During Summer 2011 -- winding down at last! -- we've been asking TFE readers to choose the most memorable Best Actress nominated film characters. Which film characters have you taken into your hearts and headspace most fully? Who is always popping into mind unbidden? Below are the latest voting results for August's polls covering the 1960s & 1970s (previous results: 1980s and 1991-2010). We used five year intervals for voting and asked readers to choose the 5 most memorable characters from each group of 25 Oscar nominees.
If you're looking for these polls to provide a "face" of an era it looks like Julie Andrews wins the early 60s -- she was thoroughly modern back then! -- and Faye Dunaway takes over from there for a long run at the top (1966-1980) [* indicates that it was an Oscar winning role.]
- HOLLY GOLIGHTLY (Audrey Hepburn) Breakfast at Tiffany's
- MARY POPPINS* (Julie Andrews) Mary Poppins
- [tie] MARIA VON TRAPP (Julie Andrews) The Sound of Music and BABY JANE HUDSON (Bette Davis) Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
- ANNIE SULLIVAN* (Anne Bancroft) The Miracle Worker
Runners Up: Though the top five were never in question, DEANIE LOOMIS from Splendor in the Grass, ALMA BROWN* from Hud (who also tied) and DIANA SCOTT*, the "sunshine girl" from Darling each had deep pockets of swoony admirers. The remaining two top ten'ers, further back in voting were MARY TYRONE from Long Day's Journey Into Night, and CESIRA* from Two Women.
Observations: The Julie Andrews characters flip-flopped for the first week of voting until Mary took flight and left Maria behind on the hilltop. Baby Jane tried everything to kick Maria off the mountain: writing letters to daddy, rat dinners, actual kicking; a very tight race that was for third place and in the end they tied. Aside from Audrey's win, there was little consensus.
I was disappointed at the lack of substantial votes for Natalie Wood's preggers single gal in Love With the Proper Stranger and Geraldine Page's bitch goddess superstar in Sweet Bird of Youth (though the latter almost cracked the top ten) but voting was all over the place in this round.
Weakest Showing: No actresses suffered the "no votes" problem in this half decade grouping, but ALMA from Summer and Smoke, JANE FOSSETT from The L Shaped Room and MARGARET HAMMOND from This Sporting Life barely found any favor.
- MRS ROBINSON (Anne Bancroft) The Graduate
- MARTHA* (Elizabeth Taylor) Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
- BONNIE PARKER (Faye Dunaway) Bonnie & Clyde
- FANNY BRICE* (Barbra Streisand) Funny Girl
- [TIE] ELEANOR OF ACQUITAINE* (Katharine Hepburn) The Lion in Winter and MISS JEAN BRODIE* (Maggie Smith), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Runners Up: update. whoops. I misread the chart. Maggie Smith's Oscar winning haughty schoolmarm actually tied with Hepburn's Lion in Winter character in the last couple of days of voting. I had missed that! What a relief, Miss Jean Brodie, still being in her prime!] The remaining four players in the top ten are as follows: GLORIA BEATTY danced as fast as she could for 7th place for They Shoot Horses Don't They? Then with far fewer votes came, JENNIFER CAVALLERI from Love Story, SUSY HENDRIX from Wait Until Dark and CHRISTINA DRAYTON* from Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
Observations: This was the closest the top spot has ever come to a tie with seductive Mrs. Robinson besting drunk Martha by just 2% of votes gathered. In other kindred spirit news, they're both fond of playing "get the guest".
This is also the closest your votes have ever aligned with the Academy's decisions as four of your top five actually winning the gold for their indelible creations and another top ten'er, too. The further back we go the more obvious it is which films are not readily available for home viewing and how much Oscar wins are worth for longevity. It's an easy way to draw people backwards to see old films. But about the availability of some films... I've said it many times but I'll have to keep saying it. Hollywood is a shameful place. It's an industry with gazillions of dollars in profits and far too few of those bucks get funnelled back into the art form to insure that films are preserved and/or available for the public. At the very least an Oscar nomination ought to mean that your film never disappears for good.
Weakest Showing: "Mary Wilson" from Happy Ending received 0% of the votes. The film is not available on DVD. Morgan!'s "Leonie Delt" and "Rosy Ryan" from Ryan's Daughter just barely escaped this fate.
- SALLY BOWLES* (Liza Minnelli) Cabaret
- NURSE RATCHED* (Louise Fletcher) One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
- EVELYN CROSS MULWRAY (Faye Dunaway) Chinatown
- CHRIS MACNEIL (Ellen Burstyn) The Exorcist
- ALICE HYATT* (Ellen Burstyn) Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
Runners Up: the rest of the top ten in descending order were BREE DANIELS* Klute, MABEL LONGHETTI A Woman Under the Influence, and KATIE MOROSKY The Way We Were, CONSTANCE MILLER McCabe and Mrs Miller and ADELE The Story of Adele H.
Observations: This five year period surprised me the most of all the polls in terms of how well various women fared. Ellen Burstyn is a national treasure but I wasn't expecting either of her roles to show up in the top five, let alone both of them! It seems to me that her past star would not shine as bright without that shocking resurrection that was Requiem for a Dream (2000). Let that be a lesson to all actresses. Don't give up when you've crossed the senior citizen mark. An acclaimed golden years performance can restore major luminosity to to your earlier shining successes. Speaking of which, Jane Fonda could use one final hurrah performance herself to remind people of what an irreplaceable actress she is. I was personally very disappointed to see her Klute performance outside the top five (It was a narrow miss but it shocked me. I'd rank it among the ten best actress performances of all time). But the #8 rank for Barbra's famous romantic heroine from The Way We Were was the biggest lower-than-expect shocker and at the very least it suggests that Carrie Bradshaw was definitely not voting on these polls.
Weakest Showing: Marsha Mason's "Maggie Paul" from Cinderella Liberty received no votes with the little seen these days "Gitl" from Hester Street nearly meeting the same fate.
- ANNIE HALL* (Diane Keaton) Annie Hall
- CARRIE WHITE (Sissy Spacek) Carrie
- DIANA CHRISTENSEN* (Faye Dunaway) Network
- LORETTA LYNN* (Sissy Spacek) Coal Miner's Daughter
- NORMA RAE WEBSTER* (Sally Field)
Runners Up: the rest of the top ten in descending order was composed of bad mommy BETH JARRETT from Ordinary People, Goldie Hawn's PRIVATE BENJAMIN, Bette Midler's MARY ROSE FOSTER from The Rose, delusional beige EVE from Interiors and "Yo, ADRIAN" from Rocky just barely knocked Gena Rowland's GLORIA and Ingrid Bergman's CHARLOTTE ANDERGAST of the ring to nab spot #10.
Observations: I was surprised to see Mary Tyler Moore's legendary Bad Mommy performance in Ordinary People outside the top five but she was just one or two votes shy of making it a three way tie with the two biographical performances ahead of her.
Weakest Showing: Marsha Mason's "Jenny Maclaine" in Chapter Two received no votes. I thought about voting for this character myself but there were too many other strong options. I used to just love that movie though I have only the dimmest recall of it now so I couldn't say "most memorable!". Mason was a very hot Oscar commodity for a few short years but none of her characters have done well in the polls indicating that her films have either not aged well for one reason or another or people just haven't seen them or, most likely, some combination of both. Is it time for some enterprising young director to take her on as a project: Marsha Mason revival!
This is a lot to process, I know. Any surprises, disappointments or observations you want to share? Have you been inspired to add any of these pictures to your rental queues?