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The Oscar Quest: My Oscar Nominations — Best Supporting 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:

  • Brenda Fricker, My Left Foot
  • Anjelica Huston, Enemies, a Love Story
  • Lena Olin, Enemies, a Love Story
  • Julia Roberts, Steel Magnolias
  • Dianne Wiest, Parenthood

My Vote: Brenda Fricker, My Left Foot

Don’t like the category at all — if Fricker’s not there, you actually have no one to vote for. Problem is, there aren’t too many alternatives. All of the Best Picture nominees are male-centric. Amy Madigan in Field of Dreams isn’t exactly an appealing nominee. No women have enough screen time in Do the Right Thing to really warrant a nomination (and it took the Academy another almost 20 years to come around on a veteran nomination for Ruby Dee, so that clearly wasn’t happening). And based on what I’ve seen — I don’t see anything worth nominating. So I may have to leave this by default until/if I see more movies and performances worth considering.

The problem with these older categories is that the Globes and BAFTA are wholly unreliable, since the Globes trend toward trendy picks of popular people, and the BAFTA nominate Brits above all else. So just seeing half the nominees, I go, “Well of course they’d nominate Bridget Fonda.” Not that I’m sure she wasn’t good or anything, it’s just — you see her on there, and immediately you think, “They nominated her because she’s Bridget Fonda.” They nominated the fucking Tourist for christ’s sake! So I can’t take either one completely seriously when there aren’t any other ones to back it up (or I see the performance). At least now I can cross check with SAG and the BFCA. If someone appears on two of those lists, then I go, “Okay, I know.” (But at this point, I’ll see everything in contention. Here, we don’t really know what to look for.)

But I guess I’ll mention it anyway, even if I know most of it will be useless endeavoring. Bridget Fonda got nominated for a Globe for Scandal and Laura San Giacomo got nominated for Sex, Lies and Videotape. Though San Giacomo also got a BAFTA, so that one I know I’ll see. At least there I see a bit of a consensus.

Compromise List:

  • Brenda Fricker, My Left Foot
  • Anjelica Huston, Enemies, a Love Story
  • Lena Olin, Enemies, a Love Story
  • Julia Roberts, Steel Magnolias
  • Dianne Wiest, Parenthood

My Vote: Brenda Fricker, My Left Foot

1988

Actual Nominees:

  • Joan Cusack, Working Girl
  • Geena Davis, The Accidental Tourist
  • Frances McDormand, Mississippi Burning
  • Michelle Pfeiffer, Dangerous Liaisons
  • Sigourney Weaver, Working Girl

My Vote: Michelle Pfeiffer, Dangerous Liaisons

I like the category. I’d probably nominate Mercedes Ruehl for her double duty great performances in Big and more so Married to the Mob, but I don’t see who they take off. Personally, I take off Joan Cusack, since I feel like she did nothing in Working Girl, but Ruehl won an Oscar and I like Joan Cusack a lot, so I’m leaning toward leaving it for that reason. (Unless it’s cool that I take off Sigourney Weaver, since she got the lead nomination as well this year and I also didn’t think she did particularly much in the film. Then I’ll totally change it.)

Otherwise — I’m cool with this one. The Globes nominated Sonia Braga for Moon Over Parador, Barbara Hershey for Last Temptation of Christ (nuh uh), Lena Olin for Unbearable Lightness of Being and Diane Venora for Bird, only one of which I’ve seen (and made my opinion felt in the parenthetical). So I’ll check those out. Otherwise — again, I’m cool with it.

Compromise List:

  • Joan Cusack, Working Girl
  • Geena Davis, The Accidental Tourist
  • Frances McDormand, Mississippi Burning
  • Michelle Pfeiffer, Dangerous Liaisons
  • Sigourney Weaver, Working Girl

My Vote: Michelle Pfeiffer, Dangerous Liaisons

1987

Actual Nominees:

  • Norma Aleandro, Gaby: A True Story
  • Anne Archer, Fatal Attraction
  • Olympia Dukakis, Moonstruck
  • Anne Ramsey, Throw Momma from the Train
  • Ann Sothern, The Whales of August

My Vote: Anne Ramsey, Throw Momma from the Train

Yeesh… this one.

Mostly it’s Sothern and Aleandro that are bumping for me. I’d actually rather nominate the hooker from Full Metal Jacket than them. (Okay, that’s not true. I really just wanted to mention her.)

I don’t really have too many alternatives here. I remember Kathy Baker doing a good job in Street Smart, but that movie was all about Morgan Freeman (though she’s more interesting than Norma Aleandro).

Honestly — fuck it. I’m Pontius Pilating this one. I got nothing.

