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The Oscar Quest: My Oscar Nominations — Best Actress (1970-1989)

This is part of a series of articles where I’m putting forth my opinions about what I’d nominate in all of the Oscar Quest categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress). Normally I take the categories as they are, but I thought it would be fun to figure out what I’d vote for if I had a ballot each year. Keep in mind, this is only for NOMINATIONS and nothing else.

My only problem with this is that I knew if I did it, too many people, were they doing the same thing, would put on movies that just didn’t belong on an Oscar ballot. (I would too, in some cases. We just like what we like.) My problem was that people would take this exercise as an opportunity to really just go off the rails with stuff (which, if you read through all these articles, you’ll see me call people out for it, since I know exactly which films and which performances people would put on). So my way around this was by creating what I call a “Compromise List” — after I tell you what was actually nominated and what I’d put on my ballot, I’m making a list whereby I try to make everyone happy and keep it mostly close to what would be there, Academy-wise. You’ll see. My lists usually end up being better and not crazy.

The things to take into account with the performance categories — I can only nominate what I’ve seen. So me not seeing something will be a big reason why some stuff doesn’t appear. And, as always, I tell people not to bother me with one random person in one random category, since I have everything to think about. If you want to say something, wait until you’ve seen all the films/tried this yourself before you do it. And I don’t care about foreign performances, for the most part. There’s a long and complicated answer there, but — I don’t. And the big rule for anyone doing this — if someone won a category, YOU CAN’T LEAVE THEM OFF THE COMPROMISE LIST. Can’t do it.

Otherwise — here’s the next set of categories.

1989

Actual Nominees:

  • Isabelle Adjani, Camille Claudel
  • Pauline Collins, Shirley Valentine
  • Jessica Lange, Music Box
  • Michelle Pfeiffer, The Fabulous Baker Boys
  • Jessica Tandy, Driving Miss Daisy

My Vote: Jessica Tandy, Driving Miss Daisy

Got nothing here. Haven’t seen The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover, haven’t seen Sex Lies and Videotape, haven’t seen The Rose Garden. And if you say Meg Ryan, I will disown you as a movie person.

Compromise List:

  • Isabelle Adjani, Camille Claudel
  • Pauline Collins, Shirley Valentine
  • Jessica Lange, Music Box
  • Michelle Pfeiffer, The Fabulous Baker Boys
  • Jessica Tandy, Driving Miss Daisy

My Vote: Jessica Tandy, Driving Miss Daisy

1988

Actual Nominees:

  • Glenn Close, Dangerous Liaisons
  • Jodie Foster, The Accused
  • Melanie Griffith, Working Girl
  • Meryl Streep, A Cry in the Dark
  • Sigourney Weaver, Gorillas in the Mist

My Vote: Jodie Foster, The Accused

I got nothing here, as much as I’d like to take off Melanie Griffith. I still need to see Madame Sousatzka, which I figure is probably just a “Shirley MacLaine appreciation” Golden Globe win, but that’s really all I found that could maybe go on. Thank god for independent film. It really helped out female roles.

Compromise List:

  • Glenn Close, Dangerous Liaisons
  • Jodie Foster, The Accused
  • Melanie Griffith, Working Girl
  • Meryl Streep, A Cry in the Dark
  • Sigourney Weaver, Gorillas in the Mist

My Vote: Jodie Foster, The Accused

1987

Actual Nominees:

  • Cher, Moonstruck
  • Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction
  • Holly Hunter, Broadcast News
  • Sally Kirkland, Anna
  • Meryl Streep, Ironweed

My Vote: Holly Hunter, Broadcast News

I don’t really have anything here, either. Not a huge fan of Faye Dunaway in Barfly, and I haven’t seen the performances nominated for other awards (Emily Lloyd in Wish You Were Here and Anne Bancroft in 84 Charing Cross Road). I’m gonna go through eventually and watch these things, because it’s actually annoying to me that there are next to no options for female performances in these years.

