The Oscar Quest: Reconsidered – The Best Supporting Actress Categories
Well, we’ve gone through all the categories again, so it’s time to wrap everything up. I did something sort of different last time, mostly talking about what I thought the best and worst decisions are. I definitely don’t want to do that again, since that’s not what my goal is here.
I also haven’t given much thought as to what these articles should be. So I’ve landed on doing it this way — I’m gonna go through each of the six major categories of the Quest and look at how I voted both times. That seems to be the way to do this. Where have my tastes changed over the past five years? That’s what this whole thing was about this time anyway.
So we’ll start with Best Supporting Actress. Here’s a table of what I voted for the first time versus what I voted for this time. I’ll color code the ones that are different for easy skimming purposes. Then we’ll discuss the ones that changed and try to figure out why they changed. Hopefully there’s nothing too embarrassing.
|Year||The 2011/2012 Vote||The 2016/2017 Vote|
|1936||Alice Brady, My Man Godfrey||Bonita Granville, These Three|
|1937||Andrea Leeds, Stage Door||Andrea Leeds, Stage Door|
|1938||Beulah Bondi, Of Human Hearts||Beulah Bondi, Of Human Hearts|
|1939||Hattie McDaniel, Gone With the Wind||Hattie McDaniel, Gone With the Wind|
|1940||Judith Anderson, Rebecca||Jane Darwell, The Grapes of Wrath|
|1941||Mary Astor, The Great Lie||Patricia Collinge, The Little Foxes|
|1942||Agnes Moorehead, The Magnificent Ambersons||Agnes Moorehead, The Magnificent Ambersons|
|1943||Paulette Goddard, So Proudly We Hail!||Katina Paxinou, For Whom the Bell Tolls|
|1944||Agnes Moorehead, Mrs. Parkington||Agnes Moorehead, Mrs. Parkington|
|1945||Anne Revere, National Velvet||Ann Blyth, Mildred Pierce|
|1946||Anne Baxter, The Razor’s Edge||Anne Baxter, The Razor’s Edge|
|1947||Celeste Holm, Gentleman’s Agreement||Celeste Holm, Gentleman’s Agreement|
|1948||Agnes Moorehead, Johnny Belinda||Claire Trevor, Key Largo|
|1949||Mercedes McCambridge, All the King’s Men||Mercedes McCambridge, All the King’s Men|
|1950||Josephine Hull, Harvey||Hope Emerson, Caged|
|1951||Kim Hunter, A Streetcar Named Desire||Kim Hunter, A Streetcar Named Desire|
|1952||Jean Hagen, Singin’ in the Rain||Colette Marchand, Moulin Rouge|
|1953||Donna Reed, From Here to Eternity||Thelma Ritter, Pickup on South Street|
|1954||Eva Marie Saint, On the Waterfront||Eva Marie Saint, On the Waterfront|
|1955||Betsy Blair, Marty||Betsy Blair, Marty|
|1956||Dorothy Malone, Written on the Wind||Eileen Heckart, The Bad Seed|
|1957||Hope Lange, Peyton Place||Carolyn Jones, The Bachelor Party|
|1958||Wendy Hiller, Separate Tables||Wendy Hiller, Separate Tables|
|1959||Susan Kohner, Imitation of Life||Juanita Moore, Imitation of Life|
|1960||Janet Leigh, Psycho||Shirley Jones, Elmer Gantry|
|1961||Rita Moreno, West Side Story||Rita Moreno, West Side Story|
|1962||Mary Badham, To Kill a Mockingbird||Patty Duke, The Miracle Worker|
|1963||Margaret Rutherford, The VIPs||Joyce Redman, Tom Jones|
|1964||Agnes Moorehead, Hush… Hush Sweet Charlotte||Lila Kedrova, Zorba the Greek|
|1965||Shelley Winters, A Patch of Blue||Shelley Winters, A Patch of Blue|
|1966||Sandy Dennis, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?||Sandy Dennis, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?|
|1967||Estelle Parsons, Bonnie and Clyde||Estelle Parsons, Bonnie and Clyde|
|1968||Sondra Locke, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter||Ruth Gordon, Rosemary’s Baby|
|1969||Goldie Hawn, Cactus Flower||Catherine Burns, Last Summer|
|1970||Helen Hayes, Airport||Karen Black, Five Easy Pieces|
|1971||Ann-Margret, Carnal Knowledge||Barbara Harris, Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?|
