Whenever I watch the Oscars I feel that Best Actress awards are always the most coveted… probably not by the Hollywood/movie-making community, but by us as the fans. Or maybe just me. I’ve never spent much time speculating over which actor is going to win his award, mostly because I feel these nominees are pretty well-matched, but I’ve spent many hours discussing and debating with friends over which actress is going to take home her little man. Why you may ask?
We see a wide range of actress nominees, a unique mix of those who are new and fresh to acting, tried-and-true favorites, those who have been acting since before our parents were born… Each actress brings something to the table, whether it’s a performance we’ll always remember or one that simply blows everything we know completely out of the water.
One of my favorite things about actress nominees is the surprise nominees, ones who leave you scratching your head thinking “Who is that and where did she come from?” I commented on this yesterday in my post about actor (men) nominees; typically with actor (men) nominees we’re familiar with them in some form or fashion. Most are established, well-sought after, known to bring amazing performance after amazing performance to the table regardless of the role.
Actresses are another story. Some have been in more movies than we can count and are finally honored for a stellar performance. Some are flash in the pans who have fantastic first performances and then you never hear about them again. Some may flip flop between amazingness and mediocrity while others produce amazing performances time after time after time. You just never know what to expect from actress nominees each year and the surprise each one holds for her future career.
Then there are those actresses who have massive staying power.
1964 Julie Andrews Best Actress Mary Poppins, based on P. L. Travers book series
Is there anyone out there who DOESN’T like Julie Andrews? I’d like to meet this person and ask WTF is wrong with you? (If you don’t like Julie Andrews, fear not… I won’t really ask you that question!)
I feel like I have so many connections to this movie, so when I saw that Julie Andrews had won Best Actress for her role, I was so excited to add it to this week’s posts. Mary Poppins played a huge role in my childhood and I know it’s one of those great films that will certainly stand the test of time. But today isn’t about praising the movie, it’s about praising the actress.
Julie Andrews certainly had some big-time competition for this role, including Sophia Loren, Debbie Reynolds, and Anne Bancroft. Andrews’ performance as the kind and gentle Mary Poppins touched our hearts; who didn’t want a nanny like her?
Comparing Andrews’ portrayal of Mary Poppins to the actual character from the book, you can tell it was “Disneyfied.” The actual character from these books is not at all what we like to think she is – she’s stern and very strict with the Banks children as well as extremely vain and pretty arrogant. I’d love to see this character brought to life, but can’t in my wildest dreams imagine Julie Andrews portraying her.
Because like Mary Poppins… she’s practically perfect in every way.
1995 Emma Thompson Best Actress Nominee Sense and Sensibility, based on Jane Austen’s novel
As mentioned earlier this week, Emma Thompson is the genius behind the adaptation of Sense and Sensibility – although we know who the original genius was in creating this fantastic story!
Originally Thompson intended the role to go to Natasha Richardson (please see funny story regarding her and Thompson below) but the director wanted Thompson to play the role of Elinor Dashwood herself, despite the fact that Thompson as 35 at the time.
Well, whatever the director wants, the director gets, right? Thank goodness for that!
As an actress who has tackled numerous historical roles, Thompson fit the role of Elinor Dashwood perfectly, able to capture the crisp and witty language and manners of Austen’s time period and works. Her ability to deliver a line is, in my opinion, unmatched.
Although I haven’t read the book (I know, I KNOW) Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, the two eldest sisters, are as different as night and day; Elinor is quieter and reserved while Marianne is in your face. Thompson has this way of hiding all emotion from her acting while still delivering a line that’s full of powerful emotion, making the audience know exactly how she’s feeling or what she’s thinking without seeing any evidence of it in her face or actions. Somehow I feel this is how women were in the early 1800s… unable to act on their emotions due to societal constraints so they had to rely on their wit to make themselves known.
Okay, as promised… funny Natasha Richardson/Emma Thompson story: When I was in college my roommate and I were watching the new version of The Parent Trap – you know, the one with Lindsay Lohan. Natasha Richardson plays the mom and apparently my roommate didn’t know this. So we got to talking about who the mom was (I didn’t know at the time either) and she said she thought it was Emma Thompson. We got into this whole debate over it – I’m pretty sure this was the only debate ever made over this movie – until eventually I got so frustrated that I gave up. Months later I figured out who it was (I guess I hadn’t discovered Google at this time?) and had this uncontrollable urge to go tell her “See! You were wroonnnngggg!” but by this time we were no longer on speaking terms.
I’m interested to know your thoughts on both of these actresses and the movies/books as well as any others you think had excellent actresses.
The nominees for Best Actress are: