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Geena Davis & Kevin Kline: How Did They Manage to Upset?

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  • Jason Travis
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    #1201861527

    Looking back at 1988, a very strong year for film, I can’t help but wonder how both Kevin Kline and Geena Davis managed to upset in their respective categories. Granted, they both richly deserved their honors- especially Kline, who I can watch repeatedly in A Fish Called Wanda and always find something amazing. Davis was great, but I think Sigourney Weaver or Joan Cusack in Working Girl would have been worthier.

    Still, it is puzzling that neither Davis or Kline even received Golden Globe nominations. They were completely absent from critic awards. How did they beat the odds?

    BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
    Alec Guiness, Little Dorrit
    Kevin Kline, A Fish Called Wanda
    Martin Landau, Tucker: The Man and His Dream
    River Phoenix, Running on Empty
    Dean Stockwell, Married to the Mob

    BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
    Joan Cusack, Working Girl
    Geena Davis, The Accidental Tourist
    Frances McDormand, Mississippi Burning
    Michelle Pfeiffer, Dangerous Liaisons
    Sigourney Weaver, Working Girl

    Follow Me on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/jasonmovieguy
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    FYC: Derbyite of the Year, 2017

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    babypook
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    #1201861528

    Well, Geena is a very ‘smart’ woman who was on a ‘roll’ for some time. She was still married to Renny Harlin I think, when she won, and her ties to Jeff Goldblum didn’t hurt her either.
    Btw, kudos to Lawrence Kasdan.
    Well connected and with successful films; her win was definitely a surprise but perhaps it was her….’clicking’. Her costar was on a critical ride as well.

    Kevin Kline is terrific in Fish! And a wonderful win for a comedic role. His timing is ‘perfect’.

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    M
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    #1201861549

    Well, Geena is a very ‘smart’ woman who was on a ‘roll’ for some time. She was still married to Renny Harlin I think, when she won, and her ties to Jeff Goldblum didn’t hurt her either.
    Btw, kudos to Lawrence Kasdan.
    Well connected and with successful films; her win was definitely a surprise but perhaps it was her….’clicking’. Her costar was on a critical ride as well.

    Kevin Kline is terrific in Fish! And a wonderful win for a comedic role. His timing is ‘perfect’.

    Her relationship with Harlin started in the 90’s. In 1988, he was making Nightmare on Elm St 4. She was married to Goldblum then. Weaver may have split her own vote. What a lot of people say about Davis is she is really a lead for her movie. Hence a category fraud win over her true supporting rivals.

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    Andrew Carden
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    #1201861561

    Let’s start with Supporting Actor – there was no clear front-runner there at all. Guinness, Phoenix and Stockwell split the critics’ awards, for rather obscure pictures the Academy didn’t shower a whole lot of love for elsewhere. Landau won the Globe but Tucker was seen as yet another Coppola flop, which certainly didn’t help him. A Fish Called Wanda mustered a shocking nomination for Charles Critchon’s direction, an indication the Academy really liked the picture. Couple that with Kline’s hefty screen time and status as a real “actor’s actor” and it shouldn’t have been that huge a surprise that he trimphed.

    Weaver, on the other hand, was a clear front-runner. McDormand looked like a possibility early on, winning NBR out of the starting gate but the clear perception was Weaver would pull what Lange did in ’82. Cusack and Pfeiffer were definitely on the sidelines. Regarding Davis, The Accidental Tourist, despite winning Best Picture at NYFCC, was generally not seen in the early-going as a significant Oscar player. So when it scored noms for Best Picture and Supporting Actress, that was a genuine surprise. But it seemed the likeliest consolation prize it would walk away with was Adapted Screenplay, not the acting prize. In hindsight, Davis was likely helped by having the most screen time and indeed, some voters may have gone with Weaver in Lead instead. Cusack’s presence may have also siphoned off votes that otherwise would’ve gone Weaver.

    OSCAR FLASHBACK: Best Original Song (1974) – Another Maureen McGovern Disaster

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    BenitoDelicias
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    #1201861565

    A Weaver split makes a litle sense, but not that much either since the other movie was Gorillas in the Mist, which might have been well received but wasn’t that amazing and her performance wasn’t the real talk that year. It was Working Girl. Her performance there was strong enough, like the film was, with several other key nominations, it was enough to make people understand that the vote had to be for that film and not the other. Geena Davis winning is very puzzling because of how popular Working Girl was and how clear Weaver’s way to the Oscar was. She would never loose that Oscar today, such an easy win. And bringing Joan Cusack into the discussion as another vote getter isn’t really that logical either because that would be like saying Queen Latifah could’ve taken votes away from Catherine Zeta Jones. Great enjoyable performance that you remember, but the other contender was much better and a much more obvious win.

    I guess during the whole process Accidental Tourist became popular enough to help its other leading lady win in a supporting category.

    As for Kevin Kline, it’s a 100% deserved win. Perfect performance in a hilarious film.