But yeah — I have to keep it since I have nothing I’ve seen/liked enough to put on instead.

Compromise List:

  • Cher, Moonstruck
  • Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction
  • Holly Hunter, Broadcast News
  • Sally Kirkland, Anna
  • Meryl Streep, Ironweed

My Vote: Holly Hunter, Broadcast News

1986

Actual Nominees:

  • Jane Fonda, The Morning After
  • Marlee Matlin, Children of a Lesser God
  • Sissy Spacek, Crimes of the Heart
  • Kathleen Turner, Peggy Sue Got Married
  • Sigourney Weaver, Aliens

My Vote: Marlee Matlin, Children of a Lesser God

I’ll tell everyone flat out that my problem with Sigourney Weaver on this list is people voting for her, not her being nominated. Plus, the year is bad for stuff, so seeing her here is a breath of fresh air, even though she really shouldn’t have won. So I’m cool with it.

I have no alternatives, either. I don’t think Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet should be anywhere near this list (I know you people), and I haven’t seen what I assume is a Globe nominated performance in Extremities by Farah Fawcett. So until I find something, I’m leaving it.

Compromise List:

  • Jane Fonda, The Morning After
  • Marlee Matlin, Children of a Lesser God
  • Sissy Spacek, Crimes of the Heart
  • Kathleen Turner, Peggy Sue Got Married
  • Sigourney Weaver, Aliens

My Vote: Marlee Matlin, Children of a Lesser God

1985

Actual Nominees:

  • Anne Bancroft, Agnes of God
  • Whoopi Goldberg, The Color Purple
  • Jessica Lange, Sweet Dreams
  • Geraldine Page, The Trip to Bountiful
  • Meryl Streep, Out of Africa

My Vote: Whoopi Goldberg, The Color Purple

This one — the big performance that would most likely get on is Cher in Mask… which I haven’t seen.

Jane Fonda was good in Agnes of GodMore appropriate than Anne Bancroft, I feel. But either way. Meg Tilly was the real performance of the film. Also, Julie Andrews got nominated for something for Duet for One, so I’ll check that out too and see if it’s worth putting on.

Also, a case can be made for Mia Farrow in The Purple Rose of Cairo. I’m not sure where she’d fit on this list/if it would have ever happened, but I’ll mention it. I’m leaving the list alone for now, since I don’t know what to do with it.

Compromise List:

  • Anne Bancroft, Agnes of God
  • Whoopi Goldberg, The Color Purple
  • Jessica Lange, Sweet Dreams
  • Geraldine Page, The Trip to Bountiful
  • Meryl Streep, Out of Africa

My Vote: Whoopi Goldberg, The Color Purple

1984

Actual Nominees:

  • Judy Davis, A Passage to India
  • Sally Field, Places in the Heart
  • Jessica Lange, Country
  • Vanessa Redgrave, The Bostonians
  • Sissy Spacek, The River

My Vote: Sally Field, Places in the Heart

Not a huge fan of Frances McDormand in Blood Simple as an Oscar nominee, but that’s just me. She doesn’t get nominated anyway, since the first film of someone is almost always ignored (see: Mean Streets) by the Oscars and serves to help for the next good film. So it wouldn’t get on any list.

I don’t like Broadway Danny Rose, so that’s not happening, and I haven’t seen Mrs. Soffel, which Diane Keaton got nominated for something for.

So again, as much as I hate this category, for now it’s staying.

