Oscar History

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Introducing Pt 1... Supporting Actresses of 1973

You've met our awesome panelists (Dana Delany, Karina Longworth, Mark Harris, Bill Chambers, Kyle Turner, and myself, Nathaniel) and on July 31st when the Smackdown arrives you'll hear from us again. Let's meet the characters we'll be discussing.

As is our new Smackdown tradition we begin by showing you how the performances themselves begin. There's usually some point in every nominated performance when it clicks in... here's the scene that did it. That can come as early as the introduction for some characters. At the very least the intro is the springboard for every thing you'll see about the character from then on. Do these introductions scream "shower me with gold statues!"? Do the filmmakers prepare us for what's ahead? Here's how 3 of the 5 nominees are introduced in the order of how quickly they arrive in their movies.

[No Dialogue]

Immediately. Meet "Addie Loggins" (Tatum O'Neal in Paper Moon)
This is the first shot of Paper Moon and the camera will rarely leave little Addie (Tatum O'Neal) again in the greatest case of Category Fraud ever perpetrated at the Oscars. She is staring tearless into her mother's freshly dug grave, flanked by unaffectionate adults who immediately pawn her off post-funeral to a stranger who bears a striking resemblance (Ryan O'Neal). He's meant to drive her to only kin, an Aunt she doesn't know. Tatum's/Addie's resistance to charming you or her co-stars actually proves better than charming, drawing you completely in to that poker face. Three minutes later she finally speaks and seems less child-like; she's all business, suspiciously scoping out her new situation and this "friend" of her mother's. 

Rita: Who is this?
Mrs Pritchett: Who do you think it is?
Rita: Why do you sound so strange?
Mrs Pritchett: I'm at Saks. 

5 minutes in. Meet "Mrs Pritchett" (Sylvia Sidney in Summer Wishes Winter Dreams)
We've spent enough time with Rita (Joanne Woodward), our protagonist, to know that she's neurotic and unhappy; the first scene is an actual nightmare. A phone call wakes her up. Disoriented from sleeping she doesn't recognize her own mother's voice. (That's Sylvia Sidney who today's moviegoers probably remember best from Beetlejuice.) Forget the dialogue as being at Saks is hardly a strange occurence judging from her expensive clothing and multiple shopping bags. The picture of their relationship is instantly clear: they bicker, they're terse with each other, they meet every week for lunch which is why the mother is calling and what they're about to do. One assumes then that the picture will be an acidic mother/daughter drama. But is that what's coming?

Now don't you drop nuthin' Imogene. You take care of those breakables, y'understand?

40 minutes in. Meet "Trixie Delight" (Madeline Kahn in Paper Moon)
This is one of those highlighted intros that a movie prepares you for, shouting 'New Chapter'.  It draws its comic energy from the "cut to". We're sitting in a hotel room with Addie and her exasperated shouting Daddy who explains that there'll be two new women in the car, a "lady" and her maid...


Cut to: Madeline Kahn strutting out of the carnival's nudie tent "HAREM SLAVE - WORLD FAMOUS GIRLS", boobs bouncing. A real lady from a good family, eh? Kahn wins her first big laugh with literally her first second of screen time. There will be more. 

Do the introductions make you want to see more?
(In part 2 we'll look at the other nominees)

[If you'd like to participate in the Smackdown make sure to vote on the nominated performances (only the ones you've seen please, underseen performances are not penalized as votes are averaged out) by rating the nominees on a scale of 1 (inadequate) to 5 (beyond excellent) hearts.]

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Reader Comments (22)

i only see 3 intros.

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermrripley

Good entrances all. Sylvia and Madeline were such distinctive performers that you always wanted to see more of them. Tatum's inclusion in this category is absurd but that's not her fault and she keeps you involved throughout her carrying of the picture.

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams is SUCH an unfortunate movie title. It always makes me think of the kinds of titles they came up with on Seinfeld (Cry, Cry Again; The Pain and the Yearning...)

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

I love these introductory pieces so much!

Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams is a great title. It's totally Sigmund Freud meets Barbara Cartland.

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Madeline for the win.

Speaking of scenes "that did it", does the Academy store the clips that are submitted for nominations, and if so, are they publicly available? Around awards time, I always hear chatter about that, but wonder how folks seem to know what was submitted?

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

I wonder who chooses the clips.

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermrripley

Oh, Pam! I love Madeleine too and I'm totally obsessed with those Oscar clips. There should be a list or a post about them.

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I meant on the internet, not here. You'got enough on your plate, Nathaniel ;)

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Oscar's greatest case of category fraud was perpetrated three years prior to Paper Moon with "supporting actor" Gene Hackman who was in more or less everything of his only film released in 1970. And apart from the screentime factor, even that film's title proudly announced that it tells the story of Hackman's character: I Never Sang For My Father.