|1972||Jeannie Berlin, The Heartbreak Kid||Susan Tyrrell, Fat City|
|1973||Tatum O’Neal, Paper Moon||Tatum O’Neal, Paper Moon|
|1974||Talia Shire, The Godfather Part II||Diane Ladd, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore|
|1975||Lee Grant, Shampoo||Ronee Blakley, Nashville|
|1976||Jodie Foster, Taxi Driver||Beatrice Straight, Network|
|1977||Quinn Cummings, The Goodbye Girl||Vanessa Redgrave, Julia|
|1978||Maggie Smith, California Suite||Maggie Smith, California Suite|
|1979||Meryl Streep, Kramer vs. Kramer||Meryl Streep, Kramer vs. Kramer|
|1980||Cathy Moriarty, Raging Bull||Mary Steenburgen, Melvin and Howard|
|1981||Jane Fonda, On Golden Pond||Maureen Stapleton, Reds|
|1982||Glenn Close, The World According to Garp||Terri Garr, Tootsie|
|1983||Linda Hunt, The Year of Living Dangerously||Linda Hunt, The Year of Living Dangerously|
|1984||Glenn Close, The Natural||Peggy Ashcroft, A Passage to India|
|1985||Meg Tilly, Agnes of God||Meg Tilly, Agnes of God|
|1986||Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, the Color of Money||Dianne Wiest, Hannah and Her Sisters|
|1987||Anne Ramsey, Throw Momma from the Train||Anne Ramsey, Throw Momma from the Train|
|1988||Michelle Pfeiffer, Dangerous Liaisons||Geena Davis, The Accidental Tourist|
|1989||Brenda Fricker, My Left Foot||Brenda Fricker, My Left Foot|
|1990||Lorraine Bracco, Goodfellas||Lorraine Bracco, Goodfellas|
|1991||Mercedes Ruehl, The Fisher King||Mercedes Ruehl, The Fisher King|
|1992||Marisa Tomei, My Cousin Vinny||Marisa Tomei, My Cousin Vinny|
|1993||Winona Ryder, The Age of Innocence||Rosie Perez, Fearless|
|1994||Jennifer Tilly, Bullets Over Broadway||Jennifer Tilly, Bullets Over Broadway|
|1995||Mira Sorvino, Mighty Aphrodite||Mira Sorvino, Mighty Aphrodite|
|1996||Juliette Binoche, The English Patient||Juliette Binoche, The English Patient|
|1997||Joan Cusack, In & Out||Joan Cusack, In & Out|
|1998||Judi Dench, Shakespeare in Love||Brenda Blethyn, Little Voice|
|1999||Samantha Morton, Sweet and Lowdown||Chloe Sevigny, Boys Don’t Cry|
|2000||Kate Hudson, Almost Famous||Frances McDormand, Almost Famous|
|2001||Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind||Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind|
|2002||Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago||Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago|
|2003||Shohreh Aghdashloo, House of Sand and Fog||Shohreh Aghdashloo, House of Sand and Fog|
|2004||Cate Blanchett, The Aviator||Cate Blanchett, The Aviator|
|2005||Amy Adams, Junebug||Amy Adams, Junebug|
|2006||Adraiana Barraza, Babel||Adraiana Barraza, Babel|
|2007||Saoirse Ronan, Atonement||Saoirse Ronan, Atonement|
|2008||Amy Adams, Doubt||Viola Davis, Doubt|
|2009||Mo’Nique, Precious||Mo’Nique, Precious|
|2010||N/A||Melissa Leo, The Fighter|
|2011||N/A||Jessica Chastain, The Help|
|2012||N/A||Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables|
|2013||N/A||Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave|
|2014||N/A||Patricia Arquette, Boyhood|
|2015||N/A||Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs|
|2016||N/A||Viola Davis, Fences|
Of 81 Best Supporting Actress categories, I’ve changed my opinion on 36 of them. Which is about 45%. That feels like a lot, especially when you factor in that I didn’t really write up seven of them for the purposes of this Quest. So that’s actually close to half the categories I’ve changed my opinion on. And curiously enough, three of the times I changed my opinion to a nominee from the same film.
I’m not concerning myself with the ones I voted the same on, since that’s my opinion. Ideally we get to the truest sense of my feelings the more my opinions stay the same over time. Plus, it’s also well documented why that’s my vote, with two go-arounds on the Quest now, so I don’t need to retread over that territory.