Compromise List:

  • Judy Davis, A Passage to India
  • Sally Field, Places in the Heart
  • Jessica Lange, Country
  • Vanessa Redgrave, The Bostonians
  • Sissy Spacek, The River

My Vote: Sally Field, Places in the Heart

1983

Actual Nominees:

  • Jane Alexander, Testament
  • Shirley MacLaine, Terms of Endearment
  • Meryl Streep, Silkwood
  • Julie Walters, Educating Rita
  • Debra Winger, Terms of Endearment

My Vote: Shirley MacLaine, Terms of Endearment

The only other nominee there seems to be this year is Bonnie Bedelia in Heart Like a Wheel, but I haven’t seen it. Plus, this category is 4/5 perfect and even so, Jane Alexander is really good. So it’s a tight year, so until I see the Bedelia performance, I’m leaving it.

(P.S. Streisand in Yentl is a joke. Please don’t make me laugh with that one.)

Compromise List:

  • Jane Alexander, Testament
  • Shirley MacLaine, Terms of Endearment
  • Meryl Streep, Silkwood
  • Julie Walters, Educating Rita
  • Debra Winger, Terms of Endearment

My Vote: Shirley MacLaine, Terms of Endearment

1982

Actual Nominees:

  • Julia Andrews, Victor Victoria
  • Jessica Lange, Frances
  • Sissy Spacek, Missing
  • Meryl Streep, Sophie’s Choice
  • Debra Winger, An Officer and a Gentleman

My Vote: Meryl Streep, Sophie’s Choice

I liked Diane Keaton in Shoot the Moon, but I really, really like this category (even Debra Winger, for whatever reason. I guess because I like An Officer and a Gentleman). So I want to leave it.

Compromise List:

  • Julia Andrews, Victor Victoria
  • Jessica Lange, Frances
  • Sissy Spacek, Missing
  • Meryl Streep, Sophie’s Choice
  • Debra Winger, An Officer and a Gentleman

My Vote: Meryl Streep, Sophie’s Choice

1981

Actual Nominees:

  • 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

My Vote: Marsha Mason, Only When I Laugh

We can’t put on Mommie Dearest. We just can’t. I’m not a fan of Absence of Malice, so I’m not bothering with that one. I haven’t seen Body Heat (apparently people like that performance), and Sissy Spacek was nominated for something for Raggedy Man. So, I’m leaving it. I don’t like French Lieutenant’s Woman, but I think most people feel Meryl should be nominated for it. And I don’t care for the Sarandon performance, but — same. So I’m leaving it.

Compromise List:

  • 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

My Vote: Marsha Mason, Only When I Laugh

1980

Actual Nominees:

  • Ellen Burstyn, Resurrection
  • Goldie Hawn, Private Benjamin
  • Gena Rowlands, Gloria
  • Sissy Spacek, Coal Miner’s Daughter
  • Mary Tyler Moore, Ordinary People

My Vote: Sissy Spacek, Coal Miner’s Daughter

The Gloria nomination is a joke. She should have gotten other nominations before this. But whatever. I don’t like Tess, so I’m not even going near that performance. Deborah Raffin was nominated somewhere for Touched by Love, but I haven’t seen it. So — I don’t know. I don’t know these years closely enough to know what to look for. So I’ll leave it open for the future. (It’s good. This is gonna get me to look for shit. Since I don’t like this category at all.)

Compromise List:

  • Ellen Burstyn, Resurrection
  • Goldie Hawn, Private Benjamin
  • Gena Rowlands, Gloria
  • Sissy Spacek, Coal Miner’s Daughter
  • Mary Tyler Moore, Ordinary People

My Vote: Sissy Spacek, Coal Miner’s Daughter

1979

Actual Nominees:

  • Jill Clayburgh, Starting Over
  • Sally Field, Norma Rae
  • Jane Fonda, The China Syndrome
  • Marsha Mason, Chapter Two
  • Bette Midler, The Rose

My Vote: Sally Field, Norma Rae

Jill Clayburgh was nominated (for a Globe, I believe) for La Luna, which might explain why she was nominated for Starting Over. I need to check that one out. Also, Lisa Eichhorn was nominated for a Globe for Yanks, which I also haven’t seen. Those are the only ones I found. The category’s actually pretty good. Maybe Mason is a bit of a weak nominee, but I don’t see many replacements, so for now, it’s staying.