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    OnTheAisle
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    #1201861574

    I think most here are forgetting that Geena Davis also starred in Beetlejuice in 1988. The comedy was a box office smash hit. The two films obviously made Davis a stronger contender.

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    babypook
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    #1201861743

    I think most here are forgetting that Geena Davis also starred in Beetlejuice in 1988. The comedy was a box office smash hit. The two films obviously made Davis a stronger contender.

    “Open this door you dead people or we’ll bust it down and drag you out by the ropes you hanged yourselves with!” Delia

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    RobertPius
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    #1201862164

    I once read that there was a backlash against Weaver because of excessive advertising for Gorillas in the Mist. (Sorry I can’t find where I read this but I used to read Variety and Hollywood Reporter at the local library even when I was a kid so….there is a lot of Oscar stuff stuck in my head.)

    Gorillas went crazy with advertising and it became a joke around academy members that you can’t go to your mailbox without finding a picture of Sigourney Weaver and a gorilla.

    The theory was that people felt Weaver (or the Gorillas publicists more accurately) were too aggressive and they got irritated with her and she lost votes because of that.

    Davis was an odd win. She wasn’t even really that respected as an actress at that point. She was known more as a TV actress and comic actress. The Fly really was her only serious acting at that point.

    I think Landau was the favorite but I can see how Kline got it. It was a more popular film and he was a popular actor at the time.

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    babypook
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    #1201862189

    ^
    “I once read that there was a backlash against Weaver because of excessive advertising for Gorillas in the Mist.”

    I heard/read that as well. She certainly isn’t the only actor that this was said about (Sharon Stone, Sally Kirkland)…although that didn’t seem to hurt Melissa Leo….but she had a well-placed stuffed-animal gorilla in Working Girl as a ‘reminder’.

    Regardless, Sigourney didn’t deserve that kind of backlash did she?

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    M
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    #1201862191

    Sigourney Weaver being denied for her 90’s filmography was even crueler.

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    RobertPius
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    #1201862201

    ^
    “I once read that there was a backlash against Weaver because of excessive advertising for Gorillas in the Mist.”

    I heard/read that as well. She certainly isn’t the only actor that this was said about (Sharon Stone, Sally Kirkland)…although that didn’t seem to hurt Melissa Leo….but she had a well-placed stuffed-animal gorilla in Working Girl as a ‘reminder’.

    Regardless, Sigourney didn’t deserve that kind of backlash did she?

    I don’t thinks she deserved the flack and as I remember it the advertising wasn’t just for her as Best Actress it was for the film (Gorillas) in all categories so it wasn’t her doing. It was the studios. Odd how two years later Diane Ladd infamously wrote personal letters to the entire academy asking to be nominated for Wild at Heart and it worked. I read that the TV people didn’t even have a photo of Ladd as a perspective nominee that morning of the announcement and they had to quickly scramble to find something one they learned she’d be among the nominees. (and that was pre internet.)

    Melissa Leo’s antics all happened pretty late in the voting period. I think the idea was that had it happened earlier it could have hurt her more but by the time it happened most people had already voted. Still it was very suspenseful that night. She was a shoo in and then by the time the ceremony happened there was real doubt she’d win. (and that was the year Kirk Douglas opened the envelope and then kept talking and telling stories. He really inadvertently made her suffer.)

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    RobertPius
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    #1201862204

    Another interesting fact about this year: this was the year of the infamous Rob Lowe Snow White song and Geena Davis won right after the number I think. She looks so surprised going to the podium and says I can’t believe I have to go first.

    I always took that as she is surprised to have won. (she tells the story on how on the drive over she had Siskel and Ebert on TV and they predicted her to be in 5th place) But also a little nervous that she has to speak when the crowd is still sort of buzzing and laughing at the Rob Lowe spectacle.

    That role of Muriel was highly sort after and I remember reading how every actress in movies wanted it. That probably helped Davis get votes because people thought she must be really good since she beat out so many bigger names for the role.

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    Baby Clyde
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    #1201862227

    Sigourney was odds on favourite as up to that point everyone with 2 acting noms in the same year had won in Supporting. It was kind of a tradition that they got the consolation prize.

    That’s changed over the years with Al Pacino, Holly Hunter and Jamie Fox all winning in the Lead category and Emma Thompson, Julianne Moore and Cate Blanchett all losing both.

    11 people have been double nommed in total. Sigourney is the only one out of that whole list who still doesn’t have an Oscar of any description.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by  Baby Clyde.
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    Andrew Carden
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    #1201862255

    The key difference between Weaver and Kirkland/Ladd is the former didn’t really self-campaign – it was Universal that launched a uber-aggressive FYC campaign and nearly got the film into Best Picture. The Kirkland and Ladd films were all but abandoned by their studios in their respective Oscar seasons (Kirkland’s, Vestron Pictures, had already filed for bankruptcy), giving the two ladies no choice but to run their own campaigns.

    OSCAR FLASHBACK: Best Original Song (1974) – Another Maureen McGovern Disaster

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