Anyway, here are the changes:
- 1936, Bonita Granville for These Three over Alice Brady for My Man Godfrey
We begin with the very first Best Supporting Actress category. I understand why I went the way I did the first time out. This being the first category, I felt it deserved a respected actress winning to help legitimize the category. Plus Alice Brady won the second category, and I love My Man Godfrey a lot… it makes sense why I chose her in 2011. But this time, for me it was all about what I thought the best performance was. And this time, I thought Bonita Granville gave the best performance. I suspect that in five years, this category will largely come down to these two yet again. I know Ouspenskaya will never be my vote, and I doubt Gale Sondergaard raises that highly in my eyes to actually take her. Beulah Bondi is an interesting wild card. She could maybe jump up and take it, but something tells me there’s not enough moments for her to shine in the film to take her. So I suspect Granville will stick as my preferred performance in this one.
- 1940, Jane Darwell for The Grapes of Wrath over Judith Anderson for Rebecca
You have two really great choices here. Both are amazing performances and both will always be 1-2 for me. This time, I was feeling much more sentimental, with early cinemas “Ma” giving a commanding performance and playing the quintessential film “Ma.” Makes sense that I changed it. This will continue to be a 50/50 for me every time I go back to it, and I suspect that Darwell will win more times than not over Anderson.
- 1941, Patricia Collinge for The Little Foxes over Mary Astor for The Great Lie
This was a category I never particularly liked. I know I voted for Astor the first time because I like Astor a lot and I was factoring in her un-nominated work in The Maltese Falcon when I made my decision. This time out I decided I would only take into account the best performance in the category. If a better performance wasn’t nominated, that’s on them. So while I love Mary Astor, the performance isn’t enough for me to want to take it. Collinge, on the other hand, is so wonderful in that movie that she jumped up hardcore for me. Last time, I saw the category and wanted to take Teresa Wright over her because I knew who Teresa Wright was. Why would I vote for an actress I’ve never heard of? So by focusing on the performances alone, Collinge rose to the top. I suspect she’ll continue to do well in this category over time, without much true competition for her in the category (two mother roles, an ingenue part and Mary Astor doing solid, but overly melodramatic work).
- 1943, Katina Paxinou for For Whom the Bell Tolls over Paulette Goddard for So Proudly We Hail!
This was a simple case of ‘I hated this category, so fuck it, Paulette Goddard’. Pretty sure I openly voted for her because, “Hey, you were in Chaplin movies, so that earns you something.” Definitely wasn’t the best performance, and I (hope) I acknowledged that at the time. This time, focusing on the best performance, I was able to eliminate any biases I may have had and simply went for what is the only interesting performance in the category. Goddard is charming, Watson has little to do, Revere plays one of her patented mother roles (which we’ll talk about again in a second) and Gladys Cooper is fine, but no. She was better the year before this in Now, Voyager. Paxinou was the only character that had a real spark when she was on screen. And she’s the performance that always should have won this. So this is an example of me switching over to the proper nominee. This go-around was a lot about course correction, and you’ll see a lot less of stuff like this in the future. She’ll stick as the winner in future Quest updates.
- 1945, Ann Blyth for Mildred Pierce over Anne Revere for National Velvet
I love National Velvet a lot. I love Anne Revere’s part in that movie a lot. Most of me taking her had to do with knowing she won and voting for a movie I loved a lot. That’s how a lot of people vote at the Oscars and I’m retroactively guilty of that. This time, voting for purely the best performance, I had to switch my vote over to Blyth, because Revere plays variations on a character she was nominated three times for. Blyth is just so wonderfully layered and awful as a character and I loved what she did. I almost took her the first time. This time was all about acknowledging what the best performance in the category is. I suspect my heart will continue to lead to me wanting to take Anne Revere, but Blyth should continue to be the performance I recognize as best in the future.
- 1948, Claire Trevor for Key Largo over Agnes Moorehead for Johnny Belinda
I never fully appreciated the Claire Trevor performance until this time around. I minimized her into a drunk side character who had little to do. This time around I saw how great her character is and had to switch over to her. I love Agnes Moorehead and I want to vote for her every time out because she’s so good, but while she’s very good in Johnny Belinda and has a role good enough to have won the Oscar, Claire Trevor is great in Key Largo. This will continue to be a discussion each time I go back to the category, but I suspect Trevor will win out most of the time from here on out.
