Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Best Actress of 1966

The nominees for Best Actress of 1966 were…

Anouk Aimée as Anne Gauthier, a young widow who falls in love with an also-widowed race car driver in “A Man and a Woman”.

Ida Kaminska as Rozália Lautmannová, a Jewish shop owner trying to survive the WWII era “Aryanization” of occupied Czechoslovakia in “The Shop on Main Street”.

Lynn Redgrave as Georgina Parkin, a young working class London girl with a serious inferiority complex in “Georgy Girl”.

Vanessa Redgrave as Leonie Delt, a young upper class London girl trying to get away from her insane gorilla-obsessed ex-husband in “Morgan!”.

The winner was Elizabeth Taylor as Martha, a New England college professor’s wife in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”.

If I chose the Oscars, these would be the results…

The nominees are…

Bibi Andersson as Sister Alma, a Swedish nurse taking care of a mute actress in “Persona”. Out at a seaside summer home, Sister Alma spends several days and nights keeping a mute woman company. This involves much talking, the telling of many stories progressing into the disclosure of intimate secrets. Her stories eventually become a deep self-analysis that leads her near nervous breakdown. Bibi Andersson seemed to truly lose herself in this character. Despite my inability to understand Swedish, I was captivated as I watched her (subtitles helped). The National Society of Film Critics called her the best actress of the year, but she was snubbed by the Academy. I wouldn’t have given her the prize, but she deserved the nomination.

Julie Andrews as Jerusha Bromley Hale, a well-to-do New Englander who marries a Calvinist missionary on his way to convert the natives in “Hawaii”. Julie Andrews brought an inner light to each of the characters she played during this period and Jerusha Bromley was a far more compelling character than the ones I had seen her play previously. I’m actually quite surprised that she wasn’t nominated for this performance considering the acclaim she had already received from the Academy. The serenity she displayed through hardship, labor and disease was inspiring. It was easy to see how she could attract the love of both Von Sydow’s evangelist and Richard Harris’ sea captain. In my opinion, she was more deserving of this nomination than of her two previous ones.     

Lynn Redgrave as Georgina Parkin in “Georgy Girl”. Georgy had an inferiority complex. She thought that she was plain, fat and unattractive. However, Lynn Redgrave was absolutely gorgeous in the role of this vivacious London girl. Her innocence and desire to make people happy meant that people she trusted would often take advantage of her, but once she found her confidence she was unstoppable. Everything about the performance made you fall in love with her. Redgrave was irresistible in her first starring role and she absolutely deserved her Oscar nomination. She was my number two pick for the award and it was surprisingly close considering the powerful performance of the winner.

Liv Ullmann as Elisabeth Vogler, a Swedish actress gone mute sent to a secluded summer home with a nurse to rest and recuperate in “Persona”. Liv Ullmann doesn’t speak a single word throughout the majority of this film, but her reactions, facial expressions, and body language raise this performance amongst the finest of the year. While I don’t rate her as highly as her co-star, she left a strong impression on the movie. She became Bergman’s muse and as she continued working with him, her future roles took her to even greater acclaim, including a pair of Oscar nominations. The   Academy didn’t recognize her this year, but I believe she deserves this nomination.

And the Oscar goes to…

Elizabeth Taylor as Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”. Miss Taylor’s portrayal of Martha in this film was mind-blowing. It was like nothing ever seen in a major Hollywood film before. She was crass and crude and very drunk. She threw herself at her male houseguest before her husband’s eyes as she berated and belittled him. People thought that the beautiful Ms. Taylor wasn’t right for the aging, frumpy Martha, but Liz put on thirty pounds and wowed everyone. The point where her portrayal went to the next level was toward the end where she seemed to be having a genuine nervous breakdown. The Academy was absolutely right to give her this Oscar. Any other decision would have been a travesty.


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