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All Sissy, All the Time

by Eric Blume

From now until the end of the year, we will very surprisingly (and pleasantly!) get several doses of the great Sissy Spacek.  She's currently part of the cast of Hulu's Castle Rock, which brings her back to Stephen King territory three decades after her virtuoso performance in Carrie.  You can also find her in the trailer for the upcoming fall release The Old Man & The Gun opposite Robert Redford, and she'll play Julia Roberts' mom (!) in the November 2nd debut of the new Amazon series Homecoming.  That's a lot of work for the 68-year-old Oscar-winning actress, and it's marvelous to see her still getting roles in such large-scale projects...

She's arguably one of the greats, working continuously for 45 years.  After popping in 1973's Terrence Malick film Badlands, she's given major performances (Carrie, Altman's 3 Women, Coal Miner's Daughter, Missing, Crimes of the Heart, and most recently In the Bedroom) not to mention several others that are awfully strong. 

Her screen pairing with Redford in The Old Man & The Gun isn't one we've particularly yearned for, and the movie doesn't look very good, but maybe their match will be inspired?  Together they have over 100 years of movie star experience together, and how often do we get to see that?  

What's your favorite Sissy performance? 
Do you think she's in the pantheon?  Should she have beaten Halle Berry to take Oscar number two for 2001?  Are you more excited for Spacek/Redford or Spacek/Roberts?  So many questions - you know what to do.

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Reader Comments (46)

Old Man and the Gun: Um...I don't get how this looks bad. I REALLY don't get how this looks bad. I'd definitely take something that feels like this to another tired "wacky old people" movie like last year's Going In Style remake or Last Vegas or RED. Is that your preference?

August 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I'd give Sissy the win if it was ONLY she and Halle in contention (love both performances) - otherwise I'm Isabelle Huppert with (Oscar eligibility considered) Naomi Watts in second place....

August 3, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterkermit_the_frog

"The Old Man & The Gun" doesn't look very good? Really? I have very good vibes about it, and loved the trailer! Everything looks very 70's! I love Spacek, and her pairing with Redford looks so touching...

August 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoel (from Chile)

Great actress. Her work in Badlands, Three Women, Carrie, Coalminer's Daughter and that Netflix show Bloodline (first season) are all essential viewing.

August 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTom Ford

I'd also like to vote in favor of "The Old Man and the Gun" trailer. David Lowery has a heck of a lot of goodwill with me after the awesome "A Ghost Story" and this one looks beautiful. Can't pass up the rare opportunity to see two Hollywood legends paired up in an actual artful adult drama. Also, Tom Waits!

August 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Yes he's a small scale pantheoner,no Movie Star per se but an engaging prescence,she shoulkd've absolutely won over Halle and MTM should have won in 1980,Sissy in 76 and Faye in 74,I'm excited to see her opp Julia.

August 3, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Firstly absolutely yes to her winning that second Oscar over Halle Berry.

While The Old Man and the Gun doesn't look like a masterwork I'll agree with the others that it looks heads and tails superior to the usual "Oh look aren't those old people doing crazy things adorable!" crap that the studios churn out when they take the time to spotlight older actors at all. Redford and Sissy are at least a decade apart in age but it doesn't feel like a bad or unlikely match-up. I'll watch

There are so many fine Sissy performances to choose from that I'll list my top five:

'night, Mother
Crimes of the Heart
Coal Miner's Daughter
In the Bedroom

and two favorite supporting performances:

her ditzy, slowly fraying around the edges Mom in Blast from the Past & her warm understanding earth mother in A Home at the End of the World.

Yes she's one of the greats.

August 3, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

The only negative about Old Man for me is Affleck's involvement. I loved Lowrey past three films so I have hope. She's easily one of ten favourite actresses ever. I think her best is Bandlands but she's just as great in Carrie, 3 Women, Coal Miners Daughter, Missing & In the Bedroom.

I do hope that she gets better material in latter Castle Rock episodes. Also how exciting that two streaming shows this fall will feature oscar winning actress. I mean Homecoming has Julia & Sissy. Manaic has Emma & Sally.

I think she's underrated in The Help but that ensemble is so strong she probably ranks lower below so many better options.

August 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEoin Daly

I have always enjoyed her work in all that she did.

August 3, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterrdf

She needs another major movie role. And also, Sissy Spacek does not age!

August 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSTFU

Yes to Sissy, no to Redford and his ill fitting wigs.

August 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSister Rona Barrett

I think she's an incredible actress.

