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15 Oscar Bait Flops starring the last 15 Oscar Best Actress Winners   Leave a comment

vlcsnap-2015-09-30-13h10m44s22Take a good look at that Best Actress Oscar, Cate!

An actor’s career won’t ever be complete if he/she hasn’t had that one film perceived as his/her Oscar vehicle only for the movie to not live up to its expectations and its Oscar chances ultimately ending up in a crash and burn in situation. Today, we’d be revisiting the last 15 Oscar Best Actress winners, and while all of them have ended up with Oscar statues in their mantles already (some even more than one, coughMerylcough), these are some films that were perceived to be the one.

2000: Julia Roberts

Then America’s Sweetheart Julia Roberts was unstoppable that year sweeping all televised precursors leading to the Academy Awards for her sassy superstar performances as the title role in Erin Brockovich, and while she obviously “loved it up there” in the podium, her post-Oscar career has mostly focused on doing favored works for her director friends (such as Steven Soderbergh and Ryan Murphy) or actor friends (such as Tom Hanks). However, in 2007, she starred alongside Hanks and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in Charlie Wilson‘s War as Texas socialite Joanne Herring donned with a big blonde wig and her signature wide grin. While she picked up a Golden Globe nomination for this, her real Oscar comeback came seven years after in August Osage County.

2001: Halle Berry

After her historic win in 2001, Berry remains to be the only African-American actress who have won the Oscar in a leading performance for Monster’s Ball. However, most of her post-Oscar career has been panned left and right specifically during her turn in Catwoman. While the actress have fared better in television (with her Emmy nominated performance “Their Eyes Were Watching God“), Berry still tried to prove her win was no fluke by starring in different Oscar vehicles such as “Things We Lost in Fire” in 2007. For this list though, nothing is as baity as her attempt for a comeback in 2010’s “Frankie & Alice” where she played a 70s stripper suffering from a dissociative identity disorder. Berry picked up a filler Globe nod for it, but the awards failure performance caused the film to be shelved only to be revived four years later for a theatrical release to the knowledge of… nobody.

2002: Nicole Kidman

Winning on her second consecutive nomination, Nicole Kidman was the biggest movie star on the planet during her win as author Virginia Woolf in Best Picture nominee The Hours. And while everyone thought this would be the start of the Academy’s love affair with the Australian actress, the opposite happened with her starring in low-key indie films (Dogville, Birth), flop mainstream attempts (The Stepford Wives, Bewitched), or Oscar baits that simply didn’t materialize (Nine, Australia). That said, her worst Oscar bait flop happened in 2013 when she played another Best Actress Oscar winner Grace Kelly in “Grace of Monaco.” Issues over cuts and versions between screenwriter Arash Amel, director Olivier Dahan, and distributor Harvey Weinstein all contributed to the tragic fate of this film (which as of this writing, has apparently three different versions). While Grace opened the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, it was panned by critics there losing any chance for a theatrical release. It ended up premiering on TV via Lifetime earlier this year, though that ended up as a blessing in disguise as that decision earned it an nomination for Best Television Movie at the Emmy Awards earlier this month.

2003: Charlize Theron

After her unanimously praised performance of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster, Theron easily received another Oscar nod two years after for the movie North Country. That said, Theron stayed low key with her movie choices tackling supporting roles mostly or really, small films. While her comeback in 2011 for Young Adult didn’t fruit to Oscar nom #3, it can’t be considered an Oscar bait flop considering the nature of the film doesn’t seem like the type that will get its actress nominated. However, after the success of Gone Girl last year and its lead actress Rosamund Pike receiving a nomination for it, studio A24 tried to ride on its success by releasing another Gillian Flynn novel turned to movie “Dark Places” starring Theron as the only survivor of a town massacre. Suffice to say, this was released in limited theaters and VOD killing all its chances to get Theron nominated.

2004: Hilary Swank

Only five years after receiving her first Best Actress Oscar, Hilary Swank easily snatched her second after starring as the female boxer Maggie Fitzgerald in the Best Picture Oscar winner of that year “Million Dollar Baby.” That’s why her third bid for an Oscar nomination (exactly ten years after her first and five years after her second), was for playing the great, late Amelia Earhart in Mira Nair’s 2009 take on the life of the prominent figure. Unlike her first two vehicles though, Swank quite received the flak for portraying yet another character leaning on the masculine strengths for another shot at Oscar. So despite Fox Searchlight handling the campaign for this film, not even that is enough to save this critical and commercial flop. Surprisingly enough, her next Oscar bait came in 2014 for “The Homesman“, but again to no avail. Maybe Hilary decided to plot her Oscar vehicles every time a year ends on 9 or 4 no?

2005: Reese Witherspoon

Her Oscar-winning role was that of the late country superstar June Carter Cash in “Walk the Line.” In this 2007 thriller however, Reese joined forces with Oscar winners Meryl Streep and Alan Arkin, as well as Oscar nominee Jake Gyllenhaal. Back in 2007, films dealing with the CIA and terrorism have been as baity as one can expect, so Witherspoon’s role as a pregnant woman involved in some terrorism actions seem like a shoo-in Oscar contender. Add the fact that this was Witherspoon’s foray into straight drama territory and this seemed anything but an Oscar flop. Until it was. Luckily for Reese, she managed to come back in the Oscar race earlier this year for her turn as Cheryl Strayed in Wild.

2006: Helen Mirren

Usually when a woman in her sixties win an Oscar, it’s mostly an indirect lifetime achievement award of some sort. But not for Dame Helen Mirren. Since her win for The Queen in 2006, this has led her to receive more leading roles and she has been the go-to British actress even surpassing Dame Judi Dench and Dame Vanessa Redgrave to name a few. She easily picked up an Oscar nod in 2009 for The Last Station, and we’re certain that she came close in 2012 for Hitchcock after receiving Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA nominations for it. Mirren is an easy name check for nominations too, as proven by her Golden Globe nomination (yet again) for The Hundred Foot Journey. However, Woman in Gold was a different story. It’s a great feat that the movie earned four times its budget, but with the topic of a Jewish refugee fighting for a painting of her aunt by the Nazis, this is the type of role that can easily skate its actress to awards talk… only that it won’t happen anymore.

2007: Marion Cotillard

Among all the Oscar flops in this list, The Immigrant is that one film that really doesn’t deserve its placement. It’s a great film and its number of accolades received could certainly prove it. However, after acquiring this film at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, Harvey Weinstein certainly did not know how to market or simply, what to do with this film and he ended up throwing it to E-One, the smaller right hand company of The Weinsteins which is an indication that they won’t be pushing this film for any awards consideration. But when Cotillard started to pick up steam for her performance in “Two Days, One Night“, Weinstein made a sudden last minute play of giving Cotillard and its cinematography some push hoping it can get her the nomination. Of course it didn’t, and Marion ended up getting that overdue second nomination for her better performance. Sadly, Marion has yet to be nominated for an English performance, and this could have been it had it been handled properly.

