Oscar History

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Meet This Month's "Smackdown" Panelists

The Supporting Actress Smackdown of '64 is just 8 days away. So it's time to get your votes in on the nominees that year. Readers, collectively, are the sixth panelists, so grade the nominees (only the ones you've seen) from 1 to 5 hearts. Your votes count toward the smackdown win! 

Lila Kedrova Zorba the Greek
Gladys Cooper for My Fair Lady
Dame Edith Evans The Chalk Garden
Agnes Moorhead Hush... Hush Sweet Charlotte 
Grayson Hall  Night of the Iguana 


But before we here at TFE get to that particular metaphorical musical-horror mishmash of films with one of the most senior lineups the Academy ever offered up in this category, let's meet our panelists for this 50th anniversary retrospective competition.

The Panel

Special Guest

Melanie Lynskey is an actor from New Zealand. She made her film debut in Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures (1994) and is currently starring in Joe Swanberg's Happy Christmas available On Demand this Thursday. She lives in Los Angeles with her little brown dog, Mouse. [Follow her on Twitter | IMDb]

What made a stellar actress like you want to participate in a Smackdown?

I'm a huge fan of TFE and I harbour a secret dream to be a film critic. The smackdowns are always so fun and I always have a ton of opinions about them (for instance: 100% believe Renee deserved her "Cold Mountain" Oscar) so it's exciting for me to get to participate. Choosing an earlier year means I can be really honest without having to worry about hurting the feelings of anyone I may potentially work with (though I did once work with Michael Cacoyannis [Director of "Zorba the Greek"] and loved him dearly).

When I think of 1964 I think of...

... Dr King; civil rights; the beginning of The Rolling Stones and Marianne Faithfull; Sidney Poitier winning an Oscar; Beatlemania; The Supremes; Betty Friedan and second-wave feminism; Sam Cooke's death...


Returning Panelists


Nick is the author of the on-again, off-again, actress-obsessed website NicksFlickPicks, which he hopes is now on again. He is also a professor of film, English, and gender and sexuality studies at Northwestern University. [Follow him on Twitter]

When I think about 1964 I think about:

...the Civil Rights Act being passed into law, the Gulf of Tonkin crisis, and the Nobel Peace Prize going to Martin Luther King, Jr.  I also think of the remarkable vitality of American theater that year, both aesthetically and politically, with Amiri Baraka's "Dutchman" and personal favorite Adrienne Kennedy's "Funnyhouse of a Negro" getting their first productions.  Based on the five movies that spawned Best Supporting Actress nominations, you'd never know the country and the world were in such extreme ideological foment, or that popular cinema had anything to say about it.  At least "Dr. Strangelove" (in Picture), "The Best Man", and "Seven Days in May" (both up for Supporting Actor) risked some edge and some sense of jangled societal nerves.


BRIAN HERRERA (aka StinkyLulu)

Brian convened the first Supporting Actress Smackdown and hostessed more than thirty. He is a writer, teacher and scholar presently based in New Jersey, but forever rooted in New Mexico. [Follow him on Twitter]  

When I think about 1964 I think about:

For me (and maybe only me), 1964 is a major watershed year in Oscar's history. See, more actors we might today recognize as Latina/o were nominated for and won Oscars between 1947 and 1964 than any comparable period before or since. And Anthony Quinn's 1964 nomination for "Zorba" would be the last nomination for a US Latina/o or Latin American actor more than two decades. (At least until 1987, when Edward James Olmos would become the next US Latino nominated and Norma Aleandro would become the first Latin American actor ever to get a nod.) It's a quirky bit of Oscar trivia that some crackpot might even write a book about. (Which, in a way, is exactly what this crackpot did. Look for it next summer. If they're still making books.) So I approach 1964 with an alternately giddy and morbid fascination. ¡Vámanos!


Grayson Hall in the streets but Ava Gardner in the sheets. Joe Reid edits the entertainment coverage (and writes just as often as he can) at The Wire. [Follow him on Twitter]

When I think of 1964 I think of...

...it's tough to know what to think of. 1964 really does seem like, if not the last gasp of a certain style then certainly the fallow period awaiting what I'm told by my film blogger elders was quite the revolution. But look at the kinds of movies on display. Even if we only limit ourselves to the films that are still remembered in some way today, you've got the madcap Beatles farce (A Hard Day's Night) and the old-school Bond (Goldfinger) and the spaghetti western (A Fistful of Dollars) and the prestige musical (My Fair Lady) and the Godzilla movie (Mothra vs. Godzilla) and Frankie and Annette (Bikini Beach) and Elvis (Viva Las Vegas) and Disney (Mary Poppins). These aren't bad movies by a long shot, but when woven together, they're the old guard of movies that the cinema revolutions of the subsequent decade and a half would be upending. If you're looking for the early shots across the bow, you can find Dr. Strangelove or The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, either waiting for their time to come or waiting for cult status to settle in. The old days were still just the days back in 1964, but not for very much longer.


