Saturday, September 05, 2009

Best Supporting Actress of 1966

The nominees for Best Supporting Actress of 1966 were…

Wendy Hiller as Lady Alice More, the devoted wife of Sir Thomas More in “A Man for All Seasons”.

Jocelyne LaGarde as Queen Alii Nui of Maui, Malama, the monarch of her island in “Hawaii”.

Vivien Merchant as Lily Clamacraft, the wife of a friend of Alfie’s (Michael Caine) who becomes one of his more unfortunate conquests in “Alfie”.

Geraldine Page as Margery Chanticleer, the obsessive, overbearing mother of the main character in “You’re a Big Boy Now”.

The winner was Sandy Dennis as Honey, the fragile and slightly unbalanced wife of Nick (George Segal) in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”.

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

The nominees are…

Candice Bergen as Shirley Eckert, a school teacher who lives in a remote mission up the Yangtze River in “The Sand Pebbles”. Bergen’s portrayal of this innocent young woman who falls in love with Steve McQueen’s sailor is one of her finest. The two star-crossed lovers are both too bound by duty, his to the Navy and hers to the mission, to even attempt to be together. Although she hides her feelings through prim and proper behavior, it soon becomes obvious that she has fallen deeply in love with the sailor. Despite all the tragedy that she must endure in the time covered by the film, it is apparent that she will continue to work to help others throughout her life. This portrait of dedication, devotion, and true love should have gotten the recognition of an Oscar nomination. 

Geneviève Bujold as Coquelicot, a beautiful tightrope walking asylum inmate in “King of Hearts”. As one of the “lunatics” who take over the small French town of “King of Hearts”, Geneviève Bujold makes a strong impression. Her beauty and her quirky nature draw the viewer in, much in the same way that she entranced Alan Bates’ character, Pvt. Plumpick. When you see her begin to fall in love with him, her concern for his safety, and her fear of the madness of the First World War consuming the countryside around her, you start to understand the essential question of this film, “Who are the real lunatics?” Even though she has little dialogue and mostly acts through her expressions and body language, I feel that she was strongly deserving of a nomination.

Sandy Dennis as Honey in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”. Sandy Dennis won the Oscar for this role. It was a tremendous performance, but I think she was only second-best for the year. The unbalanced, inebriated, and mousy wife of George Segal’s character didn’t stand a chance in George and Martha’s crossfire. The emotions that were brought up and the intimate secrets that were revealed over the course of the evening pushed Honey almost to her breaking point. Dennis was very convincing in the role as she held on to the emotional roller coaster and raced towards a total meltdown. She certainly deserved all the acclaim she received, but she only gets a nomination from me, not a statue.

Jitka Zelenohorská as Zdenka, a lovely young telegraph operator working at a small train station in German-occupied Czechoslovakia in “Closely Watched Trains”. You probably haven’t heard of this actress, although she has appeared in over seventy films in her native Czechoslovakia. She has a relatively small role in this film, but it had an impact. Her fling with the train dispatcher was one of the sexier scenes of the year. She really shines in the aftermath of the fling after it gets discovered by her mother. Her facial expressions are among the best I’ve ever seen as she shows her nonchalant attitude and intense sex appeal with every glance and smile. I’m probably going to get a real education in Czech cinema as I track down more of her movies. She gets a nomination from me and she’s also got herself a new American fan.

And the Oscar goes to…

Jocelyne LaGarde as Queen Alii Nui of Maui, Malama in “Hawaii”. She got a nomination from the Academy, but not the award. I’m giving her the award. Even though this was the only movie Jocelyne LaGarde ever made, even though she didn’t speak a word of English and had to learn her lines phonetically, I still give her this Oscar. As a matter of fact, I think those two things might make her more deserving. Because, despite the all-star cast of highly accomplished actors in “Hawaii”, she was the heart and soul of this film. The Queen Alii Nui was a very demanding and very loving character. She was a woman full of contradiction, yet once you understand her she makes perfect sense. Jocelyne LaGarde embodied all of these things and more. Throughout the movie, I never once doubted that I was looking at Polynesian royalty. She totally deserved that little gold man.

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