I would not have given her the Oscar for In the Bedroom. Of those nominated, I would have gone with Nicole, but frankly I'm happy with Halle Berry having won. Halle was good in Monster's Ball, Nicole won the next year, and Sissy already had one. I kind of don't get the hate for Halle Berry's win on this site. She gave a really good performance, and she made history.

If she had been nominated, it should have gone to Naomi Watts. One of my favorite performances of all-time, and I'm not even really a fan of hers.

August 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJJM

I love Sissy Spacek in "Carrie" and "A Coal Miner's Daughter".

I like her in two of her films that make a political point, "Marie" and "The Long Walk Home". You believe Sissy's character is a thoughtful person of integrity and soul.

I liked "Violets Are Blue" because Sissy gets to play a romantic lead, and there should have been more of those, because Sissy is so loveable.

I loved "Heartbeat" because Sissy starts out so chic. Our first glimpse of her, as she coolly turns around, wearing a black hat with a little veil over an elegant French twist, and a Dior style New Look black suit, shows how chic and sophisticated she can be. She could do Grace Kelly roles. Why couldn't she have had some of those?

August 3, 2018 | Unregistered Commenteradri

Sissy ain't no sissy. No mention of Raggedy Man? Extraordinary work. And she should've won for ITB.

I would deduct the Crimes of the Heart to get in the greatly deserved Julie Andrews for Duet for One. That title is singular. Pardon the pun.

August 3, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

For me, it's 3 Women but a honorable mention should go to her performance in Hot Rod as she is just great in that.

August 3, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

I believe the MVP of In The Bedroom is Tom Wilkinson (with Marisa Tomei a close second), so I wouldn't take away Halle's Oscar.

Coal Miner's Daughter = best biopic performance ever. BUT ... I'd still crown Mary Tyler Moore the Best Actress of 1980. Her performance in Ordinary People still haunts me. Like MarkGordonUK, Sissy would be my winner in '76 but Faye would triumph in '67 ('74 belongs to Diahann Carroll in Claudine).

I'd rank Raggedy Man above Sissy's nominated work in Missing, Crimes of the Heart, ITB, and especially The River. And I would have recognized her for The Help.

August 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNewMoonSon

The first performance that i remember that affected me and makes me want to watch more movies for the work of actors was her portrait as Carrie White so ... you cannot even imagine how important is that actress to me.

Actually she is my perfect kind of actress: plays more supporting than leading roles, works in diferent movie genres, and specially love that is not a movie star wich means that her reputation is exclusively for her talent, not for her beauty or her private life.

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCesar Gaytan

I really like her in The River too.

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Her comic timing in Crimes of the Hearts is just brilliant, no wonder she got singled out in a movie with both Diane Keaton and Jessica Lange. Her loss to Berry was a classic case of Oscar favour over the top “acting” over understated yet magnificently nuonced great acting masterpiece. Her performance in Night Mother was also amazing in every way. One of my favourite actress.

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBryan

Does anyone else feel that Spacek was borderline Supporting in In the Bedroom? It is Wilkinson's movie all the way.

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

Spacek should have won for Carrie. Dunaway is perfect, but she should have won for Bonnie and Clyde. The Oscar Spacek won should have gone to Rowlands, in Gloria.

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

People pick on Berry's win because she's more beautiful starlet than great actress. But breaking the category's color barrier after 74 years and once more Best Actress remains impenetrable for the nonwhite.

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

I am capital-O obsessed with 3 WOMEN and have probably watched it a dozen times. Spacek and Duvall are captivating together, and the film is hypnotic and dream-like. Certainly one of the most unique and unforgettable films I've ever seen.

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

Condragulations NewMoonSon, you are the winner of this weeks challenge.

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKirk

Yep, I am also a huge fan of Sissy Spacek. There is something ethereal about her, like something otherworldly who is passing through in the world of mortals.

One of her underrated performances is in a rarely-seen and -discussed film by Tia Brelis called Trading Mom a.k.a. The Mommy Market, where she played 4 characters. Hilarious but not in a funny-hahaha way, but Sissy was aces.

I love her in Missing, 'night Mother, Carrie, In the Bedroom and her supporting turns in JFK and especially The Straight Story.

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

I love Sissy and it would be great if she gets another Oscar nomination. Sadly every time I think of her now is because of her outstanding oscar winning performance for Coal Miner's Daughter. And because of the really sad news that Loretta Lynn is a hard core trump supporter. I am sure the wonderful liberal Sissy is outraged that the woman she portrayed has turned out to be a ....welll I am not gonna use the words cos they disgust me.

