Sunday, May 2, 2010
As requested, 1950 Best Actress. The first question about this year is Sunset Boulevard or All about Eve. For me, it's All about Sunset Boulevard. These two movies competed for the grand prize, but there was also heated contest between the two leading divas, Gloria Swanson and Bette Davis. And that race was soooo heated, that a relative newcomer, Judy Holliday was able to walk away with that Oscar. How??? Well, that's a mistery. Anyway there were two other nominees, so I'm terminating the suspense by writing down my ranking.
1. Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard: Well, well. When you think about Norma Desmond, you see a desperate woman, dreaming about her days as a huge star and a memorable quote comes to your mind: 'I am big. It's the PPPictuuuures that got ssssmaaall.'And then you get impressed simply by remembering. And then there's watching her. Now that is what I consider ICONIC and UNBELIEVABLE. Had she won that Oscar, Meryl Streep would have a hard time keeping her #1 spot. Plus, add some witty and brilliant lines, a terrific, terrifying, crazy and shocking ending and you get one of the greatest performances ever given in the history of films.
2. Bette Davis in All about Eve: This one is considered to be the best performance of the prolific and brilliant career of Bette Davis. I agree. And yes, she was very-very Oscar-worthy. I'm just thinking that 1950 was a very strong year and she had two Oscars, so maybe voters though she woul be fine. As Margo Channing, she created one of the most memorable divas on the screen, probably a lighter version of Norma Desmond. Margo still has a great career, but we (and she too) feel that it's going to be over soon and that she can't play young girls forever. Her complex, selfish and childish behaviour is wonderfully shown by the great Bette Davis.
3. Eleanor Parker in Caged: Caged is shocking and amazing movie to say the least. I read everywhere that Eleanor Parker was so underrated and brilliant in Caged, that's why I was a bit disappointed and yes, I said it. I expected more than an amazing performance (which it was). Apart from that I enjoyed her mightily and the character development was fascinating in this case. At the beginning she's very innocent, but soon she gets tougher and tougher as time passes. The best scenes of Parker are obviously at the beginning, when the photo is taken and she's asking for a comb. That's an unforgettable scene.
4. Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday: Well, I'm a bit ashamed for giving her such a low place in my ranking, but I can't change the past. Holliday gives a very fun, light and entertaining performance as Billie, a dumb blonde you becomes an educated and intelligent woman. She's sometimes annoying, but I forgave her everything when she said 'sore loooooser'. This is an award-worthy performance at the Golden Globes in the comedy category (which she won deservedly), but not at the Oscars where she's nominated against these ladies.
5. Anne Baxter in All about Eve: In 1001 Films You Must See Before You Die, I read that Anne Baxter was the only weak point of All about Eve and seemed to be nothing more than pure ambition dressed up. In a way, I agree, but you cannot deny her greatness in some of the scenes. First, Eve seems to be a naive, nice girl dreaming about being a friend of Margo Channing. Only Birdie can see through the moving story (not even Margo). Anne Baxter handles this character well, but the movie focuses on Bette Davis so much that everyone else pales in comparision with her. Still, good work from Baxter.
This was the most amazing year, probably the most amazing along with 1962.
Look at this picture: http://dorehammondfilms.com/uploaded_images/Judy-Holiday-727006.jpg