(P.S. I will laugh at you if you even think to put Sigourney Weaver on this list.)

Compromise List:

  • Jill Clayburgh, Starting Over
  • Sally Field, Norma Rae
  • Jane Fonda, The China Syndrome
  • Marsha Mason, Chapter Two
  • Bette Midler, The Rose

My Vote: Sally Field, Norma Rae

1978

Actual Nominees:

  • Ingrid Bergman, Autumn Sonata
  • Ellen Burstyn, Same Time, Next Year
  • Jill Clayburgh, An Unmarried Woman
  • Jane Fonda, Coming Home
  • Geraldine Page, Interiors

My Vote: Jill Clayburgh, An Unmarried Woman

Glenda Jackson got nominated for Stevie (I guess the Globes), which I haven’t seen. So that’s one. Otherwise, I wish I had stuff to nominate instead, since I don’t like the Page performance, nor do I like the Bergman performance. But I’ve got nothing. For some reason, I can’t do the 70s through the 90s, but am goot with all the other decades in terms of performances. It’s strange.

We’re leaving it.

Compromise List:

  • Ingrid Bergman, Autumn Sonata
  • Ellen Burstyn, Same Time, Next Year
  • Jill Clayburgh, An Unmarried Woman
  • Jane Fonda, Coming Home
  • Geraldine Page, Interiors

My Vote: Jill Clayburgh, An Unmarried Woman

1977

Actual Nominees:

  • Anne Bancroft, The Turning Point
  • Diane Keaton, Annie Hall
  • Marsha Mason, The Goodbye Girl
  • Jane Fonda, Julia
  • Shirley MacLaine, The Turning Point

My Vote: Diane Keaton, Annie Hall

I haven’t seen Opening Night, but my gut tells me when I do, I’m gonna say Gena Rowlands should be on. I’ve also never seen I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, which Kathleen Quinlan was nominated for a Globe for. So those are one’s I’d be looking at. But it’s not like you can change this category anyway. It’s obvious they loved The Turning Point, as much as I think it doesn’t hold up at all, so there’s really not much room for changes and I’ll probably end up having to keep it regardless of what I think of those other two.

I will say, though, that I’d totally nominate Keaton for Looking for Mr. Goodbar instead of Annie Hall. But I can’t change it, so that’s just a personal thing. I wasn’t writing my nominees out just for that.

(Looking for Mr. Goodbar)

Compromise List:

  • Anne Bancroft, The Turning Point
  • Diane Keaton, Annie Hall
  • Marsha Mason, The Goodbye Girl
  • Jane Fonda, Julia
  • Shirley MacLaine, The Turning Point

My Vote: Diane Keaton, Annie Hall

1976

Actual Nominees:

  • Marie-Christine Barrault, Cousin, Cousine
  • Faye Dunaway, Network
  • Talia Shire, Rocky
  • Sissy Spacek, Carrie
  • Liv Ullmann, Face to Face

My Vote: Talia Shire, Rocky

The two performances I haven’t seen that were nominated for other awards were Sarah Miles in The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea and Glenda Jackson in The Incredible Sarah. Other than that, I haven’t got much. The 70s is a pretty male-centric decade. Plus, lead female performances are always the hardest to gauge, since this is the category where performances come from the most random films (since the films that tend to get nominated don’t usually have strong female performances).

Basically, it’s staying for now. But I really now have made it my goal at some point to look for some female performances to nominate.