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBette Streep

2001 for me:

Naomi Watts - Mulholland Dr.
Nicole Kidman - The Others
Sissy Spacek - In The Bedrom
Kristin Scott Thomas - Gosford Park
Tilda Swinton - The Deep End

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJon

I happen to think THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN looks fabulous.

As for Spacek's Oscar past, I support one victory for her, for IN THE BEDROOM (MTM should've triumphed in 1980).

Oh, and her most underrated performance? BLAST FROM THE PAST

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

Yeah, I think Old Man and the Gun looks terrific - but then again, I don't understand why TFE slept on A Ghost Story last year. David Lowery is one of our great up-and-coming directors. I also think Redford and Spacek are an inspired pairing; I'm surprised they haven't co-starred together before.

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Spacek's win in 1980 is one of the most deserving ever, and one of my all-time favorites. I know I'm in a small minority, but I thought Coal Miner's Daughter should have won Best Picture, also. 1976 is an incredible year, with a 3-way tie between Spacek, Dunaway and Liv Ullmann (Face to Face) with Ullmann eking out a win in the tie-break. Dunaway should have been busy polishing her Oscar for Chinatown in 1974. I hate the phony-baloney In the Bedroom, but she acquits herself adequately. Naomi Watts' performance in Mulholland Drive is one for the ages and then some. Nicole Kidman should have been nominated for The Others. Since both were not nominated, I don't care much, certainly not Halle Barry. So Judi Dench gets my vote for Iris, more or less by default. Favorite non-nominated performance: Badlands.

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterken s

Bette Streep - Hate to be this guy, but if you google "politically conservative movie stars" you won't watch movies anymore, or at last some masterpieces. From Cary Grant to James Caan, from James Stewart to Dennis Hopper, from David Lynch to Sylvester Stallone. A lot of them around. Past and present.

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKenny Fillis

Everybody would be a deserving winner against Halle Berry in 2002.

The line-up was exceptionnal but Sissy was the strongest contender of the bunch.

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterClement_Paris

@Owl: I've actually seen "Trading Mom" a couple of times. The first time I happened across it, the second time I thought, oh I just want to watch Sissy again.

It makes me think how much I would have liked to see Sissy in a crime thriller like Hitchcock's "Marnie" or Bob Rafelson's "Black Widow" where Sissy is the criminal heroine who adopts different impostures to commit her crimes.

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered Commenteradri

@ken s Faye Dunaway was astonishing in Chinatown, my second best that year, but in 1974 tge best performance of all time was nominated (Rowlands), so, no.

The whole mess in best actress was caused by Hepburn and Jackson winning their second Oscars. Had Dunaway won for Bonnie and Clyde, Spacek would win for Carrie. Had Burstyn won for The Exorcist, Rowlands would win for A Woman Under The Influence (well, I am not sure. I think Dunaway would win her second?). Had Spacek won for Carrie, Rowlands would win for Gloria.

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I just loved the way you all played musical chairs with the different winners! It's a favorite passtime for me.
My favorite:
1955: Susan Hayward instead of Anna Magnani. Tough choice there.
1958: Elizabeth Taylor instead of Susan Hayward.
1960: Deborah Kerr instead of Elizabeth Taylor.

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

Calroth: At the risk of having all manner of mean things said about me on this site, (or worse), I don't really care for Woman Under the Influence or Gena Rowland's performance. My seond choice in 74 is Diahann Carol. Faye Dunaway is great in Bonnie and Clyde, but that's anther 3 way tie for me where she just barely comes in behind Edith Evans and Anne Bancroft.

Marcos: Don''t get me started! What a fun can of worms that opens. I've been able to see all but about a half dozen of the Best Actress nominees, and - you'll have to trust me on this - I have an opinion on every single year. And since I agree with the result about a quarter of the time, I'm constantly playing "what if" in my alternate Oscar universe, i.e. the only one that counts. But then again, I'm sure most of you would be unfamiliar with that.

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterken s

Halle Berry's win for Monster's Ball is one of my all time favorites in that category. Her drunk scene is astonishing.

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

The 2001 Best Actress lineup is exceptional.

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJakey

My favorite Spacek performances are in "Carrie" and "Crimes of the Heart." She's a pleasure to watch in those movies. In fact, I'm not sure if I've ever seen her give a bad performance.

