Oscar History

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Entries in Best Actress (404)


HMWYBS: "The Turning Point"

Bancroft & Maclaine reminisce in The Turning PointBest Shot 1977 Party. Chapter 2
The Turning Point (1977)
Directed by: Herbert Ross
Cinematography by: Robert Surtees

When The Turning Point is remembered today, on the rare occasion that you hear it name-checked, it is nearly always in connection to its status as Oscar's all time loser (11 nominations without a win). That "achievement" was later shared when Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple (1985) met the same Oscar fate, entering the competition as a very big ticket and coming away empty-handed. It's surely no coincidence that both films are women's pictures. Oscar has grown increasingly wary of films about and for women over their 88 year history; that's not a mark on the films themselves but a stain on film culture and the Oscars. 1977 was in some significant ways, the very last Oscar year to be dominated by women. The sole "boys" movie up for the top prize was Star Wars, which perhaps also not coincidentally became the film which most Hollywood films aspired to be thereafter. Yes, 80% of the Best Picture nominees in 1977 were actually about women. Can you imagine it?!? That's a huge percentage which has, alas, not happened again in the 39 years since. Most Best Picture years since have been the reverse of those numbers, when in a more sane world it'd be about 50/50 since, you know, that's actually how the human race breaks down. 

Bronze. I think this is trying to be the film's signature image, but there are two many climaxes preceding it and following it to quite pull it off.

But now we're straying into Oscar stats when what we really want to talk about is this ballet melodrama and its gauzy prettiness. Worthy of 11 Oscar nominations? Surely not but that's not because of its subject, its genre, or its cast of accomplished women... 

Click to read more ...


Oscar Chart Updates: The Acting Races !

The July Oscar prediction chart updates are complete! You're welcome. Each chart has been updated (but for foreign film but we start building the submission tables now). With the acting charts newly updated you'll see new predictions we're trying on for size (Jessica Sloane for Miss Sloane and Naomie Harris for Moonlight) and significant chart gains for the casts of three pictures (which affects the supporting actor chart most) Love and Friendship, Loving and Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk.

Will they be contenders? Who knows.

Here are some questions TFE is asking its Oscar Crystal Ball. Care to answer them in the comments? 

• Which sci-fi picture is more likely to be garner acting praise: Passengers with Jennifer Lawrence or Arrival with Amy Adams? Or neither since sci-fi pictures are rarely regarded, right or wrong, as "actor's pictures"?

• Do you think Love & Friendship can muster up an acting campaign to capitalize on its sleeper arthouse hit status?

• Why is buzz around Martin Scorsese's Silence so quiet and does this mean anything for its formidable male actors?

• Will Fences be seen as just the Viola & Denzel show or will it be a force in Supporting Actor? And can Denzel win a third Oscar, tying Daniel Day Lewis, Walter Brennan, and Jack Nicholson?

• Can Sony Pictures Classics make a critical cause of or controversy 'must-see' event out of Paul Verhoeven & Isabelle Huppert's pairing in Elle?

• When will filmmakers quit wasting Oscar caliber actresses as "concerned wife on phone" and "inquisitive wife at kitchen table"? (Actually this last one is rhetorical. No need to answer lest we all weep.)



Yes No Maybe So: "Loving"

As far as first looks go, the La La Land trailer might have sucked all the air out of the room this week, but we also got a trailer for another Oscar hopeful: Cannes entry Loving. It left Cannes empty handed for prizes, but there was pletny of praise for the film and buzz for leading lady Ruth Negga. You can bank we'll be talking about this one before it finally arrives stateside in November all the way to the big show.

While that transfixing glimpse at Land was more a feast for the eyes and ears, the Loving trailer goes right for the heart. I know I'm higher on Jeff Nichols than most of Team Experience, so I can admit that I'm a little biased on the film already, even if I agree that his other film this year Midnight Special was his weakest. After flirting with fable and genre in his past three films, how will a more straight forward narrative work for the auteur this time?

Does the trailer make us any more or less excited? Let's break it down after the jump...

Click to read more ...


Jessica Chastain as Miss Sloane: A Story in Gifs

Jessica Chastain's upcoming movies have been shuffled around. The Zookeeper’s Wife - a WW2 drama directed by Niki Caro - will be released next March while Miss Sloane is coming this December. In the John Madden (Shakespeare in Love, The Debt) directed movie, Chastain is Elizabeth Sloane, a DC lobbyist battling for gun control legislation. It's a timely topic that we hope is handled with the care it deserves. The supporting cast includes Mark Strong, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alison Pill, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jake Lacy, Sam Waterston and John Lithgow.

