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Best Actress 1954

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5 years ago
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5 years ago
allabout oscars
  • Laactingnyc
    May 29th, 2011


    Who should have won?

    May 29th, 2011

    My vote goes to Garland.

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    allabout oscars
    Sep 20th, 2011

    My vote goes to GRACE KELLY…
    JUDY  was way over the top…almost hammy..

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    Oct 5th, 2011

    Dorothy D. was performance is more iconic (not just for her nomination) than the others. Id say Judy vs Dorothy.

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    Sep 18th, 2011

    JUDY!!!JUDY!!!JUDY!!!  So perfect…so, so perfect.

    Dandridge was great, but I don’t like dubbing in another’s vocie!!! Kelly was OK at best…a little stale and she was way too pretty to play that part.  Hepburn was charming.  Wyman was decent in her soap opera.

    1. Garland
    2. Dandridge
    3. Hepburn
    4. Wyman
    5. Kelly 

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    Oct 4th, 2011

    The nomination has historicity behind it, yes. And by all accounts, Dandridge
    was a very demure and un-prepossessing woman in real life, so playing a
    sex-hungry siren probably was a bit of a thespian stretch for her. The problem
    with Dandridge in “Carmen Jones” is that she only wows in terms of her
    extraordinary charisma, not in the depth of her performance. Not that the story
    (or the unfortunately dated screenplay) allows Dandridge a lot of room to
    explore any virtuoso acting opportunities, but too often one sees a
    gorgeous woman flying valiantly against her circumstances to be something
    beyond a pretty face, and she never quite registers as more than that. (It also
    doesn’t help that director Otto Preminger tries too hard to handle the
    picture with a sense of “reality” that renders so much of
    “Carmen Jones” frustratingly inert; one wonders what Vincente
    Minnelli could have done with this material). One can see from
    “Carmen Jones” that Dandridge was unquestionably talented, and it’s
    easy to see why she garnered the attention she did in 1954. But in this case,
    there is frankly a gulf between how much one can easily watch this performance
    and how much one can truly admire it.

    Hepburn: I see Hepburn as the 1950s answer to Ingrid Bergman in the 1940s: an
    attractive import with intense charisma and becoming personal modesty that
    never got in the way of allowing her to sparkle like the meteor she was. Hollywood
    instantly took Hepburn to heart, rewarding her with consecutive nominations in
    her first two years in Hollywood. While Hepburn often gets rapped nowadays for
    being a perfume bottle of gamine charm rather than an inspired thespian, I find
    her often to be a moving and exceptionally intelligent actor with the instinct
    to use her equipment well. That having been said, however, “Sabrina” seems to
    me the vehicle on which Hepburn really did skate on her personal charisma to an
    unwarranted level of adoration that manifested itself on the Academy ballot.
    The inside-out Cinderella story of “Roman Holiday” works better in terms of its
    construction (and slightly surprising finale) in allowing Hepburn to combine
    the charm with moments of poignant drama that substantiate her prowess as an
    actor. In “Sabrina,” she seems more like a chess piece moved by the dictates of
    a story that wants to be fairy tale and class boundary parable at the same time
    and never quite succeeds at being either one. It also undermines Hepburn that she
    (spoiler alert) winds up with a character (and actor) whom she has no onscreen
    chemistry with whatsoever, which is doubly frustrating since she has such
    satisfying chemistry with the callow prince she (wisely?) casts off. So Hepburn
    remains somewhat at sea throughout “Sabrina,” and can be commended only for
    buoying this rather stolid “comedy” up with that thousand watt smile and pixie
    presence (the flotilla of Givenchy masterpieces setting her off

    It’s a tricky balancing act to maneuver a Douglas Sirk melodrama: you have to
    steer through the suds while maintaing a perfect coiffure, dolefully reflect
    the dubious charms of cardboard leading men, and always keep a docent’s
    eye toward maintaining your dignity even as you fly off the handle. Wyman was
    one of those leading ladies who never quite felt like a “movie star,”
    and she lacks the patina of glamour that her Sirk-sisters Stanwyck,
    Bacall and Turner brought to their respective Sirk outings. Yet
    Wyman’s very groundedness bestows a strange overlay
    of conviction on the project; by going a pretty
    straightforward route, she gives “Obsession” a gravitas that it
    hardly deserves while never forgetting that this is, at base, a wildly
    overreaching fairy tale. Wyman was a character actress who, while maintaining a
    decades long-career, always felt most at home in the blushing neuroticism
    of the late ’40s and ’50s. She is responsible as much as anyone for
    stamping “Magnificent Obsession” as the guilty pleasure time capsule
    that it is, and that’s not a bad thing. She is a reliable vessel for steering
    the unwieldy saga of Helen Phillips and Bob Merrick into port; the performance
    is neither the best of her career or the worst, which also holds true for her
    placement in this particular lineup.

