissy Spacek, In the Bedroom

Renée Zellweger, Bridget Jones’s Diary

2002

Nicole Kidman, The Hours Salma Hayek, Frida

Diane Lane, Unfaithful

Julianne Moore, Far From Heaven

Renée Zellweger, Chicago

2003

Charlize Theron, Monster Keisha Castle-Hughes, Whale Rider

Diane Keaton, Something’s Gotta Give

Samantha Morton, In America

Naomi Watts, 21 Grams

2004

Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby Annette Bening, Being Julia

Catalina Sandino Moreno, Maria Full of Grace

Imelda Staunton, Vera Drake

Kate Winslet, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

2005

Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents

Felicity Huffman, Transamerica

Keira Knightley, Pride & Prejudice

Charlize Theron, North Country

2006

Helen Mirren, The Queen Penèlope Cruz, Volver

Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal

Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada

Kate Winslet, Little Children

2007

Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Julie Christie, Away from Her

Laura Linney, The Savages

Ellen Page, Juno

2008

Kate Winslet, The Reader Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married

Angelina Jolie, Changeling

Melissa Leo, Frozen River

Meryl Streep, Doubt

2009

Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side Helen Mirren, The Last Station

Carey Mulligan, An Education

Gabourey Sidibe, Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire

Meryl Streep, Julia and Julia

2010

Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Annette Bening, The Kids are All Right

Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole

Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone

Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Not much to say here. This category is more about the actress than the performance, more than any other, seemingly. How else can you explain the past decade? Let’s just get into the nominees.

Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs

Viola Davis, The Help

Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

I haven’t seen a field this weak and wide open in a long time. It’s probably not that wide open, but still, we don’t really know which way it’s gonna go, do we? To the point where, even though all evidence may point to the contrary, I have to stand by what I perceive to be the rankings, because I just don’t know.

5. Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This will be my vote, but in terms of where the actresses stand right now, she has to be considered the #5. I don’t think she has any chance at winning. She’s too new, the performance is too controversial, I just don’t see it happening. I’d be over the moon if it did, but there’s no way I can put her higher than this based on her competition.

4. Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs. I know she’s a veteran and I know her status earns her a lot of support, but I just can’t see how people could vote for her over Viola Davis or Meryl Streep if they are gonna vote for a veteran. That’s why I can’t, in my mind, put her higher than third at best. The fact that many people consider this film to be one of the weakest nominees this year doesn’t help the cause any. I have to consider her a #4. Maybe a #3. I still don’t really think she has a chance.

3. Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn. I can accept people putting Glenn Close higher than Michelle. Michelle will get some attention, given the Blue Valentine nomination last year, but I don’t think it’ll be enough for her to make any kind of a showing here. This is one of those performances that was penciled in from the start as one of the nominees, and even though the film turned out to be a lot lesser than we expected. It’s tough to know whether her of Glenn will get “overdue” votes. The reason I put her higher than Glenn is because of the film quality factor, and because, in a way, Meryl is also considered overdue. And if you’re a veteran, who are you more likely to vote for, Glenn Close or Meryl Streep? You see my point. Michelle doesn’t seem to be much of a contender, but I feel like her playing Marilyn helps her more than Rooney Mara. They’re probably both considered young, but at least Michelle has two previous nominations and she’s trending upward toward a win. I’ll keep her third. (Plus, Harvey Weinstein has been campaigning the shit out of this performance. The way he’s campaigning, it’s like she can still win. Which might be telling…) But I think we all feel as though this category is between these next two.

2. Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady. I’d keep her #1, but honestly, the only things that put her at #1 to begin with were her and her role. The film was not very good at all, and actually let the performance down. If she wins, we’re all clear that she’s winning because she’s Meryl Streep, and nothing more. I think we were all looking for a reason to say she wasn’t going to win, since all logic pointed to her not really being a winner this year. Fortunately, we got that reason when Viola Davis won SAG. I can’t really see how Davis loses at this point, but Meryl is Meryl, so there’s always that possibility.

1. Viola Davis, The Help. I don’t love the performance, nor do I feel Viola Davis is “due” for an Oscar. But honestly, from a race standpoint alone, this is a big deal. So I’m cool with her being the favorite and with her winning. I won’t vote for it, because I didn’t think it was the best performance. But the SAG win clearly puts her as the favorite and on the path to a win. And honestly, I think it’s better that she wins than Meryl, because Meryl’s film is way too flawed for that to be looked upon as a good decision. I feel like, of all the decisions they could make, the ones that make the most sense are Davis, Williams and Mara. And maybe Close, but also not really. Davis is in a good film, has a solid performance, and has the race factor. Not that she’s black, mind you, but that the Academy just doesn’t give out Oscars to black actors. So regardless of the role, a black actor winning an Oscar is a big deal (whether for the right reasons or not). Williams played Marilyn, which will look good on paper, even though the film and the performance aren’t really what one looks for in an Oscar winner. And Mara, as I said, I felt gave the best performance. Plus the character is pretty iconic and is a very strong female role. But she almost definitely won’t win. So I think Davis will be a good choice, if she does win. She’s your favorite.

– – – – – – – – – –

So that’s the main acting races. Still fairly wide open. Which is nice. Last year these races were locked a month early.

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