- 1950, Hope Emerson for Caged over Josephine Hull for Harvey
Yeah — I took Hull because she’s fun, she’s kooky, and Harvey is a great film I love. Going back and having to actually look critically at all the performances, I came out with Emerson being the best. You have a category with two All About Eve performances — both of which are fine, but don’t really move the needle for me. One is out of the film before it can even get going and the other doesn’t really have any great moments. Nancy Olson is nice, but doesn’t quite register in Sunset Boulevard over the main three leads. And Hull ends up as a compromise choice. But going back and rewatching Caged — Emerson stands out as the far more memorable performance in the category. She’s positively imposing and evil. And I’m probably gonna continue taking her in the future, because she’s really good here. I know this is just a noir that might not have been taken seriously, but going back and watching all these performances, I feel like hers is the one that would make the largest impression on the most people.
1952, Colette Marchand for Moulin Rouge over Jean Hagen for Singin’ in the Rain
I took Jean Hagen for three reasons. 1) She’s hilarious in the film 2) Singin’ in the Rain is a masterpiece 3) While I love The Bad and the Beautiful, Gloria Grahame literally has nothing to do in that movie. On paper, she’s the choice, but every time I watch that performance, I keep waiting and hoping for her to have more to do. So I can never take the person who won the category. Leaving me to seek an alternative. Hagen isn’t really the choice, but at least I enjoyed her a lot, so she’s the standby in case there’s no one else. I’m also left with Thelma Ritter (in what is more of a standard nomination her her. Definitely not something I’d want to vote for) and Marisa Pavan, who’s good, but not a vote. Colette Marchand, meanwhile, did make an impression on me the first time I saw Moulin Rouge, but I avoided her because I was hung up on who I was voting for. There’s a great performance by an actress I don’t know, or a so-so performance that needed more screen time by Gloria Grahame in a film that I LOVE. So I get why I avoided her last time. But looking back — she’s wonderful. I’m not 100% sure I take her in the future, but I can’t see why I wouldn’t, especially if I’m looking solely at the performances and nothing else. Hagen is more of a one-note comic character. Marchand has depth to hers. Unless Pavan makes a jump out of nowhere, I suspect Marchand will be the vote going forward.
1953, Thema Ritter for Pickup on South Street over Donna Reed for From Here to Eternity
I took Donna Reed because she won and because, “Well, I’d like her to have an Oscar.” I don’t love the performance and never really did. I’ve seen that movie a bunch and always felt like her character never quite landed for me. I never felt about that character the way I think I was supposed to. Then there are two complete blanks for me in this category (Rambeau and Page). I like Grace Kelly in Mogambo a lot. And I considered hers the best performance the first time, and only took Reed because Kelly would later win an Oscar. But this time, I made it as though I were voting without knowing the future and only knowing what happened up until that point. So with that in mind, I may possibly take Kelly in the future. But Thelma Ritter — when I first saw this movie and had no real idea who she was, I loved her character. And I’m not sure why I didn’t vote for her here the first time. She feels like someone I’d wholeheartedly take in this one. I think in the future my vote will either be Ritter or Kelly, skewing heavily toward Ritter most of the time.
- 1956, Eileen Heckart for The Bad Seed over Dorothy Malone for Written on the Wind
This one I didn’t expect to happen. I knew that I enjoyed the Malone performance a lot. I love Written on the Wind, and I was happy to take Malone the first time. I think knowing she won helped me in taking it. I didn’t feel as bad about it. But I always thought the performance was a bit too over the top for me, and this time that prevented me from taking it. Mercedes McCambridge is great in Giant and had she a little bit more screen time and overall impact on the film, I might have taken her. I honestly thought my choice was gonna be Patty McCormack, who is positively evil in The Bad Seed and was barely not the vote the first time. But going back, I went specifically to look at her performance with an eye on voting for it. And I saw the limitations there and saw how it wasn’t as great as I remembered it as being. And then I found myself gravitating toward Eileen Heckart’s performance, which I dismissed entirely the first time, since it wasn’t as essential to the movie. But man, did she make an impact. I truly thought this was the best performance in the category this time out. I have no idea what I’ll think in five years, but for now, I’m pleased with how this turned out.
- 1957, Carolyn Jones for The Bachelor Party over Hope Lange for Peyton Place
This was one of those instances where I found myself sticking to my guns and taking what I felt was the best and most memorable performance over an ‘on paper’ decision. I don’t think I’ll ever like the Miyoshi Umeki performance enough to take it, and I also don’t think I’ll ever consider the Diane Varsi performance worth voting for over the Hope Lange performance, so that leaves me with only three to work with off the top. Lange has the most character to work with. Lanchester has a nice part and I might convince myself, with another watch of the performance, she’s someone I could take. But Carolyn Jones is so memorable in her limited screen time that I gave up on the notion that 6 minutes isn’t enough to vote for and went all in on “the best performance is the best performance.” So that’s where we’re at this time.
