Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Academy Awards analysis (1995)

After a five year break between Oscar nominations (her longest to date), Meryl received her 10th nod for her role as Francesca Johnson in 1995's The Bridges of Madison County.  This was a highly coveted role for many Hollywood actresses, with star/director Clint Eastwood notably quipping that when it came casting Francesca, he only made one call.

Looking back at the awards season in early 1996, the leading women's group was fairly strong that year.  Of course I wasn't following things then as closely as I do now, but from what I can gather, Meryl was pretty much a shoe-in for an Oscar nom.  She had just come out of her "wilderness years" of the early 90's, and hot off the moderate box office success of 1994's action film The River Wild, Streep donned another accent to embody this Italian war bride.

Eventual winner Susan Sarandon was a pretty safe bet that year, however.  She had never won before, and this was her fourth nomination in five years.  While Sharon Stone won the Golden Globe in drama for Casino, Sarandon won the SAG (where Stone was not nominated).  Streep was nominated for both.  The full list of Academy Award nominees is as follows:

Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking)
Elisabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas)
Sharon Stone (Casino)
Meryl Streep (The Bridges of Madison County)
Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility)

With the above list and despite Stone winning the Globe, I think Meryl was realistically #2 behind Sarandon that year, be it a distant #2.  By this point Meryl had gone thirteen years without a win and this made it six straight losses.  Thompson had won just three years earlier and I think Shue likely came in fifth.  I'm a fan of Sarandon (and Thompson) and think this was well deserved.  It would take Meryl another seven nominations over sixteen years before winning again for The Iron Lady, her 17th overall. 


  1. I love Meryl's performance in this film and again I felt she was the best that year.
    Susan Sarandon was brilliant as Sister Prejean in Dead Man Walking but it felt more like a Kate Winslet kinda win than one that came from an exceptional performance.

    I agree it must have helped that she has 3 losses right before and it was also a powerful film. Meryl had no chance this year thanks to being a 2- time winner so early in her career (I believe).
    I'm actually surprised she wasn't nominated for more Critics awards though.

    I think the runner up in terms of votes may have been Sharon Stone as she wowed people who didn't think she had it in her.
    Emma Thompson fatigue set in after this year so I doubt they would have given her both awards on the same night.

    I remember reading Nicole Kidman was considered a snub this year for To Die For and also Julianne Moore for Safe. Truly one of the strongest years of the 90's for women IMO.
    Perhaps if Bridges had been in another year (1997? 1994?)...

    1. Good point on Sharon Stone. I just think that since she wasn't even nominated for SAG that the the support from the acting portion of the Academy (largest) may not have been enough.

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    1. That's a fair point Jeff. No other actress has ever won the Oscar without at least being nominated for SAG.
      I read recently that possibly the reason Meryl failed to win for The Iron Lady was that the film hadn't been as widely distributed to the voting members as The Help. I wonder if that's true.

    2. I also read that, regarding The Iron Lady vs The Help. Certainly possible. Regardless, it must not have been a blowout at SAG that year, considering Streep managed to win the Oscar, where the largest portion of voters by far is actors. Either way, I'm just glad she won and I want her to win for August: Osage County. Can't believe still have to wait five months!!