Julie Andrews received her first Best Actress nomination and only Oscar to date for playing Mary Poppins, the magic nanny in the Walt Disney movie, Mary Poppins. How did she win exactly? That's one of the biggest questions of the history of the Oscar but the answer is quite simple. Andrews' role of Eliza Doolittle was played by Audrey Hepburn and she had to make do with this role instead. Plus, Andrews was (going to be) a huge star and her movie was a huge success. It's interesting, though that her role is not baity at all. But I'll explain my thoughts on her.
Mary Poppins is a great, moving movie that I HATED for the first time and LOVED now. It's so full of wit, love, beauty and emotions. I guess I needed to become more mature to understand its real message. I think the story is much more complex than one would imagine and nothing is as simple in it as it seems, I think. The technical part of it is great for its age and it's not even that ridiculous by today's standards. I'm not sure if I would vote this movie for the Best Picture but it's definitely close between Zorba the Greek and Mary Poppins.
I think Julie Andrews is a very good actress who's always able to give very proper and entertaining performances which make your evenings in front of the TV pleasant. For instance, there's the queen from Princess Diaries. A very standard role in a standard movie but somehow she was able to create a really loveable and memorable character with her fantastic sense of humor and great acting talent.
The 1960s were a great time for her. She was one of the biggest stars, she got leads in financially and/or critically succesful movies and this is all probably thanks to her starmaking turns in Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. In both movies, she plays a nanny/governess who has a great relationship with the children and eventually she wins over the fathers. However, the two roles are somehow different. Both characters are free-spirited and joyful, however there's so much more mystery in Mary Poppins' part. Unlike Maria, Mary has a darker and even a bit bitchy side and she's much more firm.
What I really admire in these performances is that Julie Andrews added depth to these characters and a considerable amount of emotions. I know that many of you disagree but I stand staunchly by my opinion. Mary Poppins is not a one-dimensional cartoon character that it could have been. In fact, as I said Andrews added very muh mystery to this woman. I mean, I always kept searching for answers about Mary. Who is she? Why is she a savior of families? Does she have a special gift or she's a witch? Or quite simply, she's just a symbol of the goodness that comes once in a while to save some souls.
Julie Andrews' singing is naturally fantastic and she also dances quite well. Her experience on the stage most certainly helped her a lot in solving the musical parts of the performance. She's always what she should be: sometimes she's funny, sometimes she's superior, sometimes she's strict and occasionally, she's really touching. I mean that song called Feed the bird is extremely moving. Although she's not visible for most of the scene, her voice expresses so many emotions.
One could also mention the scenes where Mary, Bert and the children go inside a picture. It's such a great, long sequence and I loved how clever and playful Julie was there. But I could also mention when they dance on the roofs and the chimnes with dirty faces. Everything becomes so loveable about her and it was just great.
Julie Andrews also has wonderful chemistry with Dick Van Dyke and the children. The four work together incredibly well. It's great that Andrews doesn't act as if she was the mother of them but really as a nanny. However, Mary has deep love for these children. And in the end we can see that Mary Poppins also has a vulnerable side and that she indeed cared about this family. It's also a very touching moment. If you asked me, I woulf say my favorite moment of her whole performance was the one between her and the laughing uncle. That was just dead on.
Julie Andrews comes in, gives a great acting performance as Mary Poppins, The Nanny. Everything is just delightful about her, both the character and the work of the actress. It's excellent work techincally and also in terms of the emotional effect. It's a great achievement and it's no wonder that it became an iconic performance among children. Because if you really want to see the wonders of this role, you must loose yourself and (and just like Banks) become a child again for two hours. I may be alone with this but I think that this is fantastic work.
I bet this was a real shock for some of the haters. :D