Sunday, May 13, 2012

Academy Awards analysis (1985)

This was another year where circumstances made Meryl's chances of a third Oscar minute.  Regardless of her performance as Danish author Karen Blixen in Out of Africa, the other actresses in the lead category outshone her for a number of reasons.   Namely, the winner Geraldine Page was, up to that point, 0 for 7 when nominated (I believe a record at the time).  I recently watched The Trip to Bountiful, and while it was a good performance, I wonder (like many others have suggested) if the award was more of a lifetime achievement honor.  Good thing too, as Page was dead from a heart attack just over a year later.  The full list of nominees that year is as follows:

Anne Bancroft (Agnes of God)
Whoopi Goldberg (The Color Purple)
Jessica Lange (Sweet Dreams)
Geraldine Page (The Trip to Bountiful)
Meryl Streep (Out of Africa)

This was a very strong year for women's roles.  Agnes of God and The Color Purple, both of which I love, together garnered five acting nominations, all for women.  I have seen all five performances in this category, and although I think Meryl is fantastic in all her films, any one of the other four ladies would've been deserving of the honor.  Bancroft was already a winner for 1962's The Miracle Worker, while Goldberg, in a Steven Spielberg film that tied Out of Africa with 11 nominations (and set a record for most noms without a win) was making her film debut.  I've already shared my thoughts about Sweet Dreams to greater extent in my "Shoulda Coulda Wouldas" section.  Lange would go on to win her second Oscar (first in lead) for 1994's Blue Sky.  Despite Out of Africa winning a total of seven Oscars, including best picture, if I had to guess, I'd say Meryl probably came in fourth or fifth in the balloting that year.

If you haven't seen F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus, do so.  And is it just me, or does Page seem a little, um, altered?  Maybe that's just how she always acts, but it comes across a bit "Grey Gardens" to me.  Anyway,  I mentioned above that Agnes of God is a favorite of mine.  When I started writing this post, I decided to rent it and have it on in the background on iTunes.   I realized early on in the film that Jane Fonda's character, Dr. Martha Livingston,  might be a good one for my "Should Coulda Woulda" section.  The longer the movie was on, the more I realized how much I wanted to do it.  There are a couple of of hurdles to this role being appropriate for the section, but I think I've found ways around them.  Stay tuned!

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