- 1959, Juanita Moore for Imitation of Life over Susan Kohner for Imitation of Life
1959 will likely always be between these two for me. Shelley Winters is absolutely wonderful in The Diary of Anne Frank and is also someone I could take. But given my love of Imitation of Life, I suspect I’ll be flip flopping between these two every time. I honestly don’t remember what led to me taking Moore over Kohner this time. Maybe the amount of screen time she has. Though that could easily backfire in the future, with me considering her a lead more than supporting. But the scene the two of them have at the end of the film is one of my favorite scenes all time. So I’ll probably choose one of them in this.
- 1960, Shirley Jones for Elmer Gantry over Janet Leigh for Psycho
The Janet Leigh performance is a staple. I don’t need to rewatch it to know what it is. It’ll always be top two for me in this one just because of how well it works within the context of the film. But I did rewatch Shirley Jones this time around and saw just how great that performance is. So I’m pleased that I went to her this time around. She feels like the more deserving performance. Maybe I switch back at some point, but I think I went over to the right choice.
- 1962, Patty Duke for The Miracle Worker over Mary Badham for To Kill a Mockingbird
This one… yeah. It’s because Patty Duke gives the best performance in the category and Mary Badham gives the performance I love the most. This time I was all about the performance and last time I was about what I wanted to take. Depending on how I decide to vote in the future, it’ll be one of these two. Badham will always be my preferred performance while Duke will always be the best. This one’s gonna depend on what my priority is upon voting.
- 1963, Joyce Redman for Tom Jones over Margaret Rutherford for The VIPs
I don’t like this category. I don’t particularly want to take anyone. Rutheford is nice and kooky, and with three Tom Jones nominees I usually want to wash my hands of all of them and go elsewhere. And I definitely can’t take Lilia Skala. So I’m usually left with wanting to take Rutherford by default. But if we’re actually looking at performance, Redman seems like the one for me. Cilento is nice and feisty early in the film, but she has little to do. Redman has the meatiest (and that’s literal at a certain point) role and makes the most of it. No idea what I’ll do in the future, but this does make sense for me now.
- 1964, Lila Kedrova for Zorba the Greek over Agnes Moorehead for Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte
Yeah…. last time I voted for Agnes because she hasn’t won. I still might do that in the future. But Kedrova gives the best performance, so she was the vote this time. Simple as that. Doubt anyone but these two becomes the vote, though I’ll give another look to Grayson Hall each time I go back to this one. This will be one I’ll be interested to see about in five years. It feels like one potentially open to change.
- 1968, Ruth Gordon for Rosemary’s Baby over Sondra Locke for The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
Yeah… this was the choice I almost went with last time. I think I was feeling contrarian and wanted to throw a vote to a performance no one knew about. Since so many people would automatically take Gordon here. And with good reason. Locke is great, but she’s the lead of the film. And she’s not so great that she should have won here. The real alternate for me this time was Lynn Carlin in Faces. If I don’t vote for Ruth Gordon in the future, it’s because I took Lynn Carlin. Those are the two major choices in this one.
- 1969, Catherine Burns for Last Summer over Goldie Hawn for Cactus Flower
I almost took Burns last time. I was so blown away by what she did in that movie. The only reason I took Goldie Hawn was because it’s Goldie Hawn. She’s had a career. But she’s the lead of her movie and Burns is just so much better on pure performance. And voting for the best performance was the mantra this time. So Burns became an easy choice. Susannah York barely missed here. She’s a solid contender for the future, if I ever go off Burns.
- 1970, Karen Black for Five Easy Pieces over Helen Hayes for Airport
Helen Hayes is nice and it was a good veteran win, but she didn’t give the best performance in the category. She gave the most likable performance in the category. She stole scenes. That’s different. Karen Black gave the best performance in the category. She’s the best choice here, and will likely continue to be my choice in the future. Doubt I take Lee Grant or Sally Kellerman despite liking their performances a lot. Black has the total package. That should be the vote going forward.
- 1971, Barbara Harris for Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? over Ann-Margret for Carnal Knowledge
Yeah, those are the two. I like those a lot. Cloris Leachman is also terrific in The Last picture Show. So really it’s those three. Last time I was feeling anti-Last Picture Show. I tossed off Leachman because I liked Burstyn’s performance better (even though now I think Leachman is clearly the one to vote for), so that paved the way to me taking Ann-Margret on the ‘I like her best, and I didn’t get to vote for her for Tommy, so sure’ vote. Harris never registered for me until this time. Her performance really moved the needle for me. Who knows how I feel in five years. This will be one I put a mental asterisk toward to see how it ends up, with Harris, Ann-Margret and Cloris Leachman as legitimate choices that I’d easily go for.