2008: Kate Winslet

For quite a period in the late 2000s, Jason Reitman has been the Academy’s catnip. His films have ended p receiving Oscar nominations for Ellen Page in Juno, and George Clooney, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick in Up in the Air with Golden Globe nods for Aaron Eckhart in Thank You for Smoking and Charlize Theron in Young Adult. However, all streaks will come to an end, as Reitman’s one began with the Kate WInslet-starrer Labor Day. Based on the novel by Joyce Maynard, Winslet plays another lonely suburban housewife (as if Little Children and Revolutionary Road weren’t enough) who had an encounter with convict Josh Brolin. The movie was met with horrible reviews, but hand it to the Golden Globes for still name checking Kate Winslet giving her a Best Drama Actress nomination for it.

2009: Sandra Bullock

2009 ended up as the start of a career renaissance for Sandra Bullock. Not only did she star in two movies of that year with grosses combined a 600+ million dollars, she ended up with the Best Actress Oscar for her turn as Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side. What could have been the pinnacle of an actor’s career only was the beginning for Sandra who followed it up with box office hits like The Heat and Minions or critically backed films like that of Gravity. This year, however, she dons her blonde wig yet again (just like in her Oscar winning performance) to headline David Gordon Green’s “Our Brand is Crisis.” While her awards chances have yet to be determined, you can mostly count her out since the movie received mixed to negative reviews since it premiered at Toronto International Film Festival this year. At least her personal reviews weren’t tragic, but count no Best Actress nomination for her this year.

2010: Natalie Portman

Portman’s road to the Oscar was for her performance as the ballerina in Black Swan, but only a year before that, we saw her closest attempt to follow up her 2004 nomination for “Closer” in Jim Sheridan’s “Brothers“, based on the 2004 Danish film of the same name. As the woman who was left in between the characters of Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire, Portman was given the tough position of acting upon two other contemporaries. Sadly for the film, it has gained little to no traction at all that year, mostly for the U2 song “Winter” and a Golden Globe nod for Tobey Maguire.

2011: Meryl Streep

Yes, even Oscar’s favorite actress takes a break from being Oscar nominated. Grunt all you can as Meryl enjoys her 19 career Oscar nominations and three statues at home (her latest for playing Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady), but every now and then she takes on flop Oscar vehicles such as this one directed by Robert Redford and had her starring with Tom Cruise. Streep plays liberal TV journalist Janine Roth who thinks the government is using her position to be an instrument of their plans. Here’s another film that tried to combined issues of journalism, terrorism, and war ending up with zero awards traction, rotten reviews, and a disappointing box office performance.

2012: Jennifer Lawrence

After starring in Best Picture nominees Silver Linings Playbook (for which she won her Oscar) and American Hustle, it seemed like the pairing of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence is one that seems to have find its footing in the Academy. Their third pairing, however, is from Oscar winning director Susanne Bier from the 2008 novel of the same name. While this costume drama seemed like it would continue the trajectory of both actors getting nominated, too many issues surrounding the film’s release ended up losing all momentum for the movie. It finally was released in the US last March which is enough reason to say that the movie’s intention to get any awards consideration is already killed.

2013: Cate Blanchett

At this stage in her career, Cate Blanchett is already infallible with everything she touches is suddenly critic proof. She has reached that stage in her career already where she has the respect and admiration of her peers and critics alike, as proven by her great comeback in 2013 because of Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine for which she won her second Oscar and her first one in Lead. But before any of those happened, she has been starring in one flop bait after the other in the early 2000s, particularly this Ron Howard film in 2003 entitled “The Missing.” It was Howard’s comeback after winning for “A Beautiful Mind” and starred Oscar winner Tommy Lee Jones. Good for Blanchett though because the year after, she finally natched her first one for “The Aviator.” And the rest, as they say, is history.

2014: Julianne Moore

Lastly, we have current Best Actress Julianne Moore. Before winning the Oscar this year for Still Alice, Julianne’s last visit to the Oscars as a nominee was still way back in 2002 when she was double nominated for The Hours (losing to Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Far From Heaven (losing to The Hours co-star Nicole Kidman). While we all have probably thought that Julianne would end up being forgotten (as it’s harder to win an Oscar when you’re in your 50s), she proved it otherwise. The journey to 2014 was a long wait though appearing in Oscar contenders where her co-stars got nominated but not her (such as The Kids Are All Right and A Single Man) or low key Oscar flop baits (The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio and Savage Grace). What stood out was the one directed by Fernando Meirelles though. As the opener of the 2008 Cannes Film Fest, Blindness was destined to be a real Oscar contender with its great ensemble, and the reputation of the people involved. After all, it was one of the most prominent best selling novels that time, and this was a challenging role. Alas, the bad reviews killed any of its perceived Oscar chances.

There you have it. What are your favorite Oscar flops? Which Oscar bait ones did you secretly enjoy? Talk to me about it on Twitter: @nikowl

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Ranking the 1990s Oscar Best Actress Winners   3 comments

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So I have decided to start another project here which obviously from the title of this post already gives you a clue on what it’s about. Inspired from a poll on a forum, I’ve decided to watch all the 90s Best Actress Oscar champs arranged from the earliest up to the last of the decade in order to revisit, rekindle, and look how these performances stood the test of time. The focus will be on the performances so little to no mentions of Anjelica Huston in The Grifters, Emily Watson in Breaking the Waves, and Judi Dench in Mrs. Brown and how they were all robbed here. Okay I take it back. Will mention them as well but in small doses. Okay let’s begin!

1990

And we begin the decade with that surprise win of Kathy Bates for breathing life to the big fan turned obsessed creep Annie Wilkes in the adaptation of the Stephen King novel “Misery.” While the writing of Annie Wilkes can be a bit one note, Bates brings a certain humanity to the character thus encompassing emotions that show her character’s vulnerability. How Kathy Bates managed to show defeat and hurt of Annie when she spilled the wine on their dinner to bringing in the crazy when the officer visited her house and that composed demeanor she had after she tied Paul Sheldon is a testament of her range given the limitations of the role. And one has to appreciate the humor that Bates has brought to the role that makes the achievement more appreciated such as her rant against the coupon bond issue as for starters.  Of course at this stage, no one knew that Bates would  play another Stephen King character via Dolores Clairborne five years later, and while that one had the better performance, it does not take away the complexity that Kathy brought to the role of Annie Wilkes. It is difficult to laugh and be scared with the same character at the same time, and she does it so well that it’s hard to take this win from her. It’s also quite a special win considering how much the Academy rarely touches anything from the thriller/horror genre (unless one counts that win by Jessica Tandy just a year before) and that then unknown Bates, whose popularity only exists on the four walls of Broadway, managed to beat then it girl Julia Roberts, Hollywood royalty Anjelica Huston, Oscar favorite Meryl Streep, and legendary actress Joanne Woodward. Bittersweet indeed.

