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« Soundtracking: FYC 5 Original Song Outliers | Main | The Best of a Bad Lot: Oscar Winning Actresses in Bad Movies »
Wednesday
Dec052018

81 days til Oscar

by Nathaniel R

Diane & Warren / Don & Meryl at the 1981 Oscars

You know what I feel is tragic about online Oscar history, dear readers? It's the lack of abundance of Oscar night photos before, say, 2000. Oh sure you can usually find photos of the winners holding their Oscars but try finding complete gowns of all the Best Actress nominees if you (hypothetically) wanna fantasize about ordering custom doll sets of every vintage. You're out of luck for any year prior to the explosion of 24/7 media coverage and constant Oscar coverage. Take the 1981 Oscars for example...

The best actress nominees were:

  • Diane Keaton, Reds
  • Katharine Hepburn, On Golden Pond
  • Marsha Mason, Only When I Laugh
  • Susan Sarandon, Atlantic City
  • Meryl Streep, French Lieutenant's Woman

(Who would you have voted for?)

Those two photos above are the best photos I can find of what Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep were wearing on that glitzy night of March 29th, 1982. And don't you REALLY wanna see that Diane Keaton look in full color... even if that color is black!?!

I've seen one (yes, just one) photo of Susan Sarandon from that night (and she definitely doesn't look dressed for the Oscars!) . Good luck finding photos of Marsha Mason. Hepburn, the winner, never attends so I didn't even look for one. And you don't even have to go as far back as 1981 before you run into trouble. I think the only reason I managed 1997 recently was because there was so much coverage of Titanic's Oscar night and also it was in the internet years ...albeit internet in its infancy.

I was recently searching for 1990 Oscar images on a whim and I couldn't find full length red carpet shots of anyone outside of Julia Roberts and found only two poor quality shots of Anjelica Huston, looking fabulous from what I can tell, and nominated for the best performance she ever gave (The Grifters)... and this was Oscar night at the peak of her fame, people!

But, yes, these are first world Oscar fanatic problems. I'm just sad that my imaginary Oscar doll sets can't go much further back then they've already gone. 

Okay one more 1981 question.

Which Best Picture would you have voted for? And what do you think would have made the list in the expanded BP era that we have now...

THE NOMINEES WERE

 

  • Atlantic City
  • Chariots of Fire
  • On Golden Pond
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Reds

 

The question of the modern Best Picture voting system retroactively imposed as particularly interesting with 1981 because the directors/pictures were 5/5 so it's a little harder to suss out. The most obvious candidates are Ragtime (8 nominations!) and Arthur (4 noms/2 wins) so maybe there would only have been 7 nominees. Other multiple-nominee possibilities: Only When I Laugh, Absence of Malice, Pennies from Heaven, and The French Lieutenant's Woman. 

 

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Reader Comments (44)

I would have voted for Meryl Streep and Reds.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDg

I would have voted for Keaton.

Best Picture - Raiders of the Lost Ark

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Lewis

raiders of the lost ark and kathleen turner diane keaton

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterpar

Oh, dear! All my 80s clippings are gone or yellow.

Katharine or Susan. Atlantic City or Golden Pond.

You should check And the Runner-Up Is on Twitter. They've been asking for the expanded lineups of the 90s and now they're finishing the 80s.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Kevin Hart was announced as the host

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRonald

Atlantic City is one of those movies that I've thought, for half my life, I should see that (Louis Malle AND John Guare), and yet have still never gotten around to it. I also haven't see Only When I Laugh, which I really should, given that I like Marsha Mason quite a bit.

From what I've seen, I think Raiders should've won Best Picture (although I think Chariots of Fire is better than it's reputation). I wish Arthur had replaced On Golden Pond in that line up.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

Picture Reds
Director Beatty
Actor Lancaster
Actress Keaton
S/Actor Rollins Jr
S/Actress Hackett.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I'd give everything to Reds except Best Actor, which Henry Fonda completely deserved.

I love Reds. It's a big time investment but so worth it. I'm sorry I've never seen it on a big screen.

I love On Golden Pond, too. It's simple, timeless, beautifully acted and resonant.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHayden

Diane Keaton's sense of individual fashion is inspiring to me.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

You should really do a retrospective of Don Gummer on Meryl's arm through the years. That guy has to be such a good sport.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJames from Ames

That's why I wore the same Armani three years in a row!

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Pfeiffer

Till

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterStrunk

James -- I'm still waiting for the John Waters movie in which Don Gummer turns into a psycho that kills Meryl's competition over the years. Only Fernanda Montenegro makes it.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

1981 was not a stellar Oscar year, was it? I think I might've gone w/ Susan Sarandon and Reds. Chariots of Fire was a blah BP winner and Kate Hepburn mostly won for being Kate Hepburn in her Final Screen Appearance than for the performance.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Picture: Atlantic City
Actor: Burt Lancaster Atlantic City
Actress: Susan Sarandon Atlantic City
Director: Louis Malle Atlantic City
Original Screenplay: Atlantic City

Oh, yeah:
Supporting Actor Howard Rollins Jr Ragtime
Supporting Actress Maureen Stapleton Reds

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

@ Peggy Sue - Shut up and take my money!

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJames from Ames

Best Actress--Marsha Mason
Best Actor--Henry Fonda
Best S Actress--Maureen Stapleton
Best S Actor--John Gielgud
Best Director--Warren Beatty
Best Picture--Reds

I saw Reds twice at the theater as a kid. I was a real film nerd and obsessed with Diane Keaton.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I'm partial to Mason, though will hardly throw a hissy fit over Hepburn's win. I do wonder if ONLY WHEN I LAUGH would've been a Best Picture nominee in an extended field? Tough to fathom a film netting three acting Oscar noms and not making the cut.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

Raiders of the Lost Ark is so ABOVE everything else

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Best Picture: Raiders of the Lost Ark
Best Director: Warren Beatty, Reds
Best Actor: Burt Lancaster, Atlantic City
Best Actress: Diane Keaton, Reds
Supporting Actor: John Gielgud, Arthur
Supporting Actress: Maureen Stapleton, Reds
Best Screenplay: Atlantic City

P.S. Speaking of Pfeiffer, this picture of her with Fisher Stevens *and* David E. Kelley (circa 2000) blew my mind a little: https://earlydues.usanethosting.com/fisher/images/people110600.jpg

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

But, of course, Kathleen Turner in Body Heat would've won (and bumped out Marsha Mason or Meryl Streep) in my B.A. lineup.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Don Gummer IS Price Waterhouse! Now it all makes sense, and is borderline believable. I'd watch that movie.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Hollywood

My 2 favourite actress performances that year were Susan Sarandon in Atlantic City and the great Kathleen Turner in Body Heat. Sorry to Marsha Mason fans, but I totally would have bumped her out for Turner. And I would have handed her the win. It was touted at the time as the most audacious debut performance since Lauren Bacall in "To Have and to Have Not".

As for best picture, I like "Chariots of Fire" quite a lot, but "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was the better picture. At the time, I was surprised "Reds" didn't win.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

Meryl for Best Actress and Reds for Best Picture.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

I guess I'd have to grit my teeth and give it to Sarandon.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBruno

Burt Lancaster deserved to win, On Golden Pond and its makers deserve to be arrested.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAlfred

Henry Fonda was cheated out of an Oscar in 1940 for Grapes of Wrath. James Stewart only won because he had been cheated out of an Oscar the year before for Mr Smith Goes to Washington. Maybe if that had happened it would have been easier in 1981 to give it to the far more deserving Burt Lancaster (he swept the critics awards that year). As it was, Fonda was the most predictable winner in the entire history of the Oscars.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

par had the exact right answer. given the absence of Kathleen Turner, i gotta vote Diane Keaton that year

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Diane Keaton most deserving winner for the leather outfit alone. Worst omissions: Sissy Spacek in Raggedy Man and Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest, the latter among the best performances in a terrible film.

