Jane Fonda received her third Best Actress nomination for playing Lillian Hellman, the famous playwright in Fred Zinnemann's Best Picture nominated drama, Julia. I think Jane Fonda was the only one who threatened Diane Keaton's Oscar win as dear Jane was THE star, she had previously won the Golden Globe for her performance and Julia seems to have much more Oscar potential in itself than Annie Hall since it's a huge, political drama. So I think Jane was a close second in the voting and I think this loss also contributed to her Oscar win the following year.
Julia is an intelligent, old-school political drama, which (like The Turning Point) doesn't have the innovative nature of the 70s movies. It's excellently written, directed, acted and made altogether. Actually, at the time, I would have expected it to take Best Picture. I'm glad that Annie Hall won eventually. Jason Robards and Vanessa Redgrave give truly outstanding and effective supporting performances and I tend to say that their Oscars were deserved (especially Vanessa's). I don't get the nomination of Maximilian Schell, though.
Jane Fonda is someone I deeply love as an actress and she's also a terrific person (very much, after we wished Happy New Year to each other). OK, to put everything personal aside, she's a brilliant-brilliant actress who's so extremely versatile and she's a living legend. Jane's contribution to the cinema is greater than most Oscar winners(!) can ever dream of. She plays everything: the bitter, poor and desperate woman in They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, a hooker in Klute, a reporter in The China Syndrome and the list could go on. One just isn't surprised that she can do a role like Lillian Hellman and she really nailed it.
Playing real-life people always pays off with the Academy. When Al Pacino won the Golden Globe for his performance in You Don't Know Jack, he said in his acceptance speech that it's always a real gift to play a real-life person, even though you cannot be really sure that you played it well. Actors want to capture even the thoughts of the characters. However, I never felt that Jane wanted to imitate Lillian Hellman the way Meryl Streep did in Julie & Julia. Jane uses her own style and therefore I never felt that the performance was forced in any way. She approached this very interesting character with so much subtlety and confidence. I mean it's so great that the bigger, effective emotional scenes are not loud and over-the-top, but rather quite and very intimate.
After all, this whole story might be fiction. It's based on Lillian Hellman's work though I'm not sure of it happened in real life. Jane Fonda made Lillian very mysterious and it made the performance so dazzling. Is this a part of Lillian's imagination? Is this reality? How is it? There are so many beautiful layers in this character and Jane so brilliantly revealed all of them. Lillian seems to be very naive in the beginning. In my opinion, Jane nailed these scenes (they are so brilliant, I think) though one day I might be understand why some people criticise it.
First of all, Jane's brilliance is so obvious when we see the anxiety of Lillian. Lillian feels like a fish out of water in Paris, she doesn't feel like partying and I could really get her problems. After that, there are those scenes on the train that are truly unforgettable. Jane shows so many emotions there: fear, worry, but also courage and confidence sometimes. It's so great when she's talking to the officer at the border. Her nervous ticks are so brilliantly executed and well-delivered.
Later on, there comes the scene at the café, which is one of the most emotionally strong scenes I've ever seen. It's just brilliant to watch these two beautiful actresses (Fonda and Redgrave) act together. Their collaboration was certainly collaboration and not rivalling. They are supporting each other and they don't try to outact each other. Their chemistry is simply perfect. I feel that they are just like sisters and they really love and care about each other. Most people are more impressed by Redgrave, but I will have to go with Jane Fonda. Her face is so full of admiration and love for Julia. I think Julia might just be the better self of Lillian, something Lillian really wanted to be. SPOILER That's why those scene where Lillian looks at Julia's body is so painful. Jane made those scenes really heartbreaking. Lillian lost her better self, but she has a chance of finding her again if she finally finds Lilly, the daughter of Julia. Jane's huge breakdown scene in the bathroom is simply breathtaking. She so brilliantly executed those moments, there are no false notes in it, everything is pitch-perfect.
So, to sum up, people don't rave about this performance as much as they do about, say, Klute and They Shoot Horses... even though they should. It's one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking peformances every by this beautiful (who's never been more beautiful than here), superbly talented actress. It's really no surprise that Jane Fonda is still one of the most celebrated performance. Excellent.
I gave this 5 easily and with such joy.
What do you think?