Good cast Jessica, are you excited? (A Gif story after the jump)

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Halfway Mark: Best Actressing of 2016 (Thus Far)

Previously at the Halfway Mark
• 5 Favorite Pictures and imaginary Oscar scenario
• 11 Costume Design Honors from couture to the puritanical with swimwear on the side
• Cinematography & Production Design Sunset Song, etc...
• Heroes & Villains from Deadpool to Shere Khan
• 23 Male Actor Honorees in 5 categories

Cue fireworks. It's the grand finale. Our brief Halfway Mark Review honoring the best of the 50+ movies we've seen that have been released between January 1st and June 30th, is now at its end. But don't worry. The listing impulse fully never goes away and there's more excitement soon as we'll start updating the Oscar charts tomorrow. Naturally we're ending with BEST ACTRESS if five categories -- the same categories we previously did for the men.

If I had a ballot (hey, I do... albeit not an AMPAS ballot) here's what I'd honor from the year thus far -- January through June releases only though I've seen some July & August titles. [Disclaimer: The most noticeably actress-led film I haven't yet seen this year is The Meddler so please dont read anything into the absence of Susan Sarandon.]

Best Actress in a Leading Role

  • Sally Field as "Doris" in Hello My Name is Doris
    Doris is a CHARACTER but Sally never fails to humanize her written eccentricities making sure that she's the endearing source of the laughter rather than its target.  
  • Tilda Swinton as "Marianne Lane" in A Bigger Splash
    The "vocal rest" was her idea -- imagine an actor purposefully losing all their lines! -- and the result is you see Tilda's face and body alone capturing and reflecting the drama and auteurist impulses
  • Anya Taylor-Joy as "Thomasin" in The VVitch
    That angelic face is sensually attentive and her behavior innocent but mischievious. So many possible Masters (God, Lucifer, Herself, General Teen Hormones, and Restlessness)
  • Rachel Weisz as "Short Sighted Woman" The Lobster
    What a tricky tone to master, but she's in control. Her voiceover is beautifully at odds with her meekly submissive than overtly romantic screen self
  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead as "Michelle" in 10 Cloverfield Lane
    Sells shifting (dis)belief in this strange new reality while doing right by primal horror. Nails the only real in-script details about this character -- whip-smart instincts and a "Flight or Flight" response

Choices in 4 more categories after the jump...

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Gird Your Loins. The Devil Wears Prada is 10! 

Gird your loins.

We really had meant to do The Devil Wears Prada anniversary up big but the month got away from us. Today, 10 years ago, The Devil Wears Prada opened in theaters as counterprogramming and blew up, becoming one of 2006's biggest hits and endearing La Streep to a whole new generation of fans. Sadly she didn't win her third Oscar then (it would have solved so many problems later on. Plus, more importantly, she deserved it!). Because time slipped away from us, and tales of our incompetence do not interest her, we present this classic from the old site on this special occasion.

Ten Best Miranda Priestley Line Readings

My flight has been cancelled... "

10. How incredulous and put-out she sounds without even raising her voice. The way she says "school" when referencing her kids recital which she's desperate to attend is giggle worthy, too. So childish. Translation 'How could such a thing happen to the center of the universe... me?'

There you are Emily. How many times do I have to scream your name?"

09. 'Actually my name is Andrea.' Oh shut it Hathaway. She doesn't care. She will call you what she likes and you'll come running...

Click to read more ...


Olivia @ 100: Light in the Piazza

For Olivia de Havilland's Centennial (July 1st) we're hitting classics and curios in her career. Here's Chris Feil on a forgotten film that became a new classic musical...

I came to Olivia de Havilland's work in Light in the Piazza thanks to a (still enduring) obsession with the Adam Guettel musical, both adapted from Elizabeth Spencer's novella. While it's not surprising that the film hasn't endured (it lacks the stage version's soaring emotional heights), de Havilland's performance deserves a better place in her legacy. Even with a youthful love story as its center and gorgeous Florence as backdrop, you can't take your eyes off of the concerned mother - and not just because she spends the entire film drenched in custom Christian Dior!

As Meg Johnson, de Havilland is spending a holiday with her young daughter Clara, who falls in love with a charming Italian boy. The reason for her overbearing concern is the secret of Clara's developmental disability that freezes her to a childlike disposition - something the musical uses as an Act Two reveal that the film never hides. By addressing this conflict early on we understand Meg from the outset, especially thanks to the actress's relatability. De Havilland's real prowess in the role is her deep emotional access and intelligence; she keeps the film from stooping to the cheap sentimentality that's all too common in films about disability.

Her Meg is not simply a foil to Clara's love story. De Havilland is telling her own fading romance with her husband, projecting the aches and heartbreaks of their lifetime together in a very specific struggle of weathered marriage. Her dissent against her husband in regards to Clara's care could cause the end of her marriage or may be its only hope, but she plays it solely as selfless motherly affection. Meg's final "I did the right thing" would be hokey final note in the hands of a less soulful actress, de Havilland makes it a hard-won personal triumph with her pure connection to character.

Victoria Clark may have taken the character to glorious Tony winning vocal heights on stage, but this performance is emotionally transformative in its own way. The film may have been forgotten in the broader de Havilland filmography, but the star is in top form and as accessible as ever.

Previously: The Heiress (1949), The Dark Mirror (1946), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and It's Love I'm After (1937).

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