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Katharine Hepburn's four Oscars

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  • RobertPius
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    #1201881009

    Let’s analyze how Hepburn got her four awards. She really has an odd history. She won the first time nominated and then lost eight times over about 35 years and then won the last three she was nominated for.

    The first one doesn’t need much thought and the second won was supposedly a sentimental award because Tracey was sick. (Although I always thought it was odd that she got the sentimental vote and not him!)
    The third one for Lion in Winter is just sort of odd. I mean she had just won and she clearly almost lost to Streisand.
    And the fourth? I guess they just didn’t like Streep in French Lieutenant’s Woman or Keaton in Reds? Did they even know they were giving her a record 4th.

    Ideas?

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    Andrew Carden
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    #1201881087

    The first time around, she was facing two leading ladies who largely just rode their pictures’ coattails to nominations. I doubt it was even close.

    The second time around, it had been 34 years (!) since her first victory and I think Bancroft having just won for The Miracle Worker probably hurt her chances a bit. There was indeed sympathy over Tracy and the Academy really liked Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Evans, the critics’ fave, likely came closest to Hepburn.

    The third victory is indeed a bit tough to rationalize, even if The Lion in Winter is now considered one of her most epic performances. Redgrave and Woodward were the critics’ faves. Stroke survivor Neal had lots of sympathy. Perhaps Streisand was hurt just a tad by being such a newcomer, without a lot of Hollywood connections?

    The fourth win is easier to figure out – Streep’s film was too polarizing, Mason and Sarandon didn’t have a prayer, Keaton had just won and the Academy really liked On Golden Pond.

    OSCAR FLASHBACK: Best Original Song (1984) – Stevie Ain’t Afraid of No Ghostbusters (or Kevin Bacon)

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by  Andrew Carden.
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    Eddy Q
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    #1201881104

    Trust Katharine Hepburn to win her first Oscar for a film called Morning Glory 😉 Anywho, I honestly can’t analyse this one except that there were only 3 nominees, all first-timers, and it was before she became known as “box-office poison”.

    The reason Spencer Tracy didn’t win posthumously for GWCTD might have been because Rod Steiger had been considered the frontrunner two years previously for The Pawnbroker, but lost to Lee Marvin in Cat Ballou. Steiger’s win for ITHOTN was partly a makeup win, but also his performance was showier than Tracy’s and he was in the BP winner. Not to mention Tracy already had 2 Oscars, so it wasn’t like the Academy felt they owed him. So naturally the sympathy vote was directed at Hepburn, whose closest competitor was largely considered to be Edith Evans in The Whisperers (I think). It must have seemed like it was about time to award Hepburn again. And that “get permanently lost” scene is a real mid-film applause moment.

    The following year must have felt awkward when Hepburn returned with a notably superior performance to the one that had just got her an overdue 2nd win. The oops factor must have been palpable. She couldn’t be considered the frontrunner because of Barbra Streisand’s debut, which resembled Julie Andrews’s in Mary Poppins. In fact, if anyone was a frontrunner from The Lion in Winter, it was O’Toole; he was ‘supposed’ to win, but Cliff Robertson campaigned vigorously and caused an upset. This sort of odds-reversal never happens nowadays, with the internet and pre-cursors galore. (I remember someone on these boards once saying that apparently Streisand became an Academy member in 1968, even though Funny Girl was her debut and hadn’t even premiered yet. If that’s true, the implications in terms of the infamous Hepburn-Streisand tie are mind-blowing.)

    Hepburn’s final win is tricky to analyse, but I expect RobertPius might be right that at least a proportion of the voters didn’t realise it would actually be her 4th Oscar. A reversal of this scenario is with Meryl Streep, who for many years kept losing partly due to voters presuming she’d won countless times when in fact she’d only won Lead Actress once. Weinstein was successful in reminding them of this fact which helped her finally win again for The Iron Lady. Talking of Streep, she may have seemed like a weak frontrunner against Hepburn for The French Lieutenant’s Woman, having won the Golden Globe, but she’d only just won in supporting and there was surely a sense that it was too soon for another, that she would go on to do greater things. And she did, the very next year. Plus TFLW was never really that popular.