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWilly

willy -- trust that tatum is in every scene of this movie. I think she's offscreen fully once and that's for about 2 minutes and that entire two minutes is intercut with her parallel scene (since she's supposed to be meeting her dad and we're watching both of their scenes crosscut.

pam & mr ripley -- there are no clips submitted. I think people get that confused with the Emmys when actors or their handlers choose specific episodes only for their work to be judged by. The pAcademy decides which clips to represnet the nominees with (with of course the permission of the film companies involved because the film companies don't license every scene in a movie for broadcast so they're choosing from a limited pool of airable clips). There was an article about it in the LA times last scene.

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Willy: Yeah, that's King Schultz in Django Unchained level "How is THAT supporting?"

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Is there even a scene where Hackman is fully offscreen in I Never Sang For My Father? I vaguely remember an evening montage that included characters in rooms where Hackman's character isn't present, but other than that... Okay, it's been a long time since I've seen either Paper Moon or I Never Sang For My Father.

So maybe we can agree on Tatum's nomination being the greatest deceit in the female categories and Gene's second nomination being the greatest deceit in the male categories. One way or the other, Tatum cannot score with a movie title that already exposes the fraud.

Volvagia, Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained is a cameo when compared to Tatum O'Neal in Paper Moon and Gene Hackman in I Never Sang For My Father.

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWilly

When it comes to women, category fraud somehow seems even more egregious, considering how scarce good roles for women are compared to men. That is why Luise Rainer, Patricia Neal, and Louise Fletcher won Best Actress for what some consider to be supporting performances. Timothy Hutton winning a supporting Oscar for Ordinary People somehow doesn't seem nearly as bad as Tatum's award. They were both young and new, but I can at least see why the studios were pushing for Hutton in supporting because he probably wouldn't have won lead in a fierce race. Tatum is THE lead of Paper Moon; it is her story. Not to mention her performance is easily better than that of Glenda Jackson, that year's winner for Best Actress.

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Ugh, do NOT start on the 1973 Best Actress race. I'm still pissed that Barbra lost to Glenda Jackson. Yes, Glenda is probably the superior actress, but come on. Glenda's movie is barely watchable, certainly today.

Let's just not blame Tatum who was just going through the motions, both in the movie and in Hollywood. I think when the Academy found out that Linda Blair didn't do all her voice work they scrambled around to find someone else to give it to. :-)

And there may be bigger examples of category fraud, but has there ever been an example this obvious that actually won?

PS I guess I don't have a problem with supporting performances being promoted to the big leagues since, yes, they have to fill out the roster I guess. But personally I'd prefer if they looked at foreign leading performances first.

July 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Alamitos Beach

Dave -- oh i don't blame Tatum. I blame the Academy. It's different today with all the shameless adults who already have gold pretending to be something they're not to get more gold. blech. I don't understand why Tatum wasn't just nomintaed in the thin 73 field. But yeah Babs should've won that year.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nathaniel, Nathaniel, Nathaniel - Babs performance works with one or two viewings. Thereafter the seams start to show. If you turn the volume down, and subtract the score the Babs performance is more an introspective Fanny Brice - with many of the same quirks. Please understand I saw these quirks repeatedly on Ocean Ave., Brooklyn when Babs walked home from Erasmus H.S.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterrobertL

An introspective Fanny Brice sounds excellent to me. And stars are always working the same mannerisms. Just check out Meryl in any non-accented role (and I love her).

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Alamitos Beach

robertL -- i have seen THE WAY WE WERE a lot more than twice. haha. so nice try ;) love that movie.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Ellen would have been my pick for the Oscar in 73. But I love LOVE Barbra in TWWW. That last scene always gets to me.

And Hamlisch's score...swoon swoon.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Haha I'll be THAT guy and say that Glenda Jackson deserved both of her Oscars. They're both great performances but I think she won more for being a respected and idolized British commodity with some big fans within the Academy. Actors LOVED her at the time. And in A Touch of Class, turned out she could be funny too.

People also forget that both Tatum and Glenda were up for the same award at the Globes and Glenda still won.

But, I mean, add Harriet Andersson and/or Liv Ullmann (in a dual role, no less), Maria Schneider and bump up Tatum to Lead and suddenly that Best Actress category turns into a party.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First

I'm halfway through A Touch of Class... and I'm still waiting for Glenda Jackson to be funny. This has to be one of the most dated Best Picture nominees of all-time. And it was nominated over Paper Moon and The Way We Were!

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I don't mind that Glenda Jackson has two Oscars, but not for those movies. Especially A Touch Of Class which is painfully unfunny. Paper Moon and The Way We Were are classics in their genre. Suzanne is right on.

Do a drinking game for A Touch of Class. Every time you laugh you get to have a drink, you'll be stone cold sober when it's over and just itching to watch Madeline Kahn in Paper Moon or just about anything. Heck, go for a twofer and catch Barbra and Madeline in What's Up Doc, also by Peter Bogdanovich.

July 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Alamitos Beach

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