1991

Just a year after I commented on how this category rarely touches performances from horror or thriller films, AMPAS then decides to reward them back to back. In 1991, The Silence of the Lambs defied all odds by being released exactly one whole year prior to its Oscar sweep the following year. Of course that includes the win for its lead actress Jodie Foster, who herself was already a recipient of this same exact trophy three years before for The Accused. However, this remains to be an iconic role and performance from Jodie, which is nothing to question about. As for starters, it is very refreshing for a woman to headline a thriller such as this one and gain much critical and commercial success. of course it would be unfair to dismiss the efforts of Anthony Hopkins who churned in an iconic performance himself, but Foster’s Clarice Sterling is basically the heart of the movie. And how it succeeds is definitely a gender bending milestone of how thrillers are associated with only male actors front and center. It also does not hurt that this performance is really great as well. In it, Foster rarely (or none at all) relied to histrionics and made Clarice driven but not totally ambitious, subtle but never forgettable, and complex without being one-sided. This is the same year when both Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis were nominated for their team up in Thelma and Louise and part of me thinks that’s also another reason which helped Foster’s road to the podium at all. While one can argue that those two are better than Foster (I belong to that camp to be honest), it is easier to reward this performance than pulling a Sophie’s Choice between the two. But in the end, it must not limit the merits that Jodie has brought into this performance, as it’s probably one of the most respected wins in this category especially for non-Oscar aficionados.

1992

And from one Anthony Hopkins leading lady to another, queen of British period pieces Emma Thompson won the following year for her performance as Margaret Schlugel in Howard’s End. It was one of those easy Oscar calls as she has been the frontrunner all season long, and it’s not difficult to figure out why. Thompson brought a warm touch to a likable human being that isn’t a scene stealing, attention grabbing character. She was the voice of sense and reason, and Emma was quick to figure that her character balances the story in between her hands. Margaret was a sympathetic character but not one who you’d feel pity for, and there’s a certain glow that Thompson just radiates while playing this character. Whether it’s her tea sessions with Vanessa Redgrave or finding out about Anthony Hopkins’ romantic past, she inhabits Margaret’s confidence effortlessly reflecting Emma’s class act performance. 1990 winner Kathy Bates, Emma Thompson would go on and play another period character in another James Ivory film, The Remains of the Day, for which she nabbed another Oscar nomination, but whether it is arguable if she did well better in the former or the latter, the heart of Howard’s End will always belong to Emma Thompson and with that, she is certainly deserving of this Oscar recognition.

1993

1993 was all about talking (or lack thereof). With Whoopi Goldberg hosting the Oscars — being the first black woman (and up to now still remains the only one) to do so, this was also the last previous bid for a black actress to win the coveted Best Actress Oscar prior to Halle Berry’s historic win in 2001. The person in talks was Angela Bassett for portraying iconic performer Tina Turner in What’s Love Got To Do With It? And the talks are loud, perhaps really loud, that this is still the subject of some debates years after. But the woman who ended up with the Oscar needs no talking in her film, at least. The Piano‘s Holly Hunter became the seventh person in Academy history to win an Oscar for not uttering a word on screen (except the narration at the beginning and the end). In hindsight, why people argue Holly Hunter’s win years after is beyond me. In a really strong field that includes Stockard Channing in Six Degrees of Separation and last year’s winner Emma Thompson in The Remains of the Day, Hunter towered above the rest of the field with her performance. The mute aspect isn’t gimmicky nor calculated for me, as she was able to translate a performance that started as a mail ordered bride who was cold but willing to open up, just given the opportunity to do so. Hunter has always been praised for her delivery and the energy she inserts into the role she plays, but she managed to overcome all that and give an equally impressive one stripped off her usual assets. The stares, the body language, and the actions are far from a stunt performance and on top of that, the emotions that she just poured in it. I doubt performances like this could win an Oscar in this period now where showy OMG acting in this category seemed to be the key to be considered an “actress.” It’s a performance that stood well the test of the time, and it’s one of the times when Oscar go against the norm and ultimately get it right.

1994

There is such a stigma being labeled to the 1994 Best Actress line up to be one of the weakest in this category’s history. After all, this was the year when Linda Fiorentino should have swept all the awards if only The Last Seduction wasn’t shown briefly on HBO, thus making her ineligible for the rest of the season. But while there’s a hint of truthfulness with that, you can all spare Jessica Lange’s winning performance in it. Say what you want about her weak ass nominees, but Lange is nowhere a weak winner this year. Playing a mentally unstable wife of a military man and causing troubles to his career, Jessica was able to amp up the physical, emotional, and mental requirements of the role effectively that it’s definitely one of the underrated wins in this category’s history. Much of the talks about this performance and film was how it was dumped in the shelf three years after its completion, when in fact we should be talking about Jessica Lange slaying the hell out of this role. It’s a very complex performance which suited a woman of her age as she oozes her sexuality and shifts to calm to showy in a snap. While some performances get carried along the strength of their overall films, the opposite can be said about here as Blue Sky ended up as inferior to what Jessica brought to the role. Besides, her only Oscar until this year was a thank you for a great year supporting win in 1982, and if someone fits the narrative of a multiple Oscar winning actress, her name would definitely be up on that list. So this one albeit a weak year is an inspired win and one who should overcome, if anything else, the weak field she’s been grouped with.

1995

After a weak 1994 line up, we’re bound to have a strong one no? But to say the 1995 Best Actress line up is a strong one is even an understatement if we are to look past the performances that were left off that year (Nicole Kidman in To Die For, Julianne Moore in Safe, Kathy Bates in Dolores Clairborne among others). Now if we are to look at those actual nominated performances, then it makes the case even stronger with Elisabeth Shue acting opposite the eventual Best Actor winner and Meryl Streep in the second best performance of her career are unrewarded with Oscars. But then, it’s all about Susan Sarandon. Sure, her overdue status would have pushed her the win that year especially since she was nominated four times the last five years, but to consider that as a demerit to her performance is reaching it. Playing real life nuin Helen Prejean, Sarandon would always be on the odd side of the film. On the outer, you have to act opposite Sean Penn’s more interesting and showy character as Susan is relegated to facial reactions to what his character is saying. To act with such a very complex character and not be overshadowed is a feat itself, but Sarandon perfectly crosses the line of being receptive but not totally eaten and distinct without overshadowing her co-star. If anything, it was a perfectly arranged harmony that she has showed here. And beyond that, she plays the character of a nun. It’s hard to play a character who is morally good and be believable in it, but Sarandon’s Prejean’s cling in her “faith” does not only resonate to Matthew Poncelet but to humanity is an acting accomplishment that is deserving to be honored with an Oscar.