    If Diane Keaton had won for Reds, she would be in the record books along with Sally Field and Hilary Swank as winning two Lead Actress Oscars with a clean record, without any losses in between. (Though Field would later lose in supporting for Lincoln of course.) It’s hard for me to understand why this didn’t happen, as Keaton gave a highly dramatic performance that contrasted as much as possible from Annie Hall, which would have seemingly justified a second win still further. She had a far showier role than her co-star Warren Beatty (who won for directing anyway) and from what I gather, had a far more dramatic role than Hepburn in On Golden Pond, which I haven’t seen so someone correct me if I’m wrong. In any case, Hepburn had the famous speech of encouragement – “You’re my knight in shining armour” – which may have felt like a perfect Oscar moment.

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    babypook
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    #1201881145

    “She had a far showier role than her co-star Warren Beatty (who won for directing anyway) and from what I gather, had a far more dramatic role than Hepburn in On Golden Pond, which I haven’t seen so someone correct me if I’m wrong. In any case, Hepburn had the famous speech of encouragement – “You’re my knight in shining armour” – which may have felt like a perfect Oscar moment. “

    Hope you get the time to watch OGP. The star of that film is Henry Fonda; a tremendous effort and a worthy winner.

    I was pulling hard for Reds that year. And Diane. In Reds, Annie Hall, she isn’t.

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    M
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    #1201881147

    Tracy died after the completion of Dinner. Her sympathy win makes sense. Her third win was an afterglow thing. But Streisand campaigned voting privilege before that year’s ceremony so theoretically it was her single vote that tied for both women. The fourth was an opportunity to make history.

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    Emmyfan
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    #1201881316

    Katharine Hepburn won her Oscars mostly for the wrong movies and should have won for:

    Alice Adams
    Long Day’s Journey Into Night
    Lion In WInter

    Her Oscar for Lion In Winter is well deserved and should not have been a tie because Barbra technically should not have been allowed to become a member of the Academy.

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    RobertPius
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    #1201881317

    I bet the votes in 1981 were really close. Reds was popular enough to win for Director and Supporting Actress yet somehow not for Keaton. I could see Meryl losing votes for French…It is kind of a Masterpiece Theaterish film and Jeremy Irons is the clear lead. She’s recently admitted this is one of her least favorite performances. I’d guess by the time of voting she was already making Sophie’s Choice. Apparently Sophie had a very extensive casting process (for all three main roles) and tons of people wanted it. People probably thought she already had a better performance coming the next year. (fascinating to think if she would have won again for Sophie if she had won the previous year or if Lange would have taken it. I kind of feel Streep’s acclaim was enough that she’s have still won and of course there was the out of giving Lange supporting. I’d also think at that point people probably felt the jury was still out on Lange. Was she really the great new talent (which she proved to be) or just a pretty face former King Kong star who got lucky.

    I bet even Marsha Mason got a few votes. It was her fourth nomination without a win and they clearly must have liked the film since they gave it three acting nominations.

    Hepburn is good in On Golden Pond though. She’s very light endearing and charismatic amongst the rest of the cast who are playing darker and more troubled roles.

    The Susan Sarandon nomination is interesting since she was advertised as supporting and she herself said she voted for herself there. I wonder if that was part of some movement by old Hollywood to assure Faye Dunaway not be nominated for Mommie Dearest. She actually was a contender and won some major film critic’s awards. It to see who else was a contender for that 5th nomination if not Sarandon or Dunaway.

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    Jacob Skinner
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    #1201881328

    Morning Glory was just Hepburn’s third film, but she had burst onto the scene as a fine (and unusual) actress under George Cukor’s direction in the previous year’s A Bill of Divorcement. Her second film, Christopher Strong, flopped hard and while Morning Glory wasn’t a critical success, Hepburn earned raves and the movie made money. She was, in a way, the equivalent of what today we would call a critic’s favorite: a fine performance in an movie without much going for it. It also certainly helped that she was playing an actress, and she had a scene in which she (quite affectingly) performed the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. Her competitors were Diana Wynyard, along for the ride on the Best Picture’s coattails, and May Robson, a longtime character actress who finally earned a major showcase, playing the titular lady in Lady for a Day. Robson, if only for her veteran status, was the favorite. Hepburn’s win (and it was an reportedly an overwhelming victory) is perhaps an indication of the Academy taking the high road. It also certainly helped that Hepburn also starred in Little Women that same year, which was a massive success and a Best Picture nominee.