In my personal Oscars I'd have given Lange the Best Actress Oscar in 1982 and nominated Keaton for Shoot the Moon (Albert Finney in Actor too).

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAlfred

Just a piece of Oscar trivia. This year holds the record for how many movies produced the 20 acting nominees - 9. (The record for the most is 2007 (18!))

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

Of course, I meant to say "fewest".

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

ken s.--I gotta stand for Robert Donat in 1939. He's so damn good in that movie.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

brookesboy -

Yes, saying Stewart was "cheated" is too harsh. Not only Donat, but Clark Gable and Laurence Olivier, were also deserving. I still think Stewart was by far the best, though, and it's clear that he won in 1940 for a merely serviceable performance as a make up award (do I detect a pattern developing?) at the expense of Henry Fonda's magnificent work.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

ken--ITA, a pattern is there LOL. I know this is awful, but I have never seen The Grapes of Wrath. That's a terrible hole in my viewership. It's crazy how these makeup Oscars affect everyone down the line. Sigh.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Atlantic City, Best Picture.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrandz

REDS is one of the great films of the 80's (though its really the last of the great 70's movies) Keaton was spectacular, her absolute best performance. I would have picked her and the picture for Oscars.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterhepwa

I give REDS points for audacity: one of the last of the '70s films before Reagan-era timidity turned Hollywood into Ovitzland. But, damn, do its compromises grate (the fucking dog howling outside the door; Louise Bryant wandering the Russian steppes).

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAlfred

I think the real question is how many make-up oscars do you fix in a straight chain!

Say, give it to Anthony Perkins for Psycho over Burt Lancaster. Then Burt Lancaster over Henry Fonda. Then Henry Fonda over James Stewart. Than James Stewart over Robert Donat. Then Robert Donat over Victor McLaglen....

Best Actress: Meryl Streep, completely by default.

Best Picture: Chariots of Fire, through and through. It's super underrated.

In the expanded line-up: I'd say Arthur, Prince of the City, Ragtime and maybe The French Lieutenant's Woman.

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Re: Only When I Laugh, I can think of 2 other films off the top of my head -- Adaptation and Doubt -- that had three acting nominations but no Best Pic nod. Adaptation definitely deserved it. Any others?

December 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterParanoid Android

Actually Donat's win was also a make-up for his loss the previous year for The Citadel, when he lost to Spencer Tracy for Boy's Town (1938). Tracy had actually just won the previous year for Captain Courageous (1937) and he wasn't expected to win again so fast. Donat was hotly tipped to win in 1938 and when he din, Oscars start this chain of best actor make up Oscars tt rolled over all the way to 1981

Thus, IMO, had Donat won for The Citadel in 1938, Steward wld've won for Mr Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Fonda for The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and Lancaster for Atlantic City (1981). Thus freeing up Lemmon to win for The Apartment (1960) and Pacino to win for Serpico (1973) and Denzel for Malcolm X (1992) and Russell Crowe for A Beautiful Mind (2001) and Tom Hanks for Cast Away (2000) and Liam Neeson for Schindler's List (1993)

December 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

RAIDERS for Best Picture, Streep or Keaton for Best Actress (even if as a kid I used to think that Hepburn was Amazing in ON THE GOLDEN POND...and Mason should have won for one of her noms). Yep, I think that Turner, Spacek and Dunaway were nom-worthy

December 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMirko

Hepburn is amazing in On Golden Pond.

December 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPatryck

Claran, where are you getting the idea that Liam Neeson and Tom Hanks had any chance of winning for their respective nods? I'm curious.

December 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAlfred

The Citadel is such a beautiful film. Donat is terrific in it.

December 6, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

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