1996

On one hand, it would be a waste to hate on Frances McDormand’s win here especially since she’s a very talented actress whose charisma really transcends through her works. On the other, this was the year when the revelation that is named Emily Watson brought one of the best performances I’ve ever seen on screen via Breaking the Waves, that even if I know Oscar won’t touch it, I still feel like my hopes were dashed. But since I’ve let that one out of the way, let’s go back to our 96 champ Frances McDormand. Playing police officer Marge Gunderson, McDormand certainly made the most of all of her scenes in Joel Coen’s Fargo. It is very hard to root for a character as lovable and likable as Marge, and like Thompson’s Margaret, there’s a certain amount of rooting for that you feel with the character. Much of Marge’s magic — if I may call it that — can be attributed to Frances McDormand’s own wit and charisma. Her confident personality seems to play a factor with the end result of Marge’s character and that it will make you want to see more of her (granted she’s only in the film half of the time). There is a reason why Marge, despite limited screentime and borderline supporting appearance, is an iconic character and Frances is the main reason why. On a totally unrelated note, I would just like to share that I am amazed with Alison Tollman’s portrayal of such role in the FX adaptation series of Fargo because even if she wisely did not copy the same approach that McDormand did in her character, you can see the influences and nuances that McDormand indelibly left in her portrayal 18 years before.

1997

Before we start the 1997 discussion, let’s get this one out of the way: Nope, Helen Hunt did not win just because she’s battling against four British actresses in here. If anything, Helena Bonham Carter and Dame Judi Dench are in British period pieces, Julie Christie has been rewarded an Oscar already, and Kate Winslet is the reason why Leonardo di Caprio died  serviceable but in no way awards worthy in Titanic. There’s a certain level of vitriol spawn on Helen Hunt’s Oscar win and that’s probably because her post-Oscar career sizzled or that like any others, she was perceived as the darling of that year’s awards season. In As Good As It Gets, Helen plays the longer version of what makes her a prominent American that time: a big TV star sweeping off Emmys for her show Mad About You. But that is not to say that Hunt wasn’t good in what she did in the film. As waitress Caroline who found love in the most unusual way, Hunt was pleasantly and delightfully sweet that it charms the Oscar voters to give her that trophy. It’s a performance where she’s acting off one of Hollywood’s finest Jack Nicholson, and how he did not swallow her in their scenes together must be credited to the both of them. I still don’t think Helen Hunt had any business winning an Oscar that year, but she was convincing for the most part, albeit sitcom-ish as well, in her performance in the film.

1998

Now think of the vitriol that Helen Hunt received in 1997 and double it to come up with the reception that Gwyneth Paltrow’s Oscar win had earned over the years especially from fans of the performances of co-nominees Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth and Fernanda Montenegro in The Central Station. But then I think it is unfair to simply attach Paltrow’s competition to the performance that she has given in Shakespeare in Love. This is not the same case as that of the previous year’s winner since Shakespeare in Love is mighty ahead in terms of being the better film. As a matter of fact, Paltrow and the film itself carried the same burden with regards to their Oscar legacy — she and the film are perceived to tackle lighter subjects; thus they are easier to dispose. This is not to say that both her and the movie are rightfully and every inch deserving of their wins but more of an underestimation with the accomplishments that they have achieved. Focusing back on Gwyneth, her gender bending role as Viola de Lesseps provides the perfect heroine accessory to the film. Given that great screenplay and lavish production of the movie, it does not need an actress that will overshadow all of that but instead one that will understand the circumstances and just go with it, which she did in the movie. It is not easy to be charming and delightful as your film’s heroine and she possesses both of that in her performance. So while I understand that this leans on the lighter fare of stuff as compared to playing a queen, it does not warrant the notorious image that it has since then received.

1999

Now after three comedic performances in a row, the decade closed with one of its closest and most infamous Oscar rivals. In 1999, Annette Bening, one half of the power couple with Hollywood legend Warren Beatty, is up for her performance as part of eventual Best Picture winner American Beauty. Prior to the Oscars, she has won the SAG and there’s a really great chance that the film will join the elite few of winning the four major awards (Picture, Director, Actor and Actress). Then there’s up and coming actress Hilary Swank, whose probably known for her remake of Karate Kid sometime in the mid 90s, playing the role of real life transgender Teena Brandon in the small indie film Boys Don’t Cry. And in a Cinderella moment, David beats G0liath as Hilary Swank became the last winner of the decade. That is probably one of the boldest moves made by the Academy and one of the best upsets if I may say. In one of the best breakthrough performances by an actress here, she was raw, heartbreaking, and every inch convincing in this performance. Swank never made the movie about her tics or her adjustments, but she assured that it will be about Brandon’s journey, and it is within this fearlessness that she made this character and performance remarkable. If anything, I think it’s even braver that she denied the easily to use sentimentality nor trademarks that in the hands of a lesser actress would rely to, and instead let it breathe and parade it with so much clarity and confidence. Whatever Hilary Swank did for the remaining of her career after this is hers to celebrate or to blame, but in this one particular performance, she made it clear that she would be remembered.

The 90s Best Actress winners line up in general have been less receptive to biopics (with only two out of the ten winners were for playing real persons) and more to poetic costume pieces films. There’s also a stage where humor works best (even three in a row from 96-98) and if you’d even include, Kathy Bates in Misery. Ranking this is difficult since there’s a lot of performance here that I admire and the ones I appreciate and respect aren’t even totally deserving of a low ranking. That said, I guess I’m gonna go with…

01. 1993 (Holly Hunter, The Piano)
02. 1999 (Hilary Swank, Boys Don’t Cry)
03. 1995 (Susan Sarandon, Dead Man Walking)
04. 1992 (Emma Thompson, Howard’s End)
05. 1991 (Jodie Foster, The Silence of the Lambs)
06. 1996 (Frances McDormand, Fargo)
07. 1994 (Jessica Lange, Blue Sky)
08. 1990 (Kathy Bates, Misery)
09. 1998 (Gwyneth Paltrow, Shakespeare in Love)
10. 1997 (Helen Hunt, As Good As It Gets)

So who is your favorite 1990s Best Actress winner? Who would you consider as the best of the decade? And how many of those performances have stood the test of the time? Chime in the Comments section below and let’s converse! 🙂

You can also follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

10 Female Rivalries in Entertainment   24 comments

Just this week, the whole Hollywood was buzzing about the announcement of the remake of the 1962 classic What Ever Happened to Baby Jane. The bad news is that we don’t need a remake of this. After all, both Better Davis and Joan Crawford nailed iconic performances of sisters Jane and Blanch in this acting masterpiece. The good news is that Walter Hill has received personal blessing from the family of the late Robert Aldrich to do the remake. Now the next question begs on who will play the sisters. While there are no reported cast members yet, everyone is coming up with their own pairs with the combination of Glenn Close, Jessica Lange, and Meryl Streep topping the forums.

Now this led me to a very interesting topic that never fails to make noise when it comes to public opinions and online discussions. Time and again, it has been mentioned that there’s always a stereotype when it comes to female and showbusiness. While men weren’t subjected to any rivalries and petty issues, women were always downgraded into catfights and rivalries in terms of awards, recognition, and other achievements.  Here are ten examples of female pairings that will always elicit response from the people.