Only Globe difference is Vanessa Redgrave in Prick Up Your Ears (she also got a BAFTA nod too, not surprisingly) and Judi Dench got a BAFTA nod for 84 Charing Cross Road.

(Also, if you’re gonna give Joan Cusack a bullshit nomination (see: 1988), why not do it for Broadcast News?)

Compromise List:

  • Norma Aleandro, Gaby: A True Story
  • Anne Archer, Fatal Attraction
  • Olympia Dukakis, Moonstruck
  • Anne Ramsey, Throw Momma from the Train
  • Ann Sothern, The Whales of August

My Vote: Anne Ramsey, Throw Momma from the Train

1986

Actual Nominees:

  • Tess Harper, Crimes of the Heart
  • Piper Laurie, Children of a Lesser God
  • Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, The Color of Money
  • Maggie Smith, A Room with a View
  • Dianne Wiest, Hannah and Her Sisters

My Vote: Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, The Color of Money

I’m cool with this one. I felt Barbara Hershey did better than Dianne Wiest in Hannah and Her Sisters, but since I have to keep Wiest and categorically refuse to give that movie more nominations, I’m leaving it off and leaving it as-is.

Compromise List:

  • Tess Harper, Crimes of the Heart
  • Piper Laurie, Children of a Lesser God
  • Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, The Color of Money
  • Maggie Smith, A Room with a View
  • Dianne Wiest, Hannah and Her Sisters

My Vote: Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, The Color of Money

1985

Actual Nominees:

  • Margaret Avery, The Color Purple
  • Angelica Huston, Prizzi’s Honor
  • Amy Madigan, Twice in a Lifetime
  • Meg Tilly, Agnes of God
  • Oprah Winfrey, The Color Purple

My Vote: Meg Tilly, Agnes of God

Oh, this is a good list. Watch me end up with six alternatives, because that’s how these things work. The good years have alternatives and the shitty ones don’t.

Fortunately, I don’t really have anything. So that’s good. Because I like this category.

Compromise List:

  • Margaret Avery, The Color Purple
  • Angelica Huston, Prizzi’s Honor
  • Amy Madigan, Twice in a Lifetime
  • Meg Tilly, Agnes of God
  • Oprah Winfrey, The Color Purple

My Vote: Meg Tilly, Agnes of God

1984

Actual Nominees:

  • Peggy Ashcroft, A Passage to India
  • Glenn Close, The Natural
  • Lindsay Crouse, Places in the Heart
  • Christine Lahti, Swing Shift
  • Geraldine Page, The Pope of Greenwich Village

My Vote: Glenn Close, The Natural

Quite possibly the single worst Best Supporting Actress category of all time. Let’s see how little other options we have…

Well, first off… why not Elizabeth Berridge in Amadeus? She was good in that movie and is instantly a better choice than at least two people on that list. So I’m putting her on (which is probably a bad decision, me not remembering the performance that well, but drastic times call for drastic measures). Christine Lahti should just not be here.

Wow… this year is bad, isn’t it? But hey, at least I found one. That’s something. At least it makes the category feel more competitive.

(Note: The Globes are a fucking mess this year. Seven nominees. I wouldn’t even know where to begin to tackle that clusterfuck.)

Compromise List:

  • Peggy Ashcroft, A Passage to India
  • Elizabeth Berridge, Amadeus
  • Glenn Close, The Natural
  • Lindsay Crouse, Places in the Heart
  • Geraldine Page, The Pope of Greenwich Village

My Vote: Glenn Close, The Natural

1983

Actual Nominees:

  • Cher, Silkwood
  • Glenn Close, The Big Chill
  • Linda Hunt, The Year of Living Dangerously
  • Amy Irving, Yentl
  • Alfre Woodard, Cross Creek

My Vote: Linda Hunt, The Year of Living Dangerously

Off the top, the only people who are really expendable to me are Cher and Alfre Woodard. I like Amy Irving, so I lean toward keeping her for that reason. Otherwise — Hunt and Close are untouchable.

There are other performances from The Big Chill, but which do you go for? Mary Kay Place? JoBeth Williams? Meg Tilly? I’m leaving that alone.

I’m torn on Sandra Bernhard in The King of Comedy. I feel like that one’s too weird for the Academy. Lewis would make sense, but this one — I don’t know if they’d do it. Plus, I’m not sure if I’m totally sold on it, so I’m leaving it out.

Maybe Tess Harper in Tender Mercies? But at that point, I think we’re splitting hairs. There’s really no certain nominee that should be switched on or off. To me, the Academy has a boner for Cher and votes her on regardless, and I don’t like taking off black actor nominations even if I can’t stand the movie and don’t think the performance was particularly great.

