Sunday, April 23, 2006

Supporting Actress Sundays: 1958

1958 can hardly be accused of being a banner year for Oscar. I've seen three bonafide American masterpieces from that year—Hitchcock's Vertigo, Welles' Touch of Evil, and Sirk's A Time to Love and a Time to Die—but none of them made much headway with the Academy. The Hitchcock and the Sirk settled for technical nominations, while the Welles was shut out entirely. Meanwhile, the Academy's own choices for the Best Picture lineup are a uniquely mediocre lot: the festive but bloated Auntie Mame, the sanitized and weirdly restructured Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the aggressively preachy The Defiant Ones, the instant antique Separate Tables, and the improbable nine-noms-and-nine-wins juggernaut Gigi, an opulent exercise in treading water, whipped up by Lerner and Loewe to kill time until the film rights to their still-running Broadway bonanza My Fair Lady finally became available. Fallow Oscar years tend to produce either especially interesting or especially dull acting rosters: the Academy either culls what it can from the movies it's nominated elsewhere or, out of desperation, it branches out toward performances and films other than the kinds they typically prefer. Surprisingly, the two Best Picture nominees most likely to yield Supporting Actress contenders that year were the two that got blocked: Judith Anderson, a past nominee for Rebecca, couldn't make it in as Tennessee Williams' Big Mama, and Hermione Gingold, despite winning the Golden Globe for Gigi, got smacked with a resounding non.

To find out whom Oscar did anoint, follow the rabbit hole over to StinkyLulu's blog, where he has been profiling the nominees all month in the trial run for his new feature, Supporting Actress Sundays. Today is the Big Day where he and his invited guests, Nathaniel and I, rate the entrants from 1958, pick our own winners, and speak up for anyone whose absence from the list really galls. Extra sweet dessert: Nathaniel's homemade clip reel. Have fun... and cast your vote for the next Year in Review!

Image © 1958 United Artists, © 2002 MGM/UA Home Entertainment, and reproduced from DVD Times.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Gigi probably all out of proportion with how good it actually is. I haven't seen it for a really long time, though... maybe I'm better off with my memories?

9:59 PM, April 23, 2006  
Blogger John T said...

I agree that the best films of 1958 were Touch of Evil and Vertigo. The fact that Marlene Dietrich didn't even get nominated (I have a theory that she would have won had she been included in the roundup), is a travesty.

1:04 PM, April 24, 2006  

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