1. BETTE DAVIS and JOAN CRAWFORD

There’s no better way than to start the countdown with the two lead stars of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane. While the movie delivered expectations of the crowd in terms of acting intensity, it was very obvious that the strength of the two leads’ performances was based from the fact that they really dislike each other. And when I say really, they really really do. This came to a point that the situation was out of hand and even director Aldrich can’t do anything about it. During one scene where the character of Bette physically abuses Joan, the shooting came to a halt as Bette’s kicks were too realistic that Joan Crawford needed some head stitches. In return, on scenes that require Bette carrying handicapped Joan, the latter will put big heavy stones inside the pockets of her costume causing Bette back aches after the shoot. Talk about a very intense shooting.

TRIVIA: When the Oscar nominations were announced that year, only Bette Davis was nominated for Best Actress. This made Joan Crawford mad, and she contacted Bette’s co-nominee and eventual winner Anne Bancroft that she’ll receive the trophy in behalf of her if she wins. Now in one of the biggest Oscar legends ever, it was said that after Bancroft was announced the winner, Crawford passed by Davis backstage and mentioned “Excuse me, but I have an Oscar to accept.”

2. MARICEL SORIANO and SHARON CUNETA

Aside from Vilma and Nora, Maricel Soriano and Sharon Cuneta are the two other perennial “stars” of Philippine showbusiness. Maricel was tagged as the Diamond Star while Sharon is also known as the Megastar. Both are the box office queens of the 80s though the primary difference was that Maricel is a Regal Queen while Shawie hails from Viva. In the 90s, both moved on to be more serious actresses headlining in award winning films. The rivalry doesn’t seem to die down especially during times where in both actresses happen to release movies in the same year such as the 2003 Metro Manila Film Festival where Sharon was a part of Crying Ladies and Maricel as a part of Filipinas. During the Gabi ng Parangal that year, Maricel bagged the Best Actress plum while Shawie won the Audience Choice for Best Actress.

TRIVIA: Despite fans rallying and bashing each other in public forums, Shawie and Marya have nothing but good words and praises for each other especially when the Diamond Star guested on Megastar’s Sunday talk show Sharon. As a matter of fact, they have been on the same TV station for decades now when both belonged to ABSCBN up to now where they are both TV5 talents. Another thing they have in common is that both headlined a Mano Po movie; Maricel was at the first Mano Po playing the character of icy sister Vera Go while Shawie headlines the sixth installment playing tycoon Melinda Uy.

3. MARIAH CAREY and WHITNEY HOUSTON

They were touted as some of the greatest voices the music industry ever heard. While Whitney was the first one to emerge into the limelight being at the top of her prime as early as the mid-80s, comparisons started after Mariah debuted in the 90s with Vision of Love. Back then, everyone was saying that Mariah was one of the most refreshing voices ever heard. and that she was here to stay. However, Whitney captured and regained the hearts of many when she belted out her iconic I Will Always Love You and that kept the rivalry alive. While fans are arguing with each other on whether who’s the better one, the rivalry gained waves again when the two collaborated on the Oscar nominated soundtrack When You Believe from The Prince of Egypt. Both Mariah and Whitney shut off the rumors and even performed the single at the Oscars in 1999. Mariah was even one of the first who tweeted her condolences when Whitney left us February of this year calling her “one of the greatest voices on earth.”

TRIVIA: One of the most memorable moments in the history of the MTV Video Music Awards was in 1998 when Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston presented the Best Male Video category. The biggest surprise came because when Mariah appeared from the left side and Whitney from the stairs, they were wearing the same dress. Both were surprised but moreso, prepared for the situation with Mariah removing her train to reveal a skimpy look. This makes a remarkable VMA moment.

4. ANNETTE BENING and HILARY SWANK

Now this one is more of an Oscar rivalry. In 1999, the Best Actress trophy is between two actresses. The first one is an ingénue in a very revealing and challenging role that gave her lots of breakthrough notices. The other one comes from the perceived Best Picture frontrunner that seems to sweep the four major categories. What works for the second contender’s chance is that her husband, a Hollywood legend, is receiving the Thalberg award that same night, and with her possibly winning the trophy, it will be a moment Oscar finds hard to resist. The Globes awarded the first one while the SAGS went for the second one. When the envelope was opened, it was the newbie who triumphed over the other actress paving the way for a Hilary Swank victory. In 2004, a part two of the rivalry happened. This time, they switched conditions when Annette was nominated for a small indie film while Hilary was in the Best Picture frontrunner.  Both won the Globes (Swank won for Drama while Bening won for Musical/Comedy), with Swank also getting the SAG. When the Oscar was announced, Hilary won again Round 2 vs. Annette. Probably a case of bad timing or just her luck?

TRIVIA: We got a glimpse of an Annette-Hilary Round 3 in 2010 at the SAGs. That year, Annette Bening was nominated for her turn as the more aggressive lesbian woman in a female relationship in The Kids Are All Right while Hilary was cited for her turn as lawyer Betty Ann Waters in the biopic “Conviction.”This time, neither of them got the trophy as Natalie Portman prevailed for Black Swan.

5. ANGEL LOCSIN and MARIAN RIVERA

Angel Locsin was GMA’s biggest star. She gets the best projects one after the other. She is considered as the station’s most prized possession. However, a misunderstanding on her next project started rumors that Angel is transferring station. The rumors were proven correct and she was seen on the rival station sooner. On the other station, the search for the next big star started and literally hundreds of their talents auditioned to take the throne. The lucky winner was Marian Rivera who is now the most prized talent of GMA 7. At first, it’s as if the station aims to make Angel feel regret by giving Marian a remake of a previous Angel project.  Both obviously gained something from the rivalry as Marian’s fame skyrocketed and she was given star treatment in her station while Angel became a box office movie star, Best Actress wins, and an International Emmy nomination to boot.

TRIVIA: There seems to be no issues between the two actresses when it comes to their personal feelings with each other. As a matter of fact, Angel’s next film is with Marian’s boyfriend Dingdong Dantes. As for the widely contested FHM Sexiest Women list, in the seven year span that they both made it to the list (from 2006-2012), Angel ranked higher in four years (2006, 2007, 2010, 2012) while Marian topped Angel on the remaining three years (2008, 2009, 2011).

6. ANGELINA JOLIE and JENNIFER ANISTON

Now this one does not need any explanation at all. Bottom line is while Brad and Jennifer were married, Brad fell for Angeline while shooting Mr. and Mrs. Smith. After then, years and years of nonstop invasion of fabricated stories and rumors that never seems to end invade the lives of the three involved. What’s sad about the issue is that people put the blame between Jennifer and Angelina and leave Brad less worried on who caused the issue.