Compromise List:

  • Marie-Christine Barrault, Cousin, Cousine
  • Faye Dunaway, Network
  • Talia Shire, Rocky
  • Sissy Spacek, Carrie
  • Liv Ullmann, Face to Face

My Vote: on performance alone… Faye Dunaway, Network

1975

Actual Nominees:

  • Isabelle Adjani, The Story of Adele H.
  • Louise Fletcher, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  • Glenda Jackson, Hedda
  • Carol Kane, Hester Street
  • Ann-Margret, Tommy

My Vote: Louise Fletcher, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Could I actually nominate Faye Dunaway in Three Days of the Condor like the Globes did? That would be so awesome, yet I feel like it would never happen. So I’ll just leave this. (P.S. Marilyn Hassett was nominated for something for The Other Side of the Mountain. I’ll check that out too at some point.)

Compromise List:

  • Isabelle Adjani, The Story of Adele H.
  • Louise Fletcher, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  • Glenda Jackson, Hedda
  • Carol Kane, Hester Street
  • Ann-Margret, Tommy

My Vote: Louise Fletcher, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

1974

Actual Nominees:

  • Ellen Burstyn, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
  • Diahann Carroll, Claudine
  • Faye Dunaway, Chinatown
  • Valerie Perrine, Lenny
  • Gena Rowlands, A Woman Under the Influence

My Vote: Gena Rowlands, A Woman Under the Influence

Haven’t seen Scenes from a Marriage, and considering the category, I highly doubt I’d even consider nominating Liv Ullmann for it. Since the only person that could be taken off is Diahann Carroll, and I’m not depriving a black actor of an Oscar nomination. Those motherfuckers are impossible enough to get as it is.

Compromise List:

  • Ellen Burstyn, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
  • Diahann Carroll, Claudine
  • Faye Dunaway, Chinatown
  • Valerie Perrine, Lenny
  • Gena Rowlands, A Woman Under the Influence

My Vote: Gena Rowlands, A Woman Under the Influence

1973

Actual Nominees:

  • Ellen Burstyn, The Exorcist
  • Glenda Jackson, A Touch of Class
  • Marsha Mason, Cinderella Liberty
  • Barbra Streisand, The Way We Were
  • Joanne Woodward, Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams

My Vote: Ellen Burstyn, The Exorcist

Not a fan of Last Tango in Paris, so I’m not going near Maria Schneider here. I also considered Julie Christie in Don’t Look Now, but I don’t know if 1) the performance is worthy (I know the film is amazing, but I haven’t really paid much attention to the performance/seen it in years) 2) it would ever happen.

All I know is that the Joanne Woodward nomination is a joke. I can abide the Streisand one (I guess…), so I’ll just add on Julie Christie for now, since that last spot is basically a blank anyway.

(Also, pretty sure Liz Taylor got nominated for something for Ash Wednesday. So I’ll check that one out too at some point.)

P.S. Absolutely not to Sissy Spacek in Badlands. Let’s be serious, now.

Compromise List:

  • Ellen Burstyn, The Exorcist
  • Julie Christie, Don’t Look Now
  • Glenda Jackson, A Touch of Class
  • Marsha Mason, Cinderella Liberty
  • Barbra Streisand, The Way We Were

My Vote: Ellen Burstyn, The Exorcist

1972

Actual Nominees:

  • Liza Minnelli, Cabaret
  • Diana Ross, Lady Sings the Blues
  • Maggie Smith, Travels with My Aunt
  • Cicely Tyson, Sounder
  • Liv Ullmann, The Emigrants

My Vote: Liza Minnelli, Cabaret

One of the weakest Best Actress categories of all times. I’m pretty sure this one didn’t match up at all throughout all the other awards shows. It’s just a patchwork category. The problem with it is, based on certain factors, certain people might not be able to come off. (Maybe.)

First, let me say, I haven’t seen The Effects of gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds, which Joanne Woodward was nominated for something for, nor have I seen Play It as It Lays, which Tuesday Weld was nominated for something for. Oh, and also Trish Van Devere got nominated for something for One Is a Lonely Number. So that’s three potential performances right there.

I also really liked Carol Burnett in Pete ‘n’ Tillie and am putting her on my list — which I won’t put up yet because one change isn’t worth it.

