Thursday, August 14, 2008

Category Five: 5 Actresses Who I Can't Believe Haven't Been Nominated For An Oscar

Awhile back I wrote about five actors who I couldn’t believe had never been nominated for an Oscar. Now it’s the ladies’ turn.

It was much harder to compose this list. That can be blamed on the lack of good roles for women. Because of their scarcity, when a great role does come along and it’s performed well, the actress is generally recognized with a nomination. This isn’t to say that some great performances haven't fallen through the cracks over the years, but generally an actress with at least two exceptional roles under her belt will find herself with at least a nomination.

Therefore, it was much harder to find women with quality work that hadn’t gotten one. Of course, I’m sure they’d much rather have the problem of too many great roles to recognize them all.

#5: Blythe Danner

Notable Performances in: The Last Kiss, The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini

Finding five women was so difficult that I had to cheat a little bit with this one. While I’ve heard great things about the latter two movies (and Danner in particular), I haven’t personally seen them. In other words, I’m more or less putting her on this list because of one movie.

While that movie got heavily criticized by a number of people, I enjoyed it immensely and thought Danner was the best part of it. She plays an older woman with real problems, and that alone is enough to make her stand out. But the fact that she balances both independence and brokenness into one character makes her really stand out. If her scene on the treadmill doesn't get you, then something's wrong.

#4: Jamie Lee Curtis

Notable Performances in: Freaky Friday, A Fish Called Wanda, Trading Places

One of the biggest criticisms of the Academy is that it’s reluctant to give well-made comedies the same respect as well-made dramas. If it’s funny and doesn’t have Woody Allen’s name on it, it’s in trouble. So it should be no surprise that one of the most consistently funny actresses (whether she's being high-brow, low-brow, or somewhere in between) has never been recognized for her great work.

Kevin Kline was brilliantly hilarious in A Fish Called Wanda, as evidenced by the fact that he managed to WIN an Oscar for the role. But Curtis' performance is what held it all together. It’s her character that sets everything into motion. And its her allure that causes the other characters to do the brave, stupid, hilarious things that they do. Without her, it all falls apart.

#3: Allison Janney

Notable Performances in: Juno, Hairspray, Winter Solstice, The Hours, American Beauty

I was honestly surprised to find that Janney hadn't been nominated for an Oscar because I'm always so excited when she pops up in a film, and she steals scenes without you even knowing it, like a charming British lad pickpocket.

While she's typically more light-hearted, she can play depressed like nobody's business. Sure she didn't say much in American Beauty, but she didn't have to. She said with her eyes what Annette Bening's character had to say with a gun.

And let's not forget her great success on The West Wing. She's a pedigreed actress with exceptional talent, and given the right leading role, I've no doubt she'd get a nomination. But considering she has four Emmys sitting at home, I doubt she's too worried about it.

#2: Parker Posey

Notable Performances in: For Your Consideration, A Mighty Wind, Best in Show, The House of Yes, Waiting for Guffman

Yes, all but one of the mentioned films are directed by Christopher Guest. But if you know anything about the way he directs, that makes the performances all the more remarkable.

While she's not the only actress to give a memorable performance in his films, she got the most acclaim and was talked about around the water-cooler as the new "indie queen." Unfortunately, that never translated into an Oscar nomination.

But thanks to her performance in Best in Show, I now know the difference between a bee and a bear in a bee costume.

#1: Scarlett Johansson

Notable Performances in: The Prestige, Match Point, In Good Company, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Lost in Translation, Ghost World, The Man Who Wasn’t There, The Horse Whisperer

I had a few films in mind before I checked her credits on IMDB. Now after seeing all of her great roles, her lack of a nomination is especially surprising. Combine all of her great work with the fact that she's the type of star right out of Hollywood "golden days," (That is, a beautiful, popular woman who also happens to be a great actress.) and you'd think the Academy would eat it up.

I've no doubt that she'll get her nomination one day. Judging from her previous work, she'll continue to put out good performances. And she's just reaching the age to be able to play the most interestingly written female characters, be they original or based on actual people.

1 comment:

AJF said...

Great list! Can I throw in Mia Farrow (esp Rosemary's Baby), Maggie Gyllenhaal (young, yes, but watch Secretary and Sherrybaby), Marilyn Monroe, and Audrey Tautou.