    In 1967, everything came together perfectly to result in Hepburn’s second win. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was a popular and critical success, as well as an Academy favorite. It also helped that Hepburn had not won in 34 years, despite eight losses, and Spencer Tracy had died. Also, though her competition was formidable, it is slightly difficult to decide on a victor: Bancroft had won recently, Dunaway was too young, Evans’ film wasn’t particularly good, and many would argue that Audrey Hepburn’s best work that year was in Two for the Road, and not her Oscar-nominated Wait Until Dark. Hepburn, with her stand out mid-film scene, her tears during Tracy’s final oration, Tracy’s death, and the strength of her film, was most likely an easy default choice for many.

    Her third win, and my favorite, is a tad more difficult to fathom. Though they showered her Eleanor with praise in their reviews, the critics completely ignored her, and the Globes went with (if memory serves) Joanne Woodward. BAFTA rewarded Hepburn for both TLIW and GWCTD, but they were practically a non-entity in the Oscar race at that time. And one would think that any of the other nominees would have been tempting choices for Academy members, what with Redgrave quickly building her legendary status, Neal’s huge potential for sympathy votes, Streisand having quickly taken the entertainment industry hostage, and the fact that Paul Newman missed out on a directing nom (despite winning the Globe) for Rachel, Rachel could easily have helped Woodward’s cause. Perhaps enough voters simply decided to go with the best, and Babs came along on the support for Funny Girl, and benefitted from the probable refusal of some to vote for Hepburn again.

    The final time is easy. Mason and Sarandon were lucky to be nominated (Mason undeservedly), The French Lieutenant’s Woman was divisive and impenetrable to some (and anyway, Meryl had just won, and wouldn’t she win again?), while Keaton had also just won and I’m sure some weren’t fully convinced as to her abilities as a dramatic actress. On the other hand, Hepburn was one of two legends appearing in a sleeper hit, and the other legend was guaranteed an overdue Oscar, so why not reward both stars? Also, it was a major opportunity to make history, and there were rumors that Hepburn might actually deign to accept this Oscar in person.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by  Jacob Skinner.
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    OnTheAisle
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    #1201881336

    . . . while Keaton had also just won and I’m sure some weren’t fully convinced as to her abilities as a dramatic actress.

    Welcome to GoldDerby, JacobSkinner! You clearly are providing a thoughtful analysis. I look forward to reading more from you.

    For me, the only significant factor not discussed here was the impact of Shoot the Moon on the 1981 Best Actress race.

    In a boneheaded decision, the studio provided a limited release in LA and NY in early January so that the Diane Keaton domestic drama would not interfere with her Oscar hopes for Reds. Shoot the Moon grossed $1.8M prior to its national release in February. The film costarred then two time Best Actor nominee Albert Finney, was directed by Alan Parker (fresh off an Oscar nomination for Midnight Express) and was written by Bo Goldman (fresh off an Oscar win for Melvin and Howard).

    Shoot the Moon deservedly received glowing notices. Keaton was singled out for her devastating portrayal of a mother slowly unraveling in the midst of a divorce. The sequence as Keaton soaks in a steaming bath while smoking a joint and singing a Beatles tune was particularly memorable though the brutal emotional and physical confrontations also were compelling.

    A frontrunner for her performance as early feminist Louise Bryant, Keaton’s campaign lost steam. Some felt that Keaton would easily win the Oscar in the following year for this new film. Hepburn won, and while Shoot the Moon was an also ran at the Golden Globes, the film had been long forgotten by the nomination period for the subsequent Oscars.

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    RobertPius
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    #1201881339

    On the Aisle could you explain?