So I’m leaving it. What’s swapping one so-so performance for another so-so performance in a more acclaimed movie?

Compromise List:

  • Cher, Silkwood
  • Glenn Close, The Big Chill
  • Linda Hunt, The Year of Living Dangerously
  • Amy Irving, Yentl
  • Alfre Woodard, Cross Creek

My Vote: Linda Hunt, The Year of Living Dangerously

1982

Actual Nominees:

  • Glenn Close, The World According to Garp
  • Teri Garr, Tootsie
  • Jessica Lange, Tootsie
  • Kim Stanley, Frances
  • Lesley Ann Warren, Victor Victoria

My Vote: Glenn Close, The World According to Garp

Hard to touch this one. I like it. I’m leaving it. Nothing really feels like it should go on over these performances.

Compromise List:

  • Glenn Close, The World According to Garp
  • Teri Garr, Tootsie
  • Jessica Lange, Tootsie
  • Kim Stanley, Frances
  • Lesley Ann Warren, Victor Victoria

My Vote: Glenn Close, The World According to Garp

1981

Actual Nominees:

  • Melinda Dillon, Absence of Malice
  • Jane Fonda, On Golden Pond
  • Joan Hackett, Only When I Laugh
  • Elizabeth McGovern, Ragtime
  • Maureen Stapleton, Reds

My Vote: Jane Fonda, On Golden Pond

Another really strong one. In weak years too. These are always helpful.

Does Bernadette Peters in Pennies from Heaven count as Supporting? I know the Globes put her as lead, but that means nothing. What would a studio have pushed for? If it’s feasible she would have been pushed Supporting, I’d totally vote for her. But until I know for sure, I’m leaving it. I like this category.

Compromise List:

  • Melinda Dillon, Absence of Malice
  • Jane Fonda, On Golden Pond
  • Joan Hackett, Only When I Laugh
  • Elizabeth McGovern, Ragtime
  • Maureen Stapleton, Reds

My Vote: Jane Fonda, On Golden Pond

1980

Actual Nominees:

  • Eileen Brennan, Private Benjamin
  • Eva Le Gallienne, Resurrection
  • Cathy Moriarty, Raging Bull
  • Diana Scarwid, Inside Moves
  • Mary Steenburgen, Melvin and Howard

My Vote: Raging Bull

Don’t like only the Le Gallienne nomination. She’s on because of who she is and nothing else. Though honestly I can explain the veteran nomination more than I can explain Beverly D’Angelo in Coal Miner’s Daughter. People have a hard-on for this performance, and I just don’t get it. No joke, I’d rather nominate Irene Cara for Fame. Because I can see that performance. The other one seems based solely on who the person is and who they’re playing. (Which is usually enough to get people nominated, most of the time.)

Otherwise, outside of Le Gallienne, I like the category. I like that Eileen Brennan got some notice. And I really liked Scarwid. Most people would take her off on principle, because they haven’t seen that movie. But I think she was good and is at worst a #3 on this list. So if anyone’s coming off, it’s Le Gallienne. And since I don’t really have anyone I’d feel good about over her (based on what I’ve seen), I’m leaving it.

Compromise List:

  • Eileen Brennan, Private Benjamin
  • Eva Le Gallienne, Resurrection
  • Cathy Moriarty, Raging Bull
  • Diana Scarwid, Inside Moves
  • Mary Steenburgen, Melvin and Howard

My Vote: Raging Bull

1979

Actual Nominees:

  • Jane Alexander, Kramer vs. Kramer
  • Barbara Barrie, Breaking Away
  • Candice Bergen, Starting Over
  • Mariel Hemingway, Manhattan
  • Meryl Streep, Kramer vs. Kramer

My Vote: Meryl Streep, Kramer vs. Kramer

The one person I take off (Mariel Hemingway) is the one person nobody else does.

Does Shirley MacLaine get on for Being There? I feel like that movie’s all about Sellers and Douglas. But nobody can really come off this. Alexander and Streep stay. Barrie was awesome. Apparently we have to keep Hemingway. And Bergen was hilarious. It feels like we’d just be putting her on because she’s Shirley. I don’t remember the performance that well (outside of one particular scene that’s not easily forgotten), so I don’t want to jump to put her on.

I haven’t really seen any of the other stuff nominated by the Globes/BAFTAs, but at this point I don’t know if I even want to go by them. Unless I see trends, I’m just gonna see more shit and look for stuff that way. I trust me over them. (Though since Yanks and The Europeans were two highly-regarded films this year, I will look into those.)