And your host

Nathaniel is the founder of The Film Experience, a reknowned Oscar pundit, and the web's actressexual ringleader. Though he holds a BFA in illustration, he found his true calling when he started writing about the movies. [Follow him on Twitter]

When I think of 1964 I think of...

a certain woman, 'practically perfect in every way' descending from the clouds to nanny us all... and her titanic onscreen/offscreen Oscar/Showbiz battle with a girl from the gutter who was trying to perfect her vowels. And how their unprecedented success quickly and unbelievably eclipsed by that singing nun in the Alps the following year ended up dooming the film musical (I'm reading "Roadshow" right now so I'm suddenly obsessed with this exact time frame in a way I haven't been since Mad Men Season 4). After those Fair Ladies, it's Cherbourg, Dr Strangelove, and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand ♫"

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Reader Comments (21)

Dream team up in here.

June 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Me-la-nie! Me-la-nie! Me-la-nie! I hope the wonderful Ms. Lynskey disagrees with everyone else on the panel, and then we can have two winners.

(But Iet's be clear, I'm pulling for my girl Agnes Moorehead here. 100%.)

June 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTB

I do have an Oscar question though that I think might only really apply to 1964. It's my understanding that the Academy bylaws prohibit performances that are entirely dubbed from being nominated for acting. So does that mean that the cast of The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg would have been ineligible even if they were on the Academy's radar? Or am I just misunderstanding something along the way?

June 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTB

I'm giving five hearts to Melanie's jacket.

June 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

Yay, Melanie!

I've only seen Zorba out of these. And it's been so long that I don't remember anything about it. But I'm still looking forward to this!

June 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

Nick - isn't it fab? It's even better full length.

June 22, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I'm so excited you guys will be watching "The Night of the Iguana"! It's an all time favorite of mine, and Ava Gardner is probably my favorite actress. It's her best performance, for sure.

June 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

Melanie Lynskey... HOLY SHIT!!!! She's awesome. Hello, I Must Be Going is her best film role to date so far.

June 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

Holy CRAP. Melanie Lynskey! This is fantastic. So excited for the Smackdown!

June 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTravis

Yay Melanie!

I'm trying to rewatch My Fair Lady before I vote. I actually own the movie... but it's 3 hours. That's a big commitment.

June 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Know that I typed "Lana Turner" when I meant "Ava Gardner." I'd just seen "Night of the Iguana" and "Imitation of Life" in the same week and my head was swimming. Hoping Nathaniel takes mercy on me and makes the edit.

Also I can't believe the esteemed company I'm in for this Smackdown. The best!

June 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Reid

you're going to have to retcon that '93 smackdown 'cause now i'm dying to hear melanie's justifications for renee's performance/win

June 23, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpar

As a lover of musicals, I wholeheartedly agree that the woman descending from the clouds as well as the singing nun in the Alps have forever doomed the film musical. And since this also led to my favorite decade in the history of cinema being forever tainted by both the worst Best Actress win (the woman from the clouds) as well as the worst Best Picture win (the one with the singing nun) in Oscar's entire history, I can only conclude that Julie Andrews is the Antichrist. I will admit though that I did enjoy what she briefly revealed in S.O.B.

By the way, Norma Aleandro in Gaby (1987) and Edward James Olmos in Stand And Deliver (1988) were not in the same year.

June 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWilly

Wait so you're officially, like, friends with Melanie Lynskey.


June 23, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercaroline

Ava in IGUANA is FABBBBBBBBB....she deserved at least the nomination...congrats to Golden Globes!

June 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMirko

Nathaniel -- I share your view on 1964. Please write about that downfall.

Melanie -- Please tell us why you defend Renée's win. I'm curious.

Brian -- ¡Vamos!

Nick -- I love fuchsia on you

June 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I cannot wait-this is the best lineup ever!

June 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Thanks for that factcheck, Willy. I saw Stand&Deliver the same week of that Norma's Oscars, so they always blend in my memory, but I should have cross-checked.

June 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStinkyLulu

MELANIE! What an exciting pick-up! (Not only because she's a great actress and personality, but because she shares my love for the Zee in Cold Mountain. Thank God somebody does.) I can't wait for this Smackdown.

Also, I didn't even realize until it was alluded to on a recent podcast that Melanie was a Kiwi. I guess that's what I get for never having seen Heavenly Creatures...

June 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Can't wait!

June 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

Melanie Lynskey? Agnes Moorehead?

It's that dream again. Come true at last!

And what a perfect excuse to finally get around to Iguana, apparently not only one of Almodovar's favourite films but one of his key influences.

June 24, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergoran

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