TRIVIA: Ever since the issue broke out in 2005, it wasn’t until in 2009 where Pitt, Jolie, and Aniston met ways in an event. The Oscars that year nominated both Brad and Angelina as Best Actor and Best Actress for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Changeling respectively. Meanwhile, Aniston was a presenter for Best Animated Feature wherein Angelina’s Kung Fu Panda was nominated. While Aniston was presenting with Jack Black, the cameras panned several times to Brangelina where they were caught laughing to Jennifer’s banters.

7. NORA AUNOR and VILMA SANTOS

Philippine’s greatest and longest rivalry belongs to none other than Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos. They are two of the greatest thespians in the history of Philippine cinema history. Ate Guy is more known with the way her eyes act even without battling a single word. La Aunor’s eyes act from the soul and they reach a mile faster than a bullet. This made Nora the “Superstar” for everyone. Vilma’s advantage, on the other hand, is her line delivery. Once she starts speaking, it leaves a lasting effect on you. Also, Vilma’s singing dancing and hosting talents labeled her as the “Star for all Seasons.” Since then, they were pitted for awards, box office titles, and their fans are some of the most loyal ones that were still present up until now.

TRIVIA: While both of them have received numerous acting trophies one after the other, the greatest acting award rivalry that happened was in 1982 when Nora was up for Himala while Vilma was nommed for Relasyon. Ate Guy won the MMFF Best Actress that year, while Vilma swept the FAP, FAMAS, and Urian leading to the first ever grandslam in the history of Philippine award giving bodies. Decades later, CNN proclaimed Nora’s Himala as the Best Asian Film. The last time that Nora and Vilma were up for awards consideration at the same time was in 2004 when Nora gained traction as the lawyer in Naglalayag while Vilma as the Chinese matriarch in Mano Po 3. Vilma won at the PMPC Star Awards that year, but neither won the Luna and the Urian. This year shapes up to be a comeback as Nora stars in Brillante Mendoza’s Thy Womb while Vilma is in Chito Rono’s The Healing. Funny thing though is that the name of the healer that Vilma consults in The Healing is Elsa which is the name of Nora Aunor’s fake healer character in the iconic Himala.

8. BRITNEY SPEARS and CHRISTINA AGUILERA

In 1999, while the bubblegum pop era is slowly emerging, it was full of boybands that cater to the ladies. There seems to be no one that caters to the young boys. In April of 1999, there emerge Britney Spears. Britney was like the life-size Barbie that young girls idolize and young boys fantasize. She was sexy and a great dancer and her songs are very much addictive. Four months later, another young blonde singer emerged by the name of Christina Aguilera. While she was also as innocent as one can get, her first single Genie in a Bottle speaks volumes on a more liberated pattern. After discovering that both were alumni of the Mickey Mouse club, the rivalry started and it was probably the biggest rivalry of their time. Not only singles and music videos were compared, even rival endorsements get them. When Pepsi got Britney, Coca Cola signed up Christina. The biggest surprise that year happened at the Grammys Awards when both were nominated for Best New Artist. Britney and Macy Gray were the frontruners but when the envelope was opened (right after Britney’s performance which usually signals that she’ll win), it was Christina Aguilera’s name that was announced as the winner. Both Britney and Christina shut off rumors about the rivalry by appearing on stage at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards introducing the late Whitney Houston. Time and again, they have nothing but sweet messages for each other in interviews and reports.

TRIVIA: Thirteen years since their first appearance, both Britney and Christina are walking the same pattern again as they get head to head as judges in reality signing competition. It is Christina’s third season as a coach in the NBC hit The Voice while it is Britney’s first season as a panelist in Fox’s X Factor. This will surely heat up rivalry between the fans of the two.

9. CLAUDINE BARRETTO and JUDY ANN SANTOS

It is said that the offspring of the Nora-Vilma rivalry is that of Claudine and Judai’s. Judy Ann is touted as the next Nora, the maka-masa actress whose eyes speak volumes. Claudine is said to be the next Vilma whose great line deliveries fit any genre with such finesse. It didn’t help that Nora starred with Judy Ann in the 1997 film “Babae” while Claudine starred as Vilma’s eldest daughter in “Anak” in 2000. Both were also ABSCBN’s queens of primetime television and the station’s royalties up until Claudine transferred stations in 2009. This opened new rivalries between the fans of the two as ABSCBN announced Judy Ann as the sole face of the 60 Years of Soap Opera. However, both Claudine and Judai are friends with each other especially since they have moved on now to be serious asset actresses of their generation.

TRIVIA: In the field of awards recognition, there was only one year in local award giving body history where Judai and Claudine faced off against each other for Best Actress. It was in 2004 when Claudine was nominated for her portrayal of the fearless, independent OFW in Olivia Lamasan’s Milan. Judy Ann took notice for her performance as the title role of the wild sultry provocative woman in Joel Lamangan’s Sabel. Claudine beat Judai both at the FAMAS and the Luna awards that year while it was Judai who got the coveted Urian trophy. Since then, they haven’t competed for any film award consideration.

10. MARCIA CROSS and TERI HATCHER

In probably one of the biggest stories of 2005, one supposedly short and relaxing Vanity Fair cover shoot turned out to be a very controversial and emotional one. Because of the surprising success since the launch of Desperate Housewives in 2004, the ladies have been the most in-demand actresses during that time. Interviews, pictorials, endorsements have been running left and right for the stars of this ABC comedy Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross, Felicity Huffman, Eva Longoria, and Nicolette Sheridan. When the Housewives Vanity Fair issue hit the stands, there was a sign in the cover that mentioned “You wouldn’t believe what it took just to get this photo!” This kept Hollywood rumormongers buzzing and finding out small details until it was finally exposed. According to reports, before the start of the shoot, ABC already warned the Vanity Fair staff to not put Teri in the middle of the photo and to not let her be the first one to choose wardrobe. But when the shoot started, Teri wore the red swimsuit (since she already contacted the stylist days in advance which fumed up co-star Eva Longoria complaining to the producers) and was placed in the middle of the photo which sent co-star Marcia Cross all fired up. Cross picked up her bathrobe and refused to shoot unless Teri will change positions. This led to Teri being demoted to the side photo and Nicolette Sheridan replacing her in the middle.  Then a video of a crying Teri walking out of the set was seen via Entertainment Tonight. As you may know, the cover was a fold up and both Felicity and Marcia weren’t visible if you look at it in the news stands. When asked about the issue earlier this year in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, creator Marc Cherry didn’t deny that there were really tension during the set but it was exaggerated. Marcia commented that this entire time people thought of her as the show’s bitch but she really wasn’t. As of this time, a staff mentioned that it’s really the end for them as Teri had an issue with the three other Housewives (Felicity, Eva, Marcia) and they haven’t been on any speaking terms since 2010.

