Sunday, November 26, 2006

Supporting Actress Sundays: 1974

StinkyLulu, that deft miner of silver linings, that veritable Mrs. Dalloway of the Supporting Actress set, manages to host an ebullient and invigorating party even when the crop of nominees is as grim as I found the 1974 vintage to be. The first of these performances I ever saw was Diane Ladd's in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, and while I'm a fan of this flawed but precociously affecting movie, and while Ladd's tart, flavorful turn as Flo has grown on me over the years, I never imagined that she'd emerge as my pick of any litter. But so it is. Ingrid Bergman and Talia Shire remain as off-putting now as they were when I first saw their movies, and though I was excited for my first encounters with Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles and François Truffaut's Day for Night—two diametrically dissimilar metafilmic comedies—neither the movies nor the performances by Madeline Kahn or Smackdown winner Valentina Cortese took me quite where I wanted to go.

With Claudine's Tamu Blackwell failing to ride the coattails of Diahann Carroll's Best Actress nomination; Lenny's Valerie Perrine vaulting successfully to the lead category; The Great Gatsby's Karen Black losing an Oscar nomination after winning a Golden Globe; Young Frankenstein's Cloris Leachman losing the Funnywoman Slot to Kahn (who herself impresses more in Frankenstein than in Saddles); and critical darling Bibi Andersson barred from contention for the rhapsodically received Scenes from a Marriage, Oscar compounded the problem of the year's slim pickings by exercising some bizarrely poor judgment and tripping badly over its own arcane eligibility rules. I'd like to believe that 1974's two fêted offerings from the late, great Robert Altman, either the gambling dramedy California Split or the eccentric bankrobbing yarn Thieves Like Us, might have yielded some piquant possibilities, but I haven't seen them.

If you have your own ideas about how Oscar might have made less of a muck of things in 1974, or if you want to stick up for his chosen field of five, please leave a comment here or chez Stinky. Give some props to the formidable Ladd, who also lent some picante sauce to her brief moments in Chinatown that same year. Don't lose sleep over the fact that Bergman's asinine victory in this race very probably cost her the Best Actress statue that was so obviously due her for 1978's Autumn Sonata; the catch-22 to being overcompensated with Oscars is that you tend not to win them when you finally deserve them. And let's look forward to December's Supporting Actress Shindig, which you, YOU, YOU have the power to route somewhere interesting. For novelty's sake, since I've only seen two movies apiece in each of these years, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for 1966 or 1984, though if the electorate anoints either 1975 or 1993, I get to revisit this life-defining masterpiece or this one. L'embarrass du choix!

(Image © 1974 Warner Bros. Pictures, reproduced from DVDClassik)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

For once I've seen each of the competitors and Kahn is easily my favourite of the bunch - and probably of the year in general.

As far as Thieves Like Us goes, there is a strong supporting performance from none other than Nurse Ratched herself - though she's only on screen for about 8 minutes in total, she's understatedly perfect in a very unshowy role.

8:03 AM, November 27, 2006  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

In fact, doesn't the legend go that Louise Fletcher scored the Nurse Ratched part because Miloš Forman saw her in Thieves Like Us and was so impressed with what she did in it?

2:57 PM, November 27, 2006  

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