- 1972, Susan Tyrrell for Fat City over Jeannie Berlin for The Heartbreak Kid
I didn’t like Fat City at all the first time I saw it so I tossed Tyrrell off immediately. Shelley Winters is wonderful, but I didn’t take her either time because, while you love her character in the film, what does she really have to do? Geraldine Page is barely in her movie. Eileen Heckart is nice, but no. And Jeannie Berlin is very funny and memorable. So I get why I took her. This time, though, it was all about rewatching the Tyrrell performance and realizing that while I don’t particularly care for the film (I like it better, but it’s not like I love it now or anything), she’s fucking wonderful in it. So the “best performance gets the vote” edict allowed me to clear my head of all the bullshit and take Tyrrell. I suspect I continue taking her, but I could go back to Berlin if I’m feeling jaunty. If I get overly sentimental maybe Shelley Winters could sneak in. But I feel like the ‘she doesn’t need three’ argument will always hold her back. I’m always gonna dread this one, but hopefully the Tyrrell performance reminds me there’s a solid winner here I can take and feel okay about. The minute this category ceases to make me tense up is the minute I’m satisfied in a clear winner.
- 1974, Diane Ladd for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore over Talia Shire for The Godfather Part II
This category I hate for two reasons. First — Ingrid Bergman. What? For five minutes of babbling? And second, everyone says Valentina Cortese should have won instead. Which I also don’t get. So that limits my choices. Madeline Kahn is absolutely amazing in Blazing Saddles, and I’m surprised I haven’t given up and said fuck it and gone with her yet. Still could, I guess. Last time I took Shire because I was essentially voting for her performance in the first Godfather (and I guess her lack of a win for Rocky too). I don’t think she has as much to do here. I really only took it because it worked enough for me to feel okay about it. I don’t think she gives the best performance in the category. Ladd, meanwhile, steals her film. She’s wonderful. So she became a nice choice for me this time. Does she hold up in five years? I don’t know. I feel good about it now. I don’t see why she couldn’t.
- 1975, Ronee Blakley for Nashville over Lee Grant for Shampoo
Lee Grant was me not knowing what to do and going with the winner. I like her, I like the film, plus she was blacklisted, so give her an award to make up for that. I don’t think she gives the best performance, though she is very good. Sylvia Miles is nice, but I doubt I ever like her enough to take her. Lily Tomlin might catch another look in five years. But this time, Blakley really blew me away with her performance. This one was all about the performance and nothing else. I suspect it’ll be wide open again in five years, but you never know. Blakley has the character arc to make me take her again without much fanfare.
- 1976, Beatrice Straight for Network over Jodie Foster for Taxi Driver
I took Jodie Foster because it’s Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver. It’s a remarkable performance, but I’m not gonna say it’s great enough to necessarily deserve an Oscar. Foster would give two of those performances later (maybe three, depending on who you ask). I take her because I don’t know what else to go with. Piper Laurie’s too much for me, Lee Grant is a blank, and Jane Alexander doesn’t have enough to do. Beatrice Straight, meanwhile, is electric for five minutes. And since there’s no one here that moves the needle for me enough to take, Straight becomes the choice. I get it. I think she’s gonna hold up for me because she makes such an impression in her screen time. And, as I’m showing from this time out, I’ve gotten over that compulsion of “but they’re not in the movie enough to take!” After Hell or High Water last year, and that waitress stealing the movie with two whole minutes of screen time, I’ve come to understand — good performance is good performance.
- 1977, Vanessa Redgrave for Julia over Quinn Cummings for The Goodbye Girl
It’s great looking at these and seeing all the compromise choices from the first time out. A lot of choices, this one included, were me not liking the category and going, “Fuck it, I’m taking my favorite!” This favorite happened to be the precocious child role, which I think we all know by now is something I love. Clearly not the best performance in the category, and that decision was remedied this time out. I think what I’m learning is that last time was purely one extreme, and I forced myself into the other extreme (for the most part. There are exceptions) this time. So I think there will be more of a happy medium next time. Where I understand what’s best, but generally go with my heart when it feels applicable if I can find a strong enough reason to do so outside of “I just like this movie better.” We’ll see. But yeah, that’s why I took Cummings. This category isn’t great. Leslie Browne isn’t the choice, Tuesday Weld is fine, but hasn’t shown me enough after two watches to be the vote. Melinda Dillon is fine, but I doubt she becomes the vote. Vanessa Redgrave is really good and has a character I like — one talked about for much of the film and then a big punch of screen time. I get it. I don’t know where I’ll be in five years, but I think Redgrave is certainly the right way to go now.