    In a boneheaded decision, the studio provided a limited release in LA and NY in early January so that the Diane Keaton domestic drama would not interfere with her Oscar hopes for Reds.

    I don’t get why they would do that. Did they fear it would get bad reviews an ruin her Oscar chances?

    Shoot the Moon actually did ok in pre-Oscar awards. Both Keaton and Finney were nominated for Globes and Keaton came in second and third at NY film critics and NY Society awards. Dumb how the academy forgot about her. I think the crtics got it right. Streep first, then Lange then Keaton that year. (She should have got in over Julie Andrews and Debra Winger)

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    OnTheAisle
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    #1201881341

    On the Aisle could you explain?

    In a boneheaded decision, the studio provided a limited release in LA and NY in early January so that the Diane Keaton domestic drama would not interfere with her Oscar hopes for Reds.

    I don’t get why they would do that. Did they fear it would get bad reviews an ruin her Oscar chances?

    The talk in the industry papers was that the early release would build interest in Keaton winning the Oscar for Reds, like the double punch of strong comedic work in Annie Hall and straight drama in Looking for Mr. Goodbar had done a few years earlier.

    The strategy failed because the two films (the dramatic Shoot the Moon and the lighter performance in Reds) were not released in the same qualifying periods. Voters apparently lost interest in Keaton in the tight race, thinking she would be able to pick up a Best Actress Oscar the following year.

    Heartbreaking for Keaton fans.

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    Andrew Carden
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    #1201881413

    Mason and Sarandon were lucky to be nominated (Mason undeservedly)

    Blasphemy! (Terrific analysis, though.)

    And yes, Keaton certainly deserved a nom for Shoot the Moon, as did Finney.

    OSCAR FLASHBACK: Best Original Song (1985) – The First Time Madonna Was Robbed

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    Baby Clyde
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    #1201881664

    Wowsa!!!

    I long detailed discussion about about Oscar wins going back to the 30’s. Don’t see that much around these parts anymore. It’s very welcome.

    A few notes. Whilst Hepburn is great (If a bit mannered) in Morning Glory, the win should definitely have gone to May Robson who is wonderful in Lady For A Day.

    Hepburn should have won easily in 1935 for Alice Adams. Has she not already won she probably would have and had Bette not been snubbed the year before her atrocious performance in Dangerous could have been easily overlooked.

    My all time favourite Hepburn performance is in Summertime from 1955.

    Totally love the tie in 1968. Both phenomenal performances but so different it’s impossible to choose.

    On Golden Pond is a fabulous film and both Hepburn and Fonda are fabulous in it. Fully deserving of their wins.

    It was a huge hit in 1981 making $120m at the box office of a $15m budget. That’s the equivalent of around $300m today. It’s depressing when you realise that film would barely get made today and if it did it’s budget would probably be the same. I doubt it would crack $50m.

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    Andrew Carden
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    #1201881666

    Crazy as it sounds, I think Summertime is the only Oscar-nominated Hepburn turn I would’ve given her the win for. That, and A Delicate Balance, which she wasn’t recognized for.

    OSCAR FLASHBACK: Best Original Song (1986) – The Year That Took Our Breath Away

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    JayDF
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    #1201882127

    Wowsa!!!
    A few notes. Whilst Hepburn is great (If a bit mannered) in Morning Glory, the win should definitely have gone to May Robson who is wonderful in Lady For A Day.

    YES to your opinion on May Robson!!! I’m a huge Hepburn fan, but Robson in LADY FOR A DAY was for me the best that year.

    I like everyone on this thread’s analysis of the 4 races. So I will only offer opinions on the work.

    Like I said huge Hepburn fan, but I don’t agree with any of the academy’s voting despite liking her in all of her winning performances. ALICE ADAMS, THE PHILADELPHIA STORY and SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER should be her winners. She was perfect in LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT but I would have voted Bancroft or maybe even Davis before Hepburn that year.

    Evans in 67 (maybe on a different day Bancroft), Streisand alone in 68 and Keaton in 81 would have also taken my vote.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by  JayDF.
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