Those Oscar Missed: Best Actress

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CONTRIBUTED BY JAKE THOMPSON

Best Actress, like, Best Actor, can be difficult to predict at times.  There’s also been some controversy regarding supporting performances being submitted for a lead performance award.  One example being Anne Baxter, who should’ve gotten a Supporting Actress nod but pushed for and got a Best Actress nod for 1950’s All About Eve.  Another example being Kate Winslet, who was submitted for Best Actress rather than Best Supporting Actress by the Weinsteins for 2008’s The Reader in order to boost box office numbers; what’s ironic is that Winslet would’ve won anyway for the film she should’ve been nominated for, 2008’s Revolutionary Road.  The Academy hasn’t always gotten the nominees right (they nominated Meryl Streep and Glenn Close last year; both appeared in terrible movies for which they were nominated)  Let’s take a look at some surprising major snubs.

One major snub is Rosalind Russell for 1940’s His Girl Friday.  Russell turns in a terrific performance as Hildy Johnson, a former star reporter who’s about to marry a bland insurance man and settle down in upstate NY.  Her ex-husband and current editor of “The Morning Post” convinces her to cover one last story involving the upcoming execution of a convicted murderer.  Russell stands toe-to-toe with co-star Cary Grant, keeping up with him during their rapid-fire dialogue sequences and showing everyone why she’s the strong woman that she is.  It’s such a shame that she wasn’t nominated for her work here.  Russell is a four-time nominee (4 Actress nods for 1942’s My Sister Eileen, 1946’s Sister Kenny, 1947’s Mourning Becomes Electra, and 1958’s Auntie Mame).

The actual nominees at the 13th Academy Awards were:
Kitty Foyle – Ginger Rogers (*Winner)
The Letter – Bette Davis
Rebecca – Joan Fontaine
The Philadelphia Story – Katharine Hepburn
Our Town – Martha Scott

Another major snub is Gloria Grahame for 1950’s In A Lonely Place.  Grahame delivers an excellent performance as Laurel Gray, a new neighbor of the explosive Dixon Steele who eventually becomes involved in a complicated romance with him some time after he’s accused of murdering a young woman.  Grahame pulls off this difficult role, one of a woman who has reason to fear the man she loves but finds the courage to stand by him until things get to the point where she must stand up to him.  It’s too bad she wasn’t nominated for this film.  Grahame is a two-time nominee (1 Supporting Actress nod for 1947’s Crossfire , 1 Supporting Actress win for 1952’s The Bad and the Beautiful).

The actual nominees at the 23rd Academy Awards were:
Judy Holliday – Born Yesterday (*Winner)
All About Eve – Bette Davis
All About Eve – Anne Baxter
Sunset Boulevard – Gloria Swanson
Eleanor Parker – Caged

One major snub that definitely comes to mind is Mia Farrow for 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby.  Farrow delivers a star-making performance as Rosemary Woodhouse, a young wife who’s moved into a new apartment with her husband.  After having a nightmare (or was it?) that she was raped by a demon, she starts to suspect that the baby that soon grows in her belly isn’t her husband’s.  Farrow was magnificent in this role, essaying a woman who could either be slowly going insane or whose child really has been fathered by a demon.  It’s too bad that the Academy didn’t nominate her for her work here, for she has yet to receive a single Oscar nomination.

The actual nominees at the 41st Academy Awards were:
Funny Girl – Barbara Streisand (*Winner-tie)
The Lion In Winter – Katharine Hepburn (*Winner-tie)
The Subject Was Roses – Patricia Neal
Isadora – Vanessa Redgrave
Rachel, Rachel – Joanne Woodward

Another major snub would be Isabelle Adjani for 1981’s Possession.  Adjani turns in an incredibly shocking performance as Anna, a mother and wife who disappears for long periods of time and acts bizarrely when she’s at home.  Adjani also plays Helen, the teacher of Anna’s son and a woman who is kindly and nurturing, helping Anna’s husband take care of his son.  Adjani’s most memorable (and shocking) scene is a flashback where Anna is in a walkway and she suddenly has a seizure and a miscarriage (all sorts of liquids start gushing out of her).  This weirdness is matched only by the creature she visits and makes love to.  It’s a shame she wasn’t nominated for her work here.  Adjani is a two-time nominee (2 Actress nods for 1975’s The Story of Adele H and 1988’s Camille Claudel).

The actual nominees at the 54th Academy Awards were:
On Golden Pond – Katharine Hepburn (*Winner)
Reds – Diane Keaton
Only When I Laugh – Marsha Mason
Atlantic City – Susan Sarandon
The French Lieutenant’s Woman – Meryl Streep

One final major snub would be Pam Grier for 1997’s Jackie Brown.  Grier gives a career-reviving performance as Jackie Brown, a flight attendant who also smuggles money for a gun runner.  When she’s caught by the police, she makes a deal with the ATF to double-cross the gun runner, but she also comes up with a plan with a bail bondsman to double-cross the ATF so that she winds up with the money.  Grier was excellent throughout, capturing both of Jackie’s tough and vulnerable sides.  It’s too bad the Academy didn’t nominate this terrific work, for Grier has yet to receive a single Oscar nod.

The actual nominees at the 70th Academy Awards were:
As Good As It Gets – Helen Hunt (*Winner)
Titanic – Kate Winslet
The Wings of the Dove – Helena Bonham Carter
Afterglow – Julie Christie
Mrs. Brown – Judi Dench

Other actresses that were considered include Linda Hamilton for 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Michelle Pfeiffer for 1992’s Batman Returns, and Zoe Saldana for 2009’s Avatar.

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