- 1980, Mary Steenburgen for Melvin and Howard over Cathy Moriarty for Raging Bull
Moriarty is a rookie vote. She’s good in Raging Bull, but more mature me understands that she’s not the proper choice. This isn’t a great category. Steenburgen stands out by having the most energy and being the most endearing of the characters. I feel like she’ll end up continuing to be my choice here. I’ll look to get Scarwid a vote, just because it feels like she could be someone I could vote for, but I doubt I end up doing that in the end.
- 1981, Maureen Stapleton for Reds over Jane Fonda for On Golden Pond
Looking at this now, it’s so clear why I didn’t vote for certain people. I loved On Golden Pond, I saw Reds. I said, “What? She’s barely in the movie. Fuck that!” And then deliberately didn’t vote for Stapleton. Fonda is fine, but On Golden Pond, admittedly, is almost a Lifetime movie the way it’s made. I can’t truly justify her as the vote. Joan Hackett is quite good in this one, as is Elizabeth McGovern. I suspect they will factor in heavily each time I go back to this. Melinda Dillon probably deserves another look too. This one for me was more about going back and learning to appreciate the Stapleton performance, which I didn’t quite pay enough attention to last time. I think it’ll be an open competition next time, and one of those categories I’ll eagerly watch all five nominees for, because I do remember them all as doing good work.
- 1982, Terri Garr for Tootsie over Glenn Close for The World According to Garp
This is tough for me. Because they’re both great and both worthy of the vote. Notice how I didn’t take the actual winner either time. Because I feel Jessica Lange did better work in hear lead nomination this year than this one. But she was up against Meryl for Sophie’s Choice, so I get why they voted her here. That said, I doubt I’d ever actually vote for her. Glenn Close is wonderful in Garp and can easily become the vote again in five years. This time, I was surprised by how great Teri Garr is in Tootsie. She really evokes a lot of sympathy and laughs at the same time, and I really responded to that. I feel like I’ll give another look to Lesley Ann Warren and Kim Stanley, but in the end I suspect it’ll be between these two going forward.
- 1984, Peggy Ashcroft for A Passage to India over Glenn Close for The Natural
I know for a fact I voted for Glenn Close the first time because she never won an Oscar and this was the weakest category to try to get her one. I also don’t love A Passage to India as a film very much so I was deliberately not taking that out of dismissal. Ashcroft seems to be the best of a bad situation, and I suspect going forward she’s really the only person I can take. Maybe I can convince myself to take Geraldine Page, or somehow Christine Lahti or Lindsay Crouse become illuminated for me in further watches.
- 1986, Dianne Wiest for Hannah and Her Sisters over Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio for The Color of Money
Mastrantonio was another one. I deliberately didn’t want to vote for Hannah and Her Sisters, and in the absence of that, there’s not a whole lot else to go to. So since I love The Color of Money and love Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, she was an easy choice. Objectively not the best choice in the category, but I theoretically could be persuaded to vote for her again. Wiest gives the best performance in the category. The others — Piper Laurie is nice, but doubtful I go there. Maggie Smith is doing a version of the same character she always plays now. She’s good, but the time to actually vote for that was in 1986 and not now. And I can’t magically make myself vote in the year it happened no matter how much I want to. And Tess Harper is a hard pass. I’ve moved onto the right choice and will probably stay there going forward.
- 1988, Geena Davis for The Accidental Tourist over Michelle Pfeiffer for Dangerous Liaisons
Even looking at this now, I’m surprised. I did a double take. “What? I did?” I wrote this category up a year ago and honestly can’t remember why I took Geena Davis. I can tell you why I didn’t take anyone else, so that’s probably how that went down. Michelle Pfeiffer was the vote originally because she never won and I figured, “Hey, let’s vote for her.” But upon watching that performance again, something about it just felt wrong. She felt miscast. Maybe that’ll change in five years, but that’s how it felt for me this time around. Sigourney Weaver I wouldn’t take, Frances McDormand I almost took but ultimately she never feels like she has enough to do to actually get the vote. Joan Cusack actually doesn’t have anything to do in her movie despite making an impression. Geena Davis is at least cute and quirky and somewhat memorable. So I get why I went there. No idea what the hell I do in this category in five years. Might have to wipe the slate clean and watch all five again with a specific eye toward performance. I’d be surprised if this one stays consistent for multiple run throughs.