TRIVIA: During the 2005 Emmy Awards, it was co-incidentally Teri and Marcia as the perceived frontrunners for the Emmy for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. While both Teri and Marcia submitted their attention grabbing episodes, it wasn’t clear who will be proclaimed as the winner. When Conan O’Brien opened the envelope, it was a big surprise when he called the other nominated Housewife a.k.a Felicity Huffman’s name as the winner. Many people speculated that many voters were turned off with the tension between Marcia and Teri which prompted them to vote for the least attention grabbing housewife which happened to be Mrs. William H. Macy.

Are you excited about the remake of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Which teams are you a part of? And who do you think needs to be included here?

20 Most Deserving Oscar Best Actress Wins   3 comments

In one of many Oscar traditions, I will be doing a best of the best Oscar list. Sure, winning an Oscar is one of the best career highlights for any actor in Hollywood. However, it’s better if you win for your a very deserving performance. While the likes of Jodie Foster (The Accused), Elizabeth Taylor (Butterfield 8), Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love), Halle Berry (Monster’s Ball), Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line), and Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) always get the flack for most controversial wins, we will focus on those who tailored some of the most inspiring performances that actually deserved to win the coveted gold statuette. Here are 20 of them:

20. NATALIE PORTMAN, “Black Swan” (2010)

Role: Nina Sayers, a confused ballerina on her way to a major break
Competition: Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right), Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone), Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)

Portman, in probably her flashiest role to date, managed to deliver both the physical and mental demands necessary to master the role of Nina. In the movie, not only does she master ballet for every other scene, and while most people question whether it was actually her doing all the dancing in the film, it is nonetheless unquestionable that her best scenes in the film (including the overexposed yet very effective He picked me, mommy! scene) are the most memorable ones.

19. JOANNE WOODWARD, “Three Faces of Eve” (1957)

Role: Eve White, Eve Black, and Jane, a woman suffering from a multiple personality disorder
Competition: Deborah Kerr (Heaven Knows, Mr. Alison), Anna Magnani (Wild is the Wind), Elizabeth Taylor (Raintree Country), Lana Turner (Peyton Place)

Sounds such a very baity role made for award hogging? Yeah, that one is not new. However, for what its worth, Woodward sold the hell out of all her scenes in the movie. The shifting of her persona for the three personalities is so complicated, yet she makes it look so natural. That alone makes her win one of the best in this category.

18. INGRID BERGMAN, “Anastasia” (1956)

Role: Anna Koreff/Anastasia, the questioned Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna
Competition: Caroll Baker (Baby Doll), Katharine Hepburn (The Rainmaker), Nancy Kelly (The Bad Seed), Deborah Kerr (The King & I)

Bergman is probably one of the best actresses to grace the screen, and her performance as the chosen lady to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia is a clear testament of this. In Anastasia, it was never clear if Bergman is actually Anastasia, and while some hints here and there were given that she actually is, Bergman’s performance not only convinced the characters in the movie, but the moviegoers as well.

17. HELEN MIRREN, “The Queen” (2006)

Role: royal monarchy Queen Elizabeth II
Competition: Penelope Cruz (Volver), Judi Dench (Notes on a Scandal), Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada), Kate Winslet (Little Children)

Probably one of the most rewarded performances in film history, it was an easy stroll for the Dame on her road to the Oscar. However, she was up against a fantabulous  group of co-nominees which all gave superb, if not iconic, performances as well. What made Mirren very deserving of the Oscar though was that she made Queen Elizabeth II human, and with that comes a very natural approach to all her scenes in the movie.

16. HOLLY HUNTER, “The Piano” (1993)

Role: Ada McGrath, mute pianist living in the mid-19th century
Competition: Angela Bassett (What’s Love Got to Do With It), Stockard Chaning (Six Degrees of Separation), Emma Thompson (The Remains of the Day), Debra Winger (Shadowlands)

Always contested as one of the closest Oscar fights in this category, Hunter was probably helped over by the fact that she was double nommed that year. Nevertheless, I believe that it was her performance as Ada McGrath that won over the voters. it just goes to show that even acting at it’s most quiet still gets rewarded with Oscars.

15. DIANE KEATON, “Annie Hall” (1977)

Role: Annie Hall, quirky ex girlfriend of main character Alvy Singer
Competition: Anne Bancroft (The Turning Point), Jane Fonda (Julia), Shirley Maclaine (The Turning Point), Marsha Mason (The Goodbye Girl)

The thing I love the most about Keaton’s victory is that it was her best performance to date.  She was very natural and fit to the role of Annie Hall, and she complimented Woody Allen’s Alvy Singer perfectly. Sure while Reds, Manhattan, Marvin’s Room, and even Something’s Gotta Give showed her flair for acting, Annie Hall was its prime predecessor.

14. JODIE FOSTER, “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)

Role: Clarice Sterling, FBI trainee assigned to the case of Hannibal Lecter
Competition: Geena Davis (Thelma and Louise), Laura Dern (Rambling Rose), Bette Midler (For the Boys), Susan Sarandon (Thelma and Louise)

While peope can question Anthony Hopkins’ 14 minute portrayal of Hannibal Lecter as a Lead performance, there is no doubt that Jodie Foster deserves the Oscar for her fierce portrayal of Clarice Sterling. Foster made the viewers feel as if we were on a journey with her; it’s as if we were actually beside her during the whole movie. She was tough when the scenes need to, and she was vulnerable during the moments that require that. Oscar worthy in my eyes.

13. JANE FONDA, “Klute” (1971)

Role: Bree Daniels, prostitute slash accomplice to a detective in solving a case
Competition: Julie Christie (McCabe and Mrs. Miller), Glenda Jackson (Sunday Bloody Sunday), Vanessa Redgrave (Mary, Queen of Scotts), Janet Suzman (Nicholas and Alexandra)

It’s such a head scratcher why Jane Fonda stopped doing quality movies (Remember Monster in Law?) when she gave layered performance one after the other such as this one of Bree Daniels. Political beliefs aside, it is truly magnificent how much attached Fonda was with the role of Bree, and this (together with her another win for Coming Home) goes to show that Fonda has the chops to match the rich material she is capable of delivering.

12. JANET GAYNOR, “Sunrise” (1928)

Role: Indre, the wife
Competition: Louise Dresser (A Ship Comes In), Gloria Swanson (Sadie Thompson)

The very first recipient of the Oscar in this category is also one of the best winners ever. Granted she was also recognized for two other performances that year, it was her role as the wife in Sunrise that showed her captivating flair for acting. Seems like she was a good omen in this category after all.

11. SISSY SPACEK, “Coal Miner’s Daughter” (1980)

Role: Loretta Lynn, country icon
Competition: Ellen Burstyn (Resurrection), Goldie Hawn (Private Benjamin), Mary Tyler Moore (Ordinary People), Gena Rowlands (Gloria)

Before starring in biopics have become the easy route on your way to the Oscar (coughSandraBullockReeseWitherspooncough), there was a time when portraying real people is as special as it can get especially when you Sissy Spacek’s Oscar winning performance as Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter. As music icon Lynn, it was clear that Spacek wasn’t in for lone imitation but more of a characterization. It is clear injustice why Spacek has only one Oscar on her mantle.

