As we close out the film year, another couple of moments from the 20th minute & 10th second of 2010 cinema.
In this scene from Mother and Child, Karen (Annette Bening) has agreed to have coffee with an interested co-worker Paco (Jimmy Smits), who keeps asking her out. Having finally caved, she keeps stressing that it's not a date even though we sense that she likes him.
Paco: I just can't seem to say the right things around you. And I'm trying believe me.
Karen: What do you mean?
Paco: I just feel like I keep putting my foot in my mouth every time I talk to you. I... I just don't know why. Look I'm sorry forget I said that. I don't know what I'm talking about.
Karen: I'm not a difficult person.
Paco: No, I don't mean that.
Karen: You're not comfortable with me.
Paco: No, I am.
Karen: My words are too harsh for you.
And just like that she's out the door, their non-date barely begun. If Mother and Child, had been filmed with a different tone (for better and worse, it's stuck being emphatically sober throughout), this might have been a tragicomic scene. Karen IS a difficult person, her own worst enemy when it comes to her heart and what she needs from others. She likes the guy, but she's always ready to be hurt and therefore never ready to open up.
Do any of you remember when Mother and Child played in Toronto in 2009? There was briefly Oscar buzz suggesting that if it was released in time, Annette Bening would undoubtedly be one of the Best Actress nominees of 2009. Instead the film was held until 2010. It opened in the summer and in the shadow of The Kids Are All Right was quickly forgotten. I have one close friend to this day who swears she's way better in Mother and Child than she was in The Kids... (I don't agree but it's definitely fine work). Given that this performance has its champions, it makes you wonder. If Mother & Child won an Oscar qualifying release in 2009, would it have made a difference for her 2010 Oscar bid. So much of each Oscar competition is a complex set of factors including the very real power of "momentum". (Or was Natalie Portman in Black Swan one of those performances that was just going to win no matter what?)
Though my study suggesting that 50something actresses just don't win the big prize has gotten a lot of attention, I don't think it's impossible. It's just that the decks are stacked against them. Still, the ranks of actors with 4+ nominations and no wins is very slim.
Can Bening win if she follows up The Kids with another popular role right quick? Did any of Jeff Bridges' luck rub off on Bening at the Oscar nominee luncheon? It's been 21 years since her first nomination.
Very Frequently Nominated Actors Who Waited The Longest To Win
- Jeff Bridges (won on his 5th nomination, 38 years after his first)
- Geraldine Page (won on her 8th nomination, 32 years after her first)
- Paul Newman (won on his 7th acting nomination, 28 years after his first)
- Shirley Maclaine (won on her 5th acting nomination, 25 years after her first)
- Al Pacino (won on his 8th nomination, 20 years after his first)
- Gregory Peck (won on his 5th nomination, 17 years after his first)
- Susan Sarandon (won on her 5th nomination, 14 years after her first)
- Kate Winslet (won on her 6th nomination, 13 years after her first)
- Susan Hayward (won on her 5th nomination, 11 years after her first)
Waited The Longest Never Won Despite 4+ Nominations
- Richard Burton (7 nominations over a 25 year period) deceased
- Charles Boyer (4 nominations over a 24 year period) deceased
- Agnes Moorehead (4 nominations over a 22 year period) deceased
- Irene Dunne (4 nominations over an 18 year period) deceased
- Rosalind Russell (4 nominations over a 16 year period) deceased
- Thelma Ritter (6 nominations over a 12 year period) deceased
- Montgomery Clift (4 nominations over a 14 year period) deceased
- Deborah Kerr (6 nominations over an 11 year period) deceased
- Barbara Stanwyck (4 nominations over an 11 year period) deceased
- Arthur Kennedy (5 nominations over a 9 year period) deceased
- Claude Rains (4 nominations over a 7 year period) deceased
Only 10 Living Actors Have 4+ (Acting) Noms Without a Win
- Peter O'Toole (8 nominations over a 44 year period)
- Albert Finney (5 nominations over a 37 year period)
- Glenn Close (5 nominations over a 6 year period)
4. Seven other living actors have four (acting) nominations without a win: Warren Beatty ♥ Annette Bening though Beatty has a directing Oscar. Plus: Jane Alexander, Ed Harris, Marsha Mason, Julianne Moore and Mickey Rooney
Will any of them ever win?
As we can see from the lists above, it's pretty rare not to be a winner if you're in the 5+ nomination club. Only 7 actors in Oscar's 83 year history have ever won 5 nominations without winning the gold. Chances seem good that if Close, Bening, Harris or Moore are ever nominated again, they'll win. The problem is being nominated again. It gets harder and harder to find good roles as an actor ages.