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMatt L.

1980 - I think it's unfortunate that they didn't put Mary Tyler Moore in the supporting category (there's a big chunk of OP in which she's gone). I thought she was just incredible - but could never have beaten Sissy in the lead role. I met Spacek in SW Virginia when she was filming Coal Miner's Daughter. She went to the dailies every evening. Very nice and friendly. Much prettier in person. She and I share the same birthday - Christmas Day.

August 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJimmy

@adri -- I agree with what you said. What a delight to see Sissy play different characters.

I am wondering if she can also pull off a character that was played by Emily Watson in Breaking the Waves or Toni Colette in Japanese Story or Charlotte Rampling's role in Under the Sand.

August 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

Sissy is definitely one of the greats and possibly the greater natural actress ever to appear on screen. Yes, she most definitely should have won her 2nd best actress in 2002. She won her 5th! NYFCC award for In the Bedroom, her 2nd LAFCC, her 3rd Golden Globe, had already won her 2nd NSFC award among so many that year. She has an endless # of iconic roles in classic films that almost always feature oscar winners or those nominated and frequently in films she's starred in. Just before In the Bedroom, her leading men were Nick Nolte, James Coburn, Richard Farnsworth, all oscar nominated for these roles and shortly after she's appeared opposite Jeremy Irons, William Hurt, Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Robert Duvall, Jessica Chastain, Emma Stone, Robert Redford.

She's the 1st and possibly only talent to appear in at least 1 best pic oscar nominee in each of the 4 most recent decades. She's 1 of only 8 actresses to be nominated for at least 6 leading role oscars. The Old Man and a Gun looks superb to me, David Lowery is a great relatively new director, Fox Searchlight released the most recent best pic winner.

Sissy is definitely on a role at the moment. A living legend. Could you imagine being in Badlands, Carrie and 3 Women all in the span of 4 years or so and having that be near the beginning of her career. Stunning actress, living legend. Her aunt Geraldine Page was nominated 8 times, her cousin Rip Torn, once for 9 between this husband and wife. Sissy and Jack Fisk are at #8 currently.

August 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBill

Love Sissy although Berry deserved her Oscar.

I dunno about this film, though. Yes, it's nice to see the two of them, but really, it looks like yet another movie where the men do everything and the women just sit around being concerned about their men, being supportive or maybe not supportive. Redford looks charming but I might pass.

August 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

DJ I kinda know what you mean for Sissy (girl friend role where the guy is generation older)... but in this case, what it has going for it without I'm hoping overselling is:
- a iconic movie star's last role (and Robert Robert no less)
- an up and coming director who's last film earned raves
- a film where the 2 leads (assuming Sissy is in it enough, but the trailer seems to suggest this) are mature and the subject matter isn't patronizing and Sissy, who is 68 and looks younger, isn't demented or forgetful like in Castle Rock or The Help. Both of these latter roles are great but... kinda bugs me how Sissy is being cast in some of her roles this millennium. Even Get Low had her a childhood sweetheart with Robert Duvall who is at least a decade older than she is and looks it
- an indie 70's vibe
- .

August 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBill

Sissy Spacek is one of my favourite actresses. I believe she deserved the Oscar in Crimes of the Heart without a doubt. Unfortunately it seems she stopped being very relevant in the early nineties and the roles she got were also a bit less mainstream, with some exceptions.
At the same time, some of her later performances were a bit understated, like the ones in The Straight Story or Nine Lives, for instance.
Generally, she is outstanding and underused in comedy, where she can play quirky characters like nobody else (Three Women, Crimes of the Heart, Blast from the Past), and in some independent or horror movies where she acts like an outsider (Carrie) or shows an unsettling personality (Badlands).
I would really love to see her doing something unusual for her, like a very glamorous urban woman who refuses to age, or some science-fiction work, or even do some period piece.

August 7, 2018 | Unregistered Commentercalypsoh

Spacek is my favourite actress. Her performances are nearly always exceptional and Carrie is my favourite film of all time. I must have seen it at least 120 times!
She should have won the Oscar at least four times from the nominated performances that she gave.
Should have won for Carrie over Dunaway; Coal miner's Daughter for which she rightly did win; Crimes of the Heart over Matlin and In the Bedroom over Berry.
It is a shame that her career has tailed off over the past two decades, but still good that she is becoming visible again. It would be great if someone wrote a role for her like Todd field did with 'In the Bedroom'.
A great actress and indeed a legend.

October 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterM Ridding

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