- 1993, Rosie Perez for Fearless over Winona Ryder for The Age of Innocence
This is a strong category. Strong actresses. Two of the nominees also were nominated in lead. The Holly Hunter nomination is a bonus that no one would or should take. Emma Thompson actually has a strong enough character to consider. Though I was much more into voting for her the first time than I was this time. I think because I voted her Best Actress this year and didn’t want to vote for her in both. But still, she’ll contend in the future. Anna Paquin — I like the performance, but I doubt I switch over to that in the future. But you never know. I might hit that age where it does blow me away and I go all in on it. You never know. Winona I know I took because I love The Age of Innocence and I figured, “Why not?” I think it was also me being really impressed by her work in Little Women too and figuring, “Fuck it, give her an Oscar.” Definitely one of those choices I only could have made in 2011 and not 2016. This time, going back to look at the major performances, I found myself really responding to Rosie Perez, who hits all the right notes with her character and actually delivers a fantastic performance. If I watch all the performances again, I suspect she’ll be the vote on more than a few occasions. Though the category is strong, so that doesn’t lend itself to a particular consistency.
- 1998, Brenda Blethyn for Little Voice over Judi Dench for Shakespeare in Love
Yeah, I love Judi, and I took her because the category isn’t great and she deserves an Oscar, is wonderful in the part and stands out. But she’s only got about eight minutes of screen time, and Brenda Blethyn truly gives the best performance in the category. That’s the vote. That should continue to be the vote. She’s absolutely tops here.
- 1999, Chloe Sevigny for Boys Don’t Cry over Samantha Morton for Sweet and Lowdown
Funny how twice now I haven’t taken Angelina Jolie. I think it’s because I understand the win but it doesn’t really do anything for me outside of intellectually. She’s nice and it’s a starmaking kind of performance, but it just feels too… obvious. I run up against that every time. Last time that led me to take Samantha Morton, who gives a wonderful, silent performance and channels her inner Harpo Marx. There’s not a whole lot of performance there, but it’s charming enough for me to take if I want to. So she’ll continue to factor in there for me. Catherine Keener has never done it for me, so I don’t think I’d go there. Sevigny is the one who truly surprised me. I’m usually against this movie because I always think Swank shouldn’t have won for it (performance-wise. Everything else works great for me as a choice). But her performance — Sevigny’s — is really terrific. And I think if I keep up the “best performance” thing, she’ll continue being my vote in this one. Though I could conceivably see myself going back to Morton if I decide I’m over it. Wouldn’t be the best decision, but at least I’d find myself happy with my choice. Which is really what matters.
- 2000, Frances McDormand for Almost Famous over Kate Hudson for Almost Famous
Kate Hudson is the easy choice when you’re starting out. She’s the character you want to vote for. But the performance… the more I go back and watch that movie purely for performance, she’s not anything overly outstanding. She’s great, but she didn’t need the win. So seeing that opened this category up for me. Judi Dench does her usual thing. There’s a version where she gets the vote, but I think it’s just a bit too on the nose for her to get it. Plus, she’d won, so I feel no real urgency to give her that extra look. Marcia Gay Harden — I don’t get it. I wouldn’t take her at all and probably would put her fifth. I don’t think I’d ever go there. Julie Walters is very nice, but I’d never vote for her. That leaves Frances McDormand, who is the true best performance in the category and the one who steals her film and has the most emotional weight to her scenes. How she didn’t win this, I have no idea. She’ll be my vote in the future. I think I’ve wised up for good.
- 2008, Viola Davis for Doubt over Amy Adams for Doubt
This category was always fucked because I never liked the winner. Penelope Cruz is nice, but I’d never want to take her. I appreciate the performance more, but — ehh. Amy Adams got the vote because I felt she always gets overlooked for Oscars. Cut to now and she still hasn’t won one and there you have it. She’s wonderful in Doubt, but going back — Viola Davis has the most powerful scene in the movie and makes the biggest impression. That’s the best performance. You can’t deny it. Single scene or no — she stops that movie for 12 minutes while she’s on screen. That’s the choice.
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I like this. I’m gonna leave this here. Doubt I go back and read it but I’m interested in seeing how many I can call now. Because I am gonna do this again and I am gonna update the votes in five years. And I want to see how well I know myself to see if I can guess how I’ll vote in some of these at the time.