But let me go over this category first:

Liza stays, since she is by far the best performance on this list.

Diana Ross is the kind of performance that’s good, but it only works in a stronger year. It’s the appealing performance by a non-actor that is a “oh, good for them” nomination. And in a strong category, it looks all right. Here, it looks okay, but only serves to make the category weaker, since there’s no way she’d have ever won (even before the racism).

Cicely Tyson was good, and it’s another black actor nomination. So it’s staying. No matter what. Sh’s Cicely fucking Tyson.

Maggie Smith didn’t need to be here and the performance is a joke. Why would you nominate that? I’m taking her off for Carol Burnett, since there’s no way you can actually tell me Maggie Smith was better.

And Liv Ullmann — I’m not going to argue. I hate The Emigrants. I watched it multiple times and was bored out of my skull every time. People seem to give a shit about this movie, so I’m not gonna argue. For now, it stays. But I’m telling you right now — if I see one of those performances up there and it needs to be nominated — it’s either her or Diana Ross that’s coming off, and considering her film is nominated for no fucking reason (it won Foreign Film in ’71. What the fuck is it doing nominated all over the place in ’72?), I think it should be her.

Compromise List:

  • Carol Burnett, Pete ‘n’ Tillie
  • Liza Minnelli, Cabaret
  • Diana Ross, Lady Sings the Blues
  • Cicely Tyson, Sounder
  • Liv Ullmann, The Emigrants

My Vote: Liza Minnelli, Cabaret

1971

Actual Nominees:

  • Julie Christie, McCabe & Mrs. Miller
  • Jane Fonda, Klute
  • Glenda Jackson, Sunday Bloody Sunday
  • Vanessa Redgrave, Mary, Queen of Scots
  • Janet Suzman, Nicholas and Alexandra

My Vote: Jane Fonda, Klute

First, absolutely not to Ruth Gordon in Harold and Maude. Give her a Supporting Actress nomination on your personal list if you want, but it was never going to happen and is a completely personal decision. No fucking way, especially in this category, which has no room for a bullshit nomination like that.

That said — two other performances that were nominated for other things — Jessica Walter in Play Misty for Me (crazy white bitch roles always fare well here), and Dyan Cannon in Such Good Friends. Haven’t seen them, will at some point.

Other than that — what does one take off? Fonda stays, Christie was awesome, and Suzman was amazing. It seems nobody will say no to Glenda Jackson, even though I thought that movie was fucking absurdly boring. And Vanessa Redgrave was good, and the performance is one that would be nominated, so you can’t really do anything there, either.

So either we all decide that Jackson’s nomination is bullshit and the film is boring and we put on something else, or we leave it. Which is why I’m leaving it, since I don’t think I’m getting a majority on that.

Compromise List:

  • Julie Christie, McCabe & Mrs. Miller
  • Jane Fonda, Klute
  • Glenda Jackson, Sunday Bloody Sunday
  • Vanessa Redgrave, Mary, Queen of Scots
  • Janet Suzman, Nicholas and Alexandra

My Vote: Jane Fonda, Klute

1970

Actual Nominees:

  • Jane Alexander, The Great White Hope
  • Glenda Jackson, Women in Love
  • Ali MacGraw, Love Story
  • Sarah Miles, Ryan’s Daughter
  • Carrie Snodgress, Diary of a Mad Housewife

My Vote: Ali MacGraw, Love Story

Got nothing here. Apparently Melina Mercouri got nominated for another precursor for Promise at Dawn, but I’ve never seen it. Plus, I like the category outside the winner, who I have to keep, so we’re leaving it.

Compromise List:

  • Jane Alexander, The Great White Hope
  • Glenda Jackson, Women in Love
  • Ali MacGraw, Love Story
  • Sarah Miles, Ryan’s Daughter
  • Carrie Snodgress, Diary of a Mad Housewife

My Vote: Ali MacGraw, Love Story

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