    Kelly: I will absolutely give the Academy credit for recognizing Kelly at the
    apex of her actorly achievement on film. Against the pointed good looks that
    defy the cardigan sweaters and tortoise-shell glasses, and against being cast
    as the wife of an actor clearly old enough to be her father, Kelly gives an
    often sturdy and compelling account of herself. She manages to win sympathy
    without condescending to ask for it outright, and she makes it palatable as to
    just why her pessimistic-but-forge-ahead Georgie Elgin stays with her
    alcoholic, broken-down mess of a husband. But for all that Kelly is doing “right,”
    her effects are ultimately more along the line of a batter who makes contact
    with the ball without ever nailing a home run. As she works through her money
    scenes, she seems to plug in and out of character, resulting in an
    uncomfortably schizophrenic sense of Kelly being very nearly great, pretty
    good, and mawkish. (“I SAID YOU’RE HOLDING ME!”…Bless her heart.) It’s also not
    a performance of any particular ingenuity: after her first few scenes, you can
    predict five minutes in advance when Kelly is going to sigh, assume a wounded
    stance, turn on imperious venom. Kelly is clearly a movie star working (and
    working hard) at trying to be an actress, and the performance is nothing like a
    flop, and far more than an honorable misfire. But one can imagine a more
    seasoned veteran than Kelly feeling more at home and reaching deeper and
    yielding richer dividends.

    Garland: It’s hard to call this a performance; it’s much more like a fireworks
    show with different colors exploding throughout (sometimes to synced-up music).
    Attention must be paid, and those both new and familiar with Garland’s prior
    MGM film work can find a great deal to be impressed by. Her built-in acolytes
    can see how the ripe vulnerability and tender girlishness of her early years
    has bloomed into the maturity of full-fledged womanhood, and throughout her
    performance in “A Star is Born,” Garland negotiates an extraordinary balancing
    act with one foot in the familiar land of Metro musical comedy that she did
    like none other while exploring revelatory new opportunities for herself in a
    post-Brando world of verist cinema. Garland’s Esther Blodgett is a more
    practical, more blithely sardonic and infinitely realer creature than Janet
    Gaynor’s opaque farm girl in the 1937 original version of “A Star is Born.” She
    is also clearly a substantial and overpowering talent, and as her purple
    contralto explodes “The Man That Got Away” into a four-minute emotional
    holocaust, she singlehandedly provides the proof that Esther is destined for
    greatness, whether she realizes it or not. But it’s far more than Garland’s
    singing voice that has ripened since MGM: she achieves a truly adult and richly
    satisfying romance with a wonderful James Mason, and her unique brand of wry
    humor asserts itself in myriad ways that underline Garland’s great ingenuity as
    an actor (watch how she absorbs her new moniker “Vicki Lester” with initial
    distaste that morphs into a c’est la vie chuckle). But perhaps more than
    anything, Garland’s ability for pathos and communicating the heartbreak of a little
    girl lost becomes very nearly unbearable here as she channels the fear, the
    humiliation, the heartbreak and the sheer ambivalence of a wife who knows she
    is losing a husband/benefactor she still clearly adores while seeing the
    all-too-human wreck he has become. When Garland finally breaks down in the film’s
    penultimate scene after trying to control herself for so long, it is an
    indelible and deeply unsettling primal scream of agony that makes you forget
    all about the voice. This is an actor with a capital A. 


    It’s a
    Best Actress lineup with a lot of good things in it, thanks to the talents of
    these five women and the films of which they’re part, but hands down: my vote
    goes to Judy Garland.


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    Miss Frost
    Sep 14th, 2011

    God this is one of the times when the Oscars gave it to the most vanilla and basic of a great lineup. Kelly had a big profile in films that year, so I can imagine thats why she got attention. However, she should’ve been nominated for Rear Window instead.

    Though I will say Judy Garland was seriously robbed. Dandridge should’ve been next in line. 

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