Michelle Pfeiffer: A look back at her three Oscar-nominated performances

As with Jessica Lange, who recovered from her big screen debut in the flop remake of “King Kong” to become an awards darling, Michelle Pfeiffer has made us forget her first starring role in the tepid “Grease 2” in 1982. The following year she was paired with Al Pacino in the blockbuster crime drama “Scarface.” In the nearly four decades since, she has co-starred with some of the biggest names in Hollywood in such hits as “The Witches of Eastwick,” “Married to the Mob,” “Tequila Sunrise,” “The Russia House,” “Batman Returns,” “Dangerous Minds,” “Up Close & Personal,” “One Fine Day” and “What Lies Beneath.”

Oscar buzz is building for her critically acclaimed performance in the upcoming Sony Pictures Classics release “French Exit” (due out February 12). That got has us reminiscing about her trio of previous bids. Let’s take a look back at Pfeiffer’s first three Oscar-nominated performances.

“Dangerous Liaisons” (1988)
Pfeiffer earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination for playing the innocent Madame de Tourvel in this romantic tragedy. In the film, the Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close) and the Vicomte de Valmont (John Malkovich) display the petty jealousies and jaded indifference of life in France’s royal court in the 18th century, flippantly destroying the lives of de Merteuil’s young romantic rival (Uma Thurman), a music teacher (Keanu Reevesfor whom she secretly pines and the upstanding Madame de Tourvel (Pfeiffer).

For her performance, Pfeiffer won a BAFTA but came up short at the Oscars, losing to Geena Davis in “The Accidental Tourist.” Other nominees that year were Joan Cusack (“Working Girl”), Frances McDormand (“Mississippi Burning”) and Sigourney Weaver (“Working Girl”). 

“The Fabulous Baker Boys” (1989)
Pfeiffer’s second nomination was for Best Actress for playing Susie Diamond in this music-themed romance. Attempting to infuse new life into their struggling piano act, brothers Frank (Beau Bridges) and Jack Baker (Jeff Bridges) audition singers and choose the beautiful Susie Diamond (Pfeiffer). The new lineup brings success, but a growing attraction between Susie and Jack threatens to destroy the trio.

Pfeiffer won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama for her performance, but ultimately lost the Oscar to Jessica Tandy in “Driving Miss Daisy.” Other nominees that year were Isabelle Adjani (“Camille Claudel”), Pauline Collins (“Shirley Valentine”) and Jessica Lange (“Music Box”). 

“Love Field” (1992)
Pfeiffer’s last Oscar nomination to date was for Best Actress for playing Lurene Hallett in this Civil Rights era drama. A Dallas housewife (Pfeiffer) is so obsessed with the Kennedys that she travels by bus from her home town to Washington DC for the President’s funeral. On her journey, she befriends a black man named Paul (Dennis Haysbert) and his young daughter, but after a series of mishaps the three of them are pursued by the police, the FBI and some brutal racists.

Pfeiffer won a couple critics prizes for this role, but lost the Oscar to Emma Thompson in “Howards End.” Other nominees that year were Catherine Deneuve (“Indochine”), Mary McDonnell (“Passion Fish”) and Susan Sarandon (“Lorenzo’s Oil”).

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