10. SIMONE SIGNORET, “Room at the Top” (1959)

Role: Alice Aisgill, an unhappy married old woman who’s bored with her life
Competition: Doris Day (Pillow Talk), Audrey Hepburn (The Nun’s Story), Katharine Hepburn (Suddenly Last Summer), Elizabeth Taylor (Suddenly Last Summer)

It was somehow a surprise back then how French actress Simone Signoret won the Oscar over close competitor and still then unrewarded Elizabeth Taylor. However, it will only take one viewing of Room at the Top to understand why. To give a gritty treatment to the character of Alice Aisgill and made you see the vulnerability of the character perfectly why she won that year. It won’t also hurt that she swept the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Cannes for this performance.

09. KATHARINE HEPBURN, “The Lion in Winter” (1968)

Role: Eleanor of Aquitaine, estranged wife of King Henry II
Competition: tied with Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl), Patricia Neal (The Subject Was Roses), Vanessa Redgrave (Isadora), Joanne Woodward (Rachel, Rachel)

The Academy’s most rewarded actress is also the biggest victor in this category with all four of her trophies are in this category. My favorite, though, is her third win for The Lion in Winter as Eleanor of Aquitaine. Such fierceness yet also restraint at some parts with equally wonderful and snubbed Peter O’Toole. It sucks though that she has to share it with Barbra Streisand who was great but obviously inferior to Hepburn’s performance.

08. MAGGIE SMITH, “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” (1969)

Role: Jean Brodie, a committed teacher in an all girls school
Competition: Genevieve Bujold (Anne of a Thousand Days), Jane Fonda (They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?), Liza Minnelli (The Sterile Cuckoo), Jean Simmons (The Happy Ending)

Before she took on teaching duties at Hogwarts, Professor McGonagall was Jean Brodie first, and her role as a committed teacher in an all girls is one of the best portrayed films about an instructor. This is mostly due to Smith’s remarkable performance that is so relatable and charismatic that even non-students will fight to have a slot in her class.

07. ELIZABETH TAYLOR, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (1966)

Role: Martha, a hard-drinking wife who’s waiting for a visitor
Competition: Anouk Aimee (A Man and a Woman), Ida Kaminska (The Shop on the Main Street), Lynn Redgrave (Georgy Girl), Vanessa Redgrave (Morgan!)

We all know the history of Taylor’s first Oscar. It was given to her out of pity because of her personal problems during that time. However, it won’t take too long of a time and deliver a performance actually worthy of an Oscar, and it was her Martha who was sassy and unstoppable in Mike Nichols’ Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf that will actually do the trick.

06. MARION COTILLARD “La Vie En Rose” (2007)

Role: Edith Piaf, French singing superstar
Competition: Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age), Julie Christie (Away From Her), Laura Linney (The Savages), Ellen Page (Juno)

This was a case of the little one that could. Who said that non-English performances are at a disadvantage when it comes to Oscar? Sure they just happen as rare as a blue moon, but they won’t pass the chance to reward the really deserving ones. take the case of Marion Cotillard in 2007. As French singer Edith Piaf, it wasn’t Cotillard’s singing voice used in the movie, but the emotions she showed is clearly Marion authentic.

05. MERYL STREEP, “Sophie’s Choice” (1982)

Role: Sophie Zawistowski, a mother subjected in making a life change decision
Competition: Julie Andrews (Victor/Victoria), Jessica Lange (Frances), Sissy Spacek (Missing), Debra Winger (An Officer and a Gentleman)

Always regarded as one of the best pieces of acting showcases in the history of film, Academy’s favorite actress, Meryl Streep’s Sophie Zawistowski ineded lives up to its title. The “choice” scene, as much as it was repetitive and over shown, never lost any ounce of magic in it. This performance raised the pedestal that all the other succeeding film performances tries to reach, but only a few have matched it since then. Streep was still at her finest and that short piece of moment is definitely worthy of an Oscar.

04. HILARY SWANK, “Boys Don’t Cry” (1999)

Role: Brandon Teena, a confused young woman who is in  a complicated relationship with another woman
Competition: Annette Bening (American Beauty), Janet McTeer (Tumbleweeds), Julianne Moore ( The End of the Affair), Meryl Streep (One True Thing)

Swank was in her first lead role back then, and it was for a very controversial role as Brandon Teena, a woman playing a man. The movie was a bit overlong, but that was one thing you can never describe about Swank’s performance. It was affectionate, poignant, and definitely effective. When she cries, you cries. When she’s hurt, you’re hurt. And when Swank won the Oscar, you’re happy because it was such a very inspired win.

03. VIVIEN LEIGH, “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951)

Role: Blanche Dubois, delusional pretentious Southern belle
Competition: Katharine Hepburn (The African Queen), Eleanor Parker (The Detective Story), Shelley Winters (A Place in the Sun), Jane Wyman (The Blue Veil)

Vivien Leigh is a very effective actress that even starring in large epic films doesn’t limit her as an actress (see: Gone with the Wind). While her Scralett O’Hara is pretty much iconic already, I still prefer her Blanche Dubois performance because not only did it stand out from the group ensemble, it was also a layered and sweetheart performance that showcases Leigh’s greatest assets as an actress.

02. CHARLIZE THERON, “Monster” (2003)

Role: Aileen Wuornos, killing prostitute
Competition: Keisha Castle Hughes (Whale Rider), Diane Keaton (Something’s Gotta Give), Samantha Morton (In America), Naomi Watts (21 Grams)

One of the most heartbreaking performances of the past decade, it was indeed a surprise how Theron nailed the physical requirements to portray Aileen Wuornos. But more than that, she aced the emotional scenes with so much depth and honesty that it’s hard not to get carried away with it. The role of Aileen Wuornos has a tendency to receive a histrionic approach to it, but Charlize manages to maintain balance in between what needs to be done and what needs not to be done in order to act this role. For that plus a lot of other things, she is oh so deserving of that Best Actress Oscar in 2003.

01. OLIVIA DEHAVILLAND, “The Heiress” (1949)

Role: Catherine Sloper, rich woman trying to find her true love
Competition: Jeanne Crain (Pinky), Susan Hayward (My Foolish Heart), Deborah Kerr (Edward, My Son), Loretta Young (Come to the Stable)

And the queen of them all, is none other than screen legend Olivia de Havilland in her performance as Catherine Sloper. In The Heiress, the role was already given a nice twist to it by playing the rich woman card instantly. de Havilland was on fire with her performance in this one, and if there’s one word to describe it, I;m opted to go with flawless. Watch the last ten minutes of the film, and you’ll see acting at its finest.

That’s it. How about you? What are your choices? Did you agree with this list? Who would you have removed from the list? And also, can you name the six actresses in the cover photo? 🙂