Compromise List:

  • Jane Alexander, Kramer vs. Kramer
  • Barbara Barrie, Breaking Away
  • Candice Bergen, Starting Over
  • Mariel Hemingway, Manhattan
  • Meryl Streep, Kramer vs. Kramer

My Vote: Meryl Streep, Kramer vs. Kramer

1978

Actual Nominees:

  • Dyan Cannon, Heaven Can Wait
  • Penelope Milford, Coming Home
  • Maggie Smith, California Suite
  • Maureen Stapleton, Interiors
  • Meryl Streep, The Deer Hunter

My Vote: Maggie Smith, California Suite

Why change anything? The only person I’d change is Stapleton, because I loathe that movie. Otherwise, the category is amazing. And I know Stapleton gets on no matter what, so why quibble? Ain’t that the point of Compromise?

Compromise List:

  • Dyan Cannon, Heaven Can Wait
  • Penelope Milford, Coming Home
  • Maggie Smith, California Suite
  • Maureen Stapleton, Interiors
  • Meryl Streep, The Deer Hunter

My Vote: Maggie Smith, California Suite

1977

Actual Nominees:

  • Leslie Browne, The Turning Point
  • Quinn Cummings, The Goodbye Girl
  • Melinda Dillon, Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • Vanessa Redgrave, Julia
  • Tuesday Weld, Looking for Mr. Goodbar

My Vote: Quinn Cummings, The Goodbye Girl

Got nothing for this one, plus it’s actually pretty strong all around, even the Browne nomination. The Globes nominated Ann-Margret for Joseph Andrews, Joan Blondell for Opening Night and Lilia Skala for Roseland, none of which I’ve seen, so I’ll keep those in mind. Otherwise, I like it.

Compromise List:

  • Leslie Browne, The Turning Point
  • Quinn Cummings, The Goodbye Girl
  • Melinda Dillon, Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • Vanessa Redgrave, Julia
  • Tuesday Weld, Looking for Mr. Goodbar

My Vote: Quinn Cummings, The Goodbye Girl

1976

Actual Nominees:

  • Jane Alexander, All the President’s Men
  • Josie Foster, Taxi Driver
  • Lee Grant, Voyage of the Damned
  • Piper Laurie, Carrie
  • Beatrice Straight, Network

My Vote: Josie Foster, Taxi Driver

Katharine Ross won a Globe for Voyage of the Damned. Perhaps she should have been nominated instead? I don’t know. I did not like that movie at all. Marthe Keller was nominated for a Globe for Marathon Man, but I’m not sure if I’d go so far as to say she should have been here too. And Shelley Winters for Next Stop, Greenwich Village. No idea. Never seen it.

Wow, they also nominated Bernadette Peters for Silent Movie? You mean that was a possibility? Could that have actually happened? That would have been amazing. But I won’t change it. I know the academy too well. They’ll go comic sometimes, but never over Holocaust.

But outside of the Voyage of the Damned nomination (which was pretty much happening no matter hat, I figure), I love this category, so I’m just leaving it.

Compromise List:

  • Jane Alexander, All the President’s Men
  • Josie Foster, Taxi Driver
  • Lee Grant, Voyage of the Damned
  • Piper Laurie, Carrie
  • Beatrice Straight, Network

My Vote: Josie Foster, Taxi Driver

1975

Actual Nominees:

  • Ronee Blakley, Nashville
  • Lee Grant, Shampoo
  • Sylvia Miles, Farewell, My Lovely
  • Lily Tomlin, Nashville
  • Brenda Vaccaro, Jacqueline Susann’s Once Is Not Enough

My Vote: Lee Grant, Shampoo

The Vaccaro nomination seems like a joke, but there’s really not much else that could have went on. Otherwise we’d have had like four Nashville nominations in the same category. So I’m just leaving it. Nashville is really the only one that had a bunch of strong female supporting performances, and I’m not putting more than two on here. (Not that I’d know who to put anyway.) So I’m just leaving it.

Compromise List:

  • Ronee Blakley, Nashville
  • Lee Grant, Shampoo
  • Sylvia Miles, Farewell, My Lovely
  • Lily Tomlin, Nashville
  • Brenda Vaccaro, Jacqueline Susann’s Once Is Not Enough

My Vote: Lee Grant, Shampoo

1974

Actual Nominees:

  • Ingrid Bergman, Murder on the Orient Express
  • Valentina Cortese, Day for Night
  • Madeline Kahn, Blazing Saddles
  • Diane Ladd, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
  • Talia Shire, The Godfather Part II

My Vote: Talia Shire, The Godfather Part II

I don’t think I’d have had the balls to put on Madeline Kahn if they didn’t. I love that nomination so much. But since we can’t change Bergman, than we leave this category. Since Cortese was the person who wins if Bergman doesn’t, so she stays, and the other three nominees are amazing. I can’t change it even if I waned to. So I’m just leaving it alone. I’m not even gonna bother looking for shit I’d vote for because I couldn’t change anything on a Compromise List. (Also, somehow Cortese got nominated for that performance in 1973 for everything but the Oscars. No idea how that happened.)

Compromise List:

  • Ingrid Bergman, Murder on the Orient Express
  • Valentina Cortese, Day for Night
  • Madeline Kahn, Blazing Saddles
  • Diane Ladd, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
  • Talia Shire, The Godfather Part II

My Vote: Talia Shire, The Godfather Part II

1973

Actual Nominees:

  • Linda Blair, The Exorcist
  • Candy Clark, American Graffiti
  • Madeline Kahn, Paper Moon
  • Tatum O’Neal, Paper Moon
  • Sylvia Sidney, Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams

My Vote: Tatum O’Neal, Paper Moon

The only questionable nominee on here (aside from which American Graffiti performance) is Sylvia Sidney. But she’s a legend, and I’m surprisingly okay with her being here, even if she’s literally only in the movie for like, one scene. Sometimes you just gotta let these veteran Oscars go. I’m leaving it.

Compromise List:

  • Linda Blair, The Exorcist
  • Candy Clark, American Graffiti
  • Madeline Kahn, Paper Moon
  • Tatum O’Neal, Paper Moon
  • Sylvia Sidney, Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams

My Vote: Tatum O’Neal, Paper Moon

1972

Actual Nominees:

  • Jeannie Berlin, The Heartbreak Kid
  • Eileen Heckart, Butterflies Are Free
  • Geraldine Page, Pete ‘n’ Tillie
  • Susan Tyrrell, Fat City
  • Shelley Winters, The Poseidon Adventure

My Vote: Jeannie Berlin, The Heartbreak Kid

Apparently the BAFTAs and the Globes nominated Marisa Berenson for Cabaret. I don’t rememebr the film that well enough to say she should have been on, but she’d certainly be a more interesting nominee than Susan Tyrrell. So on that alone it sounds all right by me.

Also, Talia Shire not being on here for The Godfather is both a joke an a travesty. I can live without Diane Keaton, but Talia Shire not being there is actually a joke. They made up for it by putting her on for Part II, but it’s not the same. I’m putting her on here instead of Tyrrell.

And then the only questionable nominee is Geraldine Page, but honestly, I love that film so much I’m leaving it on, no questions asked.

Compromise List:

  • Jeannie Berlin, The Heartbreak Kid
  • Eileen Heckart, Butterflies Are Free
  • Geraldine Page, Pete ‘n’ Tillie
  • Talia Shire, The Godfather
  • Shelley Winters, The Poseidon Adventure

My Vote: Talia Shire, The Godfather

1971

Actual Nominees:

  • Ann-Margret, Carnal Knowledge
  • Ellen Burstyn, The Last Picture Show
  • Barbara Harris, Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?
  • Cloris Leachman, The Last Picture Show
  • Margaret Leighton, The Go-Between

My Vote: Ann-Margret, Carnal Knowledge

The Margaret Leighton nominee is a yawner, but the rest of the category is amazing. And honestly, I feel like Leighton gets on no matter what, so I’m just leaving it. I could nominate other stuff, but I know the Academy, and I know they’ll always go for performances like this.

Compromise List:

  • Ann-Margret, Carnal Knowledge
  • Ellen Burstyn, The Last Picture Show
  • Barbara Harris, Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?
  • Cloris Leachman, The Last Picture Show
  • Margaret Leighton, The Go-Between

My Vote: Ann-Margret, Carnal Knowledge

1970

Actual Nominees:

  • Karen Black, Five Easy Pieces
  • Lee Grant, The Landlord
  • Helen Hayes, Airport
  • Sally Kellerman, MASH
  • Maureen Stapleton, Airport

My Vote: Helen Hayes, Airport

Ain’t nothing to touch with this one. The only movable piece if Sally Kellerman, and who actually wants to take MASH off a nominees list? (Though Bea Arthur was pretty awesome in Lovers and Other Strangers.) So just leve it. It works perfectly.

Compromise List:

  • Karen Black, Five Easy Pieces
  • Lee Grant, The Landlord
  • Helen Hayes, Airport
  • Sally Kellerman, MASH
  • Maureen Stapleton, Airport